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Eleventy

Has anyone here ever launched their own product?

9 posts in this topic

I have been working on a product of mine for quite some time, and I have reached the point where I need to start the beta testing phase. The purpose of this beta test is to find usability issues and perhaps create some (inevitable) publicity (to a limited degree). Advertising the final product after the beta test will of course be necessary.
(I won't post a link to the product to in here since I plan on selling it later on - I don't want me or this product to be associated with spam; if anyone is interested in what it is, think desktop enhancement in a unique way)


What would be the appropriate steps to take for launching a beta test?

I have already set up a website with forums so that I can communicate with the beta testers. I also have a sign up form that asks for their name and email address (I don't want to collect too much information that would drive away testers).

In order to people to even know about the beta test, I have to advertise it somehow. However, I think paying for advertisements would be a bit overkill for a simple beta test.

I did some searching and found this website called 'BetaNews/FileForum'. Has anyone here used that website and had success with it? The only thing that I think might be odd when 'posting' an application on that website is that this software will require a beta key to unlock it.. meaning users won't be able to use the software immediately when they click on the download link (they'll have to then navigate to my website and sign up).

I did some more searching but couldn't find any websites that allow you to simply post 'news' about a beta product.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.
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Iam in a similair stage with my own product (Its not game related tho), What Iam planning on doing is publicly announcing it to first a group of friends who are interested in that kind of stuff (Music) and then working in any existing connections I have with internet buddies to try to help me spread the word out.

Also you might want to look into SEO to get your stuff near the top of search engines. But honestly I wouldnt be the most knowledgeable one these kinds of subjects.
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Use the Your Announcements section of this forum. You may freely just say what you want there about your product, have your own rules etc. Gamedev has a great, big community ,which I imagine would help you beta test your product.

You could also browse up some forums that tender to the topic your product relates to (desktop widgets if I understood correctly?) or on forums linked with the tools you used to make the product. Just don't overkill the marketing with posting too many ads in too many places -- eventually word will get around you need beta testers and you'll get what you need.

Also, try facebook. I've seen people kill themselves for beta keys of Sanctum on their facebook page.
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Put a time limit on it, so that it won't launch after 90 days or so, then create a website distributing it for free. Then buy AdWords to get at least a few people using it, and once you're confident it's not crashing everyone's machines, write to bloggers who have previously written about similar or competing products. Explain clearly and [b]concisely[/b] why their readers will care about your product. For a desktop enhancement product, LifeHacker might be a decent outlet if you can get it. Once you're ready to get out of beta, put the product behind a paywall of some sort and let the existing beta users' editions start to run out of free time.

I launched LucidChart (see sig) in a similar way. My first good-size blog writeup came about 10 days after launching a barely-working beta (having spent about $200 on AdWords), and brought tens of thousands of uniques that first week or two. Now I look back on Google Analytics and that first big hit is barely even a blip on the radar :-)
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Thank you for all of your suggestions. I am new to this whole process, so any input is greatly appreciated, as I really have no idea on how to proceed with this.

I went ahead and applied some SEO-type modifications to my website ([url="http://www.seoanalyser.net/"]http://www.seoanalyser.net/[/url] is excellent for doing that). I will definitely post a link to the beta signup in the Announcements forum (after I finalize some things such as bug fixes, memory leaks, etc) as well as some other places that might be interested in it (perhaps deviantART and Lifehacker if I can find a good place to be visible there). Spending money on advertising (even just for a beta) may be a good idea afterall, since it would increase my publicity. I'll just have to study how AdWords works so I can target the right market.

Sorry that I was a bit vague when I said 'desktop enhancement'. This product isn't actually a desktop widget, but a wallpaper manager/changer. And it won't clog up your system like StarDock's products do (hopefully - as long as I don't get any "surprises" from any beta testers).

I'll post a link in the announcements forum soon, hopefully this weekend.
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Okay, I have placed the software in a few locations. I am getting downloads and installations, but no beta signups. Are people against giving out their email address to an individual they have never met? Do you think it would be better to make the beta version not require a key or a signup process (just an expiration date)?

Please respond with any comments and/or suggestions.
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I posted too soon. I guess I am just too impatient these days. If anybody is curious on how I managed to get this to work, Facebook turned out to be a very good avenue. I managed to get several signups in about an hour for a mere $1.50.

Thank you all for your support anyway. I'll gladly help anyone else who is struggling with getting recognition.
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[quote name='Eleventy' timestamp='1309528239' post='4830012']
Okay, I have placed the software in a few locations. I am getting downloads and installations, but no beta signups. Are people against giving out their email address to an individual they have never met? Do you think it would be better to make the beta version not require a key or a signup process (just an expiration date)?

Please respond with any comments and/or suggestions.
[/quote]

Yes I would be very wary of giving my info to a non-established company. Your idea is a good one. A separate beta release that doesn't require signup info and expires after a certain period of time or maybe checks authentication online and doesn't work if not authenticated.
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I am glad there is someone here getting ready to launch a product!

When I work on websites for companies and project applications that need testing theres a few avenues we take. A very good one that builds hype is a mass registration. Instead of using an email, have a form that submits information about computer specs *this will help you alot trust me*.

What you should have is a try for x days no email, or an option to asess the beta of the product using an email, offer a disposable email service as well. A link to the right explaining that they can use services like: [color="#0e774a"]10minut[b]email[/b].com [/color]to receive a beta authentication code, or something of that fashion actually helps your PR base. What you basically said is, try my product because I want you to. I dont need your email to try it, however I am so confident that I am not going to spam you, you can use this fake email service if you want. It generates people to say... well I guess they wont spam me, heres my real email.

Twitter is a great way to market it aswell. If you need a good way to get followers to RT and attempt things, try using a service like [color="#0e774a"]twiends.com [/color]For a cheap amount, you can setup people who have interest in things like technology who are looking for interesting people to follow. 30$ will get you about 200 people that stick for 1-2 months. Its an easy way to send out a tweet, and get your name out there. We have used this service to sell mass accounts for people who want 20-30k followers for launching a product.

-Mayple

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Thank you for your comments. The next beta version (0.91) will definitely have a short (7-day) period where the user can use it without a beta key. That will probably draw significant interest and beta testers. At least they can see a product that is fully functional.

Mayple - thank you for recommending the 10minutemail.com and twitter/twiends methods (I was unaware of those before). You reasoning of using that email service makes sense - given that I am not well-known, people probably haven't developed a level of trust for me yet. That twitter marketing idea sounds very interesting and I will definitely be taking that avenue. I also discovered StumbleUpon, and they have what is called 'Paid Discovery'. I will try that as well.


Again, thanks!
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