9 Key Elements for Building a Powerful Promotional Website

37 signals knows how to promote their sites with low overhead. They have a built a large user base around those promotions. Take a look at the formula they use, and think about how you can incorporate their ideas into your next Web 2.0 project.

1. Overview: Explain your app and its benefits.Put yourself in the shoes of potential users and write the website copy squarely directed at them in easy to understand, jargon free terms. Don’t focus on features, keep the copy focused on benefits. This resource will help you do that.

2. Tour: Guide people through various features.

Make sure to use scenarios where the features are being used in the context of some benefit to the user.

3. Screen captures and videos: Show people what the app actually looks like and how to use it.

For those without the budget for Camtasia Studio Version 5 or Adobe Captivate 3.0, check out the free CamStudio or xvidcap.

4. Manifesto: Explain the philosophy and ideas behind it.

For inspiration, check out the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.

5. Case Studies: Provide real life examples that show what’s possible.

You can make these up in the beginning by telling a story of how you envision the service to be used. Once you launch the beta, follow up with your testers and get some stories from them. Pitch to influencer’s, whom you invite to the beta, as a promotional opportunity for them and offer a link to their website at the end of their case study.

6. Buzz: Testimonial quotes from customers, reviews, press, etc.

Take screen shots of press coverage and/or scan paper based coverage to highlight on your website. Use your blog to link to all of the places where your product is mentioned on the web. Utilize drip marketing, combined with prizes, to solicit testimonial quotes.

7. Forum: Offer a place for members of the community to help one another.

There are many free, open source solutions to implement a forum. Here are a few:

You may also consider using a service such as for live town hall meetings with your users.

8. Pricing & Sign-up: Get people into your app as quickly as possible.

Take a look at the BaseCamp’s sign up page.

9. Weblog: Blogs keep your site fresh with news, tips, etc.

I have firshand experience that this method works. Within 3 months, our blog attracted over 340,000 unique vistors and over 12. million page views resulting in a spot at the TechCrunch40 along with a great quantity of publicity throughout the web.

What do you deem essential for a powerful promotional site?

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