Launching Propeller on BetaList

Sharing our experience: what went well, what didn’t, and what we’ve learned so far.

Posted on 24 May 2017

Earlier this year we launched Propeller, our productized web design service, on BetaList. We wanted to get it in front of our target audience — tech startups — to test our assumptions and try to get some early customers.

In this post we’re sharing our experience to help give others an idea of what to expect, as well as providing some tips for a successful launch.

Our traffic and conversion figures

Here’s what our traffic looked like when we launched on BetaList:

566 visitors over 2 weeks, pretty cool.

And we got 35 of those visitors to sign up:

And several months later, we still get a few visits from the BetaList post:

The daily email

From our experience, it seems like most of the traffic came from BetaList’s daily email, which we were lucky enough to have the prime spot in.

We were also included in a weekly summary email, which gave a smaller spike in traffic a week later.

The Trending Section

To maximize our exposure from BetaList, we also wanted to get a spot in the Trending section, right at the top of the home page. We managed to move from the third place to the first throughout the day.

We’re not sure exactly what qualifies a startup for this section, but some things we suspect helped us get to the number one spot were:

  • We linked to the BetaList post in all our social media posts, rather than directly to our website.
  • We sent out an email to our existing mailing list to announce our launch, and included a link to the BetaList post.
  • We set up a tailored message on Intercom for visitors from BetaList, with a link back to the post and a reminder to like or leave a comment.

Basically: encourage as many people as possible to check out, and interact with, your post on BetaList.

Using Intercom

Just before we were featured, we decided to install a trial of Intercom’s live chat product to add a chat window on the site.

This turned out great — we ended up having some really insightful chats with a few visitors, and generated some enquiries from it. We also created a custom message for BetaList visitors as mentioned before, which helped give them a more tailored experience.

Unfortunately we did miss out on a few conversations as we weren’t available to be online for the whole of the day. If you decide to do this for your launch, make sure to set aside enough time to answer any messages that come through!

Following up

We used MailChimp to gather sign-ups from our landing page. A few days after the launch, we followed up with them to introduce ourselves.

Another few days later, we released more details about the service and emailed the list again:

We kept the emails simple, plain text, and brief so that they were easy to read quickly.

We found that small updates every few days worked well to improve engagement — we had some great chats with potential customers and got some really useful feedback on our offering.

We got our first customer!

One of the main things we wanted to achieve through our BetaList post was to get some real customers, so we can run them through our process and learn from the experience. And we’re happy to say it worked:

We created a new home page for Orders2me, a restaurant online-ordering SaaS company from NYC. Click the link above to check out the case study!

Learning from our experience

We learned a great deal about our service from our launch, mainly through talking to potential customers. Since then we’ve made some changes:

We simplified our offering

Previously we offered 3 types of pages. We think this diluted our message and made it harder for visitors to figure out if it was the right fit for them.

The first offering was a ‘beta page’ for brand new businesses to help with their own launches. We found that a lot of people ended up creating these themselves using one of many great products specifically built for this purpose. When you’re first launching a new business, it’s hard to justify the cost of custom design and copywriting — so we often weren’t a great match for what these people were looking for.

We’ve now changed it to a single offering where we feel we can deliver the most value for our customers — businesses with some initial traction looking to take things to the next level. We want to help business get more engagement, sign-ups, and sales.

We changed our messaging

We were using the term ‘landing page’ to describe what we create, and we found that often gave the wrong impression about our service — these are seen as more campaign driven or temporary pages.

We’ve changed that to ‘web pages’ as this implies something more permanent and attracts more of the people who could benefit the most from our custom service.

We’re up front about our pricing

We decided to be transparent about the price of a custom page from Propeller, so that we didn’t get too far into the conversion before realising that people don’t have enough of a budget for a custom page.

Now it’s easy for visitors to see if we’re a good match for what they need, and we only get enquiries from the right kind of people.

All things considered, we had a great experience launching our service on BetaList.

We learned a ton, got Propeller in front of lots of potential customers, and converted some of those into paying projects!

If you’re looking for awesome custom copywriting, design and development for your business, check out Propeller to see how we can help.
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