How to get into Trending on BetaList

Trevor Lohrbeer
17 min readMay 17, 2019

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On Monday, Day Optimizer launched its first public beta on BetaList, a site that showcases new technology startups and helps them get beta customers.

On Tuesday, Day Optimizer (DO) made it into the Trending section, putting it at the top of the home page for an extra 2 days. Getting into the Trending section allowed DO to almost triple the number of signups.

This article explains what I did to do this, so you can achieve the same result. It is broken into 4 sections:

  • Update Your Website
    What to do to update your web site to prepare to submit to BetaList
  • Develop Your Process
    How to prepare for people asking for access to your product or service
  • Plan Your Announcements
    How to plan a promotion strategy to get upvotes, comments & tweets
  • Do Your Followup
    What to do after you’ve launched

I forgot to take a screenshot of Day Optimizer in the Trending section on BetaList, but here’s a screenshot of our page today:

So far we’ve gotten 16 upvotes, with about half of those coming the first day. I got these from the tactics described below, even though I rarely use social media, so only have a small following. As always, your mileage may vary.

Update Your Website

Your web site is critical to a good launch. If you can’t explain your startup & get people to take an action when they click through from BetaList, you won’t get any benefit listing there.

Steps you should take include:

  • Update your copy
  • Decide your Call to Action
  • Implement tracking
  • Add social sharing

Update Your Copy

Review the copy on your web site to ensure it clearly communicates the value of your product or service. When someone clicks through, you need to make a good impression.

But don’t go overboard. BetaList is a site for early adopters and beta testers, so they will be more tolerant of rough edges. Focus on refining your pitch, but save time for promotion and the other steps described below.

Day Optimizer already had a draft web site from earlier private betas, so I did a quick refresh of the content, since some things had changed since my last beta.

If you want to customize your pitch, because you want to speak to the BetaList audience directly, create a custom landing page just for BetaList. I started down this road, but decided my effort was better spent improving my home page for everyone.

Decide Your Call to Action

What do you want people to do when they land on your web site?

I was initially going to ask people to buy a beta subscription, to test my pricing and offer. I was worried about getting a bunch of testers who weren’t real potential customers, and might give feedback that wouldn’t help me improve the app for future customers.

Knowing this was a high bar, I switched to asking people to request access to the beta instead. I’m still running it as a paid beta, but I wait until they’ve tried the app and gotten value out of it before asking them to buy.

I’m glad I did. This allowed people who just wanted to follow the development of Day Optimizer to opt into email updates, a whole segment of BetaList members I would have missed otherwise.

I did attempt to test my new plans without pricing:

But most people clicked one of the Request Access buttons elsewhere on the home page, so I didn’t get enough data from this.

Implement Tracking

Adding tracking helps you in two ways:

  1. To know how effective your web site is at converting visitors
  2. To tag BetaList users so you can send them custom messages in the future

Below I go over how I configured each.

Track Conversions

The first is your basic conversion tracking, which you can do by setting up a goal in Google Analytics for the completion of your call to action.

To do this, you’ll need to configure your web site to send events to Google Analytics, then add a goal within Google Analytics to track the event as a conversion. Read this guide for an overview of the process.

Your actual implementation may vary. The Day Optimizer web site uses WordPress with Gravity Forms and the Genesis theme framework. If you have the same setup, you can do the following:

