One of the things that virtually every startup that hasn’t launched yet does is to provide a form that lets people provide their e-mail address, and get notified upon launch. Why? You want to capture all the early attention you’re getting in the media and give people something actionable when they arrive at your (often very sparse) placeholder page. This practice is so common that there are even startups that do nothing but manage this process.
A few days ago, forkly got some attention on TechCrunch, and to be honest, it kinda caught us off guard. We were still keeping forkly very much under wraps, and had practically nothing on our placeholder page but a plain, cryptic statement with our company name:
Of course, that didn’t stop MG Siegler from writing the TC article (nice job on putting all the pieces together). So here we were, with tons of incoming traffic, but no “leave us your email” form…heck, we didn’t even have a logo yet (we usually work on that very, very late).
We are initially soft-launching forkly to a limited number of beta testers like we did with Brightkite, and Brady and I had been talking about how that always creates the inevitable “when am I getting my invite, I requested one really early” responses. Our invite release policy had always been “first come, first serve” to reward those who were following what we’re doing early on. This time we wanted to try something new: your position in line would not only be determined by when you signed up, but also by how many other people signed up because of you (call it “social influence”). And so our “viral invite system” was born.
How does it work? It’s actually fairly simple: after you sign up, we provide a custom, unique short URL that we encourage you to share out via email, social networks, etc. When somebody visits that URL and signs up, we can track it back to you and give you credit for it. After 3 people sign up with your link, you make our “priority access list” and we let you know via email.
The results have been great (we’ll share some stats in a future blog post), and we even saw some fellow startups to implement the same (go streak.ly! .ly domain power . We’re probably not the first ones to come up with a system like this, but we’d thought you’d find it interesting. So, next time you are building a “launching soon” email signup form, consider going the extra mile by making it viral.