What makes an ideal tester? It isn’t just the right demographic or technographic qualifications — though target market testers are essential to netting accurate and actionable insights. But there’s another factor that goes beyond looking the part on paper. That X-factor? It’s enthusiasm! Enthusiastic testers are game-changers when it comes to maintaining test participation throughout the course of your Customer Validation (CV) projects.
We spoke to Centercode’s CV framework architect Chris Rader, Director of Feedback Tom Peelen PMP, and Betabound’s Community Director Brad Day about the role tester enthusiasm plays in CV. Take a look at their insights on how a group of enthusiastic testers benefits feedback and test management, and get the inside scoop on their most effective strategies for recruiting an engaged tester team.
Why Enthusiasm! Matters for Your Tester Team
Consider the hours that test managers devote to project planning, recruiting testers, writing out activities, and distributing surveys. Now consider this: the average participation rate for most Customer Validation tests is just 30%. That amounts to less than a third of the feedback they should be getting for their efforts.
See how Centercode delivers a 90% (or higher) guaranteed tester participation rate on our CV projects with the 12 best practices in this ebook.
I don’t have to tell you how frustrating that fact is: half of test managers say they’re struggling to maintain tester engagement.
Chris Rader explained that tester enthusiasm — or a lack thereof — is a central part of that challenge. If your testers aren’t interested or engaged in your project, you’re going to have a very hard time keeping them around.
“The type of people you recruit has a big influence on how much engagement and feedback you get during your test,” he said.
The ways your testers participate and how often they engage vary, but here are the most common ways that testers take part in your project.
- Logging into the project space
- Downloading or installing your product’s latest software or firmware
- Completing tasks, activities, or surveys
- Submitting feedback
- Voting or commenting on feedback
- Participating in discussions with other testers
- Using the product
“Each type of engagement requires a different level of commitment, so it’s good to understand what your team values and focus your attention there. For example, if you’re working closely with your UX team, you might emphasize collecting usage or product analytics instead of self-reported feedback,” said Chris.
“A good rule of thumb is to encourage your testers to provide the data your stakeholders will find most useful. While you’re focused on those key types of feedback, you’ll still want to cover all your bases by allowing testers to engage in a variety of ways.”
How Enthusiastic Testers Benefit Your Test
In addition to a greater volume of feedback, Tom Peelen pointed out that the benefits of enthusiastic testers extend to feedback quality — and the efficiency of your overall project. He listed four big benefits to working with active and engaged testers.
- More Thorough Product Insights
“Enthusiastic testers tend to produce higher quality feedback — meaning they take more time to describe their challenges or ideas and put context around their experiences,” said Tom. “They take that extra time because they’re genuinely invested in the outcome.”
- Easier Feedback Follow-Up
“Enthusiastic testers tend to be more responsive if you need to follow-up on feedback. They’re keen to offer up photos, updates, and other additional details that make your life as a test manager much easier.”
- Tester-to-Tester Support
“Another benefit is the collaborative spirit they bring to the test. Highly engaged testers will spark conversations in the tester community and troubleshoot with other testers. This additional layer of tester support and engagement is great to see.”
- Sharing Enthusiasm
“Excitement is contagious,” said Tom. “Even a few enthusiastic testers can generate a lot of buzz inside your test.”
While Tom stresses that you still need to check-in regularly with your testers and keep the lines of communication open, it’s much easier to keep the feedback flowing in when your testers truly want to be a part of your project.
Recruiting Enthusiastic Testers
Ok, you get it — there are big benefits to working with enthusiastic testers. But how exactly do you bring them into your test? Unlike the straightforward screening process for technographic and demographic qualifications, enthusiasm can be a little harder to pin down.
“Recruiting for a test is a lot like recruiting for a job opening,” says Brad Day, the Community Director of Betabound. “You’re not going to gloss over their level of qualification, but you want applicants who’ve taken the time to show they’re genuinely interested in the job. This sounds like a long shot, but these people are easier to find than you think.”
Brad shared five tips for identifying enthusiastic testers in a sea of applicants.
- Cast a Wide Net
“Filling up your tester pool makes it easier for truly enthusiastic applicants to stand out,” said Brad. “You can’t find a ‘diamond in the rough’ without the ‘rough.'”
- Use Open-Ended Questions Wisely
“We don’t recommend using too many open-ended questions in your surveys. Even two or three can drain your applicants’ energy — not to mention all the reading you’ll have to do. But leaving them out completely makes it harder for applicants to highlight their interest in your test. The only open-ended question we use in our recruitment surveys asks: What makes you a good fit for this test? It’s simple, but you’d be amazed at the information it can pull out of your applicants.”
- Skip the Copy/Paste Applicants
“As you’re reviewing the applications, avoid the ones with generic copied and pasted answers. Instead, give extra consideration to the people who’ve tailored their responses to your opportunity. The effort they take to explain exactly why they’d be a good tester reflects the effort they’ll make when they’re testing your product.”
- Leave Room for Passion to Shine Through
“Optional fields in your recruitment qualification survey are a great way to gauge enthusiasm in testers and how engaged they’ll be later down the road,” Brad explained. “When an applicant takes the time to fill out an optional field, they’re demonstrating their willingness to exceed your expectations. Think of it as extra credit.”
- Look for “Extra Mile” Effort
“We usually get a few personal emails from applicants when we launch a particularly cool test opportunity — sort of like the follow-up email a job applicant would send after an interview,” said Brad. “We love to see testers show their excitement this way. Examples of this ‘above and beyond’ effort indicate a great participant in the making.”
The first step to boosting tester engagement is understanding the role enthusiasm plays as a core driver in your projects. The next step is finding and recruiting engaged testers (now that’s exciting!) Get proven strategies and templates for bringing super testers into your Customer Validation projects by downloading our free Recruitment Kit.