When looking to mobilize and reward your most passionate customers at the same time, nothing works better than pre-orders and internal beta campaigns. They bring added value to early adopters by allowing them to be the first to recieve your product and test out its latest features.
However, these campaigns shouldn't be done in a rush, because they need to bring added value to your most loyal customers. Otherwise, having to pay more for less and testing an incomplete beta could turn them off your product.
Pre-orders during the launch campaign are great, for rewarding loyal customers/early adopters. They also aid with revenue and cash flow for independent software devs. Because it's often an intangible benefit to pre-ordering, your first thought should be, what value can I add for my users by pre-ordering?
This can come in the form of a subscription discount if they choose a lifetime option. It can also involve offering an internal beta, because people who pre-order are often early adopters who want to use the product before anyone else.
By having pre-orders you also need to be able to set expectations, especially in terms of a release date and what are the final (not interchangeable) features. These things can’t shift drastically without informing your customers, as they’ve already paid for a specific product on a specific date, anything different will make them question the purchase decision.
Someone who ran a successful pre-order campaign was mSeven for mSecure 5. One of the reasons for this success was their use of internal beta, which they then aligned the external beta with their pre-order campaign. The external beta helps build trust, makes the product more tangible helps makes the release feel closer.
An Internal Beta can be a big boost to both you and your customers. It can be offered to your early adopters who want to get into the product first, and lets users give you instant feedback on what could be changed before the launch.
Deciding when to offer internal beta, will involve you considering what is open to the beta and what is closed. There may be elements that you’re saving for a launch and don’t want to unveil just yet.
A way to promote the internal beta, is to ask your private beta testers to invite their friends and colleagues. This can be done privately,through their blog or social media. This gives your testers a chance to show how they were part of the inital test and to introduce your product to their circle of followers. To assist them you could prepare the sort of message you want them to send out, eventually gathering momentum for when you open the public beta.
If you’re offering internal beta as a paid incentive, people are more likely to give you feedback. Given that they feel like they should receive a product that works (if they’ve paid).
Fournova blog on planning and scaling a Beta, relates the importance of having 20-50 early adopters. They also state that you should feedback at every stage and create tickets for the meaningful suggestions or bugs. This had a big impact when they were testing Tower and paid off by creating loyal customers for them.
To hold an effective campaign, like the examples we've listed, you'll need to bring real value to your existing customers. Giving them an amazing service will also help with customer referrals, something which we cover in our mobilizing guide.
Paddle's Mac Software Trends Report 2018
The shifts from 2018 that will inform your Mac software launch strategy in 2019.