How we got 267 beta users in 4 hours for our SaaS 🤯

Quick context

During Christmas, my co-founder and I had a new startup idea: a cold email software powered by AI icebreakers 🧊.

We bought the domain December 26th and released the product January 8th.

During this period, I got us hundreds of beta users with only a landing page.

Wish I knew these actionable tips when we started 👇

1°) Know your target audience

This is probably the most underrated part of the process.

Knowing your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) is key to gain time and attract quality leads.

To be honest, although we knew a lot about cold emails, we were not the typical users of such products as startup founders.

Because of that, I had a hard time identifying our target audience in the beginning. Was it B2B sales, small business owners or agencies, all of them?

This little framework below helped me answer my questions👇

1. Spend time on G2 and Capterra looking at similar products.

I mapped out all the established players in the market and spent few hours understanding what they were doing precisely.

Then I sorted out the irrelevant players. For example, Outreach and Salesloft are targeting enterprises. As we target SMBs, they were not the worth the time to analyze.

2. See what type of people let the review (eg business owner, head of sales).

Once you have selected the players of the market that are the closest to the solution you're currently building, the goal is to read as many reviews as possible.

Each review describes the background of the user which is really helpful.

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For each established player, you can have a look at the distribution of the reviews.

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Try to play a bit with all the parameters, it's free data so take advantage of it 😎

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2°) Look for early adopter communities

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Me looking for early adopter communities

Most people won't care about a MVP (Minimum Viable Product). This is why you need people who like to be early adopters.

Early adopters will try your product even if it's not revolutionary just because they like comparing the state of the art.

This some places where you can find early adopter communities:

  • Slack
  • sub/r Reddit
  • Hacker News
  • Indie Hackers
  • Facebook Groups
  • Micro-influencers with an audience on Youtube or Twitter

From my perspective, the best early adopter communities when it comes to SaaS products are in Facebook Groups.

This is why I decided to devote my time finding FB groups with our ICP.

3°) What we exactly did to get beta users

In our case, we found early adopters in FB groups, especially Martech and LTDs groups.

We knew they liked AI and email products. We did only 2 posts and it directly exploded.

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Sorry for this screen in French :P

BE CAUTIOUS though, always ask admins before posting, 1 post got banned.

I imagine you wonder what kind of post I did, so here you go 😎.

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4°) How to not loose momentum if you get too many beta users at once

In the beginning I planned to post in about 20 groups but the traction we got was just too much to handle for 1 person.

After our 2 posts, we got hundreds of comments asking to join as beta users and I talked to everyone 1 to 1 in DMs for 12 hours straight 😄

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Me talking with +250 people for 12 hours straight

I also did a few tweets about the traction we got on Facebook groups which led to almost double the amount of people interested to try out the product in a week.

We only had a landing page at that time but I quickly realized that we must not let people get in at once to not loose momentum.

5°) The choice of going into private beta

Accepting all beta users would have ruined our chances to collect quality feedback.

So we built a waiting list and were accepting people little by little.

I don't see that often but it's a great way to iterate fast with user batches.

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Because we love personalization, each invite codes were tailored.

People loved their private code: "Best_Early_Adopter_is_Name" and let us knew about it 😍

It added value to their user experience

Going in private beta phase also helped us create more relationships with users.

We use Retool to handle our invite codes.

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Example of invite codes created in Retool

6°) Defaults of this framework and lessons learned

Thanks to our posts on Facebook groups and our tweets, we got on average 250 visits per day for 3 days on the landing page EVEN BEFORE the product was launched.

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Visits between January 3rd and January 6th

However, here's a list of the mistakes we did and the lessons I learned the following days after dealing with people interested to try the product:

  • early adopters from LTDs communities have less chances to turn into MRR users. Most of them were actually interested in buying a LTD straight away and THEN becoming early adopters rather than being part of a beta.

  • having too many people at once can be hard to handle at MVP phase, especially as solo entrepreneur IMO. Focusing on 10 people is better I believe in the early days.

  • people don't commit enough if it's a free beta, try to aim for a paid one 🤑

Did we get MRR paying users from the beta users?

Yes we did, but that's for another story 😉

I'm active on Twitter @ArnaudBelingaCX

  1. 5

    This was well-written with an honest action-plan. Also, it kind of proves that while largely infamous due to privacy and other reasons, facebook still continues to command a high place when looking for potential marketable audience. The sheer number of users on the platform is its USP

    Thanks for sharing this and all the best :)

    1. 2

      Thanks for your comment :D

      I believe it's good to try every acquisition channel possible even if they seem not promising. I got a few surprises with Facebook, as mentioned in this article!

  2. 4

    Awesome advice! I’m currently building a marketing tool and will have to apply some of this strategy for when I go beta. I need to step up my game in Facebook groups.

    1. 1

      Glad you liked it you Stephen :)

      Best of luck for your product!!!

  3. 3

    And what if I don't have the product ready but just a figma prototype? Can I still acquire beta testers at this stage?

    1. 1

      Yes you can. It's harder these days but still possible imo

      You should check the story of Dropbox with their fake MVP. It's really inspiring.

      1. 2

        Thanks. Will check it

  4. 2

    Do you plan to offer API so I can integrate it with my Lead search engine SaaS?

