The Power Of Early Beta Users

From 0 to 2500 subscribers in less than a month

What is considered to be a successful product?

One that fills a need in the lives of customers and helps them be more successful.

If you want to successfully launch an MVP, gain traction and end up building a valuable product, you should find your potential customers and collaborate with them before you even start building the product.

There’s just one problem: How does one find early users and get feedback?

We at Infinity managed to get more than 2500 early subscribers in less than a month, and I would like to share with you the exact steps we took.

Customer development is as important as product development

One piece of advice that we’re always preaching is: Generate ideas from your own problems and validate if others are having same issues as well.

We were running a digital marketing agency where we managed several projects for multiple clients at the same time with a team of 20+ people.

We were struggling to find a tool that will give us a clear workflow overview and enough flexibility to organize everything we need, from clients’ projects to our internal processes.

After doing a thorough market research, we realized that we might have found a problem worth getting to grips with.

We had our vision of the solution and hired a UI/UX agency to help us design a concept and eye-catching branding.

We knew that we needed to validate the idea with other people not affiliated with us, so we created a few types of customer personas to reach out to:

  • Founders and C-Level Executives
  • Project Managers and Team Leaders
  • Marketers and Creatives
  • Software Developers and Product Teams

We used this customer persona template by Hubspot.

We started our lead generation process completely manually, by connecting with relevant people on Linkedin and having casual conversations about some industry issues, tools, hacks etc.

Once we got the feeling that a person is interested enough we would send them an interactive presentation of our design concept, so they could get the idea on what we are working on and how the tool works.

This is a presentation of an old Infinity concept.

After they’d seen the presentation, we would ask them to fill out a quick survey to understand if our product could potentially become good enough for them to actually buy and use it. We kept our questions short and straight to the point.

Typeform was very handy for this task since it’s easy to use (both for us and the survey participants) and has a great dashboard where you can track and filter answers.

When it comes to lead gen channels we used for conducting our outreach, apart from Linkedin, we’ve reached out to relevant people we found on Quora, ProductHunt and some Facebook groups where our target audience was active.

We’ve used ProductHunt to find the most relevant people who previously liked, shared or upvoted tools similar to Infinity.

If you’re feeling nervous about reaching out to big players, don’t.

One thing we noticed is that founders of successful startups, like Hotjar or Typeform, were very open to share their opinion and give advice.

The majority of surveyed people answered positively to questions about buying the tool, replacing other tools that they use and leaving their email to get beta access.

For us, the concept validation was successful!

It was time to create a landing page and start developing the product.

Making the basis for the successful campaign

Viral Loops

Some of the best places where you can get inspiring ‘growth hacking’ ideas are communities of founders and entrepreneurs who share their own experience.

Make sure you are a member of SaaS Growth Hacks, BAMF Facebook group, Traffic & copy and similar communities.

Those were the places where we found out about Viral Loops, an awesome referral marketing software with very interesting use cases.

One that was most attractive for us was the Robinhood’s pre launch campaign that got them 1 million users before they even launched.

We felt challenged.

The thing we liked about this particular campaign is that it points out both fear of missing out and exclusivity.

To get the most out of this campaign we needed to make our incentive as attractive as possible.

The idea was to offer an exclusive and limited access to closed beta with additional rewards to the top referrals.

How does the campaign work?

After a visitor subscribes for early beta access they are put on a waiting list.

Then, they get their own unique referral to share on social media or via email.

When their referral signs up for Infinity, their position on the waiting list improves, getting a bigger chance of getting in early and winning rewards.

Setting up Viral Loops is pretty simple: pasting a few lines of code, adding a CTA button on your landing page and customizing the campaign content for your needs. That’s it!

The Landing Page

People love clean and catchy landing pages.

We invested some time in making our design unique and writing compelling content.

When it comes to landing page content, one of the most important things is to have a clear value proposition that relates to your audience.

We’ve used our internal communication data as well as data from the survey to understand how to best communicate our solution.

When you’re building a SaaS, one of the best ways to explain your product quickly is an explainer video, so we added one to our landing page.

In addition to Viral Loops, we wanted to have an option to support and talk to our subscribers live, so we added Intercom.

Apart from being able to communicate with your visitors instantly, with Intercom you can segment user emails by several criteria and engage them through drip campaigns.

Just a quick recap of the things we’ve done before we started our campaign promotion:

Now it was time to start promoting our story and closed beta campaign.

Promoting the closed beta

For us, BetaList, Medium and ProductHunt, supported by Facebook Ads, was the perfect combo.

BetaList

We were very eager to see how our target audience would value our efforts, so we started searching for the right channel.

The options were many, but after doing some digging on Reddit, Quora and other communities we decided to try BetaList.

Why?

  • We read about successful (and recent!) case studies
  • Huge amount of monthly traffic (checked through SimilarWeb)
  • People leave comments and feedback often
  • The pricing is reasonable

We chose the $129 package to skip the waiting queue.

It payed off.

Here are the results for the first 20 days:

  • Landing page visitors: 607
  • Closed beta subscribers: 209
  • Conversion rate: 26%

We were shocked by the subscriber conversion rate from BetaList.

