There are many ways to approach a beta trial as well as different outcomes. By thinking first about what outcomes you would like to achieve, you can work backward to think about how. Here are four steps for getting the most out of your software beta trial.
Start with the end in mind.
Is your goal to validate functionality in the application, find bugs, and make sure things work? Or is it that you’d like to get feedback on the usefulness of the product and validate whether users like it? Or, would you like to make sure the content and information in the application are accurate?
It can be easy to have many goals, but really homing in on one or two specific goals will help you achieve them. As so many people have told me, if you focus on everything, you’re not focusing on anything.
Think about how users will be enrolled.
There are often many steps to enrolling users into a beta trial. First, you need to identify them. I think it’s a good idea to solicit folks with a variety of familiarity with the domain. This would include new folks and those who might already have a lot of exposure to your products or brand.
This can also be a good opportunity to build internal engagement by inviting your colleagues to join the beta trial as well. Finally, during this step, you’ll also want to draft the emails or other descriptions you’ll use to request volunteers for the beta trial, invite some users, and give them directions about how to access the beta.
Use a variety of feedback avenues.
There are so many options for collecting feedback. I think providing users many ways to voice feedback gives ample opportunity.
Additionally, different mediums can serve different goals. For bug reporting, you can use an online survey that’s open during the entire beta trial and that can be submitted multiple times.
Additionally, a post-beta trial survey where you can ask net promoter questions and solicit more quantitative feedback can be really helpful for aggregation. However, interviews can give deeper feedback that allows you to ask follow-up questions and direct the user.
Encourage beta users to promote the tool at the end of the trial.
Finally, don’t forget to seal the deal by asking for that referral! If you get positive feedback in your survey you can ask at the end that users go out and encourage others to give your product a try once it’s public. You could also do this over email to beta users after a public release.
Focusing on your end goal, diversifying your users, providing multiple channels for feedback, and encouraging users to promote the tool will help you improve the chances of success with your beta trial.