Building Your Email List with BetaList

As a marketing service that brings together videographers and companies, we’re all about matchmaking. So we were pretty excited to learn about BetaList, an online platform that matches up startups with early adopters. Kind of like a Kickstarter but without the crowdfunding, it’s a place to go for investors, early adopters, and tech evangelists to get a first peek at the newest startups. For startups, it also brings the huge benefit of quickly building an email list of prospects.

Last year, we applied and were accepted to Betalist. Back then, we were trying to position ourselves as a resource for educational video content — think blogs, ebooks, online courses. The way it works is pretty cool — once your startup has been accepted, it gets featured on the website. If you’re REALLY lucky, it gets featured in the Trending Startups section.

It’s also included in one of the daily newsletters that goes out to everyone who signed up for the platform. Once people learn about you, they can subscribe to get your email updates. It’s up to you to determine how often you email them and what about. For example, you might send an introductory email describing your product or service, describe some features you’re working on and then ask for feedback.

After being featured during the 4th of July holiday last year, we were able to build an email list of over 300 subscribers very quickly. We actually emailed every person on the list individually (and yes, our fingers hurt, thanks for asking). It’s way better to sound like a real person, and not too “business-y.” Here’s what we wrote:

“Hi X,

My name is Aneri. I am one of the co-founders of Humblee. I noticed you work as a Digital Marketing Manager, which is awesome, so I wanted to reach out personally and say hello!

If you are interested in creating online courses or have questions about the process, give us a shout! With Humblee, you can create smart and beautiful course videos without having to be an editing pro.

If you are interested in teaching online, let me know and I will provide more information and/or set up a call so we can talk about the different plans we offer.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Best,

Aneri”

From this first email blast, we got 50 responses in 2 weeks, which we were pretty happy with. Our next step was to talk to interested people about their marketing pain points. Once we started doing this, we realized that there was a bigger need to be filled than the educational video niche we were focused on. Almost every marketer at a small business said they wanted to do video marketing, but felt it was too hard or time-consuming or expensive. We also realized this was bigger than just one person’s problem (like a VP of Marketing) and was actually a company-wide problem.

In 2015, it seemed like overnight everyone had become obsessed with video. Marketing and business blogs were spouting the wild success engagement-wise of video all over the place, whether that was via Facebook posts, v-logs, or email newsletters. Snapchat released “Stories” and hit 10B daily video views. BuzzFeed created “Tasty” videos, a series that hit 2.5B views in less than 3 months. Our potential customers were eager to work it into their 2016 marketing strategies, if they hadn’t already.

So, after speaking to hundreds of marketers, we decided to build the solution — a way to easily solve the budget and time constraints many small business owners cited as their biggest challenges when contemplating moving into video marketing. We focused particularly on creating all types of marketing videos (explainer videos, customer testimonials, animated videos, product demos) that companies could post on their Facebook pages. We wanted to make them useful, but also fun and engaging — think Buzzfeed or NowThis.

We realized we were a perfect example of what often happens to early stage startups: your initial business plan or concept can pivot to fill a need in the marketplace. BetaList doesn’t normally feature startups more than once, but they do make exceptions for companies like us who make a substantial pivot — SCORE! So we decided to re-apply to get more exposure with early adopters to our company concept as it exists today — providing high-quality, engaging videos at an affordable price.

We’ll let you know if we get accepted and how Round 2 turns out! We’re hopeful to see how another round of feedback from smart and savvy early adopters helps us further evolve as a company.