Ideas for creating a Beta Program
Recently I got a private request for advice from @Kalyani Kundalia, but I suggested we post here for the collective ideas of the community. I did so with her consent.
Here is the question:
"We are starting a new Community and I was looking for some ideas on how to get customers to sign up for the Beta program. Can you share some best practices that I can implement?"
So I ask you friends, what are your best tips for creating a Beta program.
I'll tag in some folks, but anyone who wishes to answer is welcome: @ndevolites @Esther99 @Amanda Petersen @Jodi_Meier
Amanda Petersen EventAttendee ✭✭✭
Hey @Kalyani Kundalia and I chatted a bit about this as well. Here is a summary of some of my thoughts.
First, launching is really hard, and it takes a couple of years to cross the critical momentum gap. When you launch a community, be prepared to do a lot of work seeding conversations, finding people to respond to conversations, and being an evangelist for your community internally.
RE the beta, When we launched, we found our most engaged users in a specific role, seeded content relevant to them, then invited them in for a two week EA. Ideally the early access would last longer. Once they were in, we asked for feedback, made changes, etc. We didn't quite get enough the first round so we opened up the criteria and did another large email send. All of our Early access (EA) people who participated got a fun swag bag.
We are now launched and actively growing, but it takes a lot of collaboration and work across the org.
Esther, Jodi, and Nicole probably have some other pearls, but hope this helps!2
@Amanda Petersen, I totally agree with your assessment here.
@Kalyani Kundalia - we have a fairly robust private beta testing group in our community and I've found if you:
- Identify your most active members and the user segment that you believe your new product will impact the most
- Make the invite feel special/exclusive. the folks you invite should feel honored and if the whole community is in the group, they are less likely to feel the need to participate.
- Approach them with a functional beta product, ideas for a product instead of something functional can be dangerous when you are just launching because it can lead to off-topic feedback
- Set ground rules, tell your members all of their feedback will be considered but not all of it will make it into the final product or be acted on
- Give them specific tests or tasks at the beginning and open up for more brainstorming or free form feedback once you've established a relationship
- Provide your members with consistent feedback and updates
- Mix in posts to the groups, zoom calls, and phone calls where applicable. Connecting with them on multiple channels really solidifies the relationship
Once your beta group has a functional product in hand, clear expectations on your engagement with them, some direction on how to engage with the product, and a relationship with you, the sky is the limit!3
Hi all and thanks for adding me to the conversation!
Reading through your suggestions so far I can only say: +1
I would also say that spending some time identifying candidates is worth it.
If you are allowed to reach out to users/customers by email, you can invite them directly and make sure to stay in contact with them during the whole beta and keep them engaged. Just to avoid losing them on the way.
And choose a rather large number of people because you won´t have a 100% response rate.
Also, take this thread as an example: Adding some people via at-mention (after identifying them) is basically a guarantee for engagement 😃 Ask for their opinion and chances are pretty high, they feel valued and are happy to share their thoughts 😉
Have a lovely day everyone,
Amanda Petersen EventAttendee ✭✭✭
@abowe, @Esther99 absolutely agree. I think the expectations and the relationship building is key. I want to echo the idea of adding channels and expanding you search pool.
Abowe, I really like how you laid out the feedback process from discrete tasks to more open-ended questions. This is such a good reminder to boost confidence before you ask for harder tasks.1
ndevolites Member ✭✭
I have nothing to add - the ladies have covered it!1
@Kalyani Kundalia We've had a lot of success getting folks to sign up for our beta testing opportunities by posting them in the community for them to sign up. I ask the PMs to share a bit about the opportunity, what is required of them to sign up (ex: use of functionality for 2 weeks, 1 call and a survey) and our customers have been so excited to sign up. CSMs used to reach out 1:1 to customers who they thought might be interested, but opening it to the community has provided the opportunity to more folks who might not have known about it. Lately our PMs have included a link to a survey for hopeful participants, so they can see if they're a good fit.1