Keeping your beta testers motivated throughout your test can be a significant challenge for many beta managers. To overcome it, you need to strategically combine two pieces: creating a fun testing experience for your users and rewarding them with gifts for their hard work.
While it’s a common best practice to give active testers a reward at the end of a test (such as the beta unit or a gift card), you can also supplement that reward by working drawings and contests into your beta test. These can be a powerful motivator for your testers, especially during long tests where they may start to lose interest. Drawings and contests give them exciting reasons to stay engaged and continue participating throughout your test, which means more useful feedback for your team. We’ve put together some advice on working contests into your beta program so you can reap the rewards of this strategy in your next test.
The most important thing to remember when building contests and drawings into your beta test is to attach them to a desirable activity that any tester can do. This will help prevent testers from gaming the system. So, don’t make each bug report an “entry” into your drawing. This will only encourage testers to submit meaningless bug reports. Instead, make the entry based on activities like submitting a new verified bug, completing an important survey in a timely manner, or contributing to the conversation in forums on a daily basis. These promote constructive activity from your testers that is helpful to you and your team.
Types of Contests
There are a wide variety of contests and drawings that you can run during your test. Here are a few examples that some of our clients have successfully used in their beta programs.
Early Birds Rewards
If there’s an important task you need completed, attach a contest to it. For example, surveys are an important part of a beta test, but it can be tough to get participants to fill them out in a timely manner. Let testers know that the first 5 or 10 testers that complete the survey will receive a prize. This will spur them to get the survey filled out as quickly as possible.
Protip: Don’t reveal the winners of the contest until you’ve received the number of surveys you need. Once you announce that the winners have been selected, all of the other testers will no longer have any sense of urgency to fill the survey out.
Best Bug Contests
Notify your testers that your development team will be selecting a winner for the “best bug” at the end of the test. Establish guidelines for the best bug report, such as: must be verified by our team, must include steps to reproduce the issue, must be a previously unreported bug, and must be clearly written. This will encourage your testers to submit quality bug reports. It will also help to get your development team engaged in the beta test since they will be the final judges.
Protip: As we mentioned above, don’t tie your contests to the number of bug reports your tester submits (e.g. “1 drawing entry for every bug”), because then testers could focus on reporting as many bugs as possible over submitting other types of feedback. This would decrease the quality of your bug reports and your feedback overall.
Leaderboards are a great way to keep testers aware of other testers’ participation levels, as well as quantitatively gauging tester participation. You can do this by giving testers points for their number of logins, the amount of feedback they submit, discussion forum participation, or surveys completed. Then you post the “leaders” for the week publicly and announce the prize that they’ve earned. Shining the spotlight on your top testers will make them feel valued and will also motivate your other testers to increase their participation.
Protip: Reset your leaderboards regularly and limit the amount of times a tester can win. If testers constantly see the same people winning all the prizes, then they’ll get discouraged and feel like they have no chance of winning. This will certainly have a negative effect on your overall participation rates.
Types of Prizes
You have a lot of different options for your prizes, depending on your budget. In general, we recommend not overdoing it with the prizes, because it could set unreasonable expectations for future tests. For more advice about selecting the best incentives for your testers, be sure to check out our free Beta Test Incentives Kit.
Branded Tester Team Paraphernalia
Smaller gifts generally work best for contest prizes because they’re meant to supplement the reward all of your testers are going to receive at the end of your test. This is a great opportunity to give testers a reminder of your brand and their status as a tester for your company. Tester team t-shirts, USB drives, coffee mugs, key chains, or stress balls are all great reminders of your testers’ coveted role as a trusted member of your tester team.
Protip: These gifts shouldn’t be the normal swag your company gives out at trade shows. Putting “Beta Tester” or “Official Testing Team Member” on these items can make a huge difference in the perceived value to your testers. You’ll also need to consider whether your company or your product has a stronger brand awareness with your testers and use the appropriate one on your gifts.
Big Ticket Items
You could also go big and give away one or two large prizes. This works especially well if you have a big test (such as a game or software test) and want to encourage the whole group with one impressive gesture. Some examples of big ticket items are trips, tablets, gaming consoles, product launch party access, or lunch with your development team. Testers love the idea of winning it big, so dangling a large carrot in front of them can give the level of their participation a big boost.
Protip: Make it clear that this large prize will not be the only reward given out during the test. It’s important that your testers know that they will also receive a reward at the end of the test for being an active test participant. If they think the only reward in the test is the big one, then they might actually participate less because they don’t feel like they will be rewarded for their contribution. By making it clear this reward is a bonus for testers that fit the contest criteria, you’ll increase participation and end up with happier testers.
Incorporating contests and drawings into your beta test is an easy way to encourage active participation throughout your test. It also helps to focus testers on the specific activities that are most valuable to you and your product. It will result in happier testers and better feedback, which can increase the ROI of your beta program.
If you’re looking for more advice on building a comprehensive incentives strategy that will keep your testers motivated, you can download our free Beta Test Incentives Kit.