Usually when you think of beta testing, you think of things happening behind the scenes — catastrophic bugs getting fixed, features being reworked because testers hated them, or documentation being rewritten because it was confusing.
These are important parts of beta testing, but what many people don’t realize is that the beta phase holds enormous PR potential as well. Marketing and PR teams can leverage the information collected during a private beta test to super-charge their launch and improve the public perception of their product. Here are five ways you can use beta testing to power your product’s PR.
1. Use the data to highlight strengths.
Beta tests not only point out what’s wrong with a product, but also what’s right. Find data on what testers loved about your product and then use that in infographics and marketing material. Being able to say “90% of our beta testers loved this feature” will give credibility to that product once it’s out in the world.
2. Have testers generate content.
Beta testing is a great opportunity to cultivate user-generated content. Have your testers create videos showing how they use the product or explaining what they liked about it. Pull great quotes from their discussions or journals. You can even have them help generate questions and answers for your product’s FAQ page. Then you’ll have a treasure trove of real user content to pull from for your PR campaign.
3. Identify and encourage evangelists.
Your beta tester community contains some of your most avid fans. Seek out the testers that are the most excited about your product and build a relationship with them. Once your test is over you can release them from their NDA and encourage them to talk about your product publicly. You can even identify tastemakers from your customer base and invite them into your beta program, giving them VIP access to what’s coming with your product and strengthening your relationship with them.
4. Allow press into your beta test.
Beta testing doesn’t have to be limited to your beta testers. You can invite important press contacts into your beta program and give them the white glove treatment as they experience your product. You can choose whether you allow them to see the feedback and discussions beta testers are having about your product, or you can keep them in their own test where the focus is exclusively on the product experience. Either way, it gives them a great way to learn about your unreleased product in a controlled way and helps you cultivate a positive relationship with the press.
5. Publicize the beta test after the fact.
Many companies are hesitant to publicize their beta tests citing security concerns, but after your product is released, you should capitalize on your successful beta process to increase brand awareness. Many publications love highlighting companies that take customer feedback seriously. By discussing your successful beta program, you can showcase your company’s overall commitment to building quality products.
Beta testing isn’t exclusively a QA or product management exercise. Nearly every team at your company can benefit from having real customers giving feedback on the product experience. Don’t be afraid to use the beta phase to fuel your launch, bolster your brand, and make your product shine.