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Test Strategy

Finding Quality Beta Testers: Developing a Solid Recruitment Plan

October 1, 2018

Beta Test success or failure is heavily impacted by its team of beta testers. If you’ve ever run a Beta Test with unqualified or disengaged test participants, then you know firsthand how their input (or lack thereof) squanders your resources and skews your results. By the same token, enthusiastic testers that accurately reflect your target market provide insightful Customer Validation feedback, the kind that inspires meaningful product improvements. The first step in consistently recruiting capable and qualified candidates while avoiding the rest is creating an airtight recruitment plan.

In this first installation of our four-part series on finding quality beta testers, we’ll cover what your recruitment plan needs to include, how to tailor your recruitment strategy to your Beta Test, and how to set the right recruitment time frame in your test schedule.

What You Should Include In Your Recruitment Plan

A solid recruitment process takes the guesswork out of recruiting for your project and provides a reliable path for executing a successful recruitment. The process starts in the Planning Phase of your Beta Testing project, when your team is working closely with stakeholders to assess organizational needs, identify test objectives, and agree on a detailed plan of execution.

Laying out a clear recruitment plan makes it possible for you to bring the right individuals into your Beta Test. And by “right individuals,” we mean members of your target market who will engage fully with your product and are able to provide consistent, high-quality feedback on it. It’s an authoritative outline of your goals and strategies for your project recruitment and serves as a guide for contributors and stakeholders throughout this process.

Your recruitment plan should identify:
+ Your test objectives
+ Your target market
+ The core requirements (“must-have” traits) for testing
+ How many testers you need to recruit
+ Messaging (including any drafts)
+ Your qualification survey

We’ll dig into greater detail about identifying your target market, core requirements, the number of testers, messaging, and the qualification survey throughout this series, but for now, we’ll focus on the first step: defining your test objectives and connecting them to your recruitment strategy.

Identifying Your Project Objectives and Topics

The first thing you need to decide is what you intend to accomplish with your test. Outline clearly defined goals to set the tone for each phase of your project. The topics and objectives you identify during this portion of planning are key defining factors in who you’ll recruit for your project.

As a whole, the objective of Beta Testing is to evaluate your customers’ level of satisfaction with your product. It also evaluates their acceptance of its features. Other test aspects – like assessing product stability or feature adoption – are usually measured during the Alpha or Field Testing phases of Customer Validation, respectively.

On a more granular level, your Beta Test will have unique goals that are specific to validating key elements of your particular product – called topics – and capturing insights that inform crucial stakeholder decisions. Topics are a way to target the overall objectives of Beta Testing towards certain areas of your product. You can use topics in tandem with your test objectives to outline specific project goals. For example, you might identify “gathering customer attitudes” as an objective for assessing your product’s “setup process,” which is the topic.

Using Topics to Define Your Ideal Testers

During recruitment, your main objectives and specific targeted topics determine the technical and demographic makeup of your tester team. You’ll want to recruit testers whose personal and technical behaviors and needs are solved by the product or feature you’re testing.

For example, if you’re testing a smart speaker with multi-room playback, you’ll need to recruit testers who live in a dwelling with more than one room (no studio apartments) and have an existing need for the multi-room functionality. Testers with needs related to the benefits offered by the targeted feature or topic can provide more relevant, market-aligned feedback than someone who doesn’t need or wouldn’t use the feature without first being asked.

The Beta Test Recruitment Kit includes exercises and templates that take you step by step through developing your recruitment strategy. By the end of the white paper, you’ll have a completed outline of everything you need to bring enthusiastic, qualified testers into your next project. Download it here to get started.

In some cases, evaluating topics may be influenced more by the habits of your target market, rather than traits like their type of dwelling or the devices they own. For example, let’s say you’re looking at your product’s content streaming feature over an extended period of use. Testers who would normally use a streaming feature on a regular basis will provide you with more expansive feedback than someone who was coaxed into testing a use case that doesn’t align with their typical behavior. In this example, you would seek out qualified testers with specific habits – like those who binge-watch TV shows – for the most accurate evaluation of that product area.

Establishing a Reasonable Time Frame

Depending on your tools, resources, topics, and objectives, recruiting candidates can take anywhere from hours to weeks. The exact time frame you need depends on the number of testers required and the complexity of your target audience.

If you have an existing pool of qualified candidates, the time frame will likely be reduced to under a week. For companies and products without an existing pool of candidates, a two to four week recruiting period is recommended. Be sure to consider how much ramp up time you’ll need for recruiting testers when planning your broader test schedule.

Pulling It All Together

Whatever your specific needs, identifying distinct topics and aligning the makeup of your tester team around them forms a solid foundation for your Beta Test. By outlining thoughtful and specific parameters beforehand, you’re paving a clear path for a successful recruitment.

In Summary:
+ Your recruitment strategy depends on your test’s key objectives and features.
+ Once you’ve defined the topics you’re going to test, make sure your recruitment plan outlines the kind of testers you’ll need to accurately evaluate those product areas.
+ Keep tester traits relevant to your goals in mind during the planning process.
+ Consider your available resources when scheduling a timeframe for your project recruitment.

Head to the second installation of Finding Quality Beta Testers, where we’ll cover how to determine your ideal testers based on your target market. For more insights on recruiting qualified testers and boosting test participation rates, download the full Beta Tester Recruitment Kit!

Download the Beta Tester Recruitment Kit

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