What one tip would you give an entrepreneur about to do a beta launch to a select group of users?
The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
1. Charge Your Users
There are very few pieces of software that should be free. Most cost money. The easiest way to find out if you are making something people care about is to ask for their money. It doesn’t have to be much, just something to show that they care because it helps them. It helps you separate out the beta users who are your true users from the beta users who are just trying to do you a favor.
2. Call Your Testers
Call each and every user you’re about to do a beta launch for. Ask them if you can record the call, and then start asking them about your product and their needs. Don’t be afraid to have the conversation go in different directions as well. Most surveys are built badly, not because they don’t ask good questions, but because they’re not the right ones to ask. Getting people on the phone solves that.
3. Treat Them Like Co-Founders
A select group of beta testers can give you so much insight and important feedback to help you create an amazing product. Treat them like they’re part of your team and make sure they feel appreciated. One of the companies I worked with as a beta tester sent us all a thank you card and free premium lifetime access which made me feel they valued our input.
4. Use On-Site Chat
Collecting feedback via a survey is one thing, but actually being present on your website and engaging with your potential customers in real-time is another. It can be invaluable to both the customer and you to chat while your customers experience your website. Not only can you ask them pertinent questions yourself, but it personalizes your brand and creates more loyalty from your users.
5. Track Metrics Carefully
Be meticulous about tracking the metrics of the launch. Sales/marketing conversion rates, return rates, value of the customer, cost per lead, revenue per lead, revenue per visitor and the total campaign ROI are important. Know what worked, what didn’t work, and how you can get better.
6. Carefully Solicit Feedback
Be very specific as to the feedback you would like to receive. Do you want them to test a certain function? Comment on the design? The more specific you can be, the more specific and useful the feedback will be.
7. Diversify Your Users
Get a wide range of users. Don’t pigeonhole your test group with people of a certain age or background. Some business owners just ask friends or family to beta test. Diversity will give a much truer indication of how your product will do in the open market.
8. Know Your Goals
Before you launch your beta to a select group of users, make sure you know ahead of time what goals you’re looking to achieve. Do you want to see their engagement with the product? How much they spend? The amount of sharing that’s done? If you don’t know beforehand what goals you’re looking to achieve with the beta launch, it will be harder to know if it’s been a success!
9. Narrow Your Audience
If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that as targeted as you may think your audience is, it probably needs to be even narrower. The clearer it is who you’re trying to reach, the more relevant your app/product will become – and they’ll be your biggest brand ambassadors as you broaden.
10. Don’t Waste Time Building Technology
Don’t waste time building tech to automate the testing follow-up and interview processes. In the first pass, watch people actually use your product, and get a personal review from these test users after. It may feel low-tech, but this will mean a smaller up-front investment; it’s a way to learn more about both your product and your target consumer.