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Test Closure

Is Your Product a Good Incentive for Your Beta Test?

June 18, 2015

Picking the right incentive will make a big difference in the success of your beta test. In last week’s post, we discussed the factors to consider when selecting an incentive for your beta testers. This week we’re covering how to determine whether your product is the right incentive for your beta test.

For many tests, the most obvious incentive you could give is the product itself. Testers have spent weeks (maybe even months) using and helping to improve your product, so it’s unsurprising that they’d want to keep the product they invested so much time into improving. Allowing testers to keep either the beta unit they tested, or a production version of your product, can be a great incentive for your testers. That said, there are a few things to consider before making your final decision.

Letting Testers Keep the Beta Version

At the end of your beta test, testers already have the beta version of your product in their hands. It’s tempting to let them keep the product as their incentive and call it a day. In some cases this may make sense, but there are a few scenarios where you shouldn’t leave beta units in the field.

  1. It’s a software product — If you’re testing a software product or mobile app, there’s really no reason not to upgrade your testers to the final version of your product at the end of the test. It’s easy and inexpensive to distribute your final product and it eliminates the security risks and support costs of having beta versions in the wild.
  2. It’s buggy — If your product is incredibly buggy then you probably don’t want to leave those units with testers. It could frustrate your testers to try and continue using a low quality product, and they may put strain on your support systems.
  3. It has important information you need — You may need your beta units back for regression testing, in which case leaving them in the hands of testers is not an option.
  4. The legal and security risks are too much — The FCC has strict regulations about uncertified products in the field. It’s also possible that the beta version of your product has security weaknesses that the production version won’t have. Regardless, you will need to consider these things before leaving your beta units in the hands of your tester team.

If your product is a stable, secure, hardware product, it’s possible that letting your beta testers keep their units will save you the cost of retrieving them and purchasing incentives. That said, make sure you’ve considered all the options and possible outcomes before deciding.

Giving Testers the Final Version

If letting your testers keep the beta units isn’t an option, you should consider giving them a production version of your product instead. This approach has the same benefit of letting testers reap the benefits of their hard work improving the product, but without the risks of leaving beta units in their hands. Also, the cost of giving testers a production version of your product is likely far less than the MSRP of your product, so you can give your testers a more valuable gift while staying within your budget. If you’re considering this route, there are a few things to think about.

  1. Your product’s inexpensive or free — Free products need beta testing too. If your product is a free mobile app or inexpensive piece of software, then giving your testers the product as their final incentive might not reflect the time and effort they’ve put into your test. As we mentioned last week, the value of your incentive has to reflect the time and effort your testers have put into your test. In this scenario, you should still give your testers a final version of your product, but you should supplement it with some other incentive (such as a gift card) to appropriately thank your testers.
  2. Your product is too expensive — On the flip side, your product may be too expensive to give your testers a final version as a gift. In this case, you’ll want to make sure that the incentive you give is reasonably valuable as well. Testers might be disappointed by a $10 gift card after testing a $5,000 piece of equipment. To ensure that your testers are happy (and you get your beta units returned), make sure your incentive is appropriately generous.
  3. Your product won’t be released — It’s also possible you can’t give your testers the final version of your product because your company decided not to release it. Maybe the beta test uncovered some damning information and the product’s being shelved. In this case, you’ll need to select a different incentive for your beta testers. At the close of your test, you’ll also want to remind your testers about the NDA they signed so they don’t go around discussing a product that will never see the light of day.

Access to your product during the beta test is NOT an incentive. Some companies believe that giving testers free access to the product during the beta test period is an appropriate incentive in itself. The truth is, the insight you’re getting from your testers’ feedback is far more valuable than what they get out of using your product for free for a few weeks. Having to integrate your product into their daily lives is usually more disruptive than helpful to testers. Also, the time they set aside for giving you feedback is time they could be spending on other things. As a result, testers should always be given some sort of thank you gift after the test is over in recognition of their contribution.

If you can give your testers the final version of your product as their incentive, we recommend doing so. In the end, it’s the most straightforward way to end up with a group of happy testers.

Next week we’ll give you a few options for other incentives you can give your beta testers if you decide your product isn’t the right choice. Can’t wait until next week? Download our free Beta Test Incentives Kit to get all the information you need on determining the appropriate incentive for your next beta test.

Download our Beta Test Incentives Kit!

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