***Updated July 2021****
Launching an online business can be so exciting!
If you’re like most online entrepreneurs, you’ve got a great idea you can’t wait to launch because it’s going to help thousands of people. You know you need three things to start:
Wait! You say you don’t even know what those things are? Well, then you are in exactly the right spot.
Setting Up Landing Pages and an Email Service to Start Your Online Business
As an online business owner myself, I’ve come across scores of other online entrepreneurs who have had amazing ideas for their own business. Unfortunately, the adrenaline and excitement of that business seems to wane as soon as they need to make their first tech choice – choosing the best email service provider for their online business. Too many people get hung up on technology before they even get out of the gate.
I’ve been there. The first time I set up an opt-in landing page, I spent a few days fighting to learn the system and then more time making sure I had the perfect colors and copy. I must have contacted tech support for Leadpages and ActiveCampaign 100 times, convinced their programs were buggy when it was really that I didn’t know how to make the programs work.
But then was the moment of truth. I entered my email address, clicked “sign me up!” and….
Seriously, nothing happened. No “Congratulations” you’ve been added to the list. No, “Thank you for subscribing.” No, “Here’s your freebie.”
It was back to the drawing board for me. And over the course of, ahem, a week or so, I did get it figured out. Thank goodness for tech support!
But I know you.
You don’t want to fight with one part of your process for an entire week. You don’t want to wonder if it’s going to work out. You want action. You want to know that the processes you are setting up are going to work. The first time. You need help. But you’re in a chicken and egg situation. Before you can afford to hire the tech help you need to get going, you have to start bringing in money. But you can’t bring in money if you can’t get your technology basics handled – things like choosing an email service provider, designing a landing page and setting up your opt-in form.
In fact, you don’t even need a website to begin selling a product. What you do need is a list of people to sell to.
That’s right. You don’t need a website. There’s a shortcut!
The First Three Steps to Launching an Online Business, A Shortcut:
1. Set up Your Email Service Provider
The first thing you want to set up is your email service provider. At its most basic level, email marketing automation software is a way for you to send out bulk emails to your clients. Most email automation services have many other functions as well, but for now we’re going to focus on sending out emails.
You may be wondering why you’d need such a service if you already have a Gmail, Yahoo or other type of personal email address. The reason is simple: now that you’re an online business, you cannot use your personal email address to contact your clients. Not only is it unprofessional, it is illegal and will get your account blacklisted – which is every bit as bad as it sounds. It means your email, and in some cases your IP address, will be blocked from reaching people’s inboxes. If this happens, it is very difficult to get your email address removed from the blacklist. Many countries, the US included, now have laws protecting consumers against unwanted emails – also called SPAM. So don’t use your personal email.
When it comes to email marketing services there are several options to choose from. To help you out, I put together a blog post comparing the most popular choices of email services for online business.
Most email automation softwares have a free account or trial period allowing you to compare few. See if they are laid out in a way that makes sense to you and feels comfortable. Don’t underestimate the importance of this step! The email service provider is where you are going to write your emails, keep track of the people on your lists, send newsletters and communicate with the people who want to buy what you have to sell. You’ll spend a lot of time working inside of your email service so make sure it’s one you are comfortable using.
2. Choose Your Landing Page/Opt-in Form Service.
First, let me explain landing pages. Have you ever seen an online ad, or a link for something you are interested in and then clicked it? The page you were taken to is a landing page. It is where your clients “land” when they click on a url or button. Usually landing pages are short, to the point and give a brief preview of an offer that the online business owner is giving away or selling. When choosing a landing page service there are several things to consider:
How techie are you? Some landing page services are drag and drop. The formatting and layout has been done for you and is set up for high conversion. The downside is there is less customization available. The best option for this would be LeadPages.
How important is customization? If you’re the type of person who really likes design and being able to customize at the highest level, you’ll want to choose a landing page service that allows you to be creative. ClickFunnels or OptimizePress would be your best bet.
How much do you have to spend? Some email services, such as ActiveCampaign now include landing page templates as well, so if you’re on a budget these can be a great option. The downside to these is that the platform’s speciality isn’t landing pages, so they aren’t focused as much on providing high converting landing pages as a service dedicated to the task.
My Tech Tip for Landing Pages and Opt-in Forms is to start simple, but go with something proven to convert. I recommend LeadPages.
3. Create Your Landing Page & Opt-in Form:
Once you have chosen your service, it is time to create your opt-in form & landing page. The service you’ve chosen should have tutorials to show you the mechanics, but here are some important things to know:
- The landing page opt-in form will need to be integrated with your email service provider. Stop. Take a deep breath. This sounds harder than it is. First, you need to set up a form on your email service. Landing page best practices will tell you this form should simply ask your client for their first name and email address. You don’t want to make it fancy or spend any time at all on design because your landing page service will just be using the form as a way to collect the info and get it on to your list. You can find step-by-step instructions here.
- Once you’ve set up the form in the email automation service (there are likely tutorials on this within the specific program you choose), you will need to integrate it with your opt-in form. Go back to your landing page service and follow the instructions they provide for integration. Each service has different instructions customized for the email marketing platform you use.
When this is all finished, you will have completed the first techie steps to launching your online business. You’ve now created a landing page that links to an opt-in from. When a client lands on the landing page and clicks the button, they will now be added to your mailing list.
Congratulations, you’re well on your way to building a list of clients who love what you have to offer and can’t wait to hear from you!
Just want someone to set up the steps for you? I can do that! Get more information on my Done For You packages here…
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