The purpose of the "Coming Soon" page is obvious: collect interest from potential users of your product to notify them once you launch. It's almost a given that the primary goal of the "Coming Soon" page for most people is to collect as many emails as possible. Some 14K+ people signed on Hipster's viral sign up page without knowing what the service was about. It's only natural to believe that a large number of emails collected means that the product will succeed.
Joel Gascoigne, an entrepreneur with several startups under his belt, has recently challenged this strategy:
There is a big flaw with this strategy. At the very least, we are putting more focus on the number of emails rather than on whether any of the people whose emails we've got will actually use our product.
Joel brings up a great point: founders talk about the number of emails they collect on their signup pages all the time but it's rare to hear them mention how many of those folks give them valuable feedback about the product or become customers. The real question becomes: How can I make sure the folks that signup on my "Coming Soon" page would convert over to become my customers?
Joel makes an interesting proposition: Get rid of "Coming Soon" page all together, instead put up a landing page for your product launch. Instead of saying "Coming soon" change the copy of the page to talk about your product and why people would want to use it. You might add a demo of the concept or some use cases of your product. The people who poke around enough to learn about your product and decide to click the sign up button are the ones that are truly interested in the product. These people see that your product exists and are genuinely interested to try it. These are the same folks who would be happy to discuss you product idea further to validate that it would solve a real problem for them.
We have tried a similar give them a taste approach with out own apps and have seen a much greater quality of signups come through as a result. Certainly worth checking out.