I'm running a beta for Remarkbox and here is my biggest take away:
Always collect information from potential customers as soon as possible. Catch customers while they pursue a solution to their problems.
What do I mean?
Well for starters, don't just ask for an email address, have them fill out a short survey right away. If you only ask for an email, your out of luck if you need more information; people do not often respond later.
I know, I know ... nobody likes to fill out surveys, so power-up their motivation with an incentive or discount. Use this survey to earn qualifed leads, remember quality over quantity.
Come up with a few questions. Keep most of the questions open ended to allow them guide the dialog. Later, use the responses to break the ice when you send one-on-one emails. Each lead will present a unique situation, so take advantage of this and keep your on boarding emails personal!
tl;dr - Gather interest for the Beta as soon as possible and ask questions up front as part of the sign up.