Managing a beta test is like hosting a dinner party. Your beta testers are your guests and it’s your responsibility to make them feel welcome and at home so that they’re comfortable creating conversation with others, or in your case, sharing their honest feedback about your beta product. So, it’s important to start your beta test off on the right foot by giving your testers a warm welcome.
Sending the Invitation
A warm welcome starts with an invitation that sets the tone for your dinner party. You can invite testers to your project through social media, phone calls, emails, or other methods. It doesn’t matter what platform you choose, so long as your testers receive an invite. Invitations make your beta testers feel special, and can help you capitalize on testers’ available energy within your project right from the start by getting them excited about your test.
When crafting your invitation, it’s important to include details like what the product is (even if you have to use vague or coded language), how long the test will be, what’s expected of testers, and when the test will start.
The start date is arguably the most crucial component of your invite. Just like a dinner party, guests hate RSVPing to an event only to be told that it’s been postponed. You don’t have to give an exact date, but can instead give a range of a week or so. Either way, launch your beta test to testers when your invitation says, or be ready to explain why your test has been pushed back. The cornerstone of a successful beta test is good communication, which should start from the very beginning.
Setting the Table
Before your guests arrive, or testers enter your beta test project in this case, it’s important to ensure everything is ready. Make sure that your beta test plan is up-to-date, the right stakeholders have access to your project, that there’s a dedicated email address for your testers to contact you at, and that your project is all-around ready to launch.
Just like nobody wants to walk into a dinner party where the host is in a frenzy, your testers aren’t going to enjoy joining a beta test where everything is haphazardly organized and confusing. Take the time to organize things before the start of your test so things can run smoothly once you open the door.
Greeting Them at the Door
When your guests arrive, it’s good manners to greet them at the door. When testers join your project, the first thing they see should be a welcome message. Whether that’s a welcome message, banner, or link to a dedicated page — the message should be short, sweet, and genuine in an effort to show appreciation for attending the party.
Touring Your Home
Once you’ve welcomed your guests inside, it’s polite to give them a quick tour of your home. Where your welcome at the door was short and sweet, your home tour should give more context. Your project should have a message (we call them “notices”) with a one or two paragraph explanation that answers the who, what, when, and where’s of your beta test project.
This information can be pulled from your beta test plan, and quickly informs testers who their main contacts are for help, what they’ll be testing, when the test will end, where they can access your product, and (most importantly) how to submit their feedback.
The original invitation you sent to testers about joining your beta project may have had some (or all) of this information, but having it easily accessible within your project will improve testers’ understanding of the project and create expectation transparency for everyone involved. Like your home during a dinner party, where everything is neat and tidy and easily accessible — so should be your testers’ ability to find information within your beta project.
We recommend making an actual video guiding testers around your project interface, including how to submit feedback and ask for help. This has been the most effective method we’ve found for making sure key information isn’t lost in the shuffle.
Dinner parties don’t become parties until people start mingling and talking with one another. Once your beta project has launched, you want to get people going. Depending on how your beta project is structured, this will either start within your platform as a notice or discussion post, outside of your platform with an email, or both. Regardless, you’ll want to clearly explain what testers’ next steps are. Should they download your Android app from the Play Store? Should they introduce themselves in a discussion thread within your project? Should they complete a survey about their unboxing experience? Let them know, so conversations, and therefore tester feedback, can begin!
As tester feedback starts rolling in, it’s important to remember to be a good host. Be responsive, approachable, and show your enthusiasm for your beta project. The best dinner party hosts can tell a great story — so share yours! What’s the story of your involvement in this beta product, or what are your goals for this beta test? Just like dinner party guests, testers can be a little shy at the start of a project, so you sharing a story about yourself can put them at ease when sharing their own.
Managing a successful best test is just like hosting a great dinner party — invite your testers, set up your beta project, give them a tour, and introduce testers to next steps and each other. The warmest welcome comes when you’re being genuine, and since you genuinely want your testers to be engaged and open throughout your test, you just need to channel that into your beta project. Creating a warm welcome can go a long way toward ensuring your testers have an enjoyable experience before your test even really begins. That enthusiasm, in turn, will increase testers’ participation within your beta project — which will ultimately help you and your team launch an even better product.