Finding and selecting the right group of testers to beta test your product is something that you’ll likely spend a lot of time and energy doing. It’s one of the most important steps for a successful beta test. For this reason, once your testers are selected and they’ve signed all the legal forms, it’s crucial that you get them started on the right foot. One simple way to do this is to send out a well-crafted welcome letter.
The beginning of your test is the time when your testers are the most excited and paying close attention. You’ll want to take advantage of this opportunity to communicate key information to them. Your welcome letter should include all of the most important information your testers need to know before they dive into the testing phase.
You should give it to them right before they get the product and start testing. If it’s a hardware product, include the welcome letter in the box with the beta unit. If you’re testing software, send them the welcome letter when you want them to access the product and begin testing. Below is a list of best practices that will help you draft the right welcome message for your test.
First and foremost, you’ll want to include a congratulatory message. This will get your testers excited about the upcoming test and make them feel like they’re part of your team. These small gestures remind them of the exclusive opportunity they’ve been chosen to participate in and will help them feel invested and engaged in the beta test.
Reiterate confidentiality requirements
Even though your testers have already signed the NDA, you’ll want mention the confidentiality requirements again in the welcome letter. Simply explain that they are not to share any information via social media or any other outlet. If they do, they will be banned from the test, must return the unit, and may face legal charges or financial penalties.
Set participation/collaboration expectations
Letting your testers know up front what you expect from them is key. Explain that you expect them to participate throughout the entire testing period, log in consistently, provide relevant feedback, and stay active in the discussions. You also want to explain that beta testing is all about collaborating with fellow testers. Tell them to be vocal about their experience with the product and communicate with others about anything/everything that’s going on. You can even let them know that their participation will be monitored and their incentive will be based on their level of participation.
Explain the installation process (if applicable)
If your product has a software component, include information about how to download and install it. This may not be necessary if part of your beta test is evaluating the out-of-box or onboarding experience, in which case you’ll want to provide the testers with the instructions that will be given to customers after launch. If that’s the case then give the testers any directions or reminders they need about providing feedback on the unboxing/onboarding process.
Emphasize the importance of punctuality
Beta tests run on strict timelines. Explain the importance of responding to requests, emails, tasks, or surveys as soon as possible. Make sure that they understand they’re expected to be responsive throughout the testing phase. You can also remind them that unresponsive testers will be removed from the test and replaced.
Include return instructions (if applicable)
If the testers need to return any physical materials after the test is over, be sure to explain that in the welcome letter. Outline exactly what they’ll need to return (the beta unit, accessories, packaging materials, etc.), along with clear return instructions, and the return shipping label. Make the return process as easy as possible for your testers and be very specific about what you need returned to you and when.
Keep it short and sweet
Keep your welcome letter concise. Remember that it’s meant to give simple directions, as well as generate some excitement amongst your testers. Keep it to one page, around 4-6 paragraphs, and make your directions crystal clear.
Bring it all home
Close this letter by expressing how excited you are to hear their feedback and to have their help shaping a new product. Also, let them know the best way to contact you (email, phone, or the testing portal) if they have any questions, comments, or concerns.
This welcome letter is your chance to explain to your testers what to expect (and what’s expected of them) during the beginning stages of your test. It’s also a great opportunity to get your testers excited about being part of your test. The more your testers feel like they understand their role in your beta strategy, the better they’ll be able to meet and exceed those expectations, so don’t be afraid to spell it out in your welcome letter.
For more advice on motivating your beta testers, download our Beta Test Incentives Kit.