  • Configure Google Tag Manager
    Add the code Google gives you using the before_header & wp_head hooks under Elements. I configured mine to display for the Entire Site, but only for Logged Out users, so I wasn’t tracking when I was logged into the site. If your users are logging into your WordPress site, you’ll want to track all users.
  • Install Gravity Forms Event Tracking plugin
    Under the general Gravity Forms settings, add your Google Analytics UA Tracking ID on the Event Tracking tab. I also turned on interactive hits and enabled Ajax; otherwise I left the defaults.
  • Configure sending an Event
    Under the form settings for the Gravity Forms form, add a feed on the Submission Tracking tab with everything set to the defaults except the Event Label, which I set to “Form: Request Early Access”. If you don’t override it, the plugin will use “Forms” for the Event Category and “Submission” for the Event Action when it submits the event to Google Analytics.
  • Add a Goal in Google Analytics
    Under Admin > All Web Site Data > Goals, I added an Event goal called “Form: Request Early Access” whose Category was “Forms”, Action was “Submission” and Label was “Form: Request Early Access”.
  • Test everything
    Fill out your form and ensure that you get an Event in Google Analytics and that your Goal appears under Conversions > Goals.

Assuming that all went well, you can now track conversions when anyone comes to your home page.

As a reference, for the first 3 days after being listed on BetaList, Day Optimizer had a 25.3% goal conversion rate.

Tag Emails

If your marketing platform supports tagging, you may want to tag users who register from BetaList so you can send them customized messages later. BetaList helps you by appending ?ref=betalist to the end of the URL you give them.

Getting this referral code into your marketing platform takes some work however.

First, if you have a multi-page site, you want to make not to lose the referral code as they navigate around your site. Then you need to figure out how to pass it to your marketing platform.

For Day Optimizer, I found this code which allows you to save any URL parameter to session storage and automatically inserts it into any form that has a hidden field with the same name.

If you insert this code into your web site, all you need to do is add a hidden field call ref to your email subscription form, and the original ref URL variable will be submitted along with the email. Since it’s using session storage, it doesn’t matter how many pages the user visited before filling out your form; the code will be saved.

Of course, this doesn’t work for Gravity Forms, since Gravity Forms doesn’t let you set the name of a hidden field. So I had to come up with a different solution.

I modified the code to this, so that it would work with Gravity Forms. Instead of setting the name of the hidden field, I set a default value in the form {sessionStorage.ref}. My modified script resolves this value before the form is submitted, allowing the ref URL parameter to be passed in.

Since I use Active Campaign as my marketing platform, I also needed to configure my feed to pass the hidden form field in the ActiveCampaign settings for my form. I chose to pass it as a “Referral Tag” attribute, rather than a tag, since I decided it was a useful attribute to track across all users.

Add Social Sharing

Help people share your web site easily with social sharing.

Truth be told, I don’t know how useful this is, since as far as I know, no one has used the buttons I added to the “Share the love” section at the bottom of the Day Optimizer web site. And I haven’t yet implemented parts of what I describe below.

But for those who might have more success, here’s some ideas that go beyond just linking to your pages on the social media platforms.

Use share links

The common approach for social media buttons on a web site is to link to the main page of the product, service or company on the social media platform.

For instance, for Day Optimizer, the Twitter icon would link to https://twitter.com/DayOptimizerApp. This allows others to easily follow you on those platforms.

However, I decided for this launch to experiment with pre-defined share messages. If you go to the “Share the love” section of the Day Optimizer web site and click on the Twitter icon, a new window with this message will pop up:

All a visitor needs to do is customize the tweet and press Tweet to share a message about your startup.

I built this link using Click To Tweet, which let’s you easily build these links and provides a chart of how many people clicked the link each day. But other equivalent services exist.

[For the record, I just looked and 6 people clicked that link in the past 3 days, but none sent the tweet. So maybe use one of the other methods described below to increase engagement]

If you do decide to use this approach, you can create links for other platforms using the Share Link Generator. To provide analytics, you’ll have to run the link this generator provides through a link shortener like bit.ly. Also, the LinkedIn API has apparently changed, so default messages don’t appear to work when set via a URL link.

Display “click to share” messages

An alternate approach is to use the embed feature of Click To Tweet to generate a preview of the message that the user clicks to tweet. For instance:

This helps the user see what message they are sharing before they take any action, and provides a more direct call to action than just an icon.

