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Beta testing is for Marketeers

Why Best Test?

I recently met a small company that’s getting ready to release a new app for sale. It’s a great idea and I wish them success, but I was really surprised to learn that they’d had almost no beta-testing. Beta testing isn’t only about bug testing. Asking prospective clients to use your service provides you lots of information that’d be really hard (or painful) to other wise get. Specifically:

  1. Actual use-cases; knowing what our clients actually do with your product is surprisingly helpful. It’s not always when, where or what you might think. How they’re using your product might have an impact on whom you market to, or how you market it to them.
  2. What they like or dislike; if your friends & family are testing your product, you might not get the same level of objectivity, or a large enough sample size. Importantly, the larger you sample size, the more valid your data. There’s no sense in building features that your audience isn’t interested in.
  3. Market testing; The best beta-testers are your prospective clients. Approaching them directly should be straight forward if you know your customer. If they’re not interested in beta testing your product, consider how you’re going to sell the product to them.

Don’t sign them up and ignore them. Remember to speak to your testers, they’re your gateway to real feedback and (actually) important feature requests. Engaging with them in a non-intrusive & un-annoying way can provide you a wealth of information. Your testers are also the most likely prospectives to convert to paying customers or, if you’re really lucky, early evangelists.

Beta Test Sites

If you’re not clear on who your target audience is, or you’re looking for more general feedback there are plenty of beta-testers available through beta test sites. Here’s a list of a few sites where you can register your product and get some impartial feedback:

  • prefinery.com
  • utest.com
  • centercode.com
  • Betali.st
  • Startupli.st
  • killerstartups.com
  • feedmyapp.com
  • listio.com
  • StartupTunes.com
  • openforbeta.com

Forums

You can also start working the Internet forums, it’s a great way to get your service in front of very targeted audiences. Some of the forums drive enough traffic to make your product successful just through their traffic alone. The caveat is that you’ll need to be a reasonably regular member at the forum before your post will be taken seriously (or even allowed to include external links). So you’ll need to start work early. There are far too many forums for me to list here, but a quick google search will show you exactly where to go.