Effective communication is crucial for the success of any beta test. Without proper communication, beta testers may be unclear about their responsibilities, not knowing where to focus their efforts, leading to lower participation and less actionable feedback. This lack of clarity can also cause frustration and discourage testers from participating in future tests. Avoiding these negative outcomes is simple - beta test managers must set clear expectations and provide regular updates to testers through weekly announcement emails. But, what makes a good weekly announcement email? What should you say?
If you’re stuck or just want some best practices, dive into these tips and examples to help you write the best weekly announcement emails your beta testers have ever read.
Avoid Negative Outcomes of Poor Communication
Before discussing the specifics of weekly communication, it’s important to recognize that the foundation for any good beta test is good communication between everyone involved (product teams, test managers, stakeholders, testers, etc.). Poor communication between any two groups involved starts to eat away at the potential for success. For example, when beta test managers neglect to set expectations properly with their testers, they’ll likely encounter one or more of these negative outcomes:
- Significantly lower participation - without regular test communications, beta testers may be unclear about their responsibilities and may not know what tasks to focus on leading to less efficient and effective testing.
- Less (actionable) feedback - lower participation means less feedback in general because there’s fewer testers using the product, furthermore, the testers that do continue to participate will likely deliver poorly written (and poorly formatted) feedback making your job harder as you try to understand what their feedback is actually trying to say.
- Increased difficulty in recruiting for future tests - when testers struggle to understand what is expected of them, they become frustrated and discouraged reducing the likelihood that they’ll have any desire to participate in future tests, and in the future, your program may develop a poor reputation through word of mouth from those frustrated testers.
In general, the lack of clear communication regarding expectations and direction may lead to confusion and misunderstandings, potentially causing delays in the testing process and hindering the overall success of the beta test. Clear and concise communication with explicitly established expectations starts with the weekly announcement emails, the first tester touchpoint for the week.
Key Components of Weekly Announcements
How to Start the Weekly Announcement Email
Each weekly email should start with some kind of positive affirmation for the testers - whether that be a message of encouragement based on the previous week’s stellar results or hoping that they had a great weekend or relevant holiday. Testers want to feel like they are appreciated by your team so expressing gratitude and well wishes before jumping into “business” helps them feel like the relationship is not strictly transactional.
- Product: Smart Grill - “We hope you had a great weekend and were able to enjoy some delicious meals grilled to perfection!”
- Product: Music Recording App - “Happy Monday! Our team was overjoyed at the feedback submitted by the tester team last week - thanks for being rockstar testers.”
- Product: Fitness Wearable - “Welcome to Week 3 of the Rover test! We’re excited to have you dive in this week as we focus on aquatic fitness - thanks for joining us.”
How to Direct Beta Testers to Focus On Specific Product Areas
After the opening message, you’ll want to remind testers what week or phase the email is kicking off. This helps to keep them aware of the test schedule and serves as a delineation that each week or phase is discrete and has a start and end (due) date. Next, you’ll provide an overview of the features or experiences you want the testers to focus on during this phase of testing.
Pro tip: Our Beta Program Managers will include a clarifying note for testers detailing that while they’re more than welcome to explore the product as a whole, their top priority for the week should be the features laid out here and in the project site. In our experience, without this note, testers can get confused when you ask them to focus on a particular set of features for the week - they may interpret that as the only areas they should be using during that week.
“For week 3 of testing we will be focusing on Audio Streaming, Remote Control, and Subwoofer Performance. We want to understand if each of these experiences meets your expectations. Please take the time to focus on the areas listed below.
Note: You're more than welcome to explore other features and functions of the product, but we'd like your top priority to be completing the listed activities for the specific features.”
How to Communicate What is Expected During a Beta Test
One of the most important aspects of communication during a beta test is setting expectations appropriately. Establishing explicit expectations with beta testers early on in your relationship with them will do you wonders. You’ll save time and sanity as a result of having to answer fewer tester questions (like “What am I supposed to do?”) and needing to remind testers of their responsibilities less often.
Setting clear expectations should be relatively simple - the key is to be specific and concise. In the case of a weekly announcement email, you’ll want to include the following:
- A bulleted list of the features in focus for the week and a brief description for each
- A uniquely formatted (bold and/or bright, readable color) line with the explicit ask to the tester with due date information, including: due date for activities, due date day of the week, time the activities are due with AM/PM and timezone
- A bulleted list recapping exactly what needs to be completed by that due date/time
- Audio Streaming - The ability to stream audio content via your device
- Remote Control - The remote control that enables one to change channels from afar using IR
- Subwoofer - The speaker set component that delivers deep bass
Please make sure to complete the following Week 3 Activities and provide your feedback before 11:59 PM Pacific time on Sunday, 1/8.
- Complete Week 3 Activities and ratings
- Report any Issues, Ideas or Praise related to the features above”
How to End the Announcement Email With Gratitude
Finally, similar to how you began the email, you’ll want to close out with a friendly message. This often takes the form of reminding testers that they can reach out if they have any problems completing their activities along with a method of contact. Depending on the context, however, it may also make sense to include some words of encouragement.