Where I’ve seen this used effectively is on the thank you page of Userlist.io. After you sign up, you receive this thank you message:

A confirmation page is a better place for a click-to-share message since the person has already invested some time and energy in your product and so has a higher incentive to help you spread your message.

I ran out of time to implement this, so I can’t tell you how well it works. I plan to implement it in the near future.

Test your social media previews

Regardless of whether you include direct links to your social media pages or use click-to-share links, test to make sure your previews look good. Ensure you have a good image and the message is right.

To test, you’ll need to go to each platform and paste a link to your home page into the share box — but don’t do this yet! If you do, you’ll cache the results and have to wait until the cache clears or use one of the techniques below to clear it. Read the rest of this section, configure everything, then test.

My Facebook preview, now that I fixed it, looks like:

To set the image and message, I installed the free version of the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin.

To set the image, I went to the Facebook tab of the Social menu item under the Yoast SEO Settings and set the image I wanted to share.

To set the text, I edited the home page, scrolled to the Yoast SEO section, clicked on the Social tab and added a custom title and description for Facebook.

I used the same sections in Yoast SEO to configure the preview for Twitter.

The only one I couldn’t figure out how to configure was LinkedIn, which still looks like this:

Notice how the title isn’t even the title of my app and the text is a random section of text from my page. This is how my Facebook & Twitter previews looked before I fixed them.

[Note: I accidentally solved the problem by entering my home page URL into the LinkedIn Post Inspector while writing this article, which refreshed their cache]

Troubleshooting your social media previews

To debug issues with your Facebook sharing preview, go to the Facebook Sharing Debugger and enter the link to your web site. You’ll be able to see all the meta-data that Facebook has about your web site.

If you’ve recently updated your web site, this data may be cached. Click the “Scrape Again” button to load fresh meta-data from your web site.

Twitter has a similar tool called Card Validator, though it’s less useful than Facebook’s tool. It gives you a basic preview of what will appear when someone shares your link on Twitter, but there’s no way to refresh the cache. If you’re having issues with your Twitter preview, see the troubleshooting help.

LinkedIn also has a similar tool called Post Inspector. It appears that LinkedIn caches the meta data for several days at least, so if you want nice shares on LinkedIn, you must visit this tool to refresh their cache.

For other tools, just search “<tool name> share debugger” and you’ll probably find the debugger for sharing previews on that platform.

Develop Your Process

Okay, your web site is ready to go, but what will you do when someone signs up?

If you have a completely self-service app and have already built out an automated onboarding flow, feel free to skip this section.

Use concierge onboarding

For Day Optimizer, I experimented during my private Beta 1 with self-service onboarding and quickly learned I needed improvements to my onboarding flow before I let people go through it themselves.

During my Beta 2 round, I switched to a concierge one-on-one onboarding using Zoom meetings and had much better success. Users started using the product — actually trying it out rather than just entering test data — and I started learning how I needed to improve my onboarding.

I’m still in that learning process and my new onboarding isn’t ready yet, so for my launch on BetaList, which kicks off my Beta 3 round, I’m continuing with the concierge onboarding.

During one of my calls this week, a user told me that she thought the onboarding was going to be a useless exercise, but that she found it extremely valuable. While two people have now written to say they wouldn’t use my app until it was self-service, the response from those who have been onboarding has been overwhelmingly positive (and even the two who wrote understood my process & wanted to be informed when self-service was ready).

Concierge onboarding is something I now recommend everyone do early in their development. It’s time consuming, but you learn so much. But it also means you need a process when people sign up.

