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Show HN: Referlist – Increase email sign-ups via word of mouth referrals
70 points by parthi on Dec 3, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 25 comments
Hi there HN!

Excited to share Referlist (https://referlist.co/), a simple way to increase sign-ups on your landing page for pre-product launches. Give your users early access to your product when they share it with their friends!

I make A LOT of landing pages. Whenever I want to test an idea, I'll make a website with a sign-up form to see how excited people are about a concept. I wanted to encourage word of mouth growth and incentivize my users to share these sites with their friends. Robinhood was able to amass nearly one million sign-ups via their referral program, so I tried googling for an easy way to add something similar to my page. Everything I found was expensive, too complicated and came pre-packaged with a landing page which I didn't want. I ended up building a custom solution for myself and it worked great!

I noticed other friends launching projects doing the same, so we built Referlist to save everyone some time. No coding required. It's plug-and-play like Drift. Takes 5 minutes to setup. It's free to get started. You only pay if you get more than 100 sign-ups so you can feel free to launch as many failed experiments as your heart desires at no cost! You can export your users to CSV or Mailchimp. Also add a custom message, custom colors and seed your waitlist so that it doesn't look completely empty for the first few sign-ups.

Any feedback is welcome! Also feel free to email me directly at parthi@referlist.co

Cheers, Parthi and the Referlist team

Looks like you are using Hakara mail server (edit:nope) and Firebase.


Site is clean, documentation is simple and everything seemed to work great. Thanks for sharing. The only issue I see: I can sign up using my own referral code seemingly unlimited times with fake emails, and I don't even need to do this on a real domain... the JS code works from a local HTML file [0]. So people that want to bump their place in line, or competitors wanting to cost me money/headache, can seemingly sign up dozens of fake referrals per second. I assume nefarious use was not on the high priority list before launch, but do you have any plans to mitigate this type of activity in the future? Perhaps rate limiting and IP / browser session checks on the server side to start?

[0] https://docs.referlist.co/#/?id=install-embedded-sign-up-for...

We don't use Haraka but we do use Firebase!

Thanks for the feedback!

You only move up the waitlist if a person you refer verifies their email. Robinhood Crypto had this issue where they didn't check email verification and people gamed it. Made sure to handle that nefarious use case. But thanks for asking! I guess you could own a ton of fake emails and still be adversarial. In which case, I should probably implement an IP rate limit like you suggested.

Glad you already thought of the email verification idea. Great!

Next step would be blocking temporary emails domains, which is a rabbit hole, and also adding captcha to the verify I guess.

Also allowing only hotmail/gmail/etc might help

Looks interesting! Few bits of feedback:

- The signup widget doesn't submit when hitting enter after entering my email in the text-box, which is a reasonable expectation from an accessibility POV

- On the 'complete' page I see that the email I entered is part of the page query string, which makes me really uncomfortable. It's commonly accepted practice (in places like adtech[0]) to not pass PII in the URL as it can easily be leaked

- As a potential customer, when I view your Privacy Policy and Terms of Service it reads pretty ambiguously if the customers that signup for my service and this services stores will only ever be used by me or if Referlist retains some rights to use my list as you see fit. Worth clarifying

- Pricing seems reasonable, but I'm pretty sure you could charge me more. Also, I'd love a CTA I could click on directly within/under the price columns (I had to go hunting for a bit to find out how to pay you)

0: https://support.google.com/adsense/answer/6156630?hl=en

Thanks for the helpful feedback!

- That's a bug more than a feature because I unfortunately haven't tested the site for accessibility (but I should!) - Re: the email being in the query params, that's a good point. Will see if I can change that to a POST request. - We don't want to use emails you collect. Will clarify! - I probably could. Businesses like Viral Loops do. I wanted to make something accessible to builders. Might consider restructuring tiers as and when I add more features.


You probably know this is a crazy crowded space - there are tools out there like ViralLoops and ReferralHero, to name just two of the more popular ones that have been around for years. What's your value proposition over one of those tools?

BTW I've been working in this space for ~2 months now, with a small referral tool built only for newsletter creators. It's super private early access (not even a website) - but we're seeing our early users growing their lists by >10% MoM in some cases!

That is with more established newsletters though - many hundreds (ideally thousands or tens of thousands) of subscribers.

We didn't see 'new' newsletters without an initial audience get too much value out of a referral program so far - so I'm excited to follow along and see what you do differently to help those early stage founders :)

It is crazy crowded. Everyone else is expensive and a little "too much". This is an affordable side project I made for myself that I wanted to share with the world since I wasn't happy with what was out there. Not trying to gouge people on pricing. Hope you find it helpful!

