The perfect imagery, gripping copywriting, or a unique layout can put a spotlight on your Coming Soon page. An impactful page means greater engagement with visitors, more email signups and better marketing leads.

With that in mind, today we’re going to share with you some of our all-time favorite SeedProd Coming Soon pages built with the Coming Soon Pro plugin. More importantly, we’ll tell you why we like them so much, and give you some inspiration for designing your own.

LAB Petite

iamthelab.com's Coming Soon page

Not sure what to do with empty space? Your Coming Soon page can have your graphical logo front and center as well in the background, really helping to tie things together. LAB Petite does just that with its whimsical hot-air balloon graphic. The content window balloons are sharp, with a colorful brand logo to the right, while the background balloons are arranged in a light grey wallpaper pattern.

Fixers

Fixer Coming Soon Page

It’s a great idea to use your Coming Soon page to connect with your customers, and Fixers Travel is a great example. The travel startup puts all the emphasis on helping young travelers have an extraordinary holiday. Cinematic photography and bold copywriting help connect with the brand’s young, adventurous travel customers.

Les Mains dans le Cambouis

lesmainsdanslecambouis.com_

Your brand name doesn’t have to be typeset in some standard format on your Coming Soon page. Les Mains dans le Cambouis takes this lesson to heart with their one-of-a-kind word logo. The logo is dropped in seamlessly on top of a gritty photo of tools and gloves, probably covered in cambouis (that’s dirty grease or oil for our non-French readers). An email signup and social links round out the page, and give visitors more to interact with.

Gator Treks

Gator Treks Coming Soon Page

You can use your Coming Soon page to build excitement while offering an air of exclusivity, like Gator Treks does with its offer of an “early access invite”. The fun of being a first adopter can be a big draw for fans, especially if the fan is already part of a wider group. In this case, that’s the University of Florida Alumni Association’s Gator Nation.

LEAP

Leap Coming Soon Page

Sample content can be perfect to entice visitors. Your Coming Soon page could use a snapshot of your site under development, like LEAP does for its page. It shows your audience a sneak peek of what’s to come. LEAP also has a countdown widget to let visitors know when the site will go live, and an email-capture signup to make it easy for new fans to be notified of the launch.

Arché Travel

Arche Travel Coming Soon Page

Matching your color scheme to your brand is very important. Arché Travel have sought inspiration from Greece, a land of crisp white buildings and blue vistas. Their Coming Soon page features a bright blue and white background picture, a smaller version of the same image in the content frame, a blue logo image, and a customized blue subscribe button.

ShopIdex

ShopIndex Coming Soon Page with Gravity Forms

Sometimes you need more than one plugin running on your Coming Soon page. SeedProd’s Coming Soon Pro enables you to integrate your page with a number of other applications to suit your needs. ShopIdex uses the Gravity Forms plugin on their page to collect more than just an email and preferred name, also asking for a website and information about the visitor’s type of business. Coming Soon pages do come and go, and sadly this site has taken theirs down.

Andrea Robb Consulting

andrearobb.com Coming Soon Page

Maybe you need a more professional and streamlined Coming Soon page? Andrea Robb Consulting’s page is a great example. The soft background means the focus is on giving a professional business pitch, and collecting customer email addresses to help generate leads.

Not Dark Yet

Not Dark Yet Coming Soon Page

Sometimes you want everything on your Coming Soon page to blend together; bulky content windows need not apply. That’s what we did with our premium Coming Soon page theme, Not Dark Yet. You can overlay text right on your feature image or video with just a slight tint to the image to make your words pop, for a sleek and professional finish.

Backpacker Travel

Backpacker Trave Coming Soon Page

Sometimes, you love your Coming Soon page’s imagery, but sans content box, your text just wouldn’t be legible to visitors. Backpacker Travel’s Coming Soon page handles this issue with a slightly translucent content window. Potential backpacking enthusiasts can read an enticing call to action (and then sign up) while enjoying a beautiful mountain vista.

Coffee Shop Freelancers

Coffee Shop Freelancers Coming Soon Page

The success of your Coming Soon page may hinge on how effectively your pitch works on new visitors. If you can’t highlight the most important copy in your offer with eye-catching typography, your Coming Soon page might not deliver. Coffee Shop Freelancers knew how important highlighting their best features is, and Coming Soon Pro let them format their copy exactly how they wanted it.

Clever Dever Wherever

cleverdeverwherever.com Comig Soon Page

Say you’ve found the perfect imagery for your Coming Soon page, guaranteed to get followers to accompany you on your adventurous journey. The last thing you’d want to do is cover up such a striking visual with a dead-center call to action. The page for Clever Dever Wherever takes advantage of Coming Soon Pro’s near-endless customization, arranging the content box on the left to leave room for a great center-right visual focus.

Sorellina

sorellina.mx Coming Soon Page with Gravity Forms

Perhaps you don’t want your Coming Soon page to look like anything else out there. Sorellina used the Coming Soon Pro and Gravity Forms plugin to create a design that’s truly original, unique and perfectly suited to their needs. All the familiar elements are there – background image, logo image, content box, email signup, and social integration – but the resulting visual is completely original.

WiseJack Cooking

wisejackcooking.com Coming Soon Page

Sometimes the best pitch you can make for your product takes the form of a video. That’s the approach WiseJack Cooking takes with its Coming Soon page. An embedded YouTube video is front and center, to entice visitors into interacting with the page. After visitors watch the clip, they can sign up on the same page without having to navigate to anywhere else.

Hosting Stars

hostingstars.com Coming Soon Page

Hosting Stars took a slightly different approach when incorporating video into their Coming Soon page. A Vimeo clip is included in a larger format on the left of the page, while bold typography on the right tells visitors about the brand’s values. Email signup and social links are arranged in a custom layout below.