Plan from sign-up to active user

My process is aimed at bringing people from signing up to being an active user of Day Optimizer. Roughly, that process is:

  • Qualification
    After a user requests access, I have an autoresponder set up to send them an e-mail asking them 4 questions to qualify them. I use their answers to customize my response to them, sometimes recommending they wait to try it out or use a different app.
  • Schedule
    If their answers look good, I send them a link to schedule an onboarding via Calendly. When they schedule a session, a Zoom meeting is automatically created and an event is added to my Google calendar.
  • Onboard
    During the onboarding meeting, I walk them through Day Optimizer, explaining some of the key concepts that are different in Day Optimizer versus other time and task management apps. Then I ask them to share their screen, and walk them through registering & configuring an account, and then building their first daily schedule.
  • Check-In
    After the onboarding session, I send them an email thanking them for trying out the product and giving them a link to schedule a check-in call a week later (I told them I would do this during the onboarding).

For the qualification, schedule and check-in portions, I have email templates I use, though often I customize them. For the onboarding session, I have a rough outline on a piece of paper that tells me what I’ll be doing and in what order.

I also have exception processes. So if I sent someone a scheduling link and they don’t respond within a few days, I’ll send them a reminder.

So far, about 20% of people who requested access replied to the autoresponder and 50% of those scheduled an onboarding. I don’t have enough data yet for the onboarding or check-ins.

Put up obstacles

My process is a pretty complex process. Long-term I definitely plan on simplifying it, eventually getting to full self-service.

But for now I’ve intentionally put up obstacles. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t overwhelmed with onboarding requests, since onboarding takes away from product development and building the business. The process described above ensures people really want my app before we both spent valuable time doing an onboarding.

Tirekickers can be some of the worst early beta customers, because they’ll give you feedback that sounds valuable, but when you address it, it still won’t lead to a sale. Obstacles greatly reduce the tirekickers.

Use this as a starting point

To help give you an idea of what to write if you’re starting this process from scratch, below is the message that gets sent when someone requests access to Day Optimizer.

The structure of this is:

  • Say thank you
  • Introduce yourself
  • Disclaimer — you can probably skip this
  • Ask qualification questions — what do you need to know?
  • Explain the process — help them know what to expect
  • Give them an out — they don’t need to do anything to receive updates
  • Make it easy to ask further questions — just reply

To give credit where it’s due, I took much of this structure from the Userlist.io signup autoresponder.

Plan Your Announcements

Okay, you’re all ready to submit to BetaList. Or maybe you already have. But what happens once you get featured?

Most people submit to BetaList and then move on. But to get the most out of BetaList — to get into the Trending section — you need to promote your presence.

The algorithm to get into the Trending section is secret, but Day Optimizer got there by focusing on three things:

  • Upvote
    People to clicking the heart to upvote us on BetaList
  • Comments
    People commenting on our page on BetaList
  • Twitter
    Tweets on Twitter tagged with @DayOptimizerApp

Once BetaList sends you the e-mail saying you’ve been added to the queue, you’ll be up in 24 hours or less. Don’t wait until the last minute to start planning your promotion strategy.

Collect your channels

Treat BetaList as a beta test of your product launch strategy. It’s a great platform to learn how to do a product launch, especially if you later are planning to launch on Product Hunt.

A key aspect of developing this strategy to documenting all of your potential channels — there’s more than you expect.

Open up a spreadsheet and add columns for:

  • Platform
    The platform your channel is on: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Slack, RSS, Email List, etc.
  • List
    The specific list, group or channel on the platform you plan to post on. For Facebook, this could be a page, a group or your feed. For Slack, this might be a specific channel within a team.
  • Reach
    How many people will this list reach? Use this to prioritize where you post.
  • Content Type
    What type of content will you post: share, chat message, article, link, etc.
  • Status
    What is the status of the your prep for this channel?

You’ll be surprised at all the potential channels you have. I’m not a frequent social media user, but was able to come up with 30 (though I didn’t wind up posting to them all, saving some for a bigger ask later on).

Draft your messages

Perhaps the most important is to draft your messages ahead of time, so you’re not rushing trying to create them all the day of the announcement. You’ll want to give people time to read and react to your messages.

