Looking for best ways to capture Beta user signups. Will limiting the number of spots on a Beta application generate more interest or would you gain more interest by letting anyone start using the application?
I disagree with you on a waitlisting. I have beta tested a lot of applications and if you are transparent about your beta test. I am aware of all the of the marketing tools to use for waitlisting, viral loops, and tactics to acquire users. I have been around for the Free sites, GPTs, incent etc. If you are transparent with the user on site up to the weighlist by simply engaging them either with material, content or insights you should not have a problem.
I signup to a lot of beta tests. I usually know a little about them and want to learn more and when I get approved to the beta test or if I think that the product or service is interesting I share the waitlist link to 15k of my linkedin connections.
If you execute properly you should have no issues.
The early adopters or testers should always have the experience closest to what the final product will be. A mailing list is not likely the way you will have others sign up, so it's less than ideal. If you're worried about people finding your app who were not invited to the beta, you can temporarily add an access code in the sign up that is part of your invitation. Those that do not have an invitation will not have the access code. But the access code is also something you can use as an incentive for those you do invite to invite like-minded people they think should also be using the app, that you don't know about to invite.
I will give you the example of Ello. It's an artistic social network, and the only way to join was to get invited by someone who had already been invited to join. No one could ever join willy-nilly. And you know what happened? People clamored for an invite. It launched with the ideal collection of enthusiastic users who had all been cultivated by the first invitees. Each beta tester could only give out a very small number of invites, like 3-5, so they were judicious in who they gave those to who wouldn't waste the opportunity.
It's an interesting strategy in finding your first customers, crowdsourcing without appealing to the lowest common denominator.
It depends on your your target audience and size of each deal. If your product is for enterprise then I woulld let user test the application with limited seats. If my product issues transactional and purley volume based then I would collect emails and then target them once I am ready fully.
I would use a waitlist application for beta users. There very clever ways you can use the tools to generate more interest in becoming a beta user.
Keep in mind that the relationship between you and your beta testers is heavily based on trust. Mailing or waiting lists undermine the trust as from the beta tester's point of view it is not sure if you really have a product to test or you are just hunting for contact information. This is why I always opted to let them go directly into the app.