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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Being proactive to get beta tester signups

This follows on a comment by Markito on this thread: http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?biz.5.569529.8

Basically, don't underestimate the power of forward thinking and a little up front work when trying to get a list of potential customers...

My landing page at http://www.sendalong.com has had a "sign up for beta account notification" form for a while now (couple of months).  Even though visitors to the site aren't even able to see screenshots of the app or visit any other pages, I've had quite a few  requests for beta accounts come from that form.  I suppose if I made more of an effort to get the URL out  there to others or to make the site prettier I'd have even more requests. 

The point is, even if you don't have a beta ready product yet, putting up a form like the above could help you have a nice pool of beta testers to use when you finally do release. 

The whole page took about 2 hours of work to put together - well worth the many email addresses it's collected over the months!

Hmmm...I wonder if I'll get any more beta requests as a result of this post ;).
Jon Chase Send private email
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Remember that 97% of them just want software for free and won't tell you about any problems or give you any comments. It's easy to get people to sign up for free stuff, but not easy to get truly dedicated people who want to help. For that maybe put up a discussion board for comments and suggestions, and target people who actually post there. Even 5 good beta testers is better than 100 bad.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
set an expiration date on the Beta release version..

and offer 75% discount on the final release if they submit / fillout a questionair..

there is benefit for them..  they only pay 25% of the price.. for only filling out a servey... after the final version is released.

also anyone that is an active participent in the bugtracking and testing gets a free copy ofcrouse ;)

put some guidelines on who gets what ;)

dont just give it away for free.. u wont get much response.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Markito - great idea about the incentives!  I know that user feedback rates are usually pretty dismal, so the offer of an incentive is a helpful tip to have when looking to boost response rates.
Jon Chase Send private email
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I just put up a normal "support" email form and then when people write in for support or questions on the trial version I ask them if they are interested in getting on the list.  I think, though, that had I given it much thought I would/should have put something like the OP did on his website.  I cannot understate the value of writing back to people who write to you and just communicating with them like they are a customer (or if you are used to contracting like they are your contract).  I've built up a small yet verbal group of customers from which I have received testimonials, some purchases and lots of good ideas for improving the software.
Joshua Volz Send private email
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
OP (Jon),

Do you use AdWords to drive potential customers to your website? Does this also help to gauge potential market size?

We have one enterprise app out there and are looking to work on another - in a related field. We will be doing the initial fact find with 50 or so targets (on the telephone) from a mailing list and will also be looking to sign-up prospects and beta testers via a website.

Can you elaborate on your experiences?
Cyclops Send private email
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

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