NOTE: The first 3 companies shared were originally profiled by my colleague, Jeff Schwarting. His words are no longer found on the Internet, and I didn’t want to lose his thoughts on this matter. -Paul
P.S. Jeff wrote a great book that discusses his points further called “The User Method: How Entrepreneurs Create Successful Innovations“.
JUMP TO A COMPANY
In a broad stroke, the SpringSled home page is extremely simple. It’s clean. The content is decidedly spartan.
And its conversion rate is 42.5%.
Despite the high conversion rate, when we put the page together, we weren’t as clairvoyant as you might think – we just wanted to create a page that looked good and conveyed that our tool is simple.
Excluding the header and footer, there are a total of 41 words on the page. The content headings are single words highlighting the key selling points of the tool, followed by short sentences expounding on the headers.
Here’s the page content:
The world’s easiest project management tool.
Gain clarity into your projects with its intuitive design.
Simple functionality means no learning curve (so your team will actually use it).
The conciseness of the copy seemed to have a strong effect on some people, like Patrick Coombe, who left this comment on an article about SpringSled:
“I’m shocked, this is awesome. Not only a great story but truly a great example of excellence in execution. The copy-writing and in particular microcopy is so on point. Definitely, something I would use and might even make the switch from my current solution for.”
Again, it’s not much content – excluding the text in the email box and on the buttons, it’s only 31 words – but the key selling points are communicated clearly, and that was enough to compel almost half of our visitors to sign up.
Harry’s, a direct-to-consumer razor company, set up a pre-launch campaign with an architecture very similar to that of SpringSled and had 100,000 people sign up in one week.
Here’s a screenshot of the Harry’s early sign-up page:
Again, very, very little information is given, but the main selling point is communicated clearly.
“The copy on the splash page said, ‘Respecting the face, and wallet since like right now.’ “ wrote founder, Jeff Raider. “These words were intended to be playful and introduce people to the purpose of our brand but also leave an air of mystery as to what we were all about. We paired the line with a photo of one of our razors, but we included no more information about our company or product.” (source)
Dropbox, a file storage service, reached one million users just seven months after launch. Here’s a screenshot of their first landing page:
Dropbox chose to display more text than both SpringSled and Harry’s, but still kept it short at only 103 words:
Dropbox synchronizes files across your computers and your team’s computers. It’s better than email, uploading, or a Windows file share. It just works.
It’s seamlessly integrated into Windows, but there’s also a web interface. It also stores past versions of documents, handles huge files gracefully, and works both through firewalls and offline. (Techies: imagine the best aspects of rsync, trac and subversion, but easy to use.)
Update 3/20/07: We haven’t launched yet, but we are admitting people into the beta. We’d be happy to keep you posted about the neta program and launch (your email won’t be used for anything else.)
In all three cases, the copy-writing is concise and clear – it strongly communicates the main benefits of the product/service, and leaves out the rest of the details, which leads to very high conversion rates at this first step, allowing for strong viral potential.
NOTE: The next four examples come from the creative minds at KickoffLabs. Only 2 of the 4 companies highlighted share how many sign-ups they received before launching their company, but the other 2 businesses are also great examples of how to do a prelaunch right.
KickoffLabs also doesn’t really focus on the brevity of the pre-launch page as much as they do the strategy behind it. Regardless, the next four examples show the power of generating excitement before selling your product or service.
Any small business owner knows the struggles that come along with marketing to promote brand awareness, especially for SMBs that are just starting up. Getting your young startup off the ground running isn’t a Field of Dreams type of thing where “if you build it, they will come.”
You still have to build it, but then work tirelessly to make the business known to the world. It’s even crucial to generate interest before you launch your business, but the good news is that the earliest phases of marketing can be done through a simple prelaunch campaign.
What Is a Prelaunch?
A prelaunch is a digital marketing tactic to get the excitement flowing and the word out there about whatever you’re selling – before you actually start selling it.
It’s usually done in the form of simple landing page advertisements that say something like “Coming Soon”, but some companies take it a step further by creating a waitlist to make the product even more enticing than it already is. It doesn’t matter if your small business is providing a service or selling a product; creating hype through a prelaunch is one of the best and easiest ways to market and promote early on.
Robinhood Markets, Inc.
