Beta tests help you answer the question, does my app do what it’s supposed to do and is it ready for … [+]
Beta tests help you answer the question, does my app do what it’s supposed to do and is it ready for launch? Beta testers play an integral role in providing objective insights and constructive feedback to help you release a useful product.
Gathering a group of beta testers that care can take time. It’s easy to invite family and friends or ask for quick favors from your social media friends and followers. The hard part is finding testers who are future users and buyers. When you align interests by inviting people who will benefit from providing quality feedback, you build a win-win. Here are three ways to build this group.
1. Customer Interviews
Building a group of beta testers starts before building the app. Think about this group as one stage in the customer acquisition funnel from idea to paying customers. In the first stage, they’re idea critics. Typically, this is conducted through interviews during which you aim to qualitatively validate or invalidate key hypotheses about the ideal buyer, market gap and proposed solution.
With insights from the first stage, you have a clearer plan of action about what to build and for who. When you end the interviews seeking permission to follow up with updates on the product, you start understanding if it is a solution interviewees care about. If they’re interested, they will ask you for release dates and next steps. At this point, you have moved them down the funnel to take the next role: beta testers.
If the first version of the product satisfies their needs and meets their expectations, they will move down the next stage of the funnel to become users and buyers. Finally, those buyers will attract other buyers to become product ambassadors.
While customer interviews are not a medium for attracting beta testers, they are the best way to build and nurture relationships with future buyers by starting with the lowest friction ask that most people are willing to take: an interview.
There are several effective channels for attracting potential users to an interview. In addition to the two channels below and depending on your product and target, my first tip is to not limit yourself to online mediums. In fact, the most effective interviews are done face to face when you can see people’s reactions and facial expressions.
One of the most common and effective in-person channels is organizing events around the industry or topic of your idea. Inviting likeminded people to discuss a common challenge or opportunity is a great way to connect with your target group without being too salesy. If they came, chances are they’re interested in the topic and will be open to learning more about what you’re working on.
In terms of online channels, before leveraging cold approaches like posting a request for interviews in relevant social media groups or cold emailing a targeted list, find active threads that are already discussing your topic of interest, contribute to them and then ask participants for an interview. This assures quality and timely interviews. It won’t take long to gather a group of 20 interviewees.
2. Document The Journey
Every startup has a website. In fact, every company has or should have one. Even at the idea stage, create a simple website with a blog. In it, you don’t necessarily have to discuss your idea and the product, although that’s highly recommended. You can start by attracting likeminded people and future users by sharing insights about the industry or a topic relevant to your idea.
Content marketing is probably the most effective long-term acquisition channel as it allows you to connect with your audience by sharing valuable content instead of throwing offers at them. Research conducted by Price Intelligently shows that companies with blogs attract 67% more leads and close 8 to 10 times more of the leads.
Furthermore, also a content marketing channel, building a community of likeminded people through a Facebook or Slack group is one way to surround yourself and your product with future beta testers. No matter the channel you choose, the earlier you start, the better.
3. Use Beta Sites
In addition to the listed channels above, there are platforms that have facilitated attracting beta subscribers. Some of those resources include BetaList, Centercode and UserTesting. One of their benefits is exposing your product to random testers which removes some of the bias that can result from building a relationship with people early on who may sometimes seem enthusiastic just to support your passion and commitment.
In sum, beta testers are an integral part of product launch. Their contribution is amplified when you get them involved in the earliest stages of a startup even at the idea stage. You want testers who will become users, buyers and ambassadors.