The 3 hacks that got SpringSled 138,790 users in less than a month

The 3 hacks that got SpringSled 138,790 users in less than 40 days

About two weeks ago I saw a friend’s post on Facebook promoting a new management tool

SpringSled logo

SpringSled logo

called “SpringSled”. He posted a link saying – “Honestly I don’t know what this product is, but if you sign up using this link, I will get it for free for 12 months”. He even wrote a blog post about it.  I was intrigued.


If you’ve been following my blog, you already know that i’m a sucker for productivity tools and workflows (I’m actually working on a 12 minute video to help content marketers set up their own content echo-system). So the hook was in. I clicked on the link to see what he was talking about.


At the first glimpse, “SpringSled” is yet just another project management tool. However, the only difference is that it has over 120,000 users before even launching.


It’s definitely not the first time a startup pulls off a successful ‘waiting list’ stunt – Mailbox was famous for its waiting list maneuver and lately Robinhood has been successful at that as well. Yet, I think every startup that manages to pull that off successfully is worth learning from.


These are 3 hacks by “SpringSled” which assists them reaching thousands of users:


1. Nailing the landing page:

I don’t know if creating a really good landing page should called a hack, but it is defiantly worth the mentioning. “SpringSled”’s landing page got me from first sight. It delivers the company’s promise on every level.


The company promises the simplest project management tool and it means simple. The landing page 3 features emphasized: Simple, Visual and Easy. These are short and simple promises. Each image doesn’t show off much of the platform, only 3 simple screens – almost wireframe looking like, showing of how simple and stripped down their tool is.


Personally, I would probably have been scared to publish such a simple landing page, but they pulled it off.


Images that are simple messages are stripped to their core. I especially like the line: “Simple functionality means no learning curve (so your team will actually use it).”


After all, getting all your team members to be on board with the same project management system isn’t very easy. There’s always some rouge employee that doesn’t embrace the method, and they confront just that concern.


A simple landing page that delivers the company’s promise on every level is a great way to build trust, showing users you are truly practice what your preach.

springsled - nailed the landing page

springsled – nailed the landing page


2. A well crafted viral loop:


“SpringSled” has started shooting for referrals from step one. Right after the “get early access” call to action button, they have already prompted you to share. Logically, I don’t see the point in those share buttons, as they distract users from the main CTA. Though it might help them to capture those early birds who won’t sign up, yet love spreading the word about new products they find.


The interesting part begins after you enter your email.


Instead of the popular “share to get early access”, “SpringSled” offers you to cut in line and get their product for free for 12 months if you get 5 people to sign up.

This is basically a mixture of the classic “share to get in line” and Dropbox’s “invite friends to get storage” incentives.


The idea that you can save money on a product you’re curious about and get to use it sooner than the rest of the world is a good enough incentive for a simple share.


Another aspect I liked was the fact that “SpringSled” offered only Facebook and Twitter as their social media, not necessarily trying to utilize every social network out there.


Also getting 5 people to sign up isn’t too big of a task. It seems reachable for almost anyone and of course – enough to create a great referral program.


Beginning of the Viral loop - Twitter or Facebook?

Beginning of the Viral loop – Twitter or Facebook?

The tweet you're asked to share

The tweet you’re asked to share


3. Great follow up emails


Most startups using the “waiting list” method usually send you a thank you email telling you your place in line, and then send you another email announcing your number is up. “SpringSled” followed up and encouraged you to make sure you get the 5 sign ups.


“SpringSled” actually sends 3 types of emails:

  1. Before you get to 5 sign ups – they send you an email showing your progress (you got 1/5, 2/5 etc.). Showing you your progress gamily’s your experience because you have your own personal goal to reach. Also, each email reminds of the incentive you’e working for.
    1/5 sign ups

    1/5 sign ups

  2. You’ve reached 5 sign ups – it’s a simple email congratulating you for getting “SpringSled” for free for 12 months. See how they talk about your benefit and not theirs. Also, now that you’ve reached your goal, you will get the invite in the next 24 hours.
    You've done it!

    You’ve done it!


  3. Over 5 sign ups – now you’re a boss. They keep following up with you on every sign up your referral links got them. This is a great technique, because it does two things:
    • Knowing your influence, as people will sign up to what you share on your social media, based on your recommendation alone, is always a confidence booster.
    • The process and results are self rewarding. Hence, “SpringSled” appreciates every sign up you bring them and will remember and acknowledge you for the early adopter you are.


You're a rockstar

You’re a rockstar

On both levels, “SpringSled” flutters the user and give them values.


What’s noticeable and impressive for “SpringSled” is their treatment of the whole process as a viral loop. Once you land on their landing page, you are already placed in the middle of a viral loop that makes you a part of it.


