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Inside the Greatest Online Product Launch Since Gmail

Looking back, it’s fair to say the launch strategy Google used back in 2004 has become legendary. When the new platform first came out offering an unheard of 1 GB of free storage space, it was only available to an extremely limited group of people. As a result, having a Gmail account became an early adopter badge of honor – and limiting new registrations to those who were invited by an existing user also created a unique buzz that drove millions to lust after Gmail accounts. Today Gmail is the dominant email platform, and the one that has inspired the largest ecosystem of new apps and plugins to optimize the email experience.

Today a new entrant into that ecosystem is creating a lot of buzz with what may be the greatest launch strategy since Gmail. The Mailbox App has been featured in media for the past several weeks and its launch teaser video has already been viewed more than 2 million times in less than two months (see below). What makes their launch strategy so good? The product looks great, but like Gmail – it is the decisions they have made about HOW to launch the product that are helping fuel so much excitement.

Here are a few of their smart choices that you might be able to learn from:

  1. Start with an easy commitment. So many new apps close registrations or have placeholder landing pages up to collect email addresses. Instead of doing that, Mailbox asks you to go RIGHT NOW and download the app. Then you’ll reserve your place in line – which they actually call a “reservation” instead of something seemingly far off like a waiting list. The end result is that you act right now to download the app – they get to continue to rise in the rankings on iTunes and now you are basically ready to go as soon as they give you access.
  2. Explain your thinking. Everyone across the site, the app and the descriptions of the app on iTunes, the team behind Mailbox devotes a lot of attention to explaining WHY you can’t just get the app right now. Reading that, anyone interested in the app is much more likely to feel better about waiting, because the method behind the decision is clearly and simply explained.
  3. Gamify the wait. The most creative and original part about downloading the app is the queue counter that you get after you have installed it. As you watch the numbers tick slowly downward for the number of people ahead of you, there is never a moment when you don’t know your place in line. Not only that, but checking in to see your progress towards getting an account becomes a game that you continually check into. And just like the best games, when you finally “win” and successfully get an account, you’ll have a feeling of earning your pass onto the platform … and value it even more as a result.

Together this creative approach to signing up new users and getting them to talk about the product before they even have access makes this one of the best and most unique launch strategies for an app I’ve seen in some time. Now all that’s left is for the app to live up to the hype all of this has created.

Meet Mailbox. The fast, fun mobile inbox that puts email in its place.

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Song credit: Littlest Birds by The Be Good Tanyas

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#1 WSJ & USA Today Bestselling Author

Rohit is the author of 9 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.


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