To your point about who finds these kinds of tools helpful: Yeah, I think viral mechanisms only work once you've nailed core value prop. But they compound very quickly if you do get past that hurdle and can change the slope of your growth trajectory.

This looks really cool, nice work launching. I'm ready to use it on a project that I'm building.

However... When I signed up on your site, I received the confirmation email to my Gmail inbox but when I clicked on the link it said:

> Suspicious link > This link leads to an untrusted site. Are you sure you want to proceed to referlist.co?

I'm not sure why Google would think your site is suspicious but I'll refrain from using the service until that kink is worked out, as I wouldn't want my prospective users seeing that.

Can you email the message at parthi@referlist.co?

Super weird since those are being sent with Firebase that is owned by Google.

Hey Parthi, do any of your pricing plans allow us to host the success page on our own domain?

Not yet. But something I want to add. Setup will be a little bit more complicated since you will have to change DNS records.

To me the real utility of this, is testing "concepts". The way I would see myself using this is to create a few keyword campaigns, and then send them to these pages to see how much actual interest there is for the idea.

Perhaps this might be a "premium" feature, but what would go along with this is a root "project", with multiple landing pages. Then I'd like some analytics to compare. Basic conversion funnel stuff. If it integreated with google keywords directly, that would be awesome.

I'd also like the customize the page a bit more too, it's very generic looking today.

Yup, that's a good idea. I think that's pretty effective for e-commerce and consumer especially where paid advertising can be used to test CTR, CAC and general interest.

I think the next step there would be to build a landing page generator. There are a ton of them like Unbounce and Instapage. Maybe I should partner with them since building one of those out is quite the task.

You can customize message, colors and add your logo today. What else would you like to customize? Will definitely consider adding it!

You could do all of that pretty easily with a Google Form + custom HTML representation (https://stefano.brilli.me/google-forms-html-exporter/) plus a hidden text field.

I get a white page, both on: - Firefox + uBlock - Firefox without uBlock - Chrome in incognito (no extension enabled)

I wasn't able to get a not white page in any browser. For a split second appears the text "Loading...". On the inspector, it says you are using a dev build of Firebase SDK


solved, I was accessing "/index.html"

How did you get there? Did something link you.

Also didn't realize there was a dev build of Firebase SDK. Looking through docs right now. It seems to be one and the same. Will update you if I made a mistake and needed to flip a dev to prod flag somewhere.

HN doesn't highlight links, Firefox doesn't have the popup menu option "navigate to {selected text that is an url}", and I didn't want copy-paste, so I selected it, and used "Search on google for {selected text}". The 3rd result on google for "https://referlist.co/" links to "https://referlist.co/index.html"

Very exciting product. Congrats. Just joined the waitlist and had a waitlistception.

This whole project is very meta :-)

Nice project! I tried the demo, but it didn't work for me:

* I joined the waitlist with a@example.com, then I was redirected to https://referlist.co/joinwaitlist/referlist?email=a@example..... 84 000 people ahead of you

* I copy/pasted the link https://referlist.co?ref=TOKEN and sent it to another email address

* From another browser, I clicked on the link, and joined the waitlist for b@example.com and I was redirected to https://referlist.co/joinwaitlist/referlist?email=b@example....: "84 001 people ahead of you", ok this is normal

* BUT: when refreshing the page for user A: https://referlist.co/joinwaitlist/referlist?email=a@example...., I'm still 84 000. Shouldn't it be 83 999?

PS: I didn't receive any email at all, not in the spam folder too. I have a gmail address.

TL;DR: I shared link to a friend who joined too, but I didn't move up in the waitlist position. (For Referlist demo).

User B needs to verify their email for it to count. Otherwise you could enter a fake email and move up the list. When user B joins the list and verifies their email, A's internal score increases. The final list is sorted by score and then sign up date. So what you described is working as intended.

However, what you might be getting at is that you want a different sorting mechanism, which is a feature request. What would you expect to happen? Maybe I can consider that

How should B verify their email? I guess by clicking on a link they receive via email? In my test, B received no mail. I double checked in spam folder; I've tried with A and B two gmail addresses.

Something else: Let's say I am 84 000th on the list, and a friend joins in, so I am 83 999th. Then during 3 days I don't do anything. Question: Will I stay 83 999th or are new people arriving in the meantime and sharing a lot going to pass me, and I will finally be moved back to 90 000th?

What YC batch are you in?

This is not a YC company. Apologies if there is any confusion. Title has been changed to Show HN.

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