You came in by referral and they keep focus on making sure you’ll complete your own viral loop and encourage new users to enter it as well. Even when after finishing the loop, their emails keep you in it, emphasizing the benefits you get from it, financially and emotionally.


What is your opinion on the referral methods and is there anything you would have done differently about them?

Are you on Twitter?

  • How SpringSled got 138,790 users in less than 50 days  Buffer
  • 3 Hacks that will get you 138,790 users in 30 days  Buffer
  • Waiting list hack done right - The SpringSled case study  Buffer

Comments 36

  1. Justin McGill

    Hey Roy – great breakdown. Planning to do something similar for an app, so seeing the detail is really helpful.

    I think one opportunity they missed out was to charge people to jump ahead in line. They could have actually driven a nice chunk of revenue with that knowing how many referrals and sign-ups they got.

  2. Marcel

    The story would be even more interesting if the how they did it from a technical standpoint was highlighted…

    1. Post
      1. Gab Goldenberg

        From the perspective of someone trying to duplicate this, yes, it is hard and a lot of work, unless you have a wide range of programming and design and marketing skills to set everything up – properly- yourself.

  3. Raymond

    “Honestly I don’t know what this product is, but if you sign up using this link, I will get it for free for 12 months”.

    In that sentence lies the problem for me. Understanding why so many are jumping onto something that they admittedly don’t have a clue what it’s about.

    After reading your article, I still don’t know what the product is.

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  5. Tibor

    Do you have any info on the initial “seed” user numbers? How were they acquired? How much visit happened on the first few days? This is a very important part of the analysis, because they might have spent quite a few bucks on advertising (probably not more than $1k)

    1. Post
  6. David Caron

    This is really interesting. The landing page was a great design. Simple, clean, and all you need to give is your email. I wonder what the user churn rate is going to be. Hard for us to tell at this point but I think that they might ave a hard time keeping users on board for a long time with this strategy. Thanks for the great read!

    1. Post
      Roy Povarchik

      I can tell you that I’m currently not using the platform, neither is the friend I initially got the link from. The problem with this method is that you can’t really distinguish quality leads from the curious clickers, and of course, you risk over hyping a product that hasn’t been “user-proofed” yet.

      1. Narek

        Well you can always segment out, the “cut in line” eager & early interest is likely the type who will user test and reveal key improvements early on.

        Those who have not invited anyone will get invites later, when the product is user vetted further.

  7. Dustin

    Dude, lightly good post. A good example of a great headline but the meat of it isn’t too special. I mean you’re a good writer and all but their technique is nothing short of wonderfully brilliant. It’s common in the space as I’m sure you know but with such a touch of modern. It’s interesting they only wanted Facebook and Twitter, may have something to do with traceability of the shares. Who knows but it was good none the less. Explain to me their pre-launch process, how did they get the social snowball rolling down hill, what kind of internal effort was required by their team? Those are the questions people want to know. The ugly side of brilliance is usually much more attractive to a reader. Like what was their goal? What was the rate of sign ups to referrals? Did try get a lot of actual quality conversions compared to just people who like freebies? How do we know the 100k+ sign ups mean anything? Give me the ugly bro and I’ll check in so I know you have exclusive stuff. If not, eh…like I said “you’re a good writer but what’s worth it?” What would you have done different? How would you have improved? What little hacks would you have done to make it better, more fine tuned or required to make sure it was effective?

    1. Post
      Roy Povarchik

      Hi Dustin,
      If i had the data for it – I would’ve written about it here.

      I reached out to them for more info, but didn’t get any answers yet. I think that the brilliance here is the fact that they used only Twitter and Facebook – i believe it’s a matter of focus and not technical difficulties. Also, I think their email strategy is a killer. I know that the 100K+ isn’t BS because I saw the snowball on my social media accounts – getting well over 20 sign ups.

      What works for them? Great landing page, curiosity ,a good low demanding reward per referral (anyone can get five users to join) and the right niche market.

  8. Narek

    This is awesome and so so simple and effective. Great job on keeping it true to its focus.

    One question: What email service do you recommend for setting up similar viral loop mechanisms? Can I create triggers on Mailchimp to do this?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Post
      Roy Povarchik

      I Think you will need to set event-based emails and integrate it your referral code, because you need to follow new sign ups according to a specific sign-up link. I mail chimp (if i’m not mistaken) you can only set email-event based automation.

  9. Rob

    The key piece of information that is missing in this story is the ‘base’ that they started with … was it an e-mail list of 10,000? 500,000? other?

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  10. Sam Barnes

    Really interesting stuff.

    The social referrals is a great way to get more users to the page.

    Personally I think a bit more information and shifting the CTA higher up on their landing page could lead to increased conversions but it’s still a great page!

    Thanks for writing the post.

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