Thanks to advancements in technology, particularly cloud computing, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry has enjoyed rapid growth.
According to a report by Gartner, the SaaS industry is worth $104.7 billion. That’s why jumping onto the SaaS bandwagon could be the best business move you can make. And if you’re already in the SaaS space, you know the emotional roller coaster ride that’s a SaaS beta launch.
But your SaaS beta launch doesn’t have to be a period of uncertainty. You can increase your chances of your beta launch being successful.
What is a SaaS beta launch (and why is it important)?>
When your product is in the development stages, only your internal team knows about it. And because you’re developing it in a test tube environment, you can’t really tell how it will perform in a real-life situation.
That’s why you must leverage the power of a beta launch.
A beta launch simply means launching your SaaS product to a small group of people before you have perfected it. The main reason for this is that launching your product in beta helps you to…
Validate your product
It’s likely you developed your product to solve a problem your target audience has been facing. A beta launch will help you determine whether real users will find your product a good fit for solving their problem. This includes practicability and ease of use.
For example, a company like PandaDoc might initially launch a contract management platform, but after receiving feedback from users, add additional features such as signing documents electronically.
The beta launch is the time to receive this valuable feedback from users, find out what your SaaS is missing, and work to fill in the gaps. Launching your SaaS product in beta will also help you iron out all the kinks and bugs in the code.
Generate buzz around your product
Especially if you’re new in the SaaS space or trying to break into a new market, you’ll need to get the attention of your target audience. And ideally without exposing your product’s flaws. This is where launching in beta helps.
You can raise the brand awareness of your product and yet keep the environment in which you’re launching semi-controlled. The best part is, done well, your beta launch will help you get your customers excited about it before it launches.
A classic example of a brand that successfully launched this way is Evernote. They launched their app to a closed beta group by invite only. This generated a lot of buzz that resulted in them having a long waiting list of users pre-launch. And Evernote isn’t the only one who can pull off a successful SaaS beta launch. Let’s take a look at how you can also plan for your beta launch.
7 Steps to execute a successful SaaS beta launch
One thing you must always remember about a SaaS product is that you must let your users build it. You may design how the product works, but it must be birthed from your target audience’s pain points.
That’s why a beta launch is essential.
It allows you to effectively marry your target customers’ pain points to your solution. And that should be done without putting a strain on your resources.
1. Test your product thoroughly
Before you launch your product in beta, you must ensure that you thoroughly test it.
Your beta testers are your most important brand ambassadors. As such, make sure they have a great experience with your product.
To do this, make sure to test your product thoroughly to iron out any bugs and glitches in the code. This will ensure that your beta testers have a positive experience with your product. If there’s anything that can hurt a product in its infancy, it’s negative reviews. And you want to avoid that at all costs.
2. Clearly define your product’s UVP
Another important step you must get right is to define your product’s unique value proposition (UVP). This is the benefit users will derive from using your product and won’t get anywhere else.
Clearly defining your UVP is essential as it will help you position your product well on the market. It also determines how you’re going to market your product as you launch it.
Without a UVP, you’ll be just like every other solution on the market. But a clearly defined UVP will help you stand out, especially in a crowded market.
3. Decide on the type of beta launch you want
When it comes to a SaaS beta launch, you have two options on how to do it. The first is a private beta launch, and the second is a public beta launch.
In private beta, the product is made available to a specific group of participants. These can be early adopted, a carefully selected group of users from our current customer base, or even paid beta testers. A private beta launch is best if:
- Your system isn’t ready for heavy traffic.
- Secrecy is vital before you launch to the public.
- Your product is more than an MVP but not yet fully functional.
On the other hand, a public beta is where you allow anyone to try out your product. Of course, you must give them a way of submitting their feedback.
Typically, a public beta launch is best for situations where you:
- Need widespread feedback
- Want to create a lot of user-generated content
- Want to test the system under heavy usage
In some cases, you may even start with a private beta launch to help you refine your product and then move to a public beta launch when you’re ready.
Once you’ve decided on the type of beta launch you want to run, set a date and a timeline for it.
4. Build a beta launch dream team
Once you’ve decided on the type of beta launch you’re going to implement, the next step is to build your beta launch dream team. These are the users you’ll launch your product to initially. Here are a few ways to help you do that:
Know where to look
No matter how you decide to run your SaaS beta launch, a few places you can look for beta testers include:
- Your current customers
- Beta testing websites
- Social media groups
You can also consider building a landing page to collect the email addresses of those who’re interested in becoming a part of your public beta launch. Getting the right beta testers is crucial to the success of your beta launch.
After all, their feedback is essential to let you know how effective your product is at solving the problem you designed it for.
Offer the right incentives
To get full participation and unbiased feedback, you must provide your beta testers with the right incentives. These could be anything from:
- Free access to your product
- An early adopters discount
- Access to your launch party
Unless you’re using a paid beta tester service, avoid using cash as an incentive. The best incentives are those that attract beta users who have a pain point your product can address.
5. Onboard your beta users
User onboarding is a critical element in a SaaS beta launch. It’s important as it will help you:
- Set expectations for your users
- Let them know what your goals for the beta launch are
- Get them excited about the launch date
- Guide them on what you expect from them in the form of feedback
Knowing what to expect and what you require from them is crucial to your beta users being effective in helping you successfully launch your product.
It will result in you getting quality feedback that will help you refine your product.
6. Get feedback and implement it
The most important reward of a successful SaaS beta launch is the feedback you get from users. That’s why one of the core elements of a beta launch should be a feedback strategy.
A good feedback strategy includes:
- Developing a plan. Your plan must clearly outline how you intend to get user feedback. This is particularly important if you’re running a public beta launch as you’ll have to go through many users’ feedback.
- Making it easy. Don’t overwhelm your beta testers by making it difficult to give you feedback. Design an easy way for them to provide you with feedback.
- Assigning responsibility for feedback gathering. You must make sure you have someone (or a team) responsible for gathering all the feedback and processing it.
Remember, not all feedback is necessary for your beta launch goals.
So, once you gather your feedback, you must sort it according to relevance and priority. And once done, use the feedback you get from your beta launch users to create an improved iteration of your product.
7. Let the world know
Once you’ve succeeded with your beta launch, it’s time to let the world know. Use the positive feedback you got from your beta testers to show your target audience how effective your solution is.
You can do this when you create a blog, landing page, and any other marketing assets you plan to use for your final product launch. If you can support your launch with content such as this post from GetVoIP comparing Dropbox to Box, even better.
This shows users that you’re serious, plus allows you to rank for your competitor’s keywords and steal some of their traffic. But let’s not forget the key to all of this, which is having a successful beta launch in the first place.
A huge benefit of a successful SaaS beta launch is that it gives you the social proof you need to boost your finished product’s official launch. Along with gathering user feedback and testimonials, try partnering with influencers and bloggers who can mention you in review posts like this one on the best webinar tools.
Leveraging affiliate sites is one of the best ways to amplify and scale your SaaS product. Without credible social proof, it’s difficult to break into and establish yourself in any market. And a beta launch will help you get all the social proof you need to announce to the world that your product is ready to take on their problems.
A successful SaaS beta launch is by design
No matter how great your product is, you need to work at giving it a good chance of success.
That’s why you must invest time and resources into designing a beta launch strategy. It’s crucial to a successful SaaS beta launch.