Atominx

atominx.com Coming Soon Page

Have somewhere else to direct your visitors while you’re busy working on your main site? You could use your Coming Soon page to send visitors to your other profiles while you clean up. Atominx does just that with their Coming Soon maintenance page – their call to action directs visitors to their integrated social media pages right from the content box.

The Astonishing Post

theastonishingpost.com Coming Soon Page

Some designs need to exercise the utmost control over color to achieve the desired visual effect. The Astonishing Post did just that with a striking shade of pink. by using Coming Soon Pro’s color picker to choose just the right shade for their email signup button. The result is a perfect match with the page’s other pop of color, the eZine’s feature cover art image.

Revista

Revista Coming Soon Page

It’s no secret that we absolutely love Revista’s Coming Soon page (after all, it’s our featured homepage visual). It just has so many great features tied together. The content fits perfectly over Revista’s featured image, with the logo filling an empty space at the top. Pops of color are everywhere, from the logo, to the imagery, to the page content. A really nice touch is matching the purple wardrobe with deep purple text, counter widget, and custom-colored social media buttons.

Conclusion

There are so many things you can do with your Coming Soon page to make it fantastic. From your visual choices to your layout, you’re really only limited by your imagination. Just keep in mind the basics – great imagery, strong copy, prominent social links, and enticing signup offers – and your Coming Soon page will go far.

If you’re ready to build your own coming soon page, consider SeedProd’s own Coming Soon Pro WordPress plugin. Every example you see here was built with it.

The great thing about Coming Soon Pro is how versatile it is. Each website owner started with the same plugin, but came up with amazingly different, unique, and inspiring coming soon pages. It’s hard to believe all these pages were built with the same plugin, but we’re so glad they were.

What’s your favorite Coming Soon page design from this post, and why? Let us know in the comments!

Uh-oh!

Something went wrong. Now what do you do to keep visitors who’ve landed on your 404 page from navigating away from your site?

Your WordPress theme likely has a pretty basic 404 page that displays when users try to navigate to a page that doesn’t exist. There’s probably a simple text phrase describing the error and if you’re lucky, your header and footer are included as well.

However, you don’t have to use the default 404 page that comes with your theme – and you shouldn’t. A 404 error page doesn’t have to be a dead end for your user. Instead use your 404 page to entertain, engage, redirect, or even convert your visitor.

In this post, you’ll learn what elements make up the anatomy of a perfect WordPress 404 page, why each element is important, and how to make your own custom 404 page.

The Problem with 404 Errors

Website errors happen from time to time. A 404 error could be caused by a number of simple mistakes:

  • You could have a link here or there pointing to a permalink you’ve since edited.
  • A visitor could share your latest post on Facebook, but make an error pasting the link.
  • You could send out your latest e-news update and make a typo of your own.

The problem isn’t so much that an error has been made, it’s how to keep the visitor engaged with your website when they encounter an error. A great WordPress 404 page could be the key to turning an oversight into an opportunity. Yet, you may be wondering what you need on your site’s 404 page to keep the user engaged.

The Anatomy of a Perfect 404 Page

There’s more than one way to engage a website user. You can use words or imagery to show your personality, but what else could you do? You could also give the user an easy link back to your homepage, ways to connect, or even the ability to search for the information they were expecting to see. Let’s take a look at how a few other websites have worked with these elements to build their 404 pages.

The Copy

The copy for your 404 page should be a message that fits your site and your goals. If your site is serious, maybe your 404 page copy should be too. But if your site is quirky, geeky, or otherwise full of personality, feel free to let that shine through.

Fuelly 404 Page Screenshot

Maybe your site is a straightforward, no-nonsense informational site. Fuelly’s 404 page is one example. No witty words or puns here.

South Park Studios’ 404 page, on the other hand, is a different story. This makes a lot of sense, because South Park is very different brand.

South Park 404 Page Screenshot

This 404 page references a character whose line appears several times in the satirical TV series. It’s easily recognizable for fans of the brand, and it doesn’t hurt that the red text links back to the homepage.

If your website is a place that provides a lot of information to users, like Mozilla’s Firefox, perhaps your 404 page copy should be more detailed and clearly list some options for the user. Mozilla’s 404 page takes this approach:

Mozilla 404 Page Screenshot

The Visuals

You may have noticed that it’s not just all about words for these 404 pages. Visuals play a huge role too. Whether it’s a logo, a visual familiar to your users, or an original illustration, a 404 page is a great place to have fun with your imagery.

Knowing their users were fans of geek culture, code hosting repository GitHub created a custom Star Wars parody graphic for their site’s 404 page. They even threw in a parallax effect for good measure.

Github 404 Page Screenshot

Did you know that an error page could even be the perfect spot for a custom video? It can. The Internet cartoon series Homestar Runner has several great error pages, including a fun 404 error page. Their ‘System is Down’ error page though really takes the cake, with an audio–visual skit played out between three of the cartoon’s main characters.

Homestar Runner Error Page Screenshot

The visuals for your 404 error page don’t have to be goofy though. You could use custom photography or film as part of your 404 page, like Spry Group Digital Interactive Agency has:

Wearespry 404 Page Puppy Screenshot

The Search Box

Words and images (and even videoes) are great elements to include on your 404 page, but these alone won’t help your users access other site content after landing there. One way to help your users move on after a 404 error is to include a search box.

Let’s take another look at that GitHub 404 page. Below the great Star Wars parody graphic, this site includes a search box to help users find “code, projects, or people” on the site.

Github Search Box 404 Page Screenshot

The Redirect

You’ll also notice that many of these sites’ 404 pages have a link back to the homepage. For Fuelly and South Park, it’s done just as a text link. Other sites, like Spry Group, make a large button. However, for large sites with lots of content, your users may appreciate more options than just a link back to the homepage.

