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Test Launch

Converting Your Beta Testers into Brand Evangelists

September 16, 2015

Brand evangelists can be a powerful force for your product. A brand evangelist is a customer who’s not only a big fan of you and the products you sell, but often makes it their mission to refer or recommend your products to everyone around them.

Seeking out and cultivating as many brand evangelists as you can is a great marketing goal, and an area where beta testing can help. With your product release approaching, it’s hard to find better potential brand ambassadors than in your beta tester community. They’re a great pool of free, authentic voices that can talk about your launched product to the world, and their (likely techie) friends.

The idea that you can leverage beta testers to become brand evangelists is an attractive proposition. Having 50 to 100 evangelists out in the world preaching the gospel about your product is a sure way to add more converts to your growing fan club. Below is a guide to cultivating brand evangelists in your beta program.

Fostering Evangelism

All brand evangelists have to be fostered. No company or product automatically starts off with a pool of loyal customers. The same is true about testers in your beta. Unless you’re bringing in testers who are already brand enthusiasts, your testers might not know much about your product or company at all. So, what’s the secret of taking a beta tester who’s new to your product and turning them into a full blown evangelist?

All conversions start with an initial positive experience. The most important thing you can do to foster brand evangelists is for testers to have a great beta experience. Being responsive to your testers’ feedback, showing gratitude for their contribution to your beta, and establishing open communication about how their feedback is being used makes your testers feel like a valued part of the development process.

Assuming your testers also like your product, this great experience will translate into a positive opinion about the company. Your testers will feel proud of the work they’ve done and the product they’ve helped release. They’ll want to tell others about it, and that’s what you can leverage to turn them into brand evangelists.

Identifying Evangelists

How do you know which testers are primed to become brand evangelists? You have to look for clues during your beta test. Not every tester will equally like your product. It’s important to monitor those who are having positive experiences during the testing process and hone in on them.

A potential brand evangelist is often a well-spoken tester who is constantly looking to take the next step with you and your product. Whether the tester is asking you about the launch date or how they can help you further, general enthusiasm like this is a great sign that they could be a potential brand evangelist.

Another great way to identify potential evangelists is by looking at their feedback. Have your testers fill out a mock product review and look for testers who give glowing reviews. You can also look for testers that submit positive journal entries or speak highly of the product in open-ended questions on surveys. Put these testers into a pool so you can leverage their enthusiasm after your test is over.

Leveraging Their Enthusiasm

Once your test is over, you want to unleash these testers’ excitement to create buzz about your product. There are a few ways you can do this. First, close your beta test on a high note. Call your potential brand evangelists and thank them for their contribution to your product. Make sure they understand how much you appreciate them. Send them the final version of the product as a thank you. This will ensure that they have the product in their hands to rave about.

Also be sure to let them know that now that the beta test is over, their confidentiality requirements are too. Many testers are nervous to talk about their experience with your product because of the NDA they signed, so if you want your testers to become brand ambassadors, you should remind them that they have your permission to talk about the product now that the beta is over.

Second, keep in touch with these testers after your beta test is over. Send them updates on the product launch. Once the product is released, gently encourage them to discuss the product on social media. Engage with them on their social media of choice so they’ll be more likely to respond. Offer them discounts or promo codes they can share with others. Make it as easy as possible for them to spread the word.

From a technical standpoint, it’s a smart idea to build a pool of potential brand evangelists within your tester community. After each beta test you can add the new potential brand evangelists to your growing pool. This will allow you to keep track of your best evangelists and help you easily find individual ones in the future.

Relationships with these key testers can be an invaluable marketing tool. The key to leveraging these evangelists is to empower them to tell others about your product. Give them a positive experience to talk about and permission to shout about it from the rooftops, and you’ll be surprised at how effective they can be at spreading the word.

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