The key to bubbling up the insights you need from user testing is getting the right users to provide the feedback for wherever you are in development. But what does the "right tester" actually mean? Who are they and where do you find them? Luckily, they're closer than you think.
Here are the four most important types of user testers, how to find them, and when to use the feedback they give you during development.
Your Target Market
When you think of alpha, beta, UAT, or delta testing, you often think of getting your product into the hands of this group. It should be no surprise that feedback from both your existing and potential customers is the most important type — it's full of useful insight into how your product performs in the wild, straight from the mouths of the people who are going to use it.
You need to have functioning features before placing your product with your target market users, and it's especially critical as you get close to launch. Putting the issues, ideas, and praise that your target market surfaces to good use before your product is in the millions of hands of an unforgiving public has the most positive impact on product success.
How to Find Target Market Users
- Betabound. Our tester network makes it easy to find target market testers by connecting you with hundreds of thousands of pre-profiled, test-ready users.
- Your social media channels. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social media channels are a great way to reach your target market. And they follow you on social, which means they're likely aware of and enthusiastic about your products.
- Your product forums. If people are gathering to talk about your product, chances are good that they use or are interested in using it and that they'd make great testers.
Your Existing Customers
Your existing customers are a perfect source for feedback on your new features and improvements to existing features, and they will help you understand the key drivers of user sentiments about your product as it evolves over time. Working with your existing customers allows you to co-create solutions that continue to delight your audience.
Start looking for these customers right after your product launches, since your team needs continuous, real-world validation that aligns with ongoing development cycles. Because they already own your product, a community of existing customers can provide rapid feedback in shorter cycles that focus specifically on the upcoming release and with less ramp-up time.
How to Find Existing Customers for User Testing
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Your CRM houses all your interactions with customers, making it the perfect source to find potential user testing candidates.
- Support channels. Today's customers have a low tolerance for friction in the user experience. That's what makes your support channels a treasure trove of existing customers — these are the folks who are interested in improving their experience with your product.
- Customer communities. Similar to support channels, customer communities, product forums, and social media attract engaged customers. Start by looking in areas related to troubleshooting, feature wishlists, and positive buzz.
- Newsletters, loyalty programs, and marketing outreach. Like social media, using newsletters and other forms of marketing outreach will help you find folks who are using and likely interested in testing your product. Talk to your marketing team about getting the word out. (Then return the favor with qualitative product insights like praise that they can use to hone their messaging.)
Also known as employee testing or dogfooding, coworkers and employees are an essential part of user testing. While they're not necessarily in your target market, their real lives make a great environment for surfacing in-the-wild issues. Their familiarity with your product provides additional dimension to their feedback, whether it's a deeper technical understanding of issues or a more refined list of ideas for what could be improved.
Early (alpha phase) testing your product among coworkers, who we often call your "customer zero", is a great way to sort out critical issues before testing with your target market. This allows your targeted customers (see above) to focus on improvements rather than big fixes. And as a bonus, getting your product into the hands of your coworkers increases their personal stake in its success. Seeing their ideas implemented and watching as progress gets made unifies the company around your product.
How to Find Coworkers for User Testing
- Ask around. Next time you’re talking to someone in another group, ask them if they’d be interested in helping out! There's a good chance they will be — or they can point you to someone who will be. You’ll also make new work friends at the same time 🙂
- Reach out to leadership. One of the best ways to get your coworkers engaged and involved with your user testing efforts is by starting from the top. Depending on the size of your organization, you may need to have your boss talk to their peers. This approach has the added benefit of cultivating product and user testing evangelism within leadership.
- Intranet and company newsletters. You can also reach your coworkers directly where they're getting information about new opportunities with the organization.
- Throw a party. If you're back in the office, turn user testing recruitment into an excuse for an event. Get some snacks and coffee and invite your coworkers to learn more about employee user testing opportunities — a half-hour break in the workday can pique a lot of interest.
Your Competitor's Customers
Wait, aren't my competitor's customers also in my target market? Yep — but the feedback you're looking for in this case comes from testing your competitor's products with customers.
Conducting a competitive analysis use case on your competitor's products enhances your market research efforts with in-depth insight into their strengths and weaknesses, giving you the inside track on how to out-perform them at every turn. It also lets you find out what you need to promote or improve to take market share away from your competition by comparing your product to their existing experiences.
Feedback on competing products is great to have during your product's design and feature building phase. It can also be useful post-launch, as your and your competitor's products will continue to adapt and evolve with the needs of customers.
How to Find Your Competitor's Customers
- Betabound. We already mentioned our tester network, but our tester profiling system is what makes it extra special in this scenario. Betabound tester profiles include which products they own and use in their everyday lives. This makes it especially easy to find and test with your competitor's customers.
- Product forums. Specifically, places where your competitor's customers are gathering to talk about their products.
- Social media. If people are talking about products in virtual community spaces like Reddit, Discord, and Twitter, there's a good chance they'll be interested in user testing (and they often make great testers to boot).
Regardless of which type of testers you're after, it is essential to find the ones who are going to provide you the information you need. But finding people is only half the battle. Learn more about the process of recruiting qualified user testing candidates into your tester community and projects with tactics from the Recruitment Kit.