Who wouldn’t love the idea of trading stocks without having to pay any fees or broker commissions? This is what the entire Robinhood business model is based around, so nobody is really all that surprised by how well the company has been performing since its release in 2013.
What is shocking, though, is how well Robinhood performed even before their app was released to the world. The company was able to get almost 1 million users prior to its launch, all thanks to their prelaunch waiting list strategy.
Yep, you read that right. Even before the company officially existed, it was able to lock down 1 million waitlisted users. They were able to do this by waitlisting their leads through a landing page that utilized three powerful concepts:
- Compel Leads to Take Immediate Action
- Keep the Signup Process Simple
- Promote Free Marketing through Shareable Content
Since Robinhood has probably had the most successful prelaunch known to man, let’s take an in-depth look into each of their strategies.
1. Compelling Leads to Take Immediate Action
The ultimate way to generate more leads is to compel the reader to take action. With the Robinhood prelaunch landing page, the company was able to compel readers by using the age-old concept of FOMO.
The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO for short) has a strong effect on all of us, so Robinhood decided to utilize that. They created an air of exclusivity by making a “waitlist”, giving the impression of limited supply and therefore instilling a fear of missing out. Smart, right?
2. Keeping the Signup Process Simple
Take a look at Robinhood’s prelaunch landing page and you’ll see that they went with a no-frills design and a simple (yetpowerful) hook. They kept the opt-in process simple so that anyone could get waitlisted in a matter of seconds.
3. Promoting Free Marketing through Shareable Content
There’s nothing like free marketing, and Robinhood really took advantage of this by making the content uber shareable and ultra engaging.
The original sign-ups for the prelaunch of the Robinhood app were from the company’s immediate family members and friends. From there, these immediate connections passed on the word about Robinhood, and eventually the prelaunch was able to get close to a million opt-ins.
Monzo has been able to generate almost 5 million users and counting, and a lot of them got interested before the banking app was even released.
Monzo learned a lot from the Robinhood prelaunch campaign by using a viral waiting list to get people talking. But this online banking solution took it a step further by displaying the number of people ahead of a user as well as the number of people behind them on the waiting list.
Then below the queue numbers, Monzo strategically placed a button saying “Bump me up in the queue”, which created that sense of urgency for immediate action we talked about before. Obviously, most people are going to click that big bright CTA to get bumped up the line for early access.
Another brilliant strategy behind Monzo’s prelaunch was the way they promoted sharing and got the ball rolling early on their free marketing. Every user that filled in the opt-in was given a unique URL to share, and whenever someone opted in through that URL, the user got bumped up the waiting list. Monzo generated 200,000 sign-ups before every launching their mobile app.
While most new companies keep their prelaunch landing pages super simple with one image and a few short sentences, Token’s was a bit more complex. Part of the reason for this is that it had to be for readers to fully understand the product.
Token is a smart ring that keeps all your credentials in one secure place right on your finger. As you can imagine, there are a lot of moving parts to making this product/service work. Even though the concepts behind Token are complex and complicated, the company’s prelaunch landing page did a really great job of explaining it.
ho’s to say that a prelaunch can only be used for the official launch of a business? Not us, and definitely not The 5th.
The 5th is an online store that specializes in watches for both men and women. Aside from their glamorous accessories, the thing that makes The 5th stand out is their constant use of prelaunch campaign marketing tactics.
This company uses prelaunch landing pages for specific product releases as well as for new collections that are about to be released. They do an amazing job of highlighting urgency for their shoppers with a countdown clock for the product/collection’s release date.
Why SMBs Need a Prelaunch More than Major Enterprises
Actually, this is a misconception. Both small business owners and the marketing departments of large enterprises use prelaunch strategies to get ahead. Take Forever 21 as an example. This fashion powerhouse uses a prelaunch for just about every one of their new clothing collections.
Key Takeaways for a Successful Prelaunch
Before you can create a giveaway campaign or ramp up your social media presence, the very first step to generating interest for your business is to run a prelaunch campaign.
Some companies have been more successful at this than others, but if you do it right, you could go from being a small business to making it big in a short amount of time.
There you have it, seven fantastic examples on how to generate interest around your next big idea. The best thing is that you don’t have to wait for your idea to be real. Cut through all your possible excuses and just go do it!