    1. 1

      It's on the roadmap yea

  5. 2

    Yo! I just reached out to you on Twitter.

    1. 1

      Saw your tweet, will get back to you soon man. I learned about IcyLeads recently, it's fire

  6. 2

    That's truly insightful, Arnaud. Curious how you started working on this problem as you mentioned that this target audience were quite new to you.

    Also how did you find the FB groups which would be helpful for your company?

    1. 1

      Hey, started working on this as I was myself doing cold emails and it took me a lots of time to personalize each intro lines.

      I just found them by typing some keywords in the facebook search bar

  7. 2

    Never underestimate the power of Facebook I guess. I had been looking at Reddit communities and reaching out to active people on Product Hunt. But I can see the conversion rate from Facebook groups now, sheer numbers game once you've identified the right audience to pitch to.

    1. 2

      Glad to hear that :D - I saw your DM on Twitter, will get back to your in a couple of days

  8. 2

    Thanks, exactly what I need right now

    1. 1

      Perfect, let's crush it Daibo!!!

  9. 2

    A solid guideline, love it.

  10. 2

    Thanks for sharing, really encouraging to hear

    1. 1

      Always happy to share :)

  11. 2

    Congratulations, this is super cool!

    I didn't realize Facebook Groups are still active communities. In my experience, it was super challenging to interact without sounding salesy. Any tips/ insights on what kind of content or asks to share there?

    1. 1

      I think you should try to add value to people. In our case, we simply offered a free plan for a few weeks but the goal should always be to create long-lasting relationships!

  12. 2

    awesome share man, loved the part about diving into WHO left the reviews for competitor products to start identifying which industries and type of positions were using the product the most.

    quick 2 questions

    • what did you build the website with?
    • what did you build the app itself with?
    1. 2
      • Webflow for the website
      • Next.js, Express.js, Node.js, Prisma.js, PostgreSQL, Firebase AUTH
      1. 1

        This might be dumb but I have to ask, do you use nextjs custom server?

  13. 2

    Super inspiring. Thanks for being so transparent and honest Arnaud, I am already learning a lot from your journey with Breakcold

    1. 1

      Thanks for your comment Rory :)

      Always happy to share my learning with fellow makers

  14. 2

    I’ve analyzed over 650 LTDs on Appsumo and most founders I got in touch with said the same thing, the LTD community is great for early growth but not so good for MRR or qualitative product feedback

    1. 1

      Thanks again for your insights on Twitter :)

  15. 2

    We want the next episode on MRR!

  16. 2

    Awesome to hear that you pulled it off.
    I'm running a Growth Agecny- growth.cx and currently building a Growth Marketing Tool for SEOs, Content Marketers. I'll be certainly doing some of your strategies.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. 2

      Awesome, don't hesitate to reach out on Twitter if you have any more questions Jose :)

  17. 2

    Amazing insights @Abelinga.

    This can be applied on most type of SaaS ideas.

    1. 1

      Cheers mate! That was the goal to try to stay generic in order to help as many people as possible 😄

  18. 2

    Well done @Abelinga.

    It took me 176 days to acquire our first 100 Volunteers for https://skilledup.life. Amazing what you have achieved.

    Our total sits at 2,413 today. All the best with your tech startup.

    1. 1

      Thanks Manoj, 2413 is a lot, congrats :D

      Hope we'll be able to reach this number in the following months!!!

  19. 1

    This detailed post on how you got your early users is something that not everyone tells, really appreciate you for this. Also, did you do any marketing on Twitter?

  20. 1

    Thanks for sharing! Content like this is the reason I am checking IH every day.

  21. 1

    Amazing post. My only concern is: how to do that if I'm boycotting facebook/instagram/meta ? ahah

  22. 1

    Hello Indie Hackers 👋🏻

    I apparently need 20 point to post link posts. Could you give me a leg up?

    Kindest regards,

  23. 1

    Interesting experience! Can you tell us what is the conversion website visitor/signups?

    1. 1

      Never calculated it before, thanks for asking.

      From about 2400 visits, we got about 500 signups to try the product, so 20%. Not all of the people try out the product yet tho as we get them onboard in small batches like mentioned in the article.

  24. 1

    Thanks for sharing!

    Aren't you afraid that by sharing on communities that look for freebies/offers, you will get low-value customers? Was your goal to actually test your product or to get leads?

    1. 2

      I was a bit afraid yea. But they use this kind of products on a daily basis so the objective was to get feedback mainly and not quality leads, in the ned we converted a few in paying customers tho.

  25. 1

    From my perspective, the best early adopter communities when it comes to SaaS products are in Facebook Groups.

    Any in particular here you don't mind sharing? I know @zerotousers also is quite active in Facebook Groups - but I haven't been able to find them through Facebook's native search.

    1. 1

      👋 Ken Moo's SaaS Lifetime Deals (LTDs) Group is a good one

      1. 1

        We have identified E-commerce sellers to be our ICP and FB groups to be our primary channel, but these sellers are not familiar with SaaS tools. So, it has been hard to get signups for our beta. Any tips? Also, how did you integrate Retool to build your waitlist on the website? We have a no code landing page on carrd

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