TL;DR – Don’t want to read about the listing process. Jump straight to the results instead
What does my startup, Task Pigeon, and Pinterest have in common? We both launched our private beta on BetaList! (source). In this post we are going to outline what we learnt when we launched our private beta registration on BetaList and answer the common question of “is it worth listing your startup on BetaList?”
Before we dive in however let’s take a look at BetaList and what it is (and isn’t). BetaList is a website that surfaces new and innovative startups each day. It specifically focuses on startups who are about to launch a private beta and are therefore not public. As a result it is a great way to connect with tech enthusiasts who may be interested in your product or service. It also only features startups that have a distinct and decent looking landing page. No free template sites are included, which helps keep the quality high!
BetaList is a website that surfaces new and innovative startups each day. It specifically focuses on startups who are about to launch a private beta and are therefore not public
Is BetaList therefore a way of validating your startup idea? I might go against the grain here and say no. I have written extensively about validating your startup idea before and one of the key requirements I mention is identifying people’s propensity to pay. Simply, collecting emails will not do that. However, what you can do is use BetaList to uncover potential customers who you can then seek additional feedback from and test pricing on in the future. As a result it is not THE validation strategy, but part of the overall approach we are taking to test and build out our idea at Task Pigeon.
use BetaList to uncover potential customers who you can then seek additional feedback from and test pricing on in the future
So if you are an early stage startup about to launch your product or service then BetaList could be the platform for you. Especially if you view it as a way of building out a network of people to seek additional feedback from, rather than the one and only approach to idea validation. With that in mind it is worth providing a quick re-cap of the other selection criteria on BetaList. We will then look at the application process and fees, before answering the question “is it worth listing your startup on BetaList”.
BetaList Review – The Selection Criteria
The selection criteria process is pretty clear. You can view the full details here, but essentially:
- Your product/service must not be available to anyone. Private Beta’s only.
- It must not have been published on BetaList previously.
- It needs to be a tech startup (hardware or software). No blogs, courses, books, newsletters or subscription e-commerce ideas without substantial improvements.
- Your landing page has to be distinct and customised. Not hosted by LaunchRock, Unbounce or Kickofflab style pages, nor direct links to Kickstarter, Indiegogo or Facebook pages.
- You have to have an email sign up form or “connect” with Facebook or Linkedin style sign ups.
If you pass the above criteria then you able to submit your startup to BetaList. To do this the process is simple. You just click “Submit Startup” and login using your personal Twitter account (not your company account).
BetaList Review – Your Startup’s Details
You will then be prompted to fill in the general details of your startup. I like that BetaList strongly emphasises the need to be short and to the point. I have reviewed countless other startup listing sites in the past and some of them ask for inordinate amounts of information. Short, sharp and to the point gives you the best chance of standing out. In this section you will need to fill out:
- Your startup’s name
- A tagline that will entice people to click and view your startup
- Your website’s URL
- Two paragraphs that describe your startup in more detail
Remember to be brief and sell on benefits, not features. Yes, this can be hard to do, and I am always trying to improve my own writing. You might not get it perfect on the first attempt but every time you pitch your idea, whether in person or online, you should be refining your messaging until you find what really works for your audience.
BetaList Review – Additional Details
After this you have the option of adding some additional details such as your Twitter handle, status (select private beta), location, markets and additional instructions for registering for the beta.
The most important section here is markets in my opinion. For markets you get to choose five categories. I went with Task Management, Chat, Collaboration, SaaS and B2B. I wanted a mix of keywords that were both narrowly defined (task management) and broad (SaaS) to capture the widest audience possible.
BetaList Review – Media & Screenshots
Following this you have the chance to add some media assets. I didn’t want to go overboard here. I simply took a screenshot of our landing page and added two additional images that showed mock up screenshots of our web app.
What you decide to go with will probably depend on your own personal preference. Our branding with Task Pigeon is “loud” and fun. As a result the bright colors of our landing page stood out and in my opinion would at least draw the eye of a user or email recipient to take a look.
BetaList Review – Your Team
Next up you have the team. For Task Pigeon it was easy. I’m rocking it solo as a founder so it was just me. If you have co-founders or early stage employees on board I would add as many people as you possibly can here. The more the merrier.
BetaList Review – Final Details
There’s one more final step before you get to the payments section. Here you get the chance to enter any additional instructions for the team. I asked if it was possible to have my startup listed on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Although it turned out that once you got to the next stage (payment) what you are willing to pay does in large part dictate when and where you are published. As a result I’m not 100% sure what you could include here that would be of any additional value to you or your startup.