Dela-where 404 Screenshot

The Delaware Government’s 404 page just about has it all. There’s a menu, several hyperlinks that lead back to the site’s homepage, a search box, a witty text and visual combo, social profile links, and access to a number of site resources and directories.

The Share

Speaking of social, your 404 page can also be a great place to ask your visitors to share your content or connect with your social profiles. The Delaware Government page gives prominent links to its social profiles, but social media giant Twitter turned its 404 page into a major social opportunity.

Twitter 404 Screenshot

Visitors who happen upon this page can share one of the ironic 404 tweets, follow the account, or access other Twitter content through the trending topics or search box.

To be sure, there are some pretty fun examples of 404 pages out there, but you don’t have to be a seasoned developer to create your own. You could get all of the benefits of a great 404 page with an easy to use plugin.

The Perfect WordPress 404 Page Plugin

This post hopefully got you thinking about some great ideas you could try for your own 404 page, but you may be wondering how you’ll pull it off.

We don’t want to brag, but SeedProd does have a pretty amazing 404 page plugin for WordPress. It’s easy to set up, fully customizable, and can do all of the things we’ve discussed in this post. Take a look!

The 404 Page Pro for WordPress by SeedProd

404 Page Plugin

SeedProd’s new 404 Page Pro plugin enables you override the default 404 page for your site with a custom 404 page. This plugin lets you create text, imagery (including video), a search box, hyperlinks, and social links to easily display on your 404 page.

Our plugin also features a prominent lead magnet where you can collect email addresses for your newsletter or database. It’s a great feature we didn’t see on many 404 pages out there, but one that could really make a huge difference for your website marketing efforts.

Head over to our 404 plugin product page to learn more and get started with building your own perfect WordPress 404 page.

We’re excited to see how you customize your own 404 pages with the 404 Page Pro plugin. Share your thoughts on the perfect 404 page in the comments below!

Today we’re excited to introduce you to our newest plugin: 404 Page Pro for WordPress – the ultimate 404 page plugin!

404 Page Plugin

A sample 404 Page Pro custom 404 page.

With the ability to create intriguing designs that look great on any screen and collect leads with more than a dozen integrated email marketing and web form apps, this is going to be your new favorite tool to maximize your marketing opportunities throughout your site.

In today’s post, you’ll get an exclusive introduction to the 404 Page Pro for WordPress, including how it works, key features and customization options.

What Makes This the Ultimate 404 Page Plugin

For a long time most developers gave little thought to 404 pages. They were the home of a simple error code; nothing more.

But in recent years, many developers have realized that a website’s 404 page can be a great opportunity to engage the visitor.

BuzzFeed Error Page

This BuzzFeed 404 page from a few years ago is still one of my favorites.

This used to take shape mainly as a branding opportunity. Error pages could be used to build a deeper rapport and connection with users through unique imagery or smart copy. However, we’ve realized a 404 page offers an opportunity beyond just branding.

With 404 Page Pro, you’ll be able to capture leads with a fully customizable lead magnet. In the admin panel you’ll be able to track new subscriber metrics and export leads to your customer database system. The 404 Page Pro plugin also lets you customize a search bar and link to all your social profiles and social sharing options.

You will have an amazing ability to customize what your users see as well. Behind the main 404 content window, the plugin defaults to a screenshot of your homepage, but you can instead show off a static image, a slideshow, or even a full-screen video.

How It Works

Settings Tab ScreenshotIf you’re familiar with SeedProd’s Coming Soon Pro plugin, you’ll recognize some familiar interface features in the admin panel. Once you install and activate the 404 Page Pro plugin, you’ll find its admin panel under the Settings tab in the WordPress dashboard.

It’s a very user-friendly interface. We’ve taken care to write descriptions for each plugin setting so you can easily customize your site’s 404 page to suit your needs. Many page and design setting options can be toggled on or off, so you can have complete control of the plugin’s behavior.

For advanced users, we’ve included options to add custom CSS and custom scripts, as well as enable 3rd-party plugins. The plugin features responsive design, is retina ready and search engine optimized, and supports multiple languages.

Lead Capturing and Social Media Marketing Features

We want your site to be a success from day one. As a lead generation tool, 404 Page Pro helps you capture email leads so you can do just that. We built 404 Page Pro to integrate seamlessly with your favorite email marketing and data capture applications, including:

  • MailChimp with Groups
  • Mad Mimi
  • Aweber
  • Constant Contact
  • Campaign Monitor
  • GetResponse
  • MailPoet (Formally WYSIJA)
  • Gravity Forms
  • MyMail
  • getDrip.com
  • Sendy.co
  • iContact
  • Infusionsoft
  • Plus any 3rd-party provider’s web form

You can also capture a site visitor’s name along with their email and store your lead capture data right in the WordPress Database.

We also built in social integration for popular platforms including:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • Flickr
  • Vimeo
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • Foursquare
  • Skype
  • Tumblr
  • As well as RSS and email sharing

Customization Niceties

For those of you who want to take a more detailed look under the hood, here are a few of the features you can customize from 404 Page Pro’s admin dashboard.

The Page Content Settings are fully customizable with logo, headline, and description.

Content Settings Screenshot

To set up your opt-in form, you just choose the destination for your subscribers from the list of email and form options.

Opt-In Settings Screenshot

You can also create a customized Opt-In Thank You Page with a personalized message to your new subscriber.

Opt-In Thank You Screenshot

Besides featuring all your site’s social profiles at the base of the 404 Page Pro content window, you’ll find you also have some nice custom display options.

Social Options Screenshot

For social sharing, you’ll find flexible customization options, and of course, 404 Page Pro integrates well with all the major social platforms.

Social Sharing Screenshot

The plugin displays the lead capturing and social sharing functions in a content window. Behind the content window, you have your choice of backgrounds. A screenshot of your homepage, static image, a slideshow, and full-screen video are all possibilities here.

