We throw around a lot of terminology on our website and in our resources. Today we wanted to take a moment and clarify what some of those beta terms mean. The terms and definitions below are taken from our free eBook: 100 Tips for Better Beta Tests.
1. Beta Test
We use the term beta test rather generally. We use it to refer to a test where you introduce your product to a group of people who are similar to your target customers and will use your product in their real-world environments. These tests can go by many names, including beta testing, field trials, pre-release, customer validation (CV), friendly user tests (FUT), customer acceptance testing (CAT), and user acceptance testing (UAT). To many companies, these terms have subtle but important differences, but all share the same basic idea. So, for simplicity’s sake, we use “beta testing” to refer to all of them.
2. Beta Program
When we use the term beta program, we’re referring to the collection of beta tests managed at one company, whether that means beta projects for multiple products or revisions of a single product. Generally, when referring to a beta program, we’re discussing topics with a scope that’s broader than a single test.
3. Beta Applicants or Beta Candidates
We use these terms interchangeably to indicate users who have demonstrated an interest in participating in your beta test or program, but have not yet been selected as beta testers. Similarly, we refer to alternates as those customers who met the qualifications, but were not initially included in the primary beta test team.
4. Beta Tester or Beta Participant
We also use these terms interchangeably, referring to users (generally representing your actual target customers) who were selected to participate in your beta tests. We refer to the collection of all beta testers within a project as the tester team.
5. Beta Support Team
This term refers to your internal support team for the beta, which may be no more than a single product manager or quality engineer, or might include an entire team of stakeholders from a multitude of organizations. Generally, they’re the people reviewing and responding to feedback and communicating actively with participants throughout the test.
6. Beta Recruitment
We use beta recruitment when talking about the process of finding testers for a beta. Generally this process involves advertising a beta testing opportunity via email or other means, to a large group of individuals (customers and/or prospects). Interested candidates apply, filling out a pre-qualification survey intended to identify the best candidates. Then a small portion of candidates are selected as beta testers.
Incentive refers to the reward a tester is given at the end of the beta test for their participation. Given that participation in beta tests is voluntary, testers are not given cash payments for participating, but instead are given the product itself, swag, or a gift card as a thank you. The level of reward is usually based on either their tier of performance (for example top 10 testers or top 25%), or on meeting specific objectives. For large betas with hundreds or thousands of testers, incentives are often handled by lottery. Testers who meet minimum levels of participation are entered into a lottery and the randomly selected winners walk away with a prize.