Things to include in these messages:

  • 5–10 words about your startup
  • Specific call-to-action with specific instructions
  • Reason for why you’re asking
  • Thank you

For instance, I had several variations of:

My web app Day Optimizer got listed today on BetaList and I’m trying to get into the Trending section and the newsletter. If you have a Twitter account and time today, can you can help out by doing a few things?

* Like me on BetaList by going to https://betalist.com/startups/day-optimizer and clicking the ❤️ after the description
* Follow @DayOptimizerApp on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DayOptimizerApp
* Tweet a shout out to @DayOptimizerApp and/or retweet this: https://twitter.com/DayOptimizerApp/status/1127927303495876608

Thanks for any help you have time to give. It is very much appreciated.

I posted this to Facebook, Slack and other places where I had close relationships with the recipients. I used the term “like” instead of “upvote” because it is a more general term that people who don’t use product launch sites will understand.

For more public posts, I was a little less specific and more formal, such as this post on LinkedIn:

Time to announce my next startup project: Day Optimizer helps entrepreneurs and consultants accomplish more by converting their daily todo list into a daily schedule.

As of today, Day Optimizer has reached Beta 3 and is featured on BetaList. If you have a Twitter account and time today, please visit https://betalist.com/startups/day-optimizer and click the ❤️ after the description to like the app and/or follow @DayOptimizerApp.

To learn more about Day Optimizer and how it can help manage your time better, or to request access to the beta, visit https://dayoptimizer.com/

Since I didn’t know exactly when I would be featured, I didn’t schedule these, but rather had a file where I had draft messages for each channel.

Do Your Follow Up

Your job doesn’t end when you post your request and announcements. To get the maximum effect, you need to stay engaged throughout your launch day.

Create conversations

Drive up the visibility of your posts and keep people engaged by creating a conversation. You can do this in a few ways:

  1. If people add comments, reply back quickly — make it interactive
  2. Elaborate yourself — add a comment that explains your startup further
  3. Crosspost answers to questions— if someone on one platform has a question, others on other platforms might have the same question.
  4. Thank people — be appreciative when people add a comment of support

An example of #3 is this comment on the BetaList page for Day Optimizer. A member of one of my Slack groups messaged me privately with a question about my product after I posted the announcement. I replied with a detailed answer, then lightly edited it and reposted as a comment on BetaList in case others had the same question.

Also, make sure to add at least one comment to your BetaList page introducing yourself & your startup and asking for questions.

One idea I didn’t implement was to do a series of Twitter posts describing different features and benefits of Day Optimizer to generate engagement there.

Repost later in the day

Platforms like Facebook & Twitter aren’t guaranteed to show your followers your posts. Make sure to repost later in the day to catch people who may have missed your first post. Vary the message so it isn’t the exact same thing you posted the first time.

Share lessons learned

If you have a successful product launch, whether on BetaList or elsewhere, and you used new techniques you haven’t seen written up anywhere, write an article like this one. Share you knowledge so others can learn from you, as you’ve learned from others.

One last thing. If you’re submitting to BetaList, consider paying for expedited service. You’ll be featured within a few days rather than a month or two, and will be automatically included in the newsletter. This let’s you plan your launch much more effectively.

Also, read the emails BetaList sends; I got valuable tips for how to make the most out of my BetaList launch beyond some of the things I mentioned here.

That’s all I have to share for now.

If you are an entrepreneur or consultant who struggles with getting the right things done in your day, check out Day Optimizer and request access to the beta.

If you want to share the love, click Tweet This below:

[Tweet This]: Check out @DayOptimizerApp, a new web app that helps you accomplish more by converting your daily todo list into a daily schedule. Request early access at https://dayoptimizer.com/

You can find Day Optimizer on Twitter, Facebook, and, of course, BetaList.

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Trevor Lohrbeer

Founder of Day Optimizer — convert your daily todo list into a daily schedule to get more done at https://dayoptimizer.com. Swing dancer & barefoot runner.