Ending the email on a positive note is important to continue to build your relationship with testers - as we mentioned earlier, testers want to feel like they are part of the team helping to bring your product to market. Keeping communication respectful, concise, and friendly will go a long way towards developing and nurturing those relationships resulting in a tester community that loves to test your products.
- “Your feedback is crucial to the development process - we want to ensure that you’re equipped to test successfully. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you encounter any issues that prevent you from completing your activities.”
- “Thanks for continuing to provide great feedback - our products wouldn’t be as successful without you! Please let us know if you have any issues that prevent you from continuing to test by submitting a blocking issue via the project site.”
- “We appreciate your dedication to our mission to build the best products in our industry. Without your feedback, it simply wouldn’t be possible to achieve that goal. If you have any questions or encounter any blocking issues, please reach out to email@example.com.”
Benefits of Well-Structured Weekly Announcements
- Clarity and organization: By providing a clear list of activities and expectations, you can help beta testers stay organized and focused on their testing responsibilities.
- Improved communication: Providing a weekly to-do list can also help to improve communication between you and your beta testers. It allows you to clearly convey what needs to be done and helps beta testers understand their role in the testing process.
- Enhanced accountability: Letting beta testers know what they need to do in a given week can also help to enhance accountability. Beta testers will be more likely to complete their tasks if they know exactly what is expected of them.
- Increased efficiency: Providing a clear overview of tasks and expectations can help to streamline the testing process, resulting in more efficient and effective testing.
Good communication during a beta test is like a steady hand guiding a ship through rough waters. Without it, the ship may be thrown off course and struggle to reach its destination. But with clear and consistent communication, the ship is able to navigate the challenges and arrive at its destination safely. Similarly, in a beta test, good communication helps testers stay on track and understand their responsibilities, leading to more efficient and effective testing. It also fosters a positive relationship between the testers and the development team, resulting in better feedback and a higher likelihood of success for the beta test.
Email Template Examples:
Subject: [TEST CODENAME] - Week [X] Features & Activities Are Now Available: Please Log In
Hi [FIRST NAME],
For week [X] of testing we will be focusing on [FEATURE 1], [FEATURE 2], [FEATURE 3]. We want to understand if each of these experiences meets your expectations. Please take the time to focus on the areas listed below.
Note: You're more than welcome to explore other features and functions of the product, but we'd like your top priority to be completing the listed activities for the specific features.
- [FEATURE 1] - [DESCRIPTION]
- [FEATURE 2] - [DESCRIPTION]
- [FEATURE 3] - [DESCRIPTION]
Please make sure to complete the following Week [X] Activities and provide your feedback before [X] [AM/PM] [TZ] on [DAY], [X/XX].
- Complete Week [X] Activities [LINK TO PROJECT HOME PAGE] and ratings
- Report any Issues, Ideas or Praise related to the features above
The [TEST CODENAME] Team
Subject: [TEST CODENAME] - REMINDER: Week [X] Activities Due on [DAY]
Hi [FIRST NAME],
I hope you've been enjoying your testing experience so far! We wanted to reach out to remind you that your weekly activities for [TEST CODENAME] are due [TODAY/TOMORROW/ON XDAY, MM/DD], and we’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
I know it can sometimes be a frustrating experience to use and test a brand new product, so if you’ve encountered any problems, please take a few moments to submit an issue report detailing your experience and our team can reach out to assist you.
Your feedback is essential in helping us improve the [PRODUCT], and we hope you’ll continue to embrace this unique opportunity to have a hand in shaping the products you use regularly.
[YOUR COMPANY NAME] has a deep interest in learning more about your experiences and perspective as a tester so don't be shy! We'd love to hear about any and all experiences you have.
You can view your activities here [LINKED]. Once you’ve completed them, you can submit feedback using this form [LINKED].
The [TEST CODENAME] Team
Subject: [TEST CODENAME] - Week [X] Activities Due Soon, Log In to Complete Them
Hi [FIRST NAME],
I hope you’re having a great week! Have you had a chance to check out [FEATURE] yet?
I noticed that you haven’t yet completed the Week [X] activities and I wanted to check in to make sure you have everything you need to test [PRODUCT].
Keep in mind that this week’s activities are due [TODAY/TOMORROW/ON XDAY, MM/DD] and we’re counting on your feedback to help us improve the [SOFTWARE/PRODUCT/DEVICE/ETC.].
If you encounter any issues or have any ideas for improving the product, please make sure to submit that feedback. [YOUR COMPANY NAME] is eager to hear about your experiences and perspective as a tester, so don't be shy - tell us what you think!
Of course, we understand that life gets busy, but we’d greatly appreciate it if you could take a few moments to complete the activities (available here [LINKED]) and submit your feedback (via this form [LINKED]) for the features in focus this week by [TODAY/TOMORROW/ON XDAY, MM/DD].
The [TEST CODENAME] Team
Keep the Communication Flowing
There you have it: you’ve got some email templates to keep your beta testers motivated and on track to help make your product a success.Writing great reminder emails can be such an effective way to keep your beta testers engaged and ensure that they are providing valuable feedback on your product.
Check out our Tester Engagement Pocket Map to learn other helpful steps to take at each phase of your project to keep tester enthusiasm high and actionable feedback rolling in.