404 Page Pro Background Screenshot

Continuity across all your site’s pages is a high priority for most brands. 404 Page Pro works with Google Fonts and Typekit by Adobe, so you’ll be able to use the same typography on your 404 page as on the rest of your site.

Typography Screenshot

For advanced users, we included the ability to customize the template with custom CSS as well as direct code forking should you need it.

Custom CSS Screenshot

Advanced scripts settings are also available.

Scripts Screenshot

Why You Should Take 404 Page Pro for a Spin

We think you’ll love 404 Page Pro’s easy-to-setup, easy-to-use 404 page creator and its advanced customization options. However, we also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, just in case you’re not happy. See our refund policy for details.

Licensing Options

If our guarantee wasn’t enough, we think you’ll really like our introductory pricing offer. For a limited time, you can purchase a Developer or All Access license for a significant discount.

All Access License: An All Access license is all you’ll ever need. You get use of the plugin on unlimited sites, lifetime support and updates and priority access to support – a $249 value for only $199.

Developer License: Choose a Developer license and you’ll be able to install 404 Page Pro on unlimited sites for yourself and clients. The Developer license is half-off for a limited time, now only $49. One year of priority support and updates is included.

Business License: A Business license is the perfect choice for growing businesses. You’ll get use of the plugin on five sites as well as one year of priority support and updates, all for $49.

Personal License: Get started with a Personal license for this premium plugin for a one-time-only price of $29. You’ll get support and updates included for one year and your license can be used on any one URL where you’ve installed WordPress.

Wrapping Up

We’re excited to share this new SeedProd plugin with you and can’t wait to see all the creative ways you’ll put it to use, just like you have with our Coming Soon Pro plugin. We set out to make 404 Page Pro the ultimate 404 page plugin, and we hope you’ll agree that it is.

If you’re ready to maximize your website’s marketing opportunities with a custom 404 page, head over to the 404 Page Pro product page to purchase your license and take it for a spin today.

We welcome your comments and questions below!

Many developers are used to starting with an out-of-the-box plugin and tailoring it to fit their needs, because standard plugins don’t always have the necessary functionality.

You can control an amazing number of functions with a custom WordPress plugin. You’re only limited by your imagination! However, the most obvious way to customize a plugin – making direct edits to its code – can potentially bring on security vulnerabilities and a host of maintenance issues.

In this post, I’ll discuss why you might want to customize a plugin, some problems to avoid, and how to customize a plugin safely.

Why You Might Want to Customize a Plugin

Most plugin developers aim to satisfy the needs of a general user. However, a user may want custom functionality that isn’t part of the plugin and doesn’t necessarily belong in a theme.

According to developer Justin Tadlock, in terms of plugin customization, you might want to:

  1. Add new functionality – perhaps to an existing SEO or comments plugin.
  2. Change or remove functionality – say for an out-of-the-box post type plugin.
  3. Filter out certain functionalities – leaving others, perhaps, in a taxonomy plugin.

Common Problems with “Forked” Plugins

Your first thought may be to dive right in and start hacking or forking the plugin. After all, the plugin is free and open source, and the ability to customize open-source software is one of its biggest assets.

However, your modifications could have unintended consequences. You could introduce security vulnerabilities to your site. This even happens to professional plugins:

Slider Revolution version 4

The enormously popular Slider Revolution plugin was revealed to contain a critical security vulnerability in 2014.

In order not to lose your changes, you might forego regular developer updates, which could include patches to known security issues, not to mention new features and functionalities.

Beyond security issues, you’ll have more maintenance issues with a forked plugin. The developer’s updates will overwrite your customization, so you won’t be able to update without adding your custom code back into the updated file.

If you’re forking a plugin for use in a client site, maintenance could become quite laborious. Clients could even break the functionality of their site by choosing to install a recommended plugin update.

However, the issues that come up with forked plugins don’t necessarily take away from your need for added site functionality.

Options for Safely and Securely Customizing a Plugin

A better idea is to leave as much of the plugin alone as possible, and use other methods to control the plugin in the way you desire. As Jeff Chandler points out, this approach extends the developer mantra – never edit core WordPress files – to plugin files.

WordPress core hack meme

Instead of adding your functionality directly to the plugin, you could:

  1. Contact the developer about your requested features.
  2. Create a new plugin that works alongside the out-of-the-box plugin.
  3. Rely on hooks and callbacks to get the functionality you need.

Web developer Ian Dunn gives an overview of all these possibilities in a post about doing customization the right way. In the rest of this post, I’ll talk about the benefits, drawbacks, and best use cases for each.

Developer Collaboration

Your first step should be to contact the plugin’s developer. This could be less work for you if he or she agrees to build your requested changes into the next update. It could be that the developer is already mulling over your changes for a future update; your request could be the confirmation they need to hear in order to make it a priority.

On the other hand, the developer may be less enthusiastic. He or she could see a different direction for the development of the plugin that conflicts with your changes. Another thing to consider: if you’re asking the plugin creator for custom work, it could cost you.

If you prefer to skip this conversation, you could always offer to write the changes yourself for inclusion in the core plugin. Dunn points out this is often a win/win for you and other plugin users.

The benefit: the biggest plus to this approach, of course, is the future support your functionality will enjoy. Future updates will include your changes, meaning your work will become part of the canonical plugin’s core.

The drawbacks: you could end up paying the developer for your changes. There’s also the chance of hearing a “no” to collaborating on your modifications from the developer.

Creating Your Own Custom WordPress Plugin

If you just need to add functionality, one of the easiest methods can be to create your own custom WordPress plugin. This is the best solution if you don’t need to alter or remove any functionality from the out-of-the-box plugin, but just add to it. Your plugin will run alongside the out-of-the-box plugin, extending its functionality without altering it.

