I like Robert Scoble. I have known him for several years. Met him at several conferences, at Ritz Carlton (Half Moon Bay) over water and lemonade, etc. He is someone I consider an influencer. Among many technology founders, I know of, he’s their first stop before they hit TechCrunch, and other tech blogs.
If you are a startup founder and use his blog as a trendspotting tool, great.
His latest post on “If you are in stealth mode“, setup a sign up page so you get can get potential users to sign up for beta access, is interesting, but there are too many caveats.
I advice a few startups and one of them is started by 2 technical founders 6 months ago. Interesting product idea and great guys. They setup their “launch page” with a brief 2 sentence note of what they did and provided the obligatory “Signup for our beta access, so we’ll let you know when we are ready”. In 3 months they got 800+ signups, mostly thought word-of-mouth.
They launched 5 months after they started their company. Of the 850 “signups” they had, they decided to send emails to a few providing them beta access. They decided to do it “first come first served” so some of the “Signups” had not been touched in 3-4 months.
33% of the people did not remember they had signed up, resulting in them being categorized as “Spam email”. They tried keeping up with the other folks by sending them “great blog posts and relevant content” once a month, to find that over 18% unsubscribed, citing too much email.
Bottom line: Users are fickle and have short memories. Email beta launch lists are GREAT only if you have already launched and want to “control” beta access OR if you are going to launch in a month or less.
Pre-launch websites in my experience are better as blogs, which have relevant industry news and information which allows readers to follow via an RSS reader, not via email. That way, when you launch, you get a chance to post about it too.