Coming Soon: How to Create a Pre-Launch Page to Get a Head Start on Marketing

an alarm clock set to a specific date to represent a coming soon page

When you’re building a new website or developing a new product, there are often several pieces that need to fall into place before you can make it officially available to the world.

A coming soon page is a valuable asset to have during these times, and not only as a stand-in for your soon-to-be store or the product you've got planned.

Properly used, these pre-launch pages can let you quickly gain traction, gather feedback, and start marketing while you prepare for your big launch.

What is a coming soon page and do you need one?

A coming soon page, also known as a pre-launch page, is a web page where you can direct people to learn more about your business or product, capture their interest, even their emails, and encourage them to help amplify your reach—all before your launch.

Unlike About, FAQ, and Contact pages, which are staples of many online businesses, a coming soon page’s greatest strength is that it isn’t a permanent page. It’s a placeholder.

As a temporary destination, a coming soon page offers you the flexibility to:

  • 🏃‍♀️Start marketing before you launch: Since it’s a single page and not an entire website, you can “go to market” with a coming soon page in mere hours.
  • 🥰Focus on building an audience: Without a product ready to sell, you can double down on building a following and email list that you can reach when it’s time to launch.
  • 👂Get early feedback: Put your concept in front of would-be customers, gauge their interest, and use their feedback to inform how you build your idea.

A coming soon page isn’t necessary for every business, nor should it be an excuse to put off launching. If you’re building a t-shirt store or dropshipping business, for example, you can usually soft launch in a relatively short time and make improvements as you go. 

For others, however, product development, raising money, or building your brand can push your intended launch date up to several months out. Instead of putting off marketing until you can officially open your digital doors to customers, a coming soon page can let you get a head start, build and promote in parallel, and ensure you have an audience to launch to.

Free Reading List: Online Store Design Tips

Your online store's appearance can have a big impact sales. Unleash your inner designer with our free, curated list of high-impact articles.

What your coming soon page should include

Your coming soon page can be short and to the point, or it can serve as a detailed sales page that helps you achieve multiple goals. It depends on whether you need a short-term placeholder page or a strategic destination for a longer-term pre-launch marketing campaign. 

All marketing needs a destination. Your coming soon page becomes that destination as you ready the real thing.

While there are many ways you can go about it, most effective coming soon pages incorporate the following objectives.

1. Explain what is “coming soon” and when

A coming soon page can not only generate hype around your idea but help you gauge demand for your concept by seeing how people react to it, even before it’s available to buy.

This is invaluable feedback that can inform how you develop your product, determine your positioning, and design your website.

Even better, your coming soon page can give your audience a concrete timeline for your launch, either by displaying your launch date or even a countdown timer, like ULTIMATE Countdown Timer, to show that your launch date is drawing closer every second.

coming soon page header

2. Help you build a pre-launch audience

If you’re driving people to a page without anything available to immediately purchase, you need to make sure you have a plan to keep them from slipping away.

This is where your coming soon page can also help you capture an audience of potential customers. In most cases, this means building an email list. But it can also mean building a retargeting audience or accepting pre-orders.

You can improve your chances of getting visitors to join your email list by offering them an incentive:

  • Early bird pricing
  • Exclusive discounts or freebies
  • Valuable content
  • Entry into a contest
  • Behind the scene access (or even a say in what you build)

coming soon page incentive

You may even consider an exit-intent pop-up like Privy or Spin-a-Sale to offer visitors a reason to opt-in as they’re about to leave the page.

You can then communicate with this audience leading up to your launch to solicit feedback, share with their networks, or simply to ensure they remember you when launch day rolls around.

3. Give prospective customers a way to get in touch

Feedback is a gift, but you don’t need to wait until you've launched in order to unwrap it.

By opening a line of communication through email or social media, or better yet live chat, you can field customer questions early, convince people to join your pre-launch audience in 1-on-1 conversations, and get honest input about your concept. 

You can add a live chat widget, like Tidio Live Chat or Shopify Chat (requires Ping), in order to allow your coming soon page visitors to reach you.

4. Make it easy for people to share

If people like your idea, they might share it with their friends or networks—especially if you make it easy for them by including social sharing buttons.

coming soon page share buttons

However, you can make it even easier for them by adding an incentive to share your page with their friends or to engage with your brand on social media. You can use a contest app like Gleam, for example, to offer an additional entry for every social action a visitor takes.

coming soon page contest widget

Some of the best coming soon pages create what’s called a “viral loop”: where everyone you reach is given an incentive (such as a discount or entry into a contest), not just for joining your email list, but for sharing your page with others.

pre-launch campaign viral loop
An effective pre-launch loop will give each new visitor a reason to both opt into your audience and share your page with others.

One popular way to create a viral loop is by adding a referral marketing widget, such as Viral Loops, to your page to offer different tiers of rewards depending on how many referrals a person generates for you.

