Public relations · Beta launch

What are the best places to get a few hundred beta users?

Sachin Agarwal Founder, Braid (braidhq.com) - lightweight project and client management built into Gmail and Google Apps

May 23rd, 2016

We use a WordPress theme for our braidhq.com marketing site, so we're ineligible to be featured on BetaList. We've gone through their Submit.co list but that hasn't yielded anything good. Obviously, we'll try to post on HN and ProductHunt and what not when we launch as well as hope for some yield from our niche PR efforts. But we want something where we can get early beta users instead of launch users.

We hope to launch in early June and would like to stress test our app before we go public.

Thanks for the ideas in advance -

Kelly Kuhn-Wallace Tech startup consultant, founder coach.

May 23rd, 2016

Brian and Christopher have directed you to a few excellent resources that should get you started. Additionally:
  • Your beta users will become launch users if your product is useful to them. Treat them like royalty.  =-)
  • Please don't rely on beta users for/load stress testing entirely. Track beta usage patterns, and use them to create a model. Use that to break a live copy of your app -- before you launch. Power is knowing your limits.
  • For recruiting beta users, I'll overlap some of the suggestions on Christopher's list. 
    • Check meetups.com for local sessions with project managers. If you don't live urban, it might be worth traveling if the session is large enough. Get permission to talk about your project so the admins can promote your free pizza offer. Some things never change.
    • Commenting (sparingly) on blog posts can be a solid tactic here too. Be transparent about what you're doing there and make sure your comment is relevant to the project management related content on the page. The closer it is, the better it will work.
    • Monitor Twitter for keywords that indicate a need for the benefits of your product. (Look at the keywords from your customer dev data for guidance.) Here's a reliable article that explains how.    
A few of my funded clients, one who needed global beta users, have had good luck with Erlibird  It isn't inexpensive.                                                           A few things to goose your acceptance rate:
  • Be brief in your ask
  • Be clear about what problem you product is solving (the benefit)
  • Tell user what's in it for them (discount for how long after launch, etc.)
  • Make the offer limited by time or number. Use a visual countdown. Stay true to the limit you set.
  • Be authentic. Have a link so that potential beta users can find out more about who you/your team is and your qualifications.This matters.
  • Make it easy for potential beta users to questions and opt-in. If you have done what you can for your landing page, try live chat. 
Best of luck as you prepare for your launch!

Chris Owens

May 23rd, 2016

This link has a good list of sites you can use.
whitetailsoftware.com/2013/10/pre-launch-email-list-building-directories

To that I would add Betabound.com which is run by Centercode. Centercode is a whole system you can use (for a fee) that allows you to manage your beta from soup to nuts.

Brian Piercy Full-stack product manager. Polymath.

May 23rd, 2016

How about posting on Reddit's project management page (https://www.reddit.com/r/projectmanagement)? Approx 6K users.

Chicke Fitzgerald

May 23rd, 2016

I love usertesting.com as they record their perspectives as they attempt to navigate your product.  You can choose age, platform, geography, etc.  It is worth the expense.

Sachin Agarwal Founder, Braid (braidhq.com) - lightweight project and client management built into Gmail and Google Apps

May 23rd, 2016

All - this is great information.  Here's another great list I found: http://justinmcgill.net/massive-list-of-web-app-directories-to-promote-your-startup/

@David - https://betalist.com/criteria tells you that it has to look custom, not sure what more to do, but braidhq.com is a customized WP template that we bought.

Rill Hodari

May 23rd, 2016

Hi Sachin,

In full disclosure I am a market research consultant so I would recommend handling your issue as a research study.  Closed online communities are often used by many companies in many industries and they are generally populated with randomly recruited sample, much the way you would recruit for any research study.  The difference is that these research respondents sign on for a more ongoing engagement like a beta test period and use the platform and its tools to post spontaneous feedback as well as participate in more structured exercises.  

I think this approach will give you the best, most valuable bang for your buck.  I'd suggest you look into something like www.digsite.com to see if it might fit your needs as a platform and they may even help you find sample (whether B2B or targeted consumers).  

The value people lose by not engaging a real researcher in these endeavors is the structured, quality control of good study design and management.  In other words you could get a non-random sample to give feedback but you would not know how much they mirror or don't mirror the true market and largest opportunity space.  Or you could partner with a company or two and end up building a tool that is specific to their needs but not a fit or the rest of the marketplace.

Anyway, that is my two cents.  Contact me at rillhodari@hotmail.com if you need any advice or assistance any aspect of market or brand research.

Frank Watson Co Founder at Kangamurra Media

May 24th, 2016

Have you thought of going to a conference where you can give access to the attendees - right conference could get you that many testers

Jeff Hadfield Trendsetting, Imaginative Marketing & Content Expert, Cutting-edge Advisor, Coach, Speaker

May 23rd, 2016

Hi Sachin,
Off the cuff, a couple of approaches could work. First, you could partner with other groups or companies in your target customer verticals - like offering beta access (perhaps plus X months free) to startups at a local incubator. I've also had success with targeted social advertising, but that one's a bit trickier to target and can require a modest budget.

David Albert Founder & Principal at GreyGoo

May 23rd, 2016

Thanks Sachin. I never noticed that! Good luck finding your beta testers and your product launch.

Rob G

May 23rd, 2016

1. define your ideal prospect - get as focused as you can.
2. find out where they congregate - meetups, user groups, etc.
3. go talk to them. 

presumably you want your early beta users who mirror your target audience - users who are at least somewhat knowledgeable about your market, have a bit of experience, may have a need for a product like yours and can give feedback beyond simply "this button doesn't work using chrome 49.0.xxx".  if you just need people to break your application try something like mechanical turk.