The benefit: with this approach, the developer’s plugin can still be updated with security patches and new features without your changes being lost or open to vulnerabilities.

The drawback: this method can only be used for add ons – it can’t modify or filter out functionality in the original plugin. With client users, there is also the risk of the client disabling your custom plugin, thus removing the functionality it added (although Justin Tadlock has found a smart way to prevent that scenario).

Using Custom Hooks

If you need to make changes to the functionality of the plugin or remove a particular function, Dunn points out that you can use custom hooks to do so (assuming the developer included custom hooks in their code). Using custom hooks will allow a new plugin, written by you, to customize the functionality of the out-of-the-box plugin.

The benefit: you still haven’t altered the original plugin, but you have gained significant control over its functionality. You’ll still be able to apply updates to the original plugin.

The drawbacks: you’ll still have to create a companion plugin that controls the functionality of the original. You also need the original plugin to include custom hooks so that the method will work, and not all do.

Overriding Callbacks

Dunn identifies one further way of customizing the original plugin without touching its code: overriding callbacks. The plugin’s callbacks are its built-in method to integrate with WordPress. In this approach, you remove the out-of-the-box callbacks and insert your own.

The benefits: with this approach you can take advantage of a ‘salad bar’ of functionality. You can also call individual functions you want and leave others untouched.

The drawback: not all plugins play nice with this approach. Some aren’t modular enough for you to be able to call functions you want, without having to also call other functions you don’t need. If you need to call a number of functions, this approach can become laborious.

Adding Custom Hooks

If the callbacks approach becomes too big a task, Dunn notes that you could try adding custom hooks to the out-of-the-box plugin. This isn’t ideal because you are in fact modifying the plugin, but the edits will be minimal.

Your changes will primarily go into your own custom-built plugin. Your edits to the out-of-the-box plugin will grant your plugin custom access to its functions through the added custom hooks.

The benefits: this approach lets you take advantage of that custom functionality without putting all your edits directly into the plugin. Adding custom hooks is a fairly standard edit and shouldn’t cause any new security issues.

The drawback: this method could take a little extra maintenance on your part. You’ll need to manually patch your custom hooks back into each new release. However, Dunn suggests sending your custom hooks to the developer to include in future releases. If the developer does this, you won’t have the extra maintenance.

Conclusion

An out-of-the-box plugin – even if it’s not perfect – can be a great jumping-off point to build the extra functionality you need.

However, you don’t want to create a maintenance hassle or security issue, so avoid altering the code of the out-of-the-box plugin as much as possible. Try collaborating with the plugin developer, create your own custom WordPress plugin, or use custom hooks and callbacks to gain your custom functionality.

With this article, the correct choice for you should be clear. However, if you have any questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to reach out via the comments section below!

While there’s certainly still a place for marketing professionals in this world, it’s astonishing what you can do for free these days. With the help of some simple yet solid – and free – WordPress plugins, you can perform marketing functions that used to require a crew of experts and wheelbarrows of money.

Free is a very good price – if the plugin does what you want in a way that doesn’t make you wish you’d never heard of it. I test-drove a dozen free WordPress marketing plugins, and four of them did what they said they would, in a straightforward way, with a reasonable user interface, with adequate documentation, and without giving me the WordPress White Screen of Death.

In this article, I’ll look at why you’ll want these WordPress plugins to kickstart your marketing efforts and what your experience will be like.

1. MailPoet

MailPoet

MailPoet enables you to sign up subscribers on your website using a widget and then create and send newsletters and automated emails.

Why Use Email Marketing?

Customers prefer email marketing. In a MarketingSherpa survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, 72% said they preferred to be communicated with via email over any other way, including social media and telephone. The same report says that 91% of U.S. adults actually like receiving promotional emails from companies they have relationships with.

Email marketing is highly effective. In a study by the Direct Marketing Association, the overall response rate for email was only 0.12%, but the ROI on email was 28.5% (compared to 7% ROI on direct mail, with a response rate of 3.4%). The MarketingSherpa study shows that 69% of those polled have bought after being influenced by an email.

Email marketing puts you in control. You can send emails to your prospect and customer lists whenever you want – as long as you don’t get irritating about it. That means that instead of waiting around for the customer to do something to move towards a sale, you can do something; repeatedly and directly. You can also fine tune your list and speak to different customer personas in different emails. Two more pluses that put you in control with email marketing: You don’t need a designer to create attractive emails, and you will know within a couple of days how big a response your email call-to-action is getting.

What MailPoet Does

MailPoet content editorMailPoet doesn’t have the features list of plugins like MailChimp, but it does an awful lot still and is amazingly easy to use. It has been downloaded over 3 million times and still manages to keep a 5-star rating.

You can easily install it using the WordPress Plugins menu. You’ll then get a MailPoet menu in your WP administrative sidebar with three submenus:

  1. The Newsletters submenu contains a draft newsletter ‘User Guide’ that enables you to experiment with the drag-and-drop interface. You can choose from about 50 free themes or create your own – add and format titles and text, insert various styles of dividers, add images and (some) social media icons.
  2. You can view your email list via the Subscribers submenu. Here is where the info from people who sign up via your website forms goes – email address and name. You can add and edit lists here, manually add subscribers, and import and export email lists. You can also see when recipients have opened, and clicked in, your email message.
  3. The Settings submenu enables you to design forms to collect site visitors’ email address and name via a simple drag-and-drop interface. Here is also where you can enable signup confirmation (if you want the subscriber to confirm via email), add a subscribe checkbox for someone leaving a comment, and implement simple sending options. You can also find links to free and premium add-ons – for instance, if you have an online store using Jigoshop or WooCommerce, you can easily add a checkbox at checkout for customers to sign up for your newsletter. Another add-on option is to integrate MailPoet with our Coming Soon Page plugin, so you can begin collecting subscribers before your site is even live.

