Before releasing your product to a wider audience, you should gather beta users and test it with them. This will help you with validating your proposition and find issues in various use cases and fix them or even find new use cases.
Please note that there are different interpretations of alpha and beta users as well as field testers. If a differentiation is made, then alpha users are referred to as focusing on product testing, whereas beta users focus on the user experience, whereas field testers come into play once the product is ready. However, sometimes alpha and beta users are also used interchangeably.
However, in order to enable these valuable learning processes, you need to make sure to target the right people when selecting a group of beta users. Hence, your beta users should represent a group or segment of your target customers. Make sure that you provide some sort of incentive for your beta users, as they are leading busy lives as well and are not just waiting to test yet another product (Varshneya, 2016).
There are different ways to finding your beta users:
The best way to get beta users is to source them personally because you can ensure they are truly interested in what you are building and would possibly even buy it and convert to customers later. Also, this allows you to interact with them personally and maybe even face to face, which gives you a valuable learning experience as you can observe their behaviour and emotions (ibid).
The best tactic is to build up an email list of people you speak to before you start building your product. A way to keep your audience engaged in the meantime is through something that adds value to peoples’ lives and is connected to your product/company such as tips, videos, newsletters, your progress, etc... Find out who the more engaged people from your email list are as they will be more willing to become beta users and give you feedback (ibid). If you create a landing page as part of your MVP, you should make sure to capture emails. You can learn more about MVPs in Course 2: Building a Business.
Beta User Websites
Beta user websites are dedicated to providing beta testing as a service, such as UserTesting (https://www.usertesting.com), BetaList (https://www.betalist.com) ,or TestFlight for apps (https://developer.apple.com/testflight/). Although they might provide you with a set of beta users, you need to be clear about the fact that they might not be part of your target audience. Hence, they can give you feedback on the usability and report bugs, but are should not be mistaken for leads (ibid).
There is a large group of engaged people on Reddit who are interested in a large number of topics. Once you have found a subgroup that is relevant to your product, you can engage in the group asking for feedback. Furthermore, there are some sub-reddits where you can find beta testers such as Betatests (https://www.reddit.com/r/betatests/), Alpha and Beta Users (https://www.reddit.com/r/alphaandbetausers/) and Android Apps (https://www.reddit.com/r/androidapps/) (ibid).
If you search for specific groups on Facebook, you will find that there is a group for almost everything. If you join those groups and contribute / bring value to other members, you will then be in a good position to ask for feedback from the community regarding your product (ibid).
Similar to Reddit, Craigslist also has many different categories, and you will be able to find people who are interested in the vertical you are working in. Level CEO Jake Fuentes used the platform to take people offline and hosted a party where he provided pizza in return for some feedback to his app, and the company has raised $5m Series A funding (Gill, 2017).
There are freelancers on Upwork who offer to be beta testers who can give you feedback and discover bugs. However, it is recommended to not solely rely on them when it comes to feedback and combine it with one or more of the other methods outlined above (ibid).
- Here are some valuable thoughts regarding beta users: https://www.quora.com/Which-beta-users-platform-would-you-recommend (Quora, 2016)
- Some further resources to reach beta users: https://appsamurai.com/10-places-to-find-beta-users-to-test-your-app/ (Cetin, 2016)
- This is a very useful seminar series about customer testing (Alpha, Beta, Field testing): https://www.centercode.com/library/webinars/ (Centercode, 2017)
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Varshneya, R. (2016). 5 Ways To Find Beta Users To Test Your App. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/rahulvarshneya/2016/09/09/5-ways-to-find-beta-users-to-test-your-app/#378be5b87067 [Accessed 31 January 2018]
Gill, B. (2017). How to Find Early Beta Users For Your App. Available at: https://www.apptamin.com/blog/find-app-beta-users/ [Accessed 31 January 2018]
Quora (2016). Which beta users platform would you recommend?. Available at: https://www.quora.com/Which-beta-users-platform-would-you-recommend [Accessed 31 January 2018]
Cetin, E. (2016). 10 Places to Find Beta Users to Test Your App. Available at: https://appsamurai.com/10-places-to-find-beta-users-to-test-your-app/ [Accessed 31 January 2018]
Centercode (2017). Webinar Recordings. Available at: https://www.centercode.com/library/webinars/ [Accessed 31 January 2018]