February 1, 2022
App Waitlist

How To Build a Successful Waitlist Campaign Just Like Monzo, Robinhood, and Clubhouse

Hannah Peritore

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If you build it, they will come” might have been true in a few *very* specific circumstances in the past—but not today… And definitely not online. No, online, you need a concrete strategy to get what you’ve built in front of the eyes of people who want, need, and gotta-have-it.

The benefits of a waitlist and when to make one

The world behind our screens is a jam-packed place.

Without an active plan to get your product out there, people simply won’t know it exists.

But, don’t worry—that’s where marketing comes in.

Maybe you’re thinking… but why would I start marketing my product before it even comes out?

The same reason you market a movie before it comes out, friend: to raise awareness, get people pumped, and build up an excited group of people ready to experience your product.

You wouldn’t want your product launch to look like the sad spike on the left instead of the exponential growth on the right, now would you?

How product launches are versus how they should be

One of the most fool-proof ways to drive anticipation before launch is through building a waiting list.

Heck, the guys at Rocket Startup think you should build your waitlist before you even build your product.

That’s because, with a waitlist, you have the incredible opportunity to grow your customer base *and* market the socks off everyone on your list.

How do you know waitlist signups are as good as a customer?

Because they clicked on your ad… then they read—okay, let’s be honest, skimmed—your landing page…

And after all that rigamarole, they clicked your CTA and gave you their email address… which is not taken lightly these days. 

(I can’t be the only one with a history of abandoned online IQ tests and random quiz results that just weren’t worth forking over my email for, right?)

So, if someone is willing to sign up for your waiting list, you can be pretty positive they’re interested in what you’re building.

Pre-launch waiting list success stories

Don’t believe me?

Let’s take a look at some of the most monumental waitlist signup stories—and how growing a pre-launch waitlist impacts brand growth.


Monzo waitlist screen - ReferralHero

Monzo is a smart banking app, debit card, and money management tool with zero fees.

They launched with a waitlist of 200,000 people chomping at the bit to download the app and conquer their finances.


Through a viral waitlist campaign that leveraged social media, a gamified referral program, and FOMO to great effect.

Let’s break down exactly how they made their waiting list go viral.

When a user joined the Monzo waitlist, the very first thing they saw was their place in line—how many people were ahead of them and how many people were behind—followed by a FOMO-inducing scarcity statement and a killer CTA.

Monzo was also building a buzz around the exclusivity of their product by letting people know that only the first 4000 sign ups would get access to the first batch of cards.

As marketers know well, fear of missing out is a powerful motivator.

So, instead of locking in the first 4000 signups—users were given the opportunity to jump the line by simply sharing their unique referral code on their social media accounts.

The thing was, anybody could get bumped up.

So, to stay ahead of the pack, the first-4000 hopefuls needed to continue sharing their referral link and encouraging their friends to sign up too.

Monzo leveraged their audience’s innate FOMO complexes to essentially gamify their waitlist and incentivize their users to grow it for them.

And it worked smashingly.


Robinhood thank-you screen - Viral Loops

Robinhood brought commission-free trading to smartphone users everywhere with their highly anticipated app.

How’d they do it?

The one-million-strong waitlist they built before even coalescing into a fully-fledged company—let alone building their app.

It seems backward, but Robinhood built up their waiting list for an entire year before launching their app.

And by then, let’s just say excitement was at a fever pitch.

Similar to Monzo, Robinhood grew its waitlist through a viral referral campaign, where users could bump up their place in line in exchange for a social share or getting their friends to sign up using a unique link.

As you can see, there are some similarities in Monzo and Robinhood’s thank-you messages as well.

There are the number of people ahead in line—a whopping 354,611 in this case—and an enticing offer to get “priority” access.

Now, who wouldn’t want that?

When it’s as simple as tweeting or sharing a link, it’s easy to see why they saw such explosive growth in their waitlist signups.

Just like Monzo, Robinhood appealed to their audiences’ fear of missing out—and made cutting in line as addictive as Candy Crush.

Easy peasy, right?


Clubhouse thank-you screen - Phoneweek

When it comes to waitlist success stories, the audio-only, social-networking craze Clubhouse reigns supreme.

Clubhouse blew every other waiting list mentioned completely out of the water with a 10 million person waitlist before launch.

That doesn’t even include the number of users already on the platform—so really astronomical numbers there.

Clubhouse took waitlist building to the next level with an innovative, viral strategy.

Instead of simply gamifying shares and invites like our previous contenders, Clubhouse made getting onto their platform *extra* exclusive with an invitation-only system.

