In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we wanted to take a moment to talk about the power and value of your tester community and why they’re something you should be giving thanks for this week.
Many companies are so focused on finding people for an individual beta test that they forget about the importance of building and nurturing a tester community. They either abandon the testers completely after the initial test is over, or maintain a “community” (meaning email list) of testers, but don’t nurture them in between tests. As a result, they essentially have to start from scratch every time, trying to re-engage and re-excite testers for each test.
The truth is that the value of your community is often higher than the value of any individual test. Having a community of enthusiastic, loyal customers (and potential customers) available to you can pay amazing dividends throughout the entire product development lifecycle. Let’s look at exactly where that value comes from.
They Help You Launch Tests More Quickly
The most obvious benefit of having a standing community of profiled test candidates is that you can spin up a beta or field test quickly. You already have people ready to participate and you know lots of detailed information about them and the products they own. This means you can target the exact group of testers you need for each test without needing to launch a time-consuming external recruitment.
You also have a good picture of the areas of your community that are weak. If a certain segment of your target market isn’t well represented in your community, you can focus your recruiting efforts towards that group while you’re in between tests. That way you know you’ll have the people you need when the next test comes.
They’re Available for Other Types of Research
Your community isn’t just valuable to you. In fact, having a community of profiled people who are interested in your products will be a useful resource for your entire company.
Maybe your marketing team wants to run a market research survey, or your support team needs some feedback on their new support system. Maybe your UX team needs to pull a few people in for a focus group on an early design concept, or your product management team wants to do some customer interviews. You can easily connect them with the right people in your community, saving your company time and money. And you can be confident that those customers have the right demographics and are in the right mindset to provide useful feedback.
They’re Loyal Brand Evangelists
Your customer validation program not only attracts your most avid and loyal fans, but it also creates new fans when they see how seriously your company takes releasing high-quality products. These fans can be used in all sorts of ways, both before and after product launch.
By including these customers in the development of your products you’re cultivating a more loyal, satisfied customer base. These happy customers are more likely to talk positively to others about your products and generally be more excited about everything your company does. You can foster this by announcing company and product news to your community so they feel they have the inside scoop.
You can also take a more active approach by unleashing these customers as part of a product launch. They can talk about your products on social media, refer potential customers, write product reviews, and generate positive buzz, all of which is invaluable to your sales and marketing efforts.
So Be Sure to Say Thank You!
Now that you know the value your community can bring to your entire company, I’m sure you can see why the most effective customer validation programs in the world are built on vibrant communities.
So take a moment this holiday season to thank your testers for everything they’ve contributed to your products. They volunteer countless hours testing out your products and giving you detailed feedback. They are the reason you can build and release jaw-dropping products, so taking some time to send them a note of appreciation is well worth it.
For more advice on building a rewarding tester experience that will delight your testers, check out our Beta Tester Incentives Kit, where we explain how to incentivize testers throughout the beta process.