OK, now I have my landing page with a signup form ready. Now how do I promote it to get early adopters? Should I:
Or all of the above? Which one is most effective?
Our start-up was just featured on http://betali.st/ and we have seen a solid influx of possible early adopters. This was kind of surprising given our relatively narrow niche (competitive gamers).
I would try submitting it to similar services (like KillerStartups or StartupBooster). Here's a non-exhaustive list: http://blog.traindom.com/places-where-to-submit-your-startup-for-coverage/
I have gone through a similar stage while promoting a new startup and it was intended to drive traffic the website and making an opportunity to get them sign up and test our services in the real time. I had done plenty of things but then found that two of the below strategies worked very well to create brand and service awareness among targeted audiences.
I hope these tips will help you generate quality traffic and without paying or involving into any paid channels for promotion. But I will advise you to keep your website SEO finished first and turn your landing pages into user-engagement and conversion engines. Then your external efforts will generate better value for you in terms of hiking the number of sign ups.
You should leave a link back to your landing page when you post messages on site such as this, forum, emails, twiiter facebook etc. Start a blog or join discussions groups something like your doing now however attach your url as a calling card. If your service is of worth for visitors time and attention it will pick up traction slowly be surely.
The fastest way to get user's to your landing page is to pay for advertising, such as Adwords. But prior to doing so, I'd recommend that you install Google Analytics (GA) and track goals to see what % of the Adwords visitors are converting. Adwords may not be sustainable for you but it's a fast way to test the effectiveness of your landing page and messaging.
Paying for links is a very dangerous game. While the odds of your site being penalized are small this early, if it happens, it's pretty painful as you'll potentially be de-indexed altogether. If you are thinking of SEO as a strategy, start a blog and target specific keywords. Then have a clear call-to-action on your blog to your landing page. Obviously, your blog should be related to the product you are promoting. Use GA to see what keywords are driving traffic to your blog and try to rank higher for those with more targeted posts. note that this approach will take time and may not be right for you if you are just looking to validate your product - but it's likely a better long term strategy.
Another option is to find relevant discussion forums and contribute in a positive way. Many let you promote your site in some form (signatures, etc.) Just be sure to follow the rules of the forum.
I started a start-up recently and was facing the same question.
There are two additonal ways that you have not listed:
Starting with your own network is often a very good thing to do. Would your friends/colleagues be interested in your start-up? If yes, post it on your Facebook page. Even if they may not be interested in purchasing your product you may wish to share the great news that you are launching your start-up. And you may even be able to ask them to forward it to anyone who might be interested.
Then another source of traffic flow could be via YouTube. If at all possible produce some relevant content. If you do already have a demo, you can do a screen cast and explain what it is about. This can be done in 30 minutes or less. For our start-up YouTube has been a very good source of traffic.
Besides that I agree that AdWords is one of the quickest and straightforward options.
Options 2-4 are all good. Option 1 is a short term win, but a possible long term loss when Google delists your site, so I would avoid it.