MailPoet has extraordinary technical support for a free plugin, in that it pledges to answer questions from users of the free version within 24 hours. The premium version (starting at $99 per year) cuts that maximum time to 12 hours and also provides integrated statistical reporting to help you make sense of the results of your email marketing campaigns.

2. Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress is a free plugin that integrates Google Analytics with your WordPress site. (Not to be confused with the normal Google Analytics Dashboard).

Why Use Google Analytics?

Google Analytics integrated with WordPressGoogle Analytics is a comprehensive free service that provides traffic statistics for your website.

You can discover not only how many visitors your site receives, but also where they are geographically, what browsers they use, how long they stay on your site, what they do there, how they got there, at what time, via which search engines or web pages, and much, much more.

These statistics are extremely useful in figuring out who your prospects and customers are, in adjusting your website content to attract them, and in determining marketing strategies to leverage your online strengths.

What Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress Does

Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress inserts a tracking code on each of your website pages, and then displays real-time statistics and reports regarding your site visitors directly on your WordPress dashboard and in your Post and Page screens. This free plugin has been downloaded over two million times and has an excellent star rating.

You need a free Google Analytics account to get started. Then install Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress as you would any other plugin. You’ll be offered links to a video and a tutorial, and you can then authorize your account and get a secure access code.

Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress shows the numbers of site and page visitors in real time, along with where the traffic is coming from, displayed in tables or graphs. For instance, it can show your visitors by country on a map or in a chart, while local businesses can choose to display visitors by regional cities instead.

3. Supreme Google Webfonts

Supreme Google Webfonts

Supreme Google Webfonts is a free plugin that makes the open-source Google Fonts type kit available for use in your WordPress website content.

Why Use Google Fonts?

In the past, website design had some good excuses for looking less than dazzling when it came to typography. If you wanted to make sure that everyone seeing your website would see the correct fonts – and thus the layout you had in mind – you could only use web-safe fonts, and there weren’t very many of them, so it was hard to make a typographic impact the way designers do with print media.

But these days, most browsers can display hundreds of font faces correctly, and web design has well and truly woken up to that fact. Get inspired by these examples of great web typography using Google Fonts, by these trends in 2015 for using Google Fonts, and by these examples of how various font pairs look together.

When used with a professional eye, typography gives your marketing a definite kick. Learn how to use it well, and your impact will grow.

What Supreme Google Webfonts Does

The Supreme Google Webfonts plugin enables you to easily use fonts from the Google Fonts type kit in your web pages and posts. This means that everyone who sees your site will see the correct fonts because your website pulls the fonts from Google Fonts’ online repository. With over 4,000 active installs, this plugin garners a nearly-perfect star rating.

Just install Supreme Google Webfonts as you would any other plugin, then all you have to do is navigate to Settings > Writing and select the checkboxes of the fonts you want to use. Then, in the visual editor of your page or post, you’ll see a third row in the formatting area, with a drop-down menu for selecting fonts and font sizes.

4. Popup Maker

Popup Maker

Popup Maker lets you create and control popup windows on your website.

Why Use Popups?

It’s no accident that popups are all over the web – they work.

People tend to find popup windows annoying, yet popups consistently have higher conversion rates than alternatives. Sometimes much higher, with reports of increases of 600% and more.

So the risk of irritating your site visitors may well be worth it, as popups force them to look at what you want them to see. But the technique is intrusive, and if you want to use it, you should familiarize yourself with best practices and examples of people who are doing it right.

What Popup Maker Does

With 7,000 active installs and a near-perfect star rating, you should have a good experience using Popup Maker.

Its WYSIWIG content editor enables you to put ‘any content you can imagine’ inside your popups. It lets you use forms created with other plugins, such as Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms. Plus, the company offers to educate you to ‘drastically improve your conversion rates using Popup Maker’ via tutorials and guides.

Conclusion

With just these four plugins, you have enough marketing possibilities at your fingertips to keep you much busier than you want to be.

But at least, if my experience is any guide, the time will be spent on actually improving your marketing, rather than being knocked down and hog-tied by free plugins that truly aren’t worth the price.

Enjoy, experiment, and go easy on the fonts ;-)

Launching a WooCommerce powered website?

Now you can collect emails before you launch your WooCommerce store and use the popular Follow Up Emails plugins for WooCommerce to send you launch emails. Coming Soon Pro is proud to include this integration to help make your store a success.

Key Features of Follow Up Emails Plugin

  • One-time cost. No monthly or per-email costs. Unlimited sends. Unlimited contacts.
  • Targeted emails to your customers and prospects
  • Automate emails, on your defined schedule
  • Fully supported, maintained, and updated
  • Easy to setup – no complicated integrations, APIs, or additional accounts
  • Easily create emails to manage your business communications with individuals directly from WooCommerce interface versus your email client
  • Offer discounts in your emails with integrated coupons
  • Full-featured reporting on email sends, opens, clicks, and communication by customer
  • Google Analytics integration
  • Numerous variables to allow you to integrate customer and order data into your emails

Learn More

Let’s get straight to it. You’re going to feel that your new website’s launch was a success if you attract a lot of visitors who are engaged enough to:

  • read your content,
  • give you their email address,
  • share your content on social media,
  • follow your social media channels, and/or
  • come back to your site another day

These are valuable goals, and you can accomplish them all before your all-singing-and-dancing website is even visible to the Internet-surfing public by using a ‘Coming Soon’ page.

A Coming Soon page is a placeholder for what your site will soon be that can offer enticements for visitors to engage in all of the ways listed above. It can also encourage them to show up at your launch, so that you’re not left only with the sound of crickets and a sinking heart.

With all that in mind, in this article I’m going to focus on how you can market your WordPress website before it is even ready to reveal the public by revealing six different strategies you can employ ahead of the big launch day.

