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Test Planning

Developing a Good Qualification Survey for Your Beta Test

August 19, 2014

As part of your beta recruitment strategy, you’re going to need to develop a way to qualify your testers. This may sound like a simple task, but the truth is that it can be extremely difficult to round up the right people. Not everyone who displays interest in your test is going to be a good beta tester and you need a way to help your best candidates rise to the top.

The more time you spend on the front end filtering out people that aren’t members of your target market or don’t have the marks of a great tester, the more success you’ll have once your test is underway. So, you’ll want to get all of your ducks in a row right from the start by having your candidates fill out a carefully-crafted qualification survey.

Note: The information in this post is from our Beta Tester Recruitment Kit. Qualification surveys are just part of building your recruitment strategy. If you’re looking to build a complete plan for finding and selecting great beta testers for your next beta test, this kit will give you everything you need. Download it now.

The ultimate goal of a qualification survey is to gather enough information about your beta candidates to determine which ones are the most enthusiastic members of your target market, and therefore the best testers. To do this, you’ll need to collect two types of information.

First, you need to assess whether your applicants fit the demographic and technical requirements of your beta test. Second, you’ll need to collect more subjective information that will gauge traits like enthusiasm and motivation to determine if each candidate will make an effective beta tester. Your qualification survey needs to be designed to cover both of these areas to ensure that you have enough information to select the best testers from your candidate pool.

Select a System

You can build a qualification process a couple of different ways. You can build your survey or page using a free service such as SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang. This is an inexpensive way to qualify applicants in an automated way, however your ability to filter the data and use it throughout the rest of your beta test will be severely limited. The other option is to use a beta management tool (such as Centercode), which has features like user segmentation and scoring that can make this whole process much easier and faster.

Cover Your Bases

Make sure you ask for enough demographic and technical details that you can determine how each beta candidate fits into your target market breakdown. If you need to know what phone carrier each applicant has or the speed of their internet connection, make sure that information is in there. Also consider what basic information, such as shipping address or phone number, you might need to contact your beta testers during or even after your beta test.

Ask Open-Ended or Indirect Questions

Since there’s more to finding great beta testers than just demographic requirements, you’ll need a way to gauge the excitement and motivation of your would-be beta testers. Open-ended questions such as “Why do you want to beta test this product?” and “What makes you a great beta tester for this product?” give your beta applicants the opportunity to explain to you why they would be great beta testers. This also gives you the opportunity to see how well they communicate, how much care and detail they put into their responses, and what unique skills or viewpoints they might bring to your beta test.

Beta candidates also have trouble remaining objective about their own skill-sets. For example, if you’re looking for testers that are tech novices, it may be tempting to ask candidates to rate their own technical knowledge. We find, however, that the self-assessment of their own skills isn’t always the most accurate. Instead, we recommend asking indirect questions such as “What would you do if your computer crashed?” and then giving them a few options to choose from. Tech-savvy people would be more likely to select something like, “I would research online and fix the problem myself.” If you’re looking for tech novices, however, you would prefer the answer “I would ask someone else for help.” This more objective scenario tends to result in more honest answers.

Leave Some Questions Optional

Don’t make every question on your survey required. Leaving a few (or all) of your open-ended questions optional could provide more useful information. It will further highlight which candidates are willing to take the time to be thorough and complete, which will make it easier to identify your best testers when it comes to selection time.

Keep an Eye on Your Survey Length

While you don’t want to make your qualification survey too long and exhausting, there is value in requiring a certain amount of effort from your applicants. The application process is a great opportunity to gauge how much energy your applicants are willing to invest into your beta test. If your candidates aren’t willing to put five minutes into applying, then they’re unlikely to devote much time to beta testing your product either. We recommend keeping your application survey to 20 questions or fewer.

In the end, all of the information you collect in your qualification survey should go toward helping you select the best possible group of beta testers. The benefits of having great beta testers are numerous and it all starts with your recruitment practices. You’ll find that if you prepare for your test properly and set a solid foundation, that your beta test will end up running much more smoothly.

You can download our free Finding and Recruiting Great Beta Testers Kit, which includes a Qualification Survey Template. This kit will guide you through creating a tailored qualification survey to fit the specific needs of your company, your product, and your beta test.

Download our Beta Tester Recruitment Kit!

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