Apart from the good metrics, BetaList turned out to be a good choice for one more reason: it gave us the idea of adding one more way to communicate with our audience.

Medium

Just one day after the BetaList submission we saw someone post a comment asking “How is it different or better than Trello?” . We were challenged to reanalyze our values and it inspired us to write a post about it: ‘Is Infinity better than Trello?’.

We didn’t have a blog section ready yet, so we decided to create a publication on Medium and post it there. The 20-day results surprised us:

  • Landing page visitors: 570
  • Closed beta subscribers: 220
  • Conversion rate: 30%

Medium metrics:

  • Article Views: 3896
  • Reads: 1372
  • Followers: 39

Apart from gaining traffic, reactions to our first Medium post inspired us to keep running a transparency blog, as a way to communicate with our audience.

Paid Promotion

The paid channels we used to support the article and landing page promotion were Facebook and a bit of experimentation with Adwords.

  • Landing page visitors: approx. 4000
  • Closed beta subscribers: approx. 1000
  • Conversion rate: approx. 25%
  • Spent: approx. $1600

We’ve run a lot of Facebook ads in the past, and these were some of the greatest results we’ve ever seen.

As you may noticed, conversion rate was far from average on all channels, so logically we can credit that number to a good landing page.

Always invest in your landing page.

Google Ads

One thing we strongly recommend when it comes to early Adwords campaigns is to bid on your own brand name.

When the campaign started, we knew people will start looking for us on Google.

The problem is that our brand name is ‘Infinity’ and this phrase is really competitive, so we wanted to help Google position us high in the results from the beginning and started to run some Adwords ads for brand phrases.

ProductHunt

You can probably guess the next promotion channel we tried: ProductHunt.

It’s an awesome community for startups and new products.

But there is one thing you should keep in mind: you only have one shot at a ProductHunt launch.

If you are confident that your product is innovative and at its full potential you might have a chance. Otherwise, you should hold back and focus on development.

Still, there is a way to promote your product to the community before the official launch and make sure nobody hunts you until you’re ready — Ship (by Product Hunt).

Ship is a tool we used to announce our upcoming product and grow our mailing list. It can provide you with various options, all depending on the package you choose.

We went for the Pro plan.

How to get started:

  1. Go to the Ship section on your ProductHunt profile, sign up for Ship and leave some basic info about your project.
  2. Choose a pricing plan.
  3. Customize your upcoming landing page with an appealing design and a few sentences that point out your product’s main value.
  4. Set up the launch time

That’s all.

And the result? 436 subscribers.

A quick sum up

  • It’s worth the effort to invest in landing page design and content.
  • Viral Loops was a great choice since it generated a lot of shares and direct traffic.
  • BetaList has an awesome community of early adopters who like to try new things.
  • Medium is a good option for blogging and it also promotes you to Medium users.
  • ProductHunt has a great community of product people genuinely interested in new stuff.
  • Facebook Ads can quickly attract and convert early subscribers at a low cost.
  • Use AdWords to create ads bidding for your brand name so people can find you.

To get even more motivation to continue our work, we’ve integrated Viral Loops with Slack to get the whole team notified every time a new subscriber signs up.

We’ve called the channel #motivator.

And you know things are going well when you have to mute this channel :)

It’s all about collecting feedback

Experience taught us that collaboration with customers is the key to building a product they wish for.

That’s why our goal was to talk and collect as much feedback as we possible.

For this we used Intercom.

We started the drip campaign with the email where we asked subscribers why did they signed up for Infinity?

The simple question like this gave us a lot of important data like:

  • What tool they are currently using?
  • Why they are interested in Infinity?
  • What their current problems are?
  • What solutions they are looking for?
  • And much more…

Also, we’ve really committed to talk to people and get deeper in the conversation about particular features as well as to validate our feature proposals and show designs.

The email performance for this email was awesome. We had around 55% open rate and 20% reply rate which resulted in more than 300 conversations.

Now we really knew who our customers are, what problems they are trying to solve and how to communicate with them.

Other tools we used to get customer feedback:

Canny

Since we had a lot of features and integrations in mind, we needed to get a better understanding and prioritize what our users want. We’ve added a Features & Integrations section, by implementing Canny, a feedback management tool.

It’s a simple dashboard where users can vote on integrations, leave comments and report bugs.

Besides, this was a great way to start a community and show them that our team is transparent and committed to build a great product.

Now we know how to make value

To sum up, we’ve learned that if we listen to our users and adjust to their needs we can create a product that will make an impact on the market.

We are trying to:

  • Understand what the most important features we should build are.
  • Integrate tools our users are already using, so they can easily switch to a new tool.
  • Improve our messaging and positioning so our audience can recognize Infinity’s value.

See it for yourself

At the moment, Infinity is in closed beta and we plan to fully launch in October 2018.

Currently we’re building the third version of the product that looks like this:

We are constantly working on improvements and we are enthusiastic to share our learning with you.

Interested in what we’ve done so far? Check it out for yourself.

If you want early access, visit our homepage.

Hope this article was helpful to you.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +365,945 people.

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