3 Hours of Work And 800+ Community Members From Product Hunt
We have been working on three internal products at DevriX for the past 8 months, but the amount of client work and the lack of realistic feedback kept postponing their launch month after month. The team was off for the holidays and I had enough time to catch up with the progress of our products, delegate a few more tasks and start planning a soft-launch for our most mature product.
Hack The Growth Chart
In December I implemented a growth hacking strategy by cooperating with several WordPress trainees and interns. We built a forum around our website and paid them to ask various WordPress-related questions. It was our responsibility to educate them for free — actually, even pay them a small fee to ask us the questions a regular rookie WordPress developer would like to know.
The beauty of this strategy is that it satisfies everyone. Why?
- We populate our website with relevant content and keep it up-to-date
- Our users generate fresh ideas for tutorials, articles, ebooks, infographics and more by asking WordPress-related questions
- We educate junior WordPress developers for free
- They get paid actually, even though it’s a fraction of the cost compared to us paying 50 people to beta test our product and craft content
Instead of investing thousands of dollars for AdWords and Facebook advertisement, acquiring early adopters or expensive QAs, we were able to educate a group of motivated young developers and analyze the market throughout our small target group of prospects. That increased the incoming visitors to our site with 20% in just three weeks and generated dozens of tutorial ideas for us to add to our knowledge base. We had a few real users signing up and asking questions after seeing the initial activity and traction from our test group. Moreover, our stats indicated more keywords that we could rank for better, based on some of our topics.
The Challenges Of Traction
Still, we had to build a community interested in testing our products. The Lean Startup methodology suggests that entrepreneurs should start with “figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible.”
After our MVP was ready, we were hesitant to take it to the next level. And acquiring early adopters was challenging — people are much more inclined to work with products that are already established and well-known on the market. A product stands a better chance when it’s built by a reputable company, being used by thousands of users who were also kind enough to share their incredible experience.
A brand new unknown product is doomed to stay in the shadows, unless you bring some famous people to the party or invest a lot in advertisement, PR, marketing and sales before it gets any decent traction.
Looking For Beta Testers
On January 3rd I was sitting in a coffee shop in the evening, browsing for some growth hacking opportunities that would boost us and give us a head start. I spent a few hours looking for affordable ways to acquire early adopters, similarly to the strategy I incorporated with our forum building in December.
Turned out that there were no cost-effective solutions for young startups. Most available alternatives involve shady tactics to grow your followers’ base in a few days with different automated tools, or pay for advertisement, or reach out to bloggers to promote your beta product. The extra cost and the potential reputation impact from people who would consider your contact a spam request or a black hat SEO thing, ruled out that option immediately.
The Early Adopters Syndrome
On the other hand, the Silicon Valley, the wide Startup Community and even part of the regular tech or business users are genuinely interested in trying out “the next big thing”. Yes, the majority of the users look for established solutions with several successful years in the market. But another separate group is actually interested in trying out the new things.
That sort of passion for testing new technologies made iPhone successful with tens of thousands of people lining up during a launch day. That’s how Gmail got traction with its exclusivity and invite-only beta. People are excited about new gadgets and tools that would help them improve their process or inspire them with UX and feature ideas.
Content writers and bloggers at technical, startup and gadget blogs are looking for the new products to cover. Business owners monitor their competitors. VCs look for new smart ideas to invest in. Some users just want to use a new product, get a free license early on, switch to a better and a more usable product to its existing alternative.
Sounds like a win-win situation. Early adopters join the network, and startups promote their products.
Enter The Beta Testers Hub
I got back home and looked up a domain name for the new idea. Luckily, my first choice was free — betatestershub.com . I signed up for the domain name and connected it to one of my SiteGround GoGeek plans. Installed the latest version of WordPress and added a premium theme to it. Then I bought a stock photo and I customized it for my header, and spent another 40min tuning up the home page.
After I was done with the general setup, I went on and registered new accounts in the social networks. I added a new list for testers in MailChimp and connected it to our site.
The last bit was essential, so I spent about 2 hours crafting the copy.
Bring Startups and Early Adopters Together
This was the slogan of our Twitter profile. Our website went with “Find Early Adopters For Your Product Or Service”, and Facebook lined up for “Beta Testers Hub is the link between startups and early adopters”.
Based on our initial brainstorming, each medium was targeting startups or testers in a different way. Therefore we redirected traffic to different channels and improved the messaging according to our target group.
The landing page included our slogan and two columns with short lists describing the benefits for startups and early adopters. Each column had a sign up form at the end — a list for beta testers applying for our Hub, and a contact form for startups promoting their beta products.
We crafted two additional top-level pages — one for startups and one for testers, adding more value for each user group, explaining in simple works the benefits for each of them.
Three hours after registering the domain name, the site was up and running.
We spent a week adding a few posts to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, sharing it with just a few friends of ours — no blogging or sharing in other social directories. On Monday, Jan 12th, we got featured on Product Hunt.
250+ Submissions In 6 Hours
During the first 6 hours after the launch we received 200+ tester applications and 55 startup submissions. With close to 3000 visits, this was a 10% conversion rate for our network.
This was our real test. The service made sense in our heads at first, but we had no proof, no validation whether there was any need for a service like that.
At the end of the day we were ranked first for the day on Product Hunt, with 80+ startup submissions and 400 testers on board. By the end of Tuesday we had a bulk number of community members — 800 total submissions for 2 days.
During the intense process of bringing more startups and testers (while the campaign was on), we added an FAQ page with common questions asked via the social networks, emails and the Product Hunt post. In order to systemize and unify the process (due to the large volume of applications), we also created a guidelines page for applications.
5 days later, I have a spreadsheet collecting all the data I need for our newsletter, and a schedule with our coming startups to be featured on Beta Testers Hub. With over a hundred ongoing email conversations, we’re optimizing the process and using the feedback to improve the structure of our system in order to make it more usable for everyone.
Beta Testers Hub was featured in several blogs and online magazines such as the German t3n.de. In just about 2 days we built a fully-functional process for bringing startups and beta testers together, and a large group of early adopters eager to try out startups and send valuable feedback for beta products and MVPs.
- We couldn't have made it without Product Hunt here, and we’re grateful for getting listed there. However, there are other startup communities and influential bloggers that could help you start your venture and get some initial interest in the first place — Startuplister is a good place to get listed on 40+ channels.
- Prominent landing page is a must — simple, minimalist, yet descriptive enough and converting without unnecessary obstacles. Add your slogan, quick description and lead capture forms for your product directly on your landing page.
- Distinctive landing pages — craft a separate page for each target group of your product. In our case, our tester-to-startup ratio was 6:1. The separate landing pages for startups and testers were viewed 5:1 which is close to the interest we got from submissions. Approximately 50% of our visitors navigated to the internal pages in order to get a better idea about our product, what we offer and how would they benefit from working with us.
- Social Media activity — we had a couple of tweets and Facebook mentions, as well as 200 followers from our campaign. People use the easiest medium for them to learn more, connect with you and share your content. I also received 10+ LinkedIn invitations by startup owners.
- Build a product that you actually want to use — Basecamp is a popular product that started due to pure necessity. The guys at 37signals say: “Basecamp originated in a problem: As a design firm we needed a simple way to communicate with our clients about projects”. At DevriX we were looking for testers for months, and bootstrapping Beta Testers Hub was a great way to solve our own problems while providing a platform for hundreds of other startups at the same time.
Thanks to solutions like WordPress, creating a service from scratch can be accomplished in a matter of hours. Think about the problems you face on a daily basis: can you automate your own process while helping other companies at the same time?