There are a variety of activities you can ask your testers to participate in during beta. While things like bugs and feature requests may spring to mind first, it’s important to get creative about the kinds of feedback you collect so you can get the most value out of your test.
One activity we’ve found to be incredibly effective is collecting mock product reviews during beta. If done properly, these reviews can be a preview of how well your product is going to do once it hits the public marketplace. They can also give you an idea of what features potential customers like and dislike the most, so you can adjust your development or marketing priorities accordingly. We put together some advice so you can start benefiting from this tactic with your next beta.
Mirror the Real Thing
Start by creating a basic form where users can submit their product review. Try to format it as closely as possible to the traditional review form your customers would fill out on a site like Amazon or iTunes. This usually means asking for a title, a review, and a rating (using a 5 star rating system). Matching the form to a popular site’s product review form helps set the right expectations and provides understood guidelines, as most users are familiar with these online review systems.
Wait until the End
As with everything in beta, timing is key. You want to make sure that the tester has had enough time with the product to get a solid picture and provide a complete review. As a result, it’s best to save your mock reviews until the end of your test.
Your scores are much more meaningful when testers are allowed to share their “real” review with you, so it’s a good idea to remind your testers that you’re looking for an honest review. At the top of our review forms we encourage testers to be open and honest so we can get a genuine picture of their product experience.
Use Them to Prioritize
If you’re trying to determine what changes to make before launch or how to hone your marketing message, look for trends in the reviews to guide you. While you might think a feature or bug isn’t a big deal, if it’s popping up over and over again in your reviews it’s worth additional consideration.
Look for Testimonials
Mock reviews can be great product testimonials down the line. Include a checkbox on your form asking for permission to use their review publicly, along with their name and company name (if appropriate). This also has the added benefit of further encouraging authenticity in the reviews. Your sales and marketing teams can then use the reviews in promotional materials or approach the beta testers or sites about conducting a more in-depth case study.
Compare Them to the Real Thing
After your beta test is complete, make sure you hold on to your data so you can compare it with the real product reviews after launch. You may be surprised at how close they are!
Collecting mock reviews during your beta test provides a great overview of the user experience and gives you a glimpse into your product’s future. It’s an easy addition to your beta test that can add a lot of value to your product’s development.