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Slide Details

This is a quick analysis of the wait list process for Robinhood.com. They currently have over 300,000 people on a wait list for a stock brokerage related product and are adding more than 1,000 people per day - and the product isn't even available yet. In a recent interview, one the team members claims about half of their signups have come through tracked links (that include referral incentives to jump ahead in line). This is worth studying if you are launching a product.

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  • Violeta Nedkova (@v4violetta)

    This is very cool! I just hope they don’t fall into the trap some startups do when they build this kind of anticipation around their product. I mean, if you make people excited and make them wait a long time, they tend to get frustrated. That’s the only negative I can think of. :)

  • Sean Ellis (@sean)

    I did this pretty quickly this morning. Wish I had more time to make it look better and call out the things I liked.

    Main things were –

    1) “Get early access” as the call to action.
    2) After signup, you get the social proof of all the others who have signed up and the reason to “want even earlier access”
    3) You are given the opportunity to share a link to get earlier access.
    4) They invested a lot in their video (GHTV interview hinted that they even gave some equity)
    5) You have a reason to revisit to see how your place in line changed (Mailbox was first that I saw doing this).
    6) On a revisit, you are prompted to share for earlier access.

    Obviously proof is in the signups. About an hour after I signed up, I checked and they had added nearly 100 signups. Of course someone unethical could inflate those numbers to try to hype the product more. I doubt they are doing that, but it’s always a possibility.

  • andrewgale (@agale)

    You forgot 2 things:

    1. They couldn’t use social proof because when it’s peoples money, they REALLY need to trust you. Instead they used investors to build that trust http://take.ms/Qyuj2

    2. Many startups think they’re being disruptive when they’re not. These guys really have a disruptive, innovative product that people can connect to. Of course it’s going to get a huge amount of signups! The priority access was pretty brilliant though.

    • Morgan Brown (@morgan)

      They have three forms of social proof going on here:

      1) The social proof of the 300k people in line. That is powerful social proof, if that many people are waiting, I want in on what they’re waiting for.

      2) The social proof of the investors (that you mention). That makes me feel confident.

      3) More subtle, but the ad is done by Adam Lisagor. You might recognize his face from the videos for Square, Flipboard, Coin, and more. He’s well-known among early adopters and puts his face on only the best products. His presence gives the company cred.

      The fact that he charges north of $100k per video means that this company is certainly spending to build pre-launch buzz.

    • NateDesmond (@natedesmond)

      Just as the investors build trust, I think the social proof of the ordinary guy (“just like you and me”) helps people identify with the product. I

      t’s not just for people who are serious about stocks – this is for the ordinary folk who want to make a couple stock trades.

  • Alfred Lua (@alfredlua)

    I would not entirely say that their product is not available yet. The app used to be available on App Store. But users could not buy and sell stocks with it then. However, they could track their stocks, make predictions and earn points. (Something like Quora/Stack overflow for investors?) If I’m not wrong, there was quite a huge community built on that then. By then, they had already proven that they are capable of providing great UI because the UI was already very awesome. (I used it then).

    Link: http://thenextweb.com/apps/2013/04/18/robinhood-launches-as-ios-app-to-crowdsource-tips-to-see-how-good-you-are-at-the-stock-market/

    Now they took another step forward by allowing users to buy and sell stocks with the app and created the waiting list while they worked on it. While the strategies you mentioned are pretty smart, I’m not sure how much of the 300k waiting is due to the strategies and how much is because of the community they have built previously.

    Happy to hear everyone’s thoughts! (:

  • Jason Falone (@simfonik)

    How inflated do you think that 300k is? The first thing I did was invite myself, with an alias email address, to see how far up the list I could jump. I’d guess I’m not alone in doing that. How many people did that more than a couple of times ?

    I went from around 332,000 to 7,500 on a few invites.

  • LouisSayers (@louissayers)

    Haven’t yet watched the GrowthHacker.tv episode, but I guess the one thought that comes to mind is that these guys already have investors, and thus they have money, and how much of that money has been spent on at least seeding the sign ups so far?

    • NateDesmond (@natedesmond)

      Hmm… that’s a good point. At the same time though, if 50% of signups are from tracked referral links, Robinhood’s doing something right to spur virality. :)

  • joshledgard (@joshledgard)

    From our experience I can add a few things.

    1. The opening copy/positioning a perfect “What we are / Why you should care ” combination.

    2. The “Get Early Access” incentive probably works well for people who trade online because they are likely to be people who want a competitive edge. In a lot of cases “Get in first” doesn’t sell as well as that because the audience doesn’t care or want to beta test new things. Their audience is perfect for that incentive.

    3. The “Get Early Access” button that follows you down the page is great. You never know what part of a long form copy page is going to make people sign up. But honestly I’ll be their conversion rate would be just as good without all the long form copy.

    4. The % of people that come from a referral is more common than you’d think. At http://www.kickofflabs.com (I’m a founder) in the last three months 45% of our customers conversions have come from the referral scheme… what we call the “viral boost”. If a customer actually gives you an incentive to invite other people… then it’s easy to break 60% of the signups coming from a social share like that.

    Thanks,
    Josh Ledgard
    Founder – KickoffLabs

  • Avishai SamBitton (@avishai)

    Interesting, thank you.

  • KainTietzel (@kaintietzel)

    Thanks for the share Sean.

    Can anyone recommend a low-cost share/referral service that can be easily embedded into an existing page? Something that preferably links in with Mailchimp, Vero or CampaignMonitor.

    We could develop one ourselves but i’m hoping to keep the heat off the development team who are working on the product for launch.

  • Jamie Ashbrook (@jamash)

    Impressive! Thanks for breaking it down :)