Then, they invited every interesting person they could possibly think of—Barack Obama, the Pope, and Elon Musk—to join.

Who wouldn’t want to have a chat with those folks?

Instead of asking for shares or offering unique referral links, Clubhouse simply thanked users for signing up and let them know they’d only be able to get in on the action with an invite from an existing user.

But—users only got two invites when they joined, making a huge shortage of supply as the waitlist grew

Invites became so sought after, some people started seizing the opportunity to sell theirs on ebay and Craigslist.

Seriously. At the peak of their mystique, there was an aftermarket for Clubhouse invites.

And that absolutely brilliant use of FOMO is what scored Clubhouse their 10+ million waitlist signups.

The 5 key components of a successful waitlist

You might be thinking, “Okay, so those tech giants with even gianter budgets built up insane interest with a waiting list, but I don’t have those kinds of resources.”

Not to worry! 

Even if you don’t get Clubhouse numbers, accumulating any amount of interest for your product pre-launch is a big win.

No matter your company’s size or budget, you can emulate successful waitlist strategies in a few key steps.

There are five key components to a successful waitlist—and subsequent successful launch: a waitlist growth strategy, ad campaign, landing page, the waitlist itself, and a nurture campaign.

01: Decide on a strategy

While Clubhouse’s strategy would be difficult to emulate unless you’re pals with the Pope, Monzo and Robinhood’s strategies are doable for any size brand.

You can try to innovate like Clubhouse, but so much of successful marketing is simply copying what works.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here, especially if you have limited resources.

We already know a referral waitlist campaign is a viable strategy, so get ready to induce some FOMO.

02: Build a waitlist

There are plenty of tools out there for building and managing a pre-launch waitlist.

Of course, you could develop one yourself, but why spend the time?

Kickofflabs waitlist builder allows you to build a Robinhood-esque waitlist campaign step-by-step.

You can see their full breakdown of the entire process in this full-fledged walkthrough.

Need a free option?

Prefinery’s free Viral Launch tool helps you build a referral-based waiting list just like Robinhood’s—no coding or cash required.

03: Create a killer ad campaign

Monzo Social Ad - Meta Ad History

You’re going to need some great ads to get the word out about your product.

Don’t skimp on your attention to the design or copy—without an eye-catching design, people might not look... and without a well-thought-out hook, people might not click.

Again, take inspiration from what’s already working.

Research your competition with the Facebook Transparency tool to see what ads they’re running.

If they’ve been running the same copy or creative month after month, you can be pretty certain it’s working.

Take notes and consider how you can replicate the design and copy in your brand’s style and voice.

Remember, people don’t particularly like being advertised to, so you have to make your offer as irresistible as possible.

Don’t sell to them. Just share a solution.

04: Develop a landing page

So you got someone to click an ad—better make sure to follow it up with a great landing page.

Your landing page should explicitly deliver on the promise of your ad and offer a single option: join the waitlist.

Robinhood went through several iterations of its landing page in the year leading up to launching its app, but the copy stayed the same.

That’s because they realized early on that they needed to communicate their offer in as clear and concise a way as possible from the get-go.

Robinhood Waiting List Landing Page - Viral Loops

The design clearly shows us what Robinhood is—a smartphone app—and all we need to do to get access is enter our email address.

But not just any access… early access.

They made it so easy it seems almost wrong to say ‘no.’

05: Nurture your future users

Now that you have them, don’t let those precious email addresses go to waste!

It’s important to stay top of mind.

Your waitlisters signed up to get notified of the goings on at your brand—from launch date to product details and beyond.

This is the perfect opportunity to nurture your users and continue building their anticipation for launch.

Bonus: nurture campaigns are proven to increase retention, conversion, reviews, and referrals—and decrease support requests.

With a nurture campaign, you can regularly communicate with your future users and prime them for a purchase, signup, or download as soon as your product launches.

For an in-depth review of why nurturing is so important, the best tools to use, and the types of campaigns to develop—check out our article 5 Essential New User Nurture Campaigns.

Final Thoughts…

If you’re not investing in building up a pre-launch waitlist, you’re simply not marketing your product the best you could be.

Robinhood, Monzo, and Clubhouse all experienced incredibly successful launches, specifically due to their viral waitlist campaigns.

By borrowing their tactics, you can implement the same type of waitlist campaign at any scale.

If you find yourself in need of a marketing partner to build your waiting list campaign, shoot us a message—we’d be thrilled to learn more about your brand and explore how we can help.

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