When you think of "incentives" in user testing, the first thing that comes to mind might be a free product or a gift card. And yes, those are both common and viable ways to reward testers for their participation. But an incentive isn't just a reward, and it definitely isn't the same as a bribe.
Offering incentives is so much more than bribing testers to give you feedback. You are:
- Thanking them for their participation in your project or program.
- Encouraging them to continue testing.
- Rewarding them for a job well done.
This blog post covers everything you need to know about incentives. If you want tips and ideas for saying thank you to testers who are participating in your project or part of your user testing program, keep reading.
External Rewards vs. Internal Rewards
Let's get philosophical for a second and talk about extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation. At their core, extrinsic motives are driven by external rewards like money or reputation boosts. For example, working out to get shredded abs. Meanwhile, intrinsic motives deliver internal rewards like satisfaction and strengthening relationships. For example, working out to spend time with a gym buddy, or because it clears your head and brings you joy.
All told, testers with intrinsic motives, like those who enjoy your brand and want to help you improve your products, make for better, more enthusiastic testers than those who are only in it for free stuff. But there's a lot of crossover between these two types of motivation (shout out to those lucky people who have fun doing crunches). Skilled test managers know how to use both motivators to their advantage.
Ways to Say Thank You
Showing appreciation for your cashier or a co-worker with a quick "Thank you!" comes very naturally to many of us. But thanking testers — that is, the art of incentives — is a little trickier and more involved.
Deciding how and how much to incentivize your testers is about proportion. Speaking generally, the longer and more involved your test is, the more you need to do to show testers that their efforts are appreciated (and to keep them engaged). Even when your testers are there for the right reasons, they're still donating their precious free time to your product, project, and corporate initiatives.
You don't need to give your testers gifts or swag, but you do need to show proportional appreciation if you want to keep them around during your project and for future tests. Here are just a few examples of the different ways you can encourage, reward, and say thanks to your testers for participating in your project or being in your user testing program.
- Send Some Swag
Many testers delight in receiving t-shirts, stickers, tote bags, and other branded items as a thank you for participating in a project or user testing program. But in addition to the gift itself, wearable swag also fosters a sense of community outside of your project. Wearable swag promotes your brand and increases loyalty among your testers, so it's a win-win.
- Upgrade to VIP Status
Rewarding stellar testers with a visible status change within your tester community, like a special avatar frame, is an excellent way to keep engagement high and motivate other testers. For example, Yelp invites members to join their Elite Squad and attaches a special badge to their name. These members also get perks like invitations to exclusive events.
- Offer Test Units or Physical Products
Like we said before, allowing testers to keep a test unit or receive a free product is a common (and for some testers, expected) reward for full participation in a user test. But it shouldn't be a given. Whether you choose to give your testers a test unit or product depends on factors like how long or involved your test was and how well the test unit functions. You may also have resource constraints to consider, like your budget, how many testers you have, and how much your product costs. If you're testing with current customers, product accessories can also make a great thank you gift.
- Give Them a Subscription
You could also consider a free monthly subscription of an adjacent service. For example, if you're testing smart TV, you might offer testers two free months of Netflix. If your product or service is already subscription-based, that's even easier. You can offer testers time-boxed trial subscriptions, a premium membership upgrade, or early access to new features.
- Don't Forget Discount Codes
While you may not always be able to give testers a free product or test unit, discount codes are a nice incentive, especially for products that are very expensive. But some testers aren't going to be happy to receive a 20% off coupon after testing for six weeks straight. Rewards should always be proportional to the effort your testers are putting forth, so make sure any discounts you offer are worth their while.
- And Say Thank You. A Lot.
At the end of the day, your gratitude and responsiveness throughout the test go a long way. Be friendly and genuine with your testers. Send them a thank-you message for applying and for joining your test. If you can respond directly to their feedback or survey submissions, do so! Show your appreciation at every opportunity.
Keep Your Testers Happy
Knowing how to say thank you is just one area of maintaining positive relationships with your testers and keeping engagement high during your projects. Our Beta Test Incentives Kit covers everything else. It's got a detailed rundown of incentives and a handy calculator to find a reward within your budget. Download it now — your testers will thank you.