Getting beta testers to provide quality feedback is a notorious challenge in mobile app development. Only one out of every five testers you get will actually give feedback, and the biggest problem reported about beta testing is not getting enough actionable feedback.
With beta testers, you’re dealing with a community of professional technical testers and early adopter fans. What unites the best of them is a genuine desire to help improve your product. Only 5% of a survey of 5,000 beta testers reported earning incentives as their primary reason for beta testing. The best way to boost feedback is thus to acknowledge their passion and thank them for their participation.
The first and most important rule is to respect your testers. Inform them clearly of your expectations and the parameters of the beta test beforehand. Be transparent about any changes and communicate them to your testers in a timely way. Before mobile wallet startup Coin was acquired and when they were still in development, they had to publicly apologize to their beta testers, provide their product free to them, and open up their beta program by 50% because the company failed to inform their testers of major delays.
Recognize your beta testers’ efforts and maintain long-term relationships. Slack sends personalized thank you letters to those who catch critical bugs — a small yet effective gesture that shows appreciation to individual testers and builds brand loyalty. Save your beta testers’ contact info in a database and send them exclusive news about your product, but don’t spam them.
Provide compensation for constructive feedback. When it comes to compensating beta testers, there are two approaches: paid, which is best for smaller apps, and unpaid, which is best for bigger companies. In either case, best practices dictate that beta testers are given incentives (cash or in-kind) for their time and efforts.
Thank your beta testers, build brand loyalty, and effectively turn your early adopters into promoters as walking billboards for your app. Take it one step further and personalize these gifts, such as by branding the products with “beta” so they can use them as a mark of pride for being part of your beta test. Depending on your budget, you can shower all of your participating testers with swag, or construct a tiered reward system based on number of bugs reported or points. Keep in mind that this might skew your feedback and bias testers to focus on certain features over others.
3. Gift Cards or Promo Codes
A popular option. Select a store or brand that your beta testers would be excited to redeem credit from. For the beta test of their new recommendations app, Shopify offered users a $50 Amazon gift card, which is a great crowd-pleaser for a heterogeneous group of testers. A Starbucks or other coffee shop gift card is another solid choice for caffeine-addicted testers. EA games offer their playtesters either a $50 Amazon gift card or an Origin code to claim a free game of their choice.
4. Public Appreciation
Publicly acknowledging your beta testers’ efforts serves a few different functions: it makes the individual tester feel appreciated, incentivizes other testers to participate, and builds overall brand loyalty. Whale, the video Q&A app, has been known to single out and thank effective beta testers in the description of the app in the app stores.
5. Discounted or Free App
With all the time, effort, and coffee your testers will spend on your beta app, the least you can do is offer it to them for free.
6. Points and Prizes
These can be part of a rewards program where beta testers receive products related to your app or get the chance to win big-ticket prizes, or they could be in-app promotions. For instance, Daybreak gives its playtesters’ characters boosts in health and other powers for those who achieve certain levels or complete a specific set of in-game tasks.
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