How a Coming Soon Page Moves Your Site’s Marketing Forward

If you know enough Internet history to be familiar with the ‘Under Construction’ pages of yore, you may feel some discomfort when considering placing a page on your domain name stating that your website isn’t quite ready yet. Back in the ’90s, it was a real drag to load a site and see some hard-hatted cartoon character with a sawhorse and an open manhole telling you you’d completely wasted your time by coming to this location.

'Under Construction' graphic

This is not what we’re talking about.

But today’s Coming Soon page is so far evolved from its Stone Age placeholder ancestor that it hardly seems like the same species. At some point, some genius had the idea: “Hey! Instead of just telling visitors we’re not here, we could tell them stuff about us!”, and the rest is history.

With complete professionalism and credibility, you can use a Coming Soon page to establish your brand, create anticipation, grow your email list, jump-start your social media presence, nurture customer engagement, and catalyze your launch’s potential, all while you’re busy building your website behind the scenes.

And you can do it with ease by using a user-friendly plugin such as SeedProd for WordPress, which can put you in direct control of some massive capabilities.

1. Jumpstart Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

It takes time to get your website indexed by search engines. Google is not exactly forthcoming about how they do things, but the scuttlebutt is that after it indexes a new website for the first time – which can take a few days or a few weeks – it pretty much sets the site aside for a few months to see whether it seems to be worth further investigation. It’s common for a brand new domain to take six to eight months to rank well in Google search results.

However, when you use a Coming Soon page, the countdown to search engine ranking starts sooner. Google will likely find your site before you’ve truly launched it (probably well before, the way launch schedules invariably tend to go). They don’t care that your website says ‘Coming Soon’ – they will treat it like a real (new) site.

Google – via their head of webspam and SEO celebrity, Matt Cutts – have actually stated that a Coming Soon page is a good idea:

Don’t worry about search engines checking out your site before it’s got much in the way of content. In the pre-launch phase, the point is to earn the search engines’ trust – to have them know that you exist and that you’re a well-behaved site. You can dazzle them later with your multitudinous pages of content.

For SEO purposes, your Coming Soon page should include a brief description of what your site is up to and generally utilize best practices. Its very existence provides a means for people to (a) discover you, and (b) link to you, giving you a key start in terms of SEO.

2. Create a Simple Media Kit

A media kit is like your company’s résumé. You’re going to have to create one by the time your site launches anyway, so you might as well do it now – thereby adding descriptive content to your site (giving both search engines and human beings something to dig their teeth into) – and elevating your site with enough useful information in place so you can schmooze the press.

With your Coming Soon page, you should have a link for media sources who may be interested in talking to you, including bloggers you may want to network with.

By linking from your Coming Soon page to your media kit – or to its individual elements – you keep your main page clean and focused, while branding your site as professional enough to provide the press what they need in order to publicize you. It was good – and smart – of you not to force them to track down this information about your enterprise themselves if they want to feature your business.

Your website page design may still be nowhere near final, but no worries; your media kit can be as simple as creating a PDF and uploading it. Here are some great examples. Keep in mind, though, that it’s the text search engines look at, not so much the graphics. With that in mind, here are some great tips for optimizing PDFs for SEO.

Media kit sample

Your media kit can be as simple – or as beautiful – as you like.

What should be in your media kit? A thousand websites have a million ideas. Some media kits provide nothing but a version or two of their logo for download. But to really do yourself and the press a favor, your media kit should include at least:

  • contact info,
  • a company overview,
  • biographies of key players,
  • a FAQ, and
  • any media coverage you’ve already received.

3. Create a Blog

Just because you don’t have a website (yet) doesn’t mean you have nothing to say. You can write about your industry, service or product. You can write about problems and how you solve them. In fact, you can write about anything that will move your brand forward.

If you can create shareable or viral blog posts, and create posts that other sites want to link to, your content will be worth its virtual weight in gold. And remember, unique content that other people link to will make search engines love you.

Justin Jackson's "This is a web page" article

Justin Jackson’s “This is a web page” article proves how compelling words alone can be.

WordPress makes it easy to create a blog, and with the SeedProd plugin for WordPress it’s easy to link visitors from your Coming Soon page to your blog – even though your actual website does not yet exist.

4. Build Your Email List

Experts say that your email list is one of your greatest assets. It’s remarkably cost-effective, plus it has a high conversion rate, and is useful for letting people know when your site has new content.

During the pre-launch phase, your email list enables you to notify interested people of your progress toward launch, to find beta testers, to ask for feedback, to make pre-sales and to build buzz in multiple ways.

Using a WordPress plugin like SeedProd, you can easily set your Coming Soon page up to collect email addresses from visitors. You can entice them to subscribe to your email list by promising them updates, a prize giveaway, a chance to beta test, first crack at usernames, or by giving something away for free such as a PDF or video series.

SeedProd integration services list

SeedProd is fully integrated with all of the above services.

SeedProd (and some other plugins) also make it easy to connect your email subscription sign-up form to an email marketing service provider such as MailChimp in order to make sending bulk emails simple, and to manage your mailing list.

5. Get a Head Start on Social Media

Social media networks

Before you launch your website is the perfect time to begin building up your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube and other social media channels. Create accounts, make a profile, and post content.

On your Coming Soon page, you can show icons that link to your website’s various social media accounts so that visitors can follow what you’re posting.

Furthermore, you can also show icons that let your visitors click to share your site on their social media accounts.

Conclusion

There’s no need to wait until your website is live before you take the internet by storm.

By using a Coming Soon page, you can engage visitors in ways that are extremely useful in advancing your marketing goals, and start building a community of loyal fans even though, behind the scenes, you may still be figuring out whether your product is animal, vegetable or mineral.

Best of all, all of the above can be achieved in relatively little time. Take just one day (or less) to execute all of the above with the help of a time-saving plugin like SeedProd. And if you have any questions, just get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help!

