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Test Planning

6 Good Beta Test Incentives Options (and 3 to Avoid)

June 25, 2015

Last week, we discussed how to determine if your product would make a good incentive for your beta testers. As you discovered, giving your testers the product as their reward isn’t always feasible or sufficient. This week, we’ll take a look at other incentives you can give to your tester team if your product isn’t an option or you need to supplement your product with additional incentives. We’ll also give you advice on tempting incentive situations to avoid.

The Good

These incentives can be given by themselves or in combination to provide the right thank you gift for your beta project. Just remember to keep in mind the overall value of the incentive so that it aligns with the effort your testers are expected to put into your test.

1. Gift Cards

Gift cards are an easy (and very popular) way to show appreciation to your tester team without having to deal with the headache of organizing physical gifts. It’s best to choose gift cards to companies that are widely popular such as Amazon, Best Buy, or Target. Also, the more you can relate your choice of gift card to your product the better (i.e. giving a $25 App Store gift card to complement the testing of your mobile app).

2. Your Company’s Other Products

Just because the product being tested isn’t a good incentive doesn’t mean your company is out of the game! If a tester is participating in your beta test, then they’re already interested in your product and brand. Consider giving your testers something else from your product line, or something that is technologically complementary to the product being tested (i.e. high-end headphones for a bluetooth sound system beta).

Since you’re getting the products at cost instead of paying the full retail, this approach has the added benefit of stretching your budget while providing your testers with a valuable gift.

3. Ancillary Products

Other appropriately-priced products that relate to your beta product might also be a great option. For instance, if your beta product is a laptop, perhaps a wireless mouse would be a suitable gift. Keep in mind that distributing physical gifts requires that your team locate, purchase, and ship these items to your testers, so make sure you plan accordingly.

4. Big Ticket Prizes

Sometimes a little healthy competition goes a long way. Have your testers compete for big ticket items by adding drawings or contests to your beta program. Big ticket prizes are often the most motivating incentives for testers, especially when managing a large beta test (such as game or software tests). These prizes don’t have to be fancy tech products (though those will work). We’ve seen companies have great success offering things like access to their product’s launch party or a meet and greet with the product’s development team.

If you’re going to do big ticket items, use them to supplement a smaller gift that all participants receive. Otherwise you risk hurting your participation as testers don’t feel their contribution is being recognized.

5. Product Discounts

Although product discounts are an easy incentive for your team to organize, they often aren’t the best option. This is because testers have to purchase something to get their reward, which can come across as a “bait-and-switch” tactic. This can be especially disheartening if a tester had a negative experience testing your product, and is therefore no longer interested in purchasing from your company.

Discounts can work, especially if you’re testing a B2B product or if you product is expensive and you’re recruiting testers from your existing loyal customer base. If you think a product discount is the right move for your team, then supplement the discount with a custom tester t-shirt or a gift card to substantiate the reward.

6. Personalized Gifts

Everybody loves a good swag bag! Custom t-shirts, coffee mugs, tote bags, or USB drives give a personalized touch and act as great keepsakes for your tester team. These gifts are especially powerful if you make them beta specific by not only including your logo but also putting “beta team member” or something similar on them. Your testers will be reminded of their experience with your company for years to come and act as brand ambassadors as they use or wear your gifts. Just make sure the dollar amount of these incentives appropriately reflects the time and energy expended by your tester team.

The Bad

There are a few tempting things that you may consider when it comes to beta incentives, but shouldn’t use. Here’s why.

1. Beta Product Access

While leveraging the exclusivity of beta testing is important, access to the beta product during the beta test is not enough of an incentive for your beta testers. You get a lot of value out of your testers, so it’s important that you reward that contribution with more than just a few weeks of product access. It’s better to go above and beyond and delight your testers, rather than masking their work as the reward.

2. Going Overboard

You also don’t want to be overly generous, though. Whatever you give as an incentive in this test will set the bar for your team’s future tests. Applicants to your future beta tests will come to expect the same sort of generosity your team displayed in this test, so remember to be reasonable in the selection of your test’s incentive.

3. Paying Testers Cash

One of the biggest mistakes your beta team can make with incentives is offering to pay testers for their feedback. There are lots of reasons not to pay beta testers. By paying your testers, you put the integrity of your beta test at risk by biasing their feedback. It’s a much better practice to surprise your testers with a thank you gift from this list, rather than jeopardizing your entire beta test out of convenience.

The Ugly

Picking a good beta test incentive helps you avoid the ugly situation of your testers leaving your project feeling used and unappreciated. Unhappy testers can hurt your future beta recruitment efforts and even your brand if they spread the word about their negative experience with your company. If you consider how much value you get out of your beta testers, buying some gift cards or t-shirts to say thank you is a small price to pay for their help.

Now that you’ve finished reading our posts on incentive selection , you’re ready to start building your own beta incentives strategy. Download our Beta Test Incentives Kit to get the full picture for how you can build a rewarding experience for your beta testers.

Download our Beta Test Incentives Kit!

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