Test Launch

The Ultimate Guide to Launching a Beta Test for Startups

You're almost there. You've put your blood, sweat, and beers into your startup, and it's just about time to launch your sweet baby product into the wild. It's been a long and challenging journey, and I'm sure your team and investors are excited to start seeing some revenue come in from your launch, but how do you know it's ready? How can you be sure that it will meet the needs of your target market? Do you have product-market fit? The answer lies in beta testing.

Learn more about this startup's journey through beta testing on Centercode's podcast.

Beta testing is the process of releasing your product to a group of real users for testing and feedback. It's kind of a big deal for launch and a foundational step in the product development process that can help you identify and fix issues before your product goes to market.

Why Beta Testing Matters for Startups

As a startup, you may lack resources and the credibility that tend to propel established companies’ launches a little bit further. You need to prove yourself to your target market, investors, and stakeholders, and beta testing is a great way to build credibility and validate your product.

By releasing your product to real users, you can gather feedback and insights that can help you improve your product and make it more marketable. You can also identify bugs, glitches, and other issues that could hurt your product's reputation if left unaddressed.

Here are some of the benefits of beta testing for startups:

  • Validate your product-market fit: Beta testing can help you ensure that your product meets the needs and expectations of your target market.
  • Build credibility: By showing that you're willing to listen to feedback and make improvements, you can build credibility and trust with your target market.
  • Identify issues: Beta testing can help you identify bugs, glitches, and other issues that could negatively impact your product's reputation.
  • Improve your product: By gathering feedback and insights from real users, you can make informed decisions about improving your product and making it more marketable.
  • Signals progression of the product: Beta communicates to your customers and investors that your product is almost ready for release.
  • Testing marketing strategies: Testing your messaging, identifying selling points, collecting testimonials — beta testing is a gold mine for marketing and sales at startups.
Get started today by building your beta test for free

Challenges Startups Face When Running Beta Tests

Beta testing is an essential part of product development, but it can be particularly challenging for startups. Here are some of the most common challenges that startups face when running beta tests:

Limited resources

Startups often have limited resources, making it difficult to conduct beta testing. There aren't typically beta program managers or dedicated resources assigned to managing beta testing in startups. With that in mind, the duty falls to other busy members of the team like the CEO, product manager, or engineering manager.

Lack of credibility

As a new player in the market, startups may not have the same level of credibility as more established companies. Without a credible reputation, it can make it difficult to attract beta testers who are willing to devote their data and time to testing a product from an unknown entity.

Inexperience with beta testing

Many startups are founded by entrepreneurs who are new to the product development process. As a result, they may lack experience in beta testing and struggle to create effective testing plans or know what to do with the feedback they receive.

Limited testing audience

Startups may have a limited testing audience due to budget constraints or a lack of resources to recruit testers. This can make it difficult to get enough feedback to make informed decisions about the product.

Time constraints

Startups are often working under tight deadlines to get their product to market. This can make it challenging to allocate enough time for beta testing, which may result in rushed testing or incomplete feedback analysis.

How to Plan Your Beta Test for Startups

1. Setting Your Project Intentions

Let's face it, walking into your launch blind isn't a good idea, so why would your beta be any different? Let's talk about what you want to get out of your test beyond “I want to make my product better”. The basic things you need to knock out are the things that you want to test, usually specific experiences like onboarding or setup and features like reporting or sharing. This is the same whether or not you are a startup or not, but you're here for the best way to do beta for startups!

Examples of beta goals for startups

  1. Identify and fix any bugs or issues in the product
  2. Collect user feedback to improve the product and its features
  3. Determine the product’s usability and ease of use
  4. Validate the product’s stability and performance
  5. Test the product in real-world scenarios
  6. Verify product market fit
  7. Build buzz and excitement for the product launch
  8. Generate testimonials and positive reviews
  9. Identify potential influencers and evangelists for the product
  10. Test marketing strategies and messaging
  11. Evaluate pricing strategies and potential revenue streams

As a startup, you might have limited resources and an abysmal user base, so it is important to be selective in your test strategy. Identify the key metrics you want to track, the personas you want to target, and the channels you will use to find beta testers.

2. Construct Your Beta Strategy

Define your target audience

Identify the demographic, psychographic, and technographic characteristics of the target audience for your product. You should have done a decent amount of this by identifying your audience during market research or first thinking about your product solving user problems. This definition will help craft messages to help you find the right testers who match your target audience and will provide feedback that's relevant to your goals.

A image showing demographics, technographics, and psychographics used to define the target market for testing
Beta audience examples

Airtable beta audience - Airtable is a cloud-based productivity tool that combines features from spreadsheets, databases, and project management software. For their beta testing, they targeted small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with teams that were "task-oriented, collaborative, and organized." Their target audience also included freelancers, entrepreneurs, and solopreneurs who needed a flexible and easy-to-use tool for organizing their projects. In terms of demographics, they targeted individuals between the ages of 18-45 who were tech-savvy and familiar with cloud-based software.

Grammarly beta audience - Grammarly is an AI-powered writing assistant that helps users with grammar, spelling, and punctuation. For their beta testing, they targeted both students and professionals who write frequently, including business professionals, academics, and bloggers. Their target audience also included individuals who are interested in improving their writing skills, especially non-native English speakers. In terms of demographics, they targeted individuals between the ages of 18-65 who are college-educated and fluent in English.

Notion beta audience - Notion is an all-in-one workspace that combines features from project management, note-taking, and collaboration tools. For their beta testing, they targeted individuals and teams in a variety of industries, including software development, marketing, design, and education. Their target audience also included individuals who were "information-hungry" and needed a tool that could help them organize and streamline their work. In terms of demographics, they targeted individuals between the ages of 25-45 who were highly educated, tech-savvy, and comfortable using productivity tools.

Need a beta test audience template? Check out How to Find and Onboard Testers

Determine your testing criteria

Define the testing criteria for your beta test, such as the features you want to test, the duration of the test, and the number of testers you need to find. This will help you stay focused on the specific aspects of your product that you want to test and make sure you get enough feedback to make informed decisions.

Testing criteria examples

Airtable beta test criteria 

  • Test the user interface and ensure it's intuitive and easy to use for non-technical users.
  • Test the customization features and ensure they meet the needs of various business types and use cases.
  • Test the collaboration features and ensure they're effective for teams working remotely or across departments.
  • Test the mobile app and ensure it's fully functional and optimized for on-the-go use.
  • Duration: 4 weeks
  • Testers: 50-100 small to medium-sized business owners and their teams

Grammarly beta test criteria 

  • Test the accuracy of the grammar and spelling checks across multiple document types (e.g., emails, social media posts, academic papers).
  • Test the plagiarism checker and ensure it's effective in detecting duplicate content.
  • Test the ease of use of the browser extension and desktop app.
  • Test the premium features, such as the tone detector and writing suggestions.
  • Duration: 2 weeks
  • Testers: 100-200 writers and professionals across a range of industries and writing backgrounds.

Notion beta test criteria 

  • Test the organization and navigation features and ensure they're effective for managing multiple projects and tasks.
  • Test the database and templates features and ensure they're customizable and meet the needs of various industries.
  • Test the collaboration and communication features and ensure they're effective for remote teams.
  • Test the mobile app and ensure it's fully functional and optimized for on-the-go use.
  • Duration: 3 weeks
  • Testers: 50-100 individuals and teams from various industries and company sizes.

Choose your testing method

Decide on the testing method you want to use, such as closed or open beta testing, and determine the advantages and disadvantages of each method. This will help you choose the method that best aligns with your goals and testing criteria.

Testing method examples

Open Beta Testing

  • When a startup wants to generate buzz and get feedback on a new feature or product from a large audience
  • When a startup wants to gauge interest and demand for their product before launch
  • When a startup wants to increase brand awareness and get publicity for their product
  • When a startup wants to build a community around their product and foster engagement with their users'

Example: A startup that is launching a new social media platform might choose open beta testing to generate buzz and get feedback from a large audience. This will help them gauge interest and demand for their product, as well as build a community around their platform.

Closed Beta Testing

  • When a startup is developing a new feature or product that they want to keep confidential and limit exposure to
  • When a startup wants to test a feature or product with a specific target audience
  • When a startup wants to ensure that their product is stable and bug-free before launching

Example: A startup that is developing a new enterprise software solution might choose closed beta testing to keep the product confidential and limit exposure to a select group of testers. This will help them ensure that the product is stable and bug-free before launching to a wider audience.

Determine your success metrics

Define the success metrics you'll use to measure the effectiveness of your beta test, such as the number of bugs reported, the quality of feedback received, and the impact of feedback on product development. This will help you measure the effectiveness of your beta test and make informed decisions about your product roadmap.

Beta test success metric examples

Product metrics examples for beta

  • Feature usage: This metric measures how frequently beta testers are using specific features of your product. This can help you identify which features are most important to your users and which may need improvement.
  • Performance: Measuring the speed and efficiency of your product is important for ensuring a positive user experience. Metrics like load time, page speed, and error rates can help you identify areas for improvement.
  • User engagement: Measuring user engagement can help you determine how invested your beta testers are in your product. This can include metrics like time spent on your app or website, number of sessions per user, and overall retention.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): The NPS measures how likely your beta testers are to recommend your product to others. This can give you a good sense of how well your product is resonating with your target audience.

Beta test metrics examples

  • Participation rates: Tracking the number of beta testers who sign up and actively participate in your test is important for measuring the success of your outreach and recruiting efforts.
  • Feedback quantity: The number of pieces of feedback you receive can be a good indicator of how engaged your testers are in the process and how much they care about your product.
  • Feedback quality: Measuring the quality of the feedback you receive can help you identify areas for improvement in your product or the beta testing process itself.

3. Crafting Your Beta Test Plan

Develop a testing plan that outlines the logistics of your beta test, including how you'll recruit testers, how you'll manage the test, and how you'll collect and analyze feedback. This will help you stay organized and ensure that you're able to execute your beta test effectively.

Need a beta test plan template? Check out the How to Build a Beta Test

How to Find Beta Testers for Startups

The next steps will guide you through finding beta testers for your app, these steps include crafting a message, building a signup page, and how to find beta users.

4. Crafting Your Message Strategy to Entice Beta Testers

A very important step in your journey to launching your product to beta is crafting a message strategy. Most startups don't have a reputation or a following out the gate, so finding beta testers can be a challenge.

Here are some tips on how to create a compelling message:

  • Clearly communicate what your product does and what problem it solves for your target audience.
  • Highlight the unique features and benefits of your product that sets it apart from competitors.
  • Outline the benefits of signing up to become a beta tester. A major component of a successful message explains what the tester would gain from participating, whether its claim to fame, competitive advantage with early tech, or exclusive access to influence a product that solves their problems.
  • Use language that speaks directly to your target audience and their pain points.
  • Consider using social proof such as testimonials from early adopters or influencers to build credibility.
  • Keep your messaging concise and easy to understand.

Need templates for your beta invites? Check out Beta Invites Templates

Beta message strategy examples

Airtable beta message example

  • Are you tired of using multiple tools to manage your projects? Meet Airtable, the all-in-one project management tool that lets you organize anything, anywhere, in one place.
  • With Airtable, you can create custom workflows, track progress, and collaborate with your team in real time. Our unique features, such as customizable views and drag-and-drop functionality, make Airtable a game-changer for project management.
  • Join our beta testing program and be among the first to experience Airtable's cutting-edge technology. By participating, you'll have exclusive access to our latest features and help shape the future of project management.

Grammarly beta message example

  • Say goodbye to embarrassing typos and grammar mistakes with Grammarly, the writing assistant that helps you write with confidence. Whether you're writing an email, blog post, or social media caption, Grammarly has you covered.
  • With advanced grammar and spell-checking algorithms, as well as tone and clarity suggestions, Grammarly ensures your writing is mistake-free and effective. Our goal is to help you communicate your message clearly and professionally.
  • Become a beta tester for Grammarly and see how our technology can transform your writing. As a beta tester, you'll get early access to our latest updates and features, and your feedback will help us improve our product even more.

Notion beta message example

  • Are you tired of using multiple apps to manage your tasks and projects? Notion is the all-in-one workspace that lets you organize your work, notes, and ideas in one place.
  • With Notion, you can create custom pages, databases, and templates to fit your unique workflow. Whether you're a freelancer, student, or team, Notion adapts to your needs and helps you stay productive.
  • Join our beta testing program and be part of shaping the future of productivity. As a beta tester, you'll have exclusive access to our latest features and updates, and your feedback will help us make Notion even better.

5. Building a Beta Signup Page

Once you've crafted your message strategy, the next step is to create a beta signup page. Here are some key elements to include:

Beta Landing Page Design & Layout

  • Choose a design that reflects your brand and product, including logo, favicon, brand colors, and images that are consistent with your brand.
  • Ensure that your URL is simple, easy to remember, and related to your brand or product.
  • Use white space effectively to make the page easy to read and visually appealing.
  • Choose a readable font that is easy to scan and skim.
  • Keep the layout simple and avoid overwhelming potential testers with too much information.

Beta Landing Page Copy

  • Create a clear headline that communicates the unique value proposition of your product and grabs the attention of potential testers.
  • Write a brief description of what your product does and how it differs from competitors.
  • Provide a link to your privacy policy to establish trust with applicants and show that you take data privacy seriously.
  • Highlight the benefits of becoming a beta tester, such as exclusive access to new features, the ability to provide feedback that can influence the product roadmap, and the opportunity to help shape the product.
  • Provide additional details about the beta test, such as the timeline, expected level of participation, and any incentives for testers.

Beta Signup Page Call-to-Action

  • Include an easy-to-use signup form that collects basic information about your beta testers, such as name and email address.
  • If applicable, consider adding a screening survey to qualify applicants before they are selected as beta testers.
  • Make the call-to-action prominent and ensure that it stands out from other elements on the page. Use action-oriented language to encourage sign-ups, such as "Join the Beta Now" or "Be the First to Try Our Product".

Check out these beta signup page examples from betabound.com.

6. How to Find Beta Users for Startup Product

Now that you have your message strategy and beta signup page in place, it's time to start finding beta users. Here are some effective methods to deploy your strategy:

How to find beta testers for startups

Leverage your existing network

This is a great way to get initial beta testers because they are already familiar with you and your product. You can start by sending an email to your contacts list, explaining what your product does and asking if they are interested in being a beta tester. You can also reach out to any relevant groups or associations you are a part of and ask if they would be willing to help.

Extend an invitation to online communities

Find online communities, forums, or groups that are relevant to your product and start engaging with the community. This could be anything from answering questions to starting conversations about your product. Once you've established a relationship with the community, you can introduce your beta test and invite them to sign up.

Push to your social media network

This is a great way to reach a wider audience and generate interest in your product. Use social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram to promote your beta test. You can use targeted hashtags to reach potential testers who may be interested in your product. Make sure to include a link to your beta signup page in your social media posts.

Find ambassadors that can help with word of mouth

Look for influential people in your industry who are passionate about your product and are willing to help spread the word. You can reach out to them and offer early access to your product in exchange for feedback and promotion. This could be anything from a free account to exclusive features.

Reach out to beta tester communities

There are many beta testing services such as Centercode and BetaList that can help you find beta testers. Centercode has a community of beta testers who are interested in testing new products. BetaList allows you to submit your product for review and promote it to a network of people who are always looking for new solutions. These services can help you find qualified beta testers who are interested in your product and provide valuable feedback.

Post your free beta signup at www.betabound.com/announce 

Examples of beta testing from startup companies

For decades startups have recognized the importance of beta testing and have been leveraging it as a critical component of their product launch strategy. Let's take a look at some examples of startups that have successfully implemented beta testing.

  1. Before its official launch in 2008, Dropbox used a closed beta testing approach to test its product. The company invited select users to test the platform and provide feedback. Dropbox was able to use this feedback to improve its product before its official launch, which helped in the product's success.
  2. Since 2007, Airbnb has had a long history of beta testing its product. In its early days, the company launched a video that drove beta test signups from 5,000 to 75,000 overnight. The company continues to use beta testing to improve the user experience, with beta testers receiving early access to new features and providing feedback to the Airbnb team.
  3. Instagram used a beta test just before its launch in 2010. The company initially launched on the iOS platform and invited select users to test the app. The feedback received from beta testers helped to improve the app's functionality and usability, leading to its success.
  4. In 2013, Slack launched its "Pre-Preview Release", its beta version. The company invited select users to test the product, with a focus on businesses and teams. The feedback received from beta testers helped Slack to refine its product and ensure it met the needs of its target audience.

Congratulations on Launching Your Beta Test

Finding beta testers for your startup can be tricky and challenging, fortunately, with this guide you are sure to get enough to plan your beta test, find beta testers, and launch with confidence. After launching your beta comes the distributing of the product to testers, collecting feedback, and reviewing the results.

Remember that beta testing is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process that should be integrated into your development cycle. By continuously gathering feedback from your beta testers and making necessary improvements, you can create a better user experience and build stronger relationships with your customers. With the right approach, beta testing can be a powerful tool to help your startup succeed in today's competitive market.

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