Image Credits: Wikimedia and Anna

When building your first WordPress website, you may wonder how readers will find your site. If you plan to use your site as a business, you’ll also worry about how customers will find you.

WordPress continues to be one of the most popular website building platforms because of the many ways it helps you address these questions.

While WordPress integrates easily with everything from social networking sites to email marketing platforms (through its huge plugins armoury), the world’s most popular Content Management System (CMS) also boasts a number of core marketing features. These built-in features can boost your exposure on the world wide web before you’ve clicked Install on a single plugin.

In this post, you’ll learn about four built-in WordPress features that help people find your site and keep coming back for more.

1. Search Engine Optimization

The first step to marketing your website is being found by web users, and this often happens first through search. The higher your site ranks on search, the more people will visit your site. It’s that simple.

Fortunately, WordPress has a number of great Search Engine Optimization (SEO) features built-in that can help your site to rank higher for relevant keywords and phrases.

While some meta tags aren’t as important to search engines as they used to be, filling in the description and page title tags with information closely related to your site’s content can still help your search ranking. You can modify your site’s meta tags in the header.php template file for your theme.

The WordPress Dashboard also lets you choose a permalink structure for your posts and pages:

WordPress permalinks settings

Pretty permalinks include rich information for search engines, including keywords from your post or page title, which can help the ranking for your content.

Linking to other posts and pages within your own site will also help your search rankings. Within the post editor’s insert link popup (shown below), you’ll find an easy way to link to existing content with a listing of previously published pages and posts to choose from.

WordPress 'Insert/edit link' popup

Plugins can extend your SEO possibilities further, but the WordPress CMS’ built-in features allow you to do quite a lot without extras.

Next steps: Learn more about modifying your site’s header.php file and using permalinks.

2. Feeds

Feeds let your site’s visitors subscribe to content updates without needing to become email subscribers or social media followers.

Feed reader apps (such as Feedly and Flipboard) let web users aggregate content from across the web into what effectively is a personal newspaper. As you publish new blog posts, a summary or excerpt of each post will be pulled into the user’s app. The user can quickly hop over to your site to read and interact with the whole post.

WordPress builds default feed options directly into the platform for several different file types used by feed readers, including RSS, RDF and Atom file formats:

WordPress built-in feeds

WordPress’ built-in feeds.

A comment feed, which aggregates new comments posted on your blog pages or posts, also exists by default.

Beyond these default settings, you can start customizing your feed options. You can add feeds for comments on specific posts, blog post categories or tags, and specific post authors. Even the search results from your site’s search bar can have their own feed.

For many web users, a feedreader is the go-to method for keeping up with their favorite sites. Theme developers who incorporate the feature directly into their theme designs give WordPress users yet another way to connect with their audience.

Next step: Learn about utilizing feeds in WordPress.

3. Comments

Post and page comments let your readers offer feedback and ask questions to you and to other commenters. This direct connection between readers and content creators is one of the most unique features of the online world. WordPress’s built-in comments feature lets you build a lively community around your content and your brand.

The comments feature is a well-designed part of the WordPress platform. The administration and appearance of your comments is highly customizable. Website owners can toggle comments on or off for specific pages, manage incoming comments, define commenter rules, and set notification settings. Visually, comments can be organized into threads (nested), sorted, and divided into pages. Gravatar avatars are compatible with WordPress comments without the need for any extra plugins.

WordPress comments settings

WordPress offers a wealth of default comments-related settings via Settings > Discussion.

While comments are certainly a way to build interest on your site, they also offer a way to get others to find and visit your site from other WordPress blogs. As a commenter yourself, you can include your own URL in relevant comments on like-minded blogs. This can be a great way to market your site to new users – just be careful that your comments are genuine and helpful, and not overly spammy.

Next step: Learn more about setting up and customizing comments in WordPress.

4. Trackbacks and Pingbacks

Trackbacks and pingbacks are distinct from regular blog post comments, but show up as notifications in the admin and display in the comments area. Both are types of notifications where relevant content or links to content are shared between two separate blogs.

Trackbacks predate pingbacks and are sent manually from one enabled blog to another. For example, let’s say Sam and Harry both have a WordPress blog. If Sam writes a response post to something Harry wrote about on his own blog, Sam can send a trackback to Harry to let Harry know about the post in order to involve both Sam and Harry’s readers in the discussion. Harry receives a comment notification of the trackback and can approve it to appear alongside other comments. Usually the trackback is an excerpt of what is said in Sam’s post as well as a link.

Examples of trackbacks

An old-school example of trackbacks displayed on a WordPress website.

When enabled, pingbacks are sent automatically when a post is published. In this case, Sam can write a post referencing Harry’s post. Sam won’t contact Harry directly, but Harry will receive a notification of a comment containing a link to Sam’s post and can choose to approve it as a comment if it will be valuable to his readers.

Just like networking in the real world, online networking can help your website gain a much larger audience. With trackbacks and pingbacks, Sam can reach not only his own audience through his site content, he can also reach Harry’s.

Next step: Learn more about trackbacks and pingbacks in WordPress.

Conclusion

Each of the above features helps a different aspect of your marketing funnel.

SEO features will help search engines index your site so your content can be found by web search users. Once users have found your content, feeds will help them keep up to date with new content you publish and comment and author activity happening on your site. The comments feature will help build a community of users interacting with your content, while trackback and pingback notifications will help you network with other WordPress bloggers and their audiences.

Despite the technical nature of these features, most are easy to use; requiring little programming knowledge to set up and begin marketing your website.

Now that you know more about WordPress’s built-in marketing features, the next step is putting them to work for your website. So choose one step of your marketing funnel you’d like to improve and use one of WordPress’ built-in features to work towards that goal.

Good luck!

Image Credits: WordPress Codex and Kevin.


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