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Companies like Mailbox & Robinhood have created these waiting lists. How are they created? Is there a service that does this?

  • KK

    Kev Kaye

    over 5 years ago #

    Hey Ben, great question. Building a landing page that collects pre-launch emails is the easy part.

    Shaping a strategy that brings in a flood of wait list subscribers is where the money is made. It’s what separates the wannabes from the world-class. Here’s a look at whats working now...

    This actually came up during a session with a few top-level marketers I work with. We serve venture-backed tech-startups together.

    We were scouting for tactics when we came across two dozen lame “coming soon!!” pre-launch landing pages. We signed up for a few and it got even uglier.

    The worst was the one that looked like it had no thought behind it. It was a simple thank you page with social media share buttons and a worthless call to action:

    “And don’t forget to share with your friends :)”

    The smiley face never works. I’ve tested it.

    What’s missing here is a growth trigger. Growth triggers can turn into self-perpetuating sources of new signups. Seeing so many promising startups miss out on these is tough to stomach.

    The growth trigger I’m talking about here is a viral-loop (or a close variation of one, at least).

    When we try to run a pre-launch campaign and build a wait list WITHOUT a growth trigger, we end up grinding in front of the computer, sending hundreds of cold emails, just PRAYING to get a response...which means we're like:


    It never ends well.

    But when we plug a growth trigger into the pre-launch, things start to accelerate. The wait list grows without any more effort from us. It literally feeds itself...which means we're all:


    The trouble is, most people don’t understand the nuances of a viral loop, and how to do it right.

    Having built viral loops for multiple tech companies, their success (or failure) has always come down to three key pieces.

    1. The Mechanism
    The mechanism is what you ask your subscriber to do. It’s the action. It could be “refer a friend by entering their email address,” or "share this on Facebook," or "send a Tweet." The key here is to know your user. Know their habits and behaviors. Know what they’re comfortable doing, then pick a mechanism that fits. (There is a WordPress plugin that makes it a breeze: https://wordpress.org/plugins/social-locker/)

    2. The Compelling Value
    This is hands down where 99% of attempts fall flat on their face. The mechanism exists, but the incentive to take action is weak. It’s tragic. This usually looks something like, “and don’t forget to share with your friends! hehe” Not persuasive. Not compelling. The offer has to pack a punch, it has to offer something more, something even deeper than "pre-launch access."

    3. Test and Optimize
    The “set it and forget” mentality is tempting, but it makes you slow and sluggish, and it puts you at a big disadvantage right out of the gate. Test different approaches and find what works best for you. This is where true creativity (and an explosive number of signups) is born.

    Here are some examples of a viral loop in action…

    The first is from a blogger, Bryan Harris. He offered a free plugin in exchange for shares and comments. He didn’t end his post with a half-hearted, “share with your friends.” Instead, he coupled a strong mechanism with a compelling offer.

    He strengthened the mechanism by setting a threshold, 100 comments and 200 shares. This is a useful benchmark that motivates the audience to take action.

    Next, he offered compelling value by offering a plugin that would actually do what the article covers. It provides even deeper value. So relevant. So good.


    The next example is from Robin Hood, the go to case study for building wait lists. We all know it. They offer “free stock trades.” Pretty compelling all by itself. But when they planted a viral loop in their pre-launch strategy, things blew up. ”Get even EARLIER Access.” Totally brilliant.


    What other viral loops have you seen online? Do you think they’re strong or weak in the three areas we covered?

  • MB

    Morgan Brown

    over 5 years ago #

    Hi there, these landing pages are pretty simple to build on your own, and when you do it that way, you are able to create the unique features and interactions that delight people like Mailbox and Robinhood.

    If you want an out-of-the-box solution there are plenty. LaunchRock is probably the most well known: https://www.launchrock.com/