Early Access for Beta Users: Get Insights and Promote Your Launch
June 17, 2022
⌚ 5 min read
→ Your growth practice
Provide early access to your new SaaS product version or feature, allowing beta users to give it a try before its official launch.
→ Why it matters
Should you build your new product version or feature in stealth mode? Or should you open up about it and make it public before its official release? Your decision will make or break your product / feature launch.
📓 Early access: Enabling a limited number of users to access a SaaS product version or feature before its official launch.
📓 Beta users: Product users committed to testing your new software environment/version or feature before its official launch. Beta users will help you identify your product or design-related incoherences.
→ Quick explanation
Most SaaS companies build new product versions or features in stealth mode. After the launch, though, they may encounter challenges such as:
Crickets. 😉 Your launch may go unnoticed. Imagine planning a launch event and registering very few attendees because most people don’t know you have been working on something new.
Low adoption rate. There’s one thing to building a new product version or feature based on your users’ feedback, and it’s entirely different from having your beta users test the product while you’re working on it.
High user frustration. Working with your users is the best option to develop something truly useful and easy-to-adopt.
The obvious solution is to provide early access to your beta users and let them put their hands on the new product version or feature long before its release.
► Quick note: This growth strategy is different from pre-launch marketing / pre-sale, which involves creating a landing page to collect the emails of those interested in hearing from you once you’ve launched the product. In this case, we’re talking about pre-launching a new product version or feature by providing early access to beta users.
→ Types of early product access:
Public: Some SaaS companies are open about recruiting beta users for their new product version or feature. Usually, these companies ask beta users to fill out a survey to identify whether they’re a good fit in terms of the target group, use case, product usage, and paying status.
Private: Other SaaS companies work secretly, making private the communication and selection of beta users.
→ Your growth opportunities
Promote the release of your new product version or feature. However, this will work only if you’ll recruit beta users publicly, as everyone will see you’re working on something new.
Get people to talk about your new product or feature release.
Get support from your beta users on your Product Hunt launch day.
Improve your new SaaS product version or feature on the go. Giving people early access will allow you to collect valuable feedback, identify the workflow issues, and remove existing bugs before the big launch.
Collect product testimonials from your beta users to add them later on your landing page.
Engage with your users or customers to strengthen your connection.
→ Case example
>> Webflow, no-code website builder
During the No-Code 2021 Conf, Webflow announced the launch of Memberships, a new core capability of the platform, which allows the addition of paid membership functionality to a site. Webflow Memberships is in beta mode.
The company is allowing beta users early access to the new functionality by filling out a form and going through a selection process.
To be selected as a beta user, people have to fill out a large form that contains questions such as:
Who do you build sites for?
Have you built a membership site before?
What platforms or plugins did you use?
What kinds of membership sites are you looking to create?
When do you expect to make this site public?
How many membership sites do you expect to launch within three months?
How large is your audience base today?
Plus, the form asks possible beta users to:
Share one project link. The project needs to be the one users’ would like to test the Membership functionality on.
Share the email connected to the Webflow account.
As you can see, Webflow is quite strict about its selection process, searching for beta users who:
Is interested in building and launching (multiple) membership websites
Has already built membership websites using third-party plugins or platforms
Has an existing audience
It’s worth noting that most questions come with answer options, reducing the friction and allowing people to fill out the form faster.
Subsequently, people are informed that they’ll be contacted if the Webflow team will select them for the staged rollout of the Memberships beta.
→ Is this practice good for your SaaS?
How will I recruit my beta users? Will it be publicly or privately?
Who’s my ideal beta user?
What are the selection criteria for my beta users?
This growth practice works for product-led companies only.
You need to be working on a new SaaS product version or feature launch. In other words, you need to have an existing product and users or customers actively engaging with your platform.
→ How to apply this growth practice
✅ Identify the profile of your ideal user. You can follow two main criteria:
Usage profile: You’ll want to select beta users actively engaging with your platform, have a great experience with your software, and have launched different deliverables or projects through your platform.
Customer profile: This criterion depends on your target group and those people you want to engage with your new product version or feature.
✅ If you decide to go public about your early release, you’ll have to create a beta user recruitment survey. This survey will help you identify the best profile. Also, if that’s the case, the survey will allow you to segment your users depending on their:
Use case: If your new feature or functionality can be used differently depending on the use case, you can always segment your users and take note of how they engage with your new product version or feature.
Goals: In some cases, you may want to accept beta users desperately needing the new product version or feature to get a job done. If we take the Webflow example, users who wish to release a membership website immediately are much more motivated to use the new functionality than those who plan to launch it in half a year.
✅ Build a beta user survey. You can select between solutions, such as:
Include questions with multiple answer options to make things easier for your users. Don’t forget that your survey aims to identify the right beta user profile.
✅ Create a beta user selection protocol.
✅ Build a landing page and publish the survey.
✅ Promote early access to your new SaaS product version or feature. For example, you can send a newsletter email to your existing users. Or, you can add a banner on the top of your home page inviting users to fill in the survey. Also, launch an in-app pop-up notification informing your users about the early access.
✅ Make it easy for your beta users to send you feedback. Also, engage with them via email, chat, and meetings, asking their thoughts about the new SaaS product version or feature.
✅ Don’t forget to collect testimonials from your beta users. You can simply ask users for testimonials via emails or make it a requirement for early access to the platform.