As an entrepreneur or small business owner, there is a lot on your plate. You have customers to keep happy, sales to conduct, taxes to file, and about 3000 other things due before lunch. Even with all of that, you know you need a web presence. It’s the 21st century, after all.
You don’t have days to spend building a full website for your company. Even if you did, there are better uses for your time. In most cases, all you really need is a landing page. With no coding experience needed, a free landing page builder can have your page live in just 1 hour. You can expand it out from there when the time is right.
Why Build a Landing Page?
Starting with the most general reason: it just looks bad not to have a web presence. People expect to be able to Google your business and find a website. Sure, a Facebook page might work for some cases, but a dedicated website gives a better first impression. I don’t know about you, but I tend to assume that companies with no Google presence are either sketchy or dead.
Other goals will depend on what type of company you are building. If you intend to offer a service or product that people can buy online, you will eventually need a full website. The sooner you buy your domain and get something up there, the better it will look for SEO purposes.
Having a landing page also provides a way to start building your mailing list or customer funnel. When I hear about a cool new service or product, I google them. I’m signed up for updates about at least 50 products that haven’t even launched yet. I’ll probably buy one or two of them. I’ve passed about 20% of them on to friends to look at. Others will just become brand names that I recognize if I ever see them again, and brand recognition matters.
You need early indicators of whether there is a market for your idea. After all, entrepreneurship is a series of experiments. If you aren’t measuring, then you aren’t learning. Your landing page is a great way to measure potential user interest.
Before You Get Started
Claim your domain. Go and do it now. Most landing page builders will let you host on your own domain, and it is well worth doing so. It looks more professional, it’s better for SEO, and it starts building link juice. If people link to a temporary domain, you either have to lose those links or get them changed when you get your final domain. It’s so much easier to just build your free landing page with custom domain already in place.
I know that I said this would be free, and I will be showcasing free options below. You can get basic domains for less than $10 per year, so even with that cost, this will still be a very cheap process. The only caveat is that most services won’t let you build a free landing page with a custom domain. Instead, they limit custom domains to non-free tiers. My recommendation is just to upgrade to get the custom domain, but the choice is ultimately up to you.
Option #1: Mailchimp
Since we are already on the topic of mailing lists and brand recognition:
Mailchimp is one of the most well-known names in the mailing list world. They mostly exist for email marketing, but some of their auxiliary services are impressively capable and easy to use. One of these services is their landing page builder.
It takes very little time to get a landing page up and running with Mailchimp. There are, however, some limitations with customizability, particularly in the free version. The free version will include Mailchimp branding on your landing page, but the branding is not so obvious as to be obnoxious. Even with the free version, Mailchimp lets you use your own custom domain for your landing page.
Speaking of free, Mailchimp is only free for up to 2000 contacts on your mailing list. If that becomes an issue, you are growing fast and probably ready for a larger web presence. As a former cofounder of mine is very fond of saying, that is a good problem to have.
If your mailing list is already on Mailchimp – like mine is – then the simplicity of connecting this to your mailing list makes it an incredibly easy decision.
Option #2: Wix
Wix is one of the easiest landing page builders out there, and their templates are just plain beautiful. They have integrations for both email marketing and social media that will simplify all the basics you need for your landing page. Because Wix is actually a full-fledged website builder, you may even find that building a landing page with them leads you to just building your entire website on their platform.
The biggest negative with Wix’s free version is that you cannot use a custom domain. Instead, you’ll be stuck with something of the form username.wixsite.com. You’ll also have Wix branding on your landing page, but – as with Mailchimp – it’s not particularly intrusive.
Option #3: Weebly
What can I say about Weebly? It can be wobbly, but it won’t fall down. Okay, bad jokes aside, Weebly is solid but not impressive. They have very few templates and the interface is limited. This makes it fantastic if you want something that looks exactly like one of the templates, but terrible if you don’t. If you want to do much customization, you will find it harder with Weebly than with Wix.
Just like with Wix, Weebly doesn’t let you hook up your own custom domain without upgrading to a paid plan. Instead, you’ll have username.weebly.com. As was the case with the first two options, free pages do have Weebly branding, but it is not particularly intrusive.
These are far from being your only options. New landing page and website builders are springing up all over the place. If you are willing to pay, services like Unbounce, Instapage, and Leadpages offer a hefty upgrade from the free services described above.
Of course, picking a service is only the first step. You need to have a clear message that you are trying to send, with a single call-to-action (CTA) that you are driving with clear, concise copy. You need to know who you are targeting – your early adopters. Assuming you have all of that, any of the above services will get you off the ground.
If you aren’t sure what the purpose or message of your landing page is, it’s probably best to spend some time talking with mentors and researching online marketing strategies.
Your landing page tells your story. If you don’t know the message you are trying to convey with that story, that confusion will show to everyone that views the page. But if the story is compelling, your landing page may well become your greatest marketing tool.