Hacker's guide to awesome landing page with singup form

How to build and host a cost effective landing page with subscription in less than one hour.


You start your internet business and you need website to target your audience? You want to present your company in the internet and you don’t know how to make it happen? You need these in no time and at no costs? You’ve chosen the right article to get it done.

The vast majority of entrepreneurs, service providers and managers believe in the importance of having an online presence. Company’s website and Facebook page are now an integral part of any marketing strategy. Still, few companies and organizations make full use of the various opportunities the web offers. An example of such tool is landing page.

A landing page is just website like any other. But it works a bit different than standard page. It allows you to capture a visitor's email through a lead form. This form is used to promote desired user’s behaviour. Subscribing to a newsletter, downloading an application, purchasing a product or service are common examples of these actions. In contrast to a full-blown website, the landing pages have always a specific target - getting visitors to complete an action.

In this post I will explain how you can set up the landing page in no time and at no costs.Eventually you’ll get a landing page with a form for subscribing to a newsletter.

Striking(ly) landing page

Firstly, we will start with eye-catching landing page. For this specific purpose we can use Strikingly. In rspective we used this awesome tool to launch our website. On our blog you will find post which describes feelings we had after migration to the Strikingly. I highly recommend you reading - Meet our new web designerIntroducing new website and blog.

If you already have content (marketing texts, images, product/service description etc.), it will take less than one hour to glue the first version of your website. This is because Strikingly offers a variety of useful widgets you’ll ever need to create business landing page: landing panels, call to actions, testimonials, contact and sign up forms. It comes with eye-catching styles and collection of high quality images and icons.

Building a website on Strikingly is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. You just drag & drop website components. It makes dead simple creating a powerful website without any technical skills required.

At this point I will let you build your site as you wish accordingly to your needs and business specificity. However, if you want to make use of further hints from this post, you must put 'Sign Up' form in your Strikingly project.

When your brand new website is done and ready to publish, you can connect your own custom domain to Strikingly site. In documentation you will find tutorial with the list of specific steps. Check out this page.

Bucket of subscribers - MailChimp

As a next step, we need to prepare a service for getting insight to your subscribers and keep your contacts in one place with subscriber profiles. We will use really powerful tool to do this machinery - MailChimp. It has a wide range of functions including email templating, managing subscribers list, automated emails sending marketing content at proper time. Within this post we will just use subscribers’ database and templating features.

After free sign up you have to create subscribers’ list. The MailChimp’s interface is really user-friendly, thus without any troubles you will find proper view to create a new list. Afterwards you get a bucket where we will collect information about your landing page subscribers.

From MailChimp you can generate sign up forms which then could be embedded directly in your Strikingly website. However we won't use this feature, because we want to stay in accordance with design from Strikingly's template. Otherwise it would be required to implement custom code in HTML and CSS which adjusts appearance of form.

Inbound sign up emails - handler in Mandrill

We have almost everything prepared to connect website and subscription mechanism from MailChimp. Missing piece is configuration which allows to receive inbound emails. We will make it with usage of Mandrill. For getting power of inbound and outbound emails through Mandrill, you have to sign up for free account.

Afterwards, in Inbound view, you’ll need to tell Mandrill what domain(s) to use and then make changes to the domain information in your DNS provider. Thanks to this all emails sent to this domain will be sent to Mandrill instead of traditional email inboxes. It's a good idea to use a subdomain, like "inbound.yourdomain.com" that doesn't already exist. For more details you can read Mandrill documentation.

Catch an email and add subscriber

Now, when we have all pieces needed for first integration, it’s time to make them talk together. We’ll use Zapier to make work easier. Zapier automates communication between different online services to get seamless process. It is for people who are not programmers, but they think in terms of process. Zapier helps us build a process and automation into our business like a programmer without having to learn to code.

landing-page-sign-up-schema.png

In Zapier we will create new integration which will automatically add subscriber profile to MailChimp after user signs up. To get this done, please follow instructions:

  1. Choose trigger (Mandrill - New Catch Hook) and action (MailChimp - Add Subscriber).
  2. Connect to Mandrill account.
    - In picklist yous should select Mandrill account.
    - Copy Zapier webhook URL and use it to define mailbox route in Mandrill (Inbound -> Routes -> Add New Route). Since now you can send emails to this address. Each received message will call webhook.
    - In Strikingly form use this new email address. Mandrill will receive an email at this address when a visitor submits a message.
  3. Connect to MailChimp account.
  4. Match up configuration to your needs.
    - Select MailChimp list you want to use to store subscriber profiles
    - Pull out subscriber email. You will get it in message sent to Mandrill inbox from the Strikingly Sign Up form. Field is called ‘Msg Headers Reply To’.
  5. Save and turn on this new Zap.

Congratulations, first scenario is ready to test. We have website with sign up form which allows us to store subscriber profiles. You can go through and verify if your email after signing up will be stored in MailChimp list.

Send welcome message to visitor

As a next feature we will send email with welcome materials to each new subscriber. We will use the same online services like in previous integration. The difference is about way we are connecting components. This time MailChimp will trigger an action in Mandrill. When a new subscriber is being added to the subscribers list, Zapier will run a sending email action through Mandrill. Configuration is as simple as following steps:

  1. Choose trigger (MailChimp - New Subscriber) and action (Mandrill - Add Subscriber).
  2. Connect to MailChimp account.
  3. Connect to Mandrill account.
  4. Select list from MailChimp which will be used as trigger.
  5. Configure email send operation
    - Set display name for the sent email.
    - Choose an email recognizable to your recipients (from email).
    - Set ‘to’ email - you can use property called ‘Email’ from MailChimp.
    - Define email subject.
    - Fill ‘Body Text’ or ‘Body HTML’. If you go with HTML, you can use MailChimp to generate HTML template.
  6. Save and turn on this new Zap.

You can start using mechanism for tracking subscribers and sending them welcome content from now on. Moreover, thanks to built-in tools provided by Mandrill, Zapier we get monitoring which helps us to maintain this small system.

Costs

As main benefit of presented stack I would highlight no costs in terms of time and money. The whole setup takes less than one hour. Furthermore free plans offered by used services should match your business needs for a while. Below you find the projection of costs depends on SaaS usage.

SUMMARY

To recap, Strikingly is a perfect choice for people who want to launch their landing page ASAP without compromising design and quality. Thanks to Strikingly we are able to create powerful landing page in under an hour with almost no cost. Although, we still have to pay 8$ if we want to connect website to custom domain.

Growing email marketing list is hard, but it is crucial for your online business. The good news is that there are some really easy places you are already collecting email addresses. All you need to do is make sure these email addresses make it inside your subscribers list. With Zapier, Mandrill and MailChimp that's a piece of cake. By leveraging cloud services to do the heavy lifting - we get a lot of value instantly. The less custom software, the better.