6 steps to finding the right beta users

Finding the right early users can make or break a startup. If you find the wrong people, they will either waste your time with irrelevant suggestions or could easily send you off in the wrong direction. Here are a few suggestions on strategies to find the best early users.

1. Articulate the real target customer in as much detail as you can (I use a Mindmap to do this and have written about the process here). Try to expand with as many relevant customer attributes as possible, then generalize into a “Persona” that you paste up on the wall as the “target customer”.  

2. Take the key attributes and build out a Survey Monkey or Google Form survey. This is designed to collect structured and relevant data about people you want to use the product.  In addition to all the normal attributes, try to understand how the target discovers new services and which related services they use today. Here’s the one we did for Gist (a company I started in 2008). From the time we announced the closed beta until the time we actually opened the site, we had over 6500 responses to this survey and a sweet group of users to choose from!

3. Develop a few marketing messages that you think will get people excited and are provocative. For example (around Gist) we might use something like – “wanna make Outlook social, sign up now for an early look” or “does your CRM system suck too much of your time, we are building a solution, sign up now”.  

4. For a simple approach, skip to step 6.  For a more complex, but powerful solution, sign up for Launchrock or Waitlisted (newer solution) and build out “landing pages” for the key marketing messages. 

5. As part of the waitlist process include the link to the Survey (response page and email confirmation) and try to collect responses there.  Tell people that they need to fill out the survey AND share to others if they want a chance to get into the beta.  You should be building something they value so ask for some effort!

6. Start promoting the marketing messages and launch site via social media with a focus on places where your target users hang out (e.g. LinkedIn for bizpros) and with some focus on key bloggers/twitter stars. You can search on Klout or BuzzSumo (find good blog posts/authors) for people of topics and @message these key players telling them about your plans/product and asking for input.

If your messages are good, people will promote and some portion will fill in the survey. These are the people who are likely to a) really want a new solution and b) likely to do real work and give you real feedback on the product. As the results come in, you can easily group people by relevant attributes (via survey responses) and then focus on releasing the product to a finite number and with a focus on the right people.  

Tim Ferriss, of “4-hour work week” and “4-hour body” fame has also written about related ideas here and it is well worth the read.  Finally, the master of customer development, Steve Blank has a great post here on the relative value of users vs. valuable users and 1000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly is a good reference too.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to 6 steps to finding the right beta users

  1. david says:

    And don’t forget to sign up to betali.st!
    Here’s why: http://goo.gl/fcSU7

  2. Lenny Marine says:

    Some really nice and useful info on this web site, also I conceive the layout holds excellent features.

  3. Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading
    it, you may be a great author.I will make
    sure to bookmark your blog and will often come back from now on.
    I want to encourage one to continue your great writing, have a
    nice afternoon!

  4. Wonderful, whawt a weblog it is! This blog provides usefyl facts to us,
    keep it up.

    My page –web hosting reseller tips

  5. make revenue says:

    I was pretty pleased to find this web site. I wanted to thank
    you for ones time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every part of it and i also have you book marked to see new
    information in your blog.

  6. for three nights; with a daily two- hour commute,
    then six days off; when all I had done in the last ten years was work half days after nights sleeping ten hours.

    Repair or replace knives with loose or broken handles.
    If you are a big time baker, a stand mixer works well.

    My web-site – mandoline slicer reviews

  7. Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just
    your articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and all.
    However imagine if you added some great graphics or vidwos to give your posts more, “pop”!
    Your content is excellent butt with pics and clips, this site could undeniably be one of
    the greatest in itss field. Very good blog!

    my site :: reviews for air ambulance companies

  8. Ramona says:

    I read a lot of interesting posts here. Probably you spend a lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot of work, there is an online
    tool that creates unique, google friendly posts in seconds, just type in google
    – laranitas free content source

  9. Pingback: Answering The Anvil – startup questions from Purdue entrepreneurs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *