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Test Planning

What to Consider When Planning Your Beta Test Incentives

June 11, 2015

Think of beta test incentives as the proverbial carrot on the stick for your testers. Since beta testers are (almost always) unpaid volunteers, incentives are key to encouraging them to see your test through to the end. Picking the best incentive, however, can be a challenge. The goal is to give testers something they actually want, that doesn’t blow your budget, and ultimately, shows testers their feedback is valued. The distribution of incentives is your final thank you to your tester team, so you want to make sure they walk away from their testing experience on a positive note. This post will help you pick the best incentive for your beta test.

When selecting your beta test’s incentive, you need to determine the general value of your gift before you can decide exactly what it’s going to be. To do so, you need to take a few key things into account.


First, determine your beta test’s incentives budget, and what the cost per tester will be. You can use our Incentives Calculator to input variables like the length of your test, number of testers, and type of product to estimate the value of your incentives. As a starting point, we recommend each tester receive an incentive worth $25 for a standard, two-week beta test.

Keep in mind that the value and cost of incentives aren’t the same thing. For example, giving your beta testers your product might cost you very little, but be very valuable to your testers. So just because you want to give your testers an incentive worth $25 doesn’t mean you need to budget $25 for each tester to achieve that goal. You can give your testers a variety of valuable incentives without blowing your budget on fancy purchases.

Test Length

Second, consider the length of your test. There’s a huge difference in responsibility for testers who commit to one week of testing versus six months of testing. The value of your incentive should be in line with your test’s length. If your beta test goes past its projected deadline, then you can provide additional incentives to show you appreciate your testers’ continued patience and commitment.

Intensity and Complexity

Be honest. Does your test require testers to turn on your product once a week and answer a few questions, or does it require daily extended use and detailed feedback? Your incentive should reflect the level of work you expect from your tester team.

The tests we run are very active. We expect testers to integrate a product into their daily lives, then give an hour or two a day during the testing period to actively use the product and submit feedback. Remember, testers aren’t paid employees. If you’re expecting a level of involvement that is more akin to a part-time job, then you’ll need to provide an incentive that reflects that.

Strike a Balance
The key to picking the right incentive to is find a balance between too much and not enough. You want to make sure your testers feel valued and appreciated, but you don’t want to go overboard. It may be tempting to give your testers extravagant gifts if you can afford it, but this generosity can backfire. Testers may expect the same largess in future tests and be frustrated if they don’t get it. We find it’s best to make the gift commensurate with how much effort testers put into the test. This leaves everyone happy and sets a good precedent for the future.

Now that you’ve determined the value of your incentive, you can decide exactly what it should be (your product, a gift card, a beta team t-shirt, or something else). Next week we’ll look at how to determine if your product would be an appropriate incentive for your testers. We’ll also give you other options if your product isn’t the right thank you gift.

Don’t want to wait until next week to read more? Download our free Beta Test Incentives Kit to get all the information you need to build the incentives strategy and budget for your next beta test.

Download our Beta Test Incentives Kit!

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