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Test Planning

4 Strategies for Improving the ROI of Your Beta Program

February 26, 2014

Earlier this month we talked about five ways beta testing impacts your bottom line. It’s a great read for anyone looking to measure the return on investment (ROI) of their beta programs. Once you’ve figured out the ROI of your beta program, however, your natural inclination is to start improving that ROI to make your beta program even more impactful.

Your beta test is a relatively small cost in the scheme of your larger product development budget. At the same time, your beta test can have a huge impact on the success of your product and the amount spent on support and returns. As a result, the ROI of most beta tests is incredibly high. This means even small improvements to your processes can have a big impact. We’ve put a list together of a couple of places to focus your efforts.

1. Beta Management Time

The man hours put into managing a beta test can be the most expensive piece of the puzzle. If you’re using email and spreadsheets to gather your feedback, that could be wasting hours of team’s time. If you’re collecting bugs through forums or surveys, how much time are you spending cataloging and linking each bug report?

Look for ways to improve and automate your processes as much as possible. While even the basic features of a beta test management platform (like Centercode) can go a long way in saving you time, there’s probably still room for improvement even for seasoned users. Advanced features like templates and recruiting automation can further improve your efficiency and take your beta program to the next level.

2. Feedback Workflow

The next place to focus your efforts is on how feedback is handled. Collecting surveys, bug reports, and feature requests is great, but if that data isn’t getting into the right hands quickly you could be missing valuable opportunities. Make sure your feedback tools integrate with your bug tracking tools, so your QA and development teams can see the issues quickly. This allows them to get additional information from testers and regress possible fixes more easily.

Your support and marketing teams can also benefit from having data sent to them efficiently. Having actionable feedback can help lower support costs, improve sales messaging, and generally improve the success of your launch. Things like automatic weekly reports can be set up at the beginning of your test, saving you time while still getting other stakeholders the data they need.

3. Beta Participation and Total Testers

Once your time and systems are in shipshape, beta participation is the next place you can make the most ROI gains. Many companies have participation rates as low as 30%. This means that 70% of your testers could just be a drag on resources. Improving your participation rate means you need fewer testers, which saves you time internally and saves the cost of logistics and production.

Improving your participation rate can be accomplished in many ways. It could mean doing something simple, like communicating participation requirements to testers during your kickoff or collecting daily journals. It could also mean larger investments, like implementing tools and processes that monitor participation. For detailed advice on improving your participation rate, download Reaching 90% Beta Tester Participation.

4. Length of Beta Test Phase

Time is probably the most limited resource for many companies during a product launch. If you can get more feedback in less time, you can significantly improve the ROI of your entire beta program.

To improve this, focus first on how much time your testers spend actually testing. If it takes you two weeks to find and profile beta testers for each test, you’re limiting the effectiveness of your beta test. Having a standing panel of interested testers and the right processes in place for recruitment can save you a lot of valuable time. Second, focus on eliminating friction for your tester. The easier it is for your testers to get, use, and report back on the product, the more efficient your beta test will be.

On the flip side, if your time is not limited, consider extending your beta periods to get more useful feedback and improve the ROI of your betas. You can use this time to reach additional testing goals, regress fixes for found issues, or test new use cases. Just make sure you’re making the decision to extend your test based on data or you could end up increasing your management costs without corresponding gains.

Hopefully these ideas will help you improve your beta program in a focused and quantifiable way. If you’re interested in learning more about beta testing ROI, download our complete ROI kit!

Measure the ROI of Your Beta Program

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