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Test Management

Increase Tester Participation By Setting the Right Expectations

September 28, 2016

Consistent tester participation is one of the biggest challenges of beta testing. In speaking with various companies, we’ve found that the industry standard for beta test participation commonly sits around 30-40%. This means only a third of participants are contributing the bare minimum of what’s expected of them.

While this participation statistic may be discouraging, at Centercode, we take a number of steps to increase tester participation. As a result, we consistently achieve greater than 90% participation on nearly every beta test we conduct. One key method that we use to increase participation is by making sure you set the right expectations for the test. This will ensure your testers understand exactly what they’re getting themselves into before even agreeing to be your beta tester.

Provide Beta Test Guidelines

First, it’s important that you set the stage before testers even apply for your test. On your recruitment landing page you should give testers an idea of what being in your test will involve. You can talk about how testers will be working closely with the product development team and how they will be expected to give detailed feedback about their daily experiences with the product.

You can even ask in your recruitment survey what sorts of activities testers are willing to take part in, such as taking part in one-on-one calls, providing testimonials, and recording videos of themselves using the product. These methods will ensure the selected testers will already have some understanding of the commitment required, and will have the energy and time available to contribute regularly to your test.

Show Them How to Participate

Once you’ve selected your testers, they need details on exactly what they’re supposed to do during your test and how you would like them to do it. This is a fairly easy way to ensure your testers jump straight into sending you feedback rather than spending time trying to figure out how to actually send it to you.

Before the test begins, provide your testers with all the relevant information they’ll need to get the ball rolling with your product. Provide instructions (or better yet, a video) showing your testers around the interface of your beta management system, pointing out where they can find product information and submit feedback. This will help them understand not only how to send feedback, but what kinds of feedback will be expected during the test.

You can also send out weekly task lists during the beta test to help testers keep track of what is expected of them. This way you’ll be able to guide your testers’ focus on different areas of your product ensuring you get the type of feedback you want, while also reminding them about the minimum participation that is required.

Explain You May Need to Reach Out

Sometimes, you may need more information from a tester regarding feedback they’ve submitted, especially if they’ve encountered something like a critical bug. Let your testers know before the test begins that you may reach out to them at some point and that it is crucial they respond as quickly as they can. Establish with testers early how you’ll be reaching out to them in these kinds of situation, (e.g. via email or within your beta management system) so they know where to look out for messages.

Share Unexpected Changes

It’s not uncommon for changes to occur during the beta phase, from timelines to specific objectives regarding the test. It’s in your best interest to let testers know as soon as any changes occur so that they are prepared and have enough time to adjust their own focus or schedule. This will help keep testers from becoming frustrated or disengaged from the test because of being left in the dark during a delay or pivot.

Set Realistic Requirements

Though it’s critical to make sure your testers understand the expectations of being a beta tester, you should ensure your requirements are realistic. This isn’t necessarily an expectation you need to set for testers, but something you should keep in mind when thinking about the participation you want during your test.

For example, it’s impossible to expect a bug a day from every tester you have (unless you have an exceptionally buggy product), but a daily journal is more realistic. Similarly, don’t send out extremely long surveys. In most cases, 10 to 15 questions will produce better data than 30 questions that have been answered in a rush and haven’t been thought through.

Your beta testers are volunteering their time to provide you with invaluable feedback about your product, but they also have their own jobs, families, and responsibilities to keep up with. Be careful not stress them out with too many tasks or you’ll put them off from participating.

By including most of your testing expectations on your recruitment landing page, in a welcome letter to your beta testers, in your beta test platform, as part of your beta participation agreement (BPA), or in a combination of all of these, you’ll be sending a clear message to prospective testers and those that you end up recruiting.

Communicating and reminding your testers of these expectations and requirements during the test will help ensure your testers are ready to hit the ground running as soon as your beta test begins and give you good, consistent feedback throughout your test. Download our guide for more tips on reaching 90% best test participation.

Download our guide to reaching 90% participation!

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