Skunk Works Junkies (SWJs) ears perk up if they hear, “beta invite,” and like anything exclusive, jump to snatch it up. The reality is, start ups can’t get enough beta-testers, or at least keep them consistently engaged once the party starts. In this series, you’ll hear first-hand from a beta-junkie what worked and what didn’t.
- Part 1. Dangling the carrot…how do I find the right beta-testers
- Part 2. the care and feeding of beta-testers, an almost case-study of a start up that did it right
- Part 3. where did my crowd-sourced testers go?? (or, how NOT to lose your beta-testers)
Part 1. Dangling the carrot for beta-testers
right beta-tester = future evangelist for the app
Keep in mind, I am a beta-junkie with an eye for the end-user, my clients. And I grew up with computers, my first was a TRS-80 purchased in 1987 (thank you Radio Shack!). Since my background is in cross-cultural communications, marketing and public relations, I spend a lot of time trying to educate and persuade organizations about social media, integrated marketing plans and “the Cloud.” My aim as a beta-tester is to learn the newest app that is easily adopted and enables my clients to be bigger, strong, faster in their competitive field- and the biggest hurdle is concerns about security.
While there may be an ample supply of technical beta-testers, those of us who are end users, or work closely with them are harder to find. End-user testers should be your goal. To paraphrase Ball State University Professor, Brad King, whenever I get some new piece of technology, I send it home to my mom and dad. If they can’t figure it out, then it’s probably not going to make it. I see a lot of start ups at the Boulder Denver New Tech meetups who have brilliant ideas, but haven’t tested them beyond their circle.
I am often attracted to apps that now lie in the TechCrunch DeadPool flowgram, rejaw, ma.gnolia (which has been re-born as “gnolia” and they need beta-testers!), and so forth. But I am not your average Jane-Beta-Tester. For my crowd, we can go to the mashable beta invite page, or lurk around on various social networks and learn of coveted opportunities. These apps may not have had effective Ul, were late to the market, or whatever, but I can’t help but wonder if they reached out to their target markets early enough?
Where are the average Jane beta-testers? Maybe these seem obvious, but around these parts we don’t get approached to test:
- Verticals- for an event registration app, why not approach event planner associations? (I can tell you the one in Colorado hasn’t been approached.)
- PR and Marketing associations- we are going to be selling to your audience
- PR Indies- there are a number of independent/informal groups for the independent interactant
Why PR/Marketing Industry Affiliations?
- Most people are non-technical, so you will be able to see it through their eyes instead of through the eyes of wiley engineers hungry for something to poke around on (apologies to engineers!)
- PR-types especially are (finally) diving into the social space and cloud rapidly- and they talk. Yes, we are tight-lipped on behalf of the camera, with a reporter or with friends, but when we get together we share the dirt and want to know what works and what doesn’t.
Mailing lists, monthly meetings, conferences all present outreach opportunities. I see a lot of social space apps marketing inward to our community, but what about everyone else?
Keep in mind:
- There needs to be consistent tangible benefits. You don’t want testers frantically pushing the button thinking, “no cheese! No Cheese!”
- They may be new to beta-testing, so education is key (web demonstrations are great for education, but go slooooowww)
- Time is key, if a high-frustration thresh hold is necessary, then forget it.
Finally- beta-testers from these groups are going to understand the value of the cloud and security risks- they will be the best ambassadors to promote the app and get past Cloud objections.
(Guest post by Deb Robison, Cloud Jedi-In-Training, baker, President of the Mile High Social Media Club and fluent in Japanese.)