How to create a coming soon page on Shopify

If you’re wondering how to build your own coming soon page, there are essentially two common ways you can go about it on Shopify—both of which let you easily build your store in the background at your own pace and go live in a couple of clicks when you're ready.

To illustrate the differences between each approach, I mocked up some examples using a hypothetical business that plans to sell camping kits for newbie campers.

1. Use your Shopify password page as your coming soon page

The fastest way to launch your coming soon page on Shopify is to simply use your password page. By default, most password pages have the basic necessities of a coming soon page (an email signup form, social sharing buttons, etc.). This is recommended if you just want a simple placeholder page to explain your business and build your email list as you build your store.

Since it’s password-protected, you can also allow select people to view your website-in-progress by simply giving them the password.

You can turn on your Shopify store’s password page by going to your Online Store’s Preferences and choosing to “Enable password”. While you’re here, you can also customize your main message to visitors and explain what you plan to launch.

how to turn on shopify password page

However, to finish setting up your password page as a coming soon page, you’ll need to head over to your theme editor and customize it directly. You’ll be able to turn on the newsletter signup field and add additional copy to frame your form.

customizing your Shopify password page

In a short amount of time, you’ll have a coming soon page to collect emails as you build your actual store. For many new store owners without a large window until their launch or a pre-launch plan to drive a lot of traffic, something like this will get the job done.

Alternatively, you can also use an app like Modern Pre-Launcher, which lets you launch a clean coming soon page with some extra features, like a countdown.

coming soon page made with shopify app

2. Publish a “coming soon” version of your theme

Another way to build your coming soon page on Shopify is to simply create two different versions of your store: a “coming soon” version that you will publish in the interim as the center of your pre-launch marketing efforts, and a “working” version that you will continue to build for your official launch.

coming soon version of theme on shopify

This can be a single page where you can add product photos, an explainer video, calls to action, social proof, and more.

You can make use of the added length and the full features available in your theme to further persuade visitors and incorporate other pre-launch goals you might have, such as driving people to specifically follow your Instagram account or supporting your Kickstarter campaign.

coming soon page contest

Pre-launch marketing examples to learn from

With a coming soon page in hand and a launch date following close behind, you can open yourself up to start your pre-launch marketing.

If you’re wondering how to architect your own pre-launch campaign, it’s worth looking at the following coming soon page examples for inspiration. Each one takes a vastly different approach, but there are key lessons that are worth pulling out. 

Harry’s: Capture leads and amplify reach with rewards

harry's coming soon page

Perhaps one of the most celebrated examples of an effective coming soon page is Harry’s pre-launch marketing campaign that generated over 100,000 emails through referrals. 

Referral marketing is typically used to invite your paying customers to help you acquire more paying customers by offering both parties a reward. In the case of Harry’s, however, subscribers would receive increasingly better rewards the more subscribers they referred. The price of admission for the referrer and the referee was only an email, making it an easy offer to take.

Consider how you can use a thank you page or thank you email to create an opt-in flow that encourages new subscribers to take further action in exchange for a greater reward.

Molekule: Doing the math to create a pre-launch marketing goal

Generating sales directly translates into revenue. Collecting emails as part of a pre-launch campaign may not. That’s why it’s important to work backwards to determine what the value of an email is to you, what your goal should be, and how much to spend on pre-launch marketing, especially if you’re interested in accelerating your audience-building efforts through paid marketing.

For example, Molekule, an innovative air purifier brand, spent $50,000 to build an email list of 25,000 subscribers, understanding that even if 0.5% purchased their high-ticket product, the list would more than pay for itself.

For more on planning for a profitable worst-case scenario for your pre-launch campaign, listen to their full story on Shopify Masters:

Popov Leather: Accepting pre-orders for a product that's coming soon

Coming soon pages aren’t just assets for new businesses. Established brands can also use them to market products that aren't fully ready to ship yet.

Some brands may collect emails on a “coming soon” page for a new product to gauge demand. In the case of Popov Leather, they listed a new wallet on their Shopify store using the Crowdfunder app and quickly exceeded their funding goal.

popov leather pre-order page

GNARBOX: Choosing the right prize for your giveaways

A giveaway or contest can quickly build your email list, but when your products aren’t ready to sell or haven’t been given a chance to prove their worth, it’s hard to offer them as a prize. Instead, you can do what GNARBOX did and offer a product that you don’t sell, but that your target customer would also buy.

GNARBOX sells a rugged backup device for professional photo and video editors. The prize they put up, however, was a DJI drone camera, a product they knew was highly-coveted by their target customer. Along with some of the other list building techniques we’ve mentioned above, they were able to grow an email list of 20,000 qualified subscribers to launch their product to.

Hear more from the founders themselves on Shopify Masters:

Coming soon pages: The centerpiece of pre-launch marketing

Coming soon pages are entirely optional and not every business owner will create one.

But for those who want to run a pre-launch campaign while they prepare for the real deal, a coming soon page can let you start marketing and growing during your downtime, filling seats in your audience so that you can launch to a full house.