No one ever said launching a business was easy. In fact, it’s downright hard a lot of the time. Like child labour hard, minus the epidural.
Luckily with beta tests, you can help ensure your success before you’ve even gone live.
The first use of a “beta test” brings us back to the 1950’s at a company that’s been in the front row seat for the technological evolution these past 70 years: IBM.
Although originally and generally used in the tech industry, beta testing is for pretty much any product you’re selling to a consumer, be it e-commerce, SAAS, heck — even your next niche food truck venture, the secret sauce is the same for all start-ups: do a beta test.
When done correctly, beta tests can mean the difference between a successful launch or a complete flop.
Your beta test will help with these three key main elements:
- To test the waters — you want to make sure your product is something people actually want before investing too much time and money into it. A beta test gives you a chance to see how people react to your product without putting all your eggs in one basket.
- Finding your people — your beta will help find your target market, demographic and niche all in one. Leave nobody behind, you never know who might be your people.
- To find bugs and glitches — pretty obvious, but the last thing you want to have is major errors or defects to go undetected until after your launch. Beta testers will help you find any deficiencies, glitches or bugs in your product and/or system so they can be fixed before launching.
- To advertise — the first and a pivotal step to creating hype and excitement around the imminent launch. Marketing by word of mouth is the best type of marketing, so if you leverage these relationships properly it can be a an extremely prosperous partnership for your business.
Beta, beta, where are you?
Here’s how you find your best beta testers:
Find all of the people. Look in groups on social media, forums, or at your neighbourhood paper boy (do those still exist???).
Find a group of people who are representative of your target market and even experiment with those that aren’t (cause ya never know!).
You want to learn who your people are and why they need your product and/or service.
Personally, when I was launching StaffNet, I used LinkedIn during my canvassing phase of the beta testing to find beta testers and it worked super well. I highly recommend!
The beta SSS (success-secret-sauce)
Here’s how to run a successful beta test:
- Clearly define the goals of your beta test and what you hope to achieve from it. This will help guide your decisions throughout the process and make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Create a timeline for your beta test and stick to it. This will help you stay organised and on track while also keeping your beta testers happy.
- Don’t hold back — give beta testers the all access pass to all the features of your product. This way, they can really put it through its paces and see how it works in the real world.
- Run weekly/bi-weekly/monthly (whichever cadence makes sense for you) case study interviews and take the time to record feedback manually person-to-person (you’ll be able to make use of these case studies later down the road for marketing)
- Consistent check-in’s and being easily accessible is extremely important in building rapport with your beta testers and will ensure they provide consistent feedback to you as well. It’s a two-way street!
- Get your testers excited and have them share your product online and by word of mouth — this will be amazing marketing prep prior to your launch.
- Beta testing should be free for participants. These testers are doing you a favour after all! Plus feel free to throw in some additonal free access after the launch as a thank you. Not required by the unofficial laws of beta testing, but it’s kinda the nice thing to do.
When should you launch your product?
“If you’re not embarrassed about the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” — Reid Hoffman
When you launch it’s scary. You’re putting your work out there to be loved, judged or hated. So it’s easy for self-doubt to fester and to want to pull back for a second when you’re about to launch. Totally normal.
If you’re through your beta and all the boxes are checked in terms of the offering doing what it’s supposed to do, then pull the trigger. Rip that big old scary band aid off. It’s not so bad on the other side.
What’s on the other side? Just the beginning of your work ahead.
Are you planning on starting a beta test anytime soon? Comment below!
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Team StaffNet ✌️