BetaList Review – Pricing
Finally you hit the payments section. It’s pretty straight forward what you are paying for here. There are three packages to consider:
- Funded – Pay $299 USD – skip the waiting queue and get featured as soon as the next day.
- Startup – Pay $129 USD – skip the waiting queue and get featured within the next few days. You also ensure you get featured on a weekday for maximum exposure.
- Hobby – Free – The site says a one month waiting queue but doesn’t specify if you will definitely get featured (even if you meet all their selection criteria). I assume that if BetaList continues to get paying customers your listing continues to get bumped until there is eventually a slot available. So the wait time could be longer. But if you have time on your hands it is free.
For Task Pigeon the $129 option made the most sense to me. As long as you submit the listing on a Sunday or Monday you are going to get a midweek day which in my opinion gives the best chance at receiving the most eyeballs on your listing. Paying bore than 2x the fee just to choose your day may suit some. But I really only see that working if you are coordinating what you are doing on BetaList with other forms of paid marketing or media.
After you hit submit they don’t charge your credit card straight away. They wait until your startup has passed their selection criteria before processing the transaction which is awesome.
Once you have submitted your startup you wait for this email to come through. You will then receive another email when your startup is listed.
When your listing goes live its time to try and push traffic to it and engage where possible. This really is a separate post because in no way did I manage this as best I could. While BetaList doesn’t have the same level of interaction as ProductHunt if you can drive traffic to your listing, get likes and comments (as well as good engagement from the BetaList users) this puts you in a chance of being featured.
All new listings do show on the home page on the day of their listing, however being featured keeps you in the top row for longer. What I’m really saying here is that being featured does have a benefit, but even if you aren’t it isn’t the end of the world as you will still get good exposure on the front page for a day or two at least.
I did get a couple of comments and tried to provoke and engage in conversation where possible.
BetaList Review – The Results
Okay, with the pleasantries out of the way it’s time to ask was it worth listing on BetaList. To provide a clear answer for you I am going to share out Google Analytics data in (we are a transparent startup after all).
As the attached graph shows we have 387 new visitors from Betalist. A couple of people seemed to have visited multiple times with total sessions at 417 however the bulk of those extra visits were mostly myself checking out the listing and the times when I grabbed screenshots for this post.
I was pretty happy with that result. I know people say that you can get hundreds of sign ups from Betalist but I didn’t go in there with that expectation. I just wanted to get decent traffic that would give me some numbers with I could analyse for conversion rates, etc.
Breaking it down the traffic looks as follows:
- 124 users on Thursday when we were listed on the site
- 147 users on Friday when we were included in the email blast
- 40 on Saturday
- 24 on Sunday
- The rest since then
This is at least a 10x better return than any other pre-launch website I have listed past ideas on. So yes, BetaList definitely does deliver real traffic!
From a cost per click point of view we paid the $129 fee and had 387 unique clicks. That equates to 0.33 cents. I’m very happy with that result. I have run numerous Facebook campaigns in the past and getting anything close to a $1 per click here in Australia has been good for me (even when I have paid professionals to design and run the campaign for me). At well under half the cost I don’t think I could have driven the same amount of traffic to Task Pigeon for less money on platforms such as Facebook, so that’s another win there.
Ultimately though traffic means little. Conversions are what counts. So how many people did I convert from lsiting my startup on BetaList. For that I’m going to share another image.
Currently I am sitting at 71subscribers. But 4 of those are me when I was testing the sign up form and automated email campaign I have running. I also had 1 extra subscriber who unsubscribed after I sent out an email seeking further feedback.
As a result the net effect was 66 subscribers were delivered from my BetaList campaign to date. Once again I was impressed with the subscribers I received from BetaList. I know that some people have received more, and some people have received less. So at the end of the day my campaign wasn’t number one, but 65+ still shows sufficient interest and at the very least points to the strength of the email database and following that BetaList have developed.
From a cost perspective that equates to $1.95 per conversion which is still lower than what I would have achieved through other forms of marketing in my opinion.
BetaList Review – Overall Summary
In my opinion BetaList is a very effective channel for acquiring pre-launch/beta list sign ups. Not only does BetaList distribute your startup to a wide and diverse base of potential users, but the click through rate, and conversation rate we achieved was significantly better than any other form of advertising I have tried in the past. If you are working on a tech based startup I would definitely recommend that you check out BetaList and consider how it can form part of your overall pre-launch strategy.
Following our success on BetaList Task Pigeon was also hunted on Product Hunt where we reached the first page. See the results and my feedback from Task Pigeon on Product Hunt here.