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Get the most out of your mobile app beta group: 5 actions you must take

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Staggering amounts of preparation go into app marketing – a fact that you’ll be all too familiar with if you’re a developer / app marketer. Your app design can look terrific on paper, and the prototype may work brilliantly – but that doesn’t mean that it’ll take the public by storm. Chances are your design and your marketing story will require some development. A great way to determine which areas need tweaking is to put your app through a beta test.

What are you after?

It might sound a little obvious, but you need to map out exactly what you’re trying to achieve with your new app before you begin app testing.

Who will use it? Who are the best people to focus on? It’s important to have unwavering objectives before you begin app marketing, and you should take these objectives into account when it comes to forming your beta group. You can always fine tune these objectives later on, based on what you learn during the beta but it’s also important to have something to start with, to measure yourself against.

When you build your beta plan based on those objective, it will be easier to define, which users to recruit for the beta, where you find them, etc.

It’s also important to note the difference between regular QA testing and beta testing.

QA testing

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Can be done using several companies who are in this business like Applause, We-Test, Ubertesters and others. They will test for bugs based on scenarios, usage flows and testing scripts that you will define for them. They may give you some feedback about usability, but that’s not the focus. When testing for QA you want to look at how your app performs when servers are loaded, when different devices are used, different mobile networks, critical bugs, crushes, things like that.

Beta testing

A beta group is about having people who are in your target audience using the app. Yes, they will most likely report on technical issues as well, but what you want to hear from them is more about the usability. Do they get the need, the problem the app solves? Does it actually provide a solution for them? A good one? Do they understand how to use all the functionalities of the app, do they find them satisfactory? Do they have ideas of how to make rhe features better, add features? Would they recommend it to other people like them, etc. Now that you have done the initial thinking, it’s time to start working..

  1. Prep your analytics

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Choose your data collection tool, think about what you want and what you can measure, and prepare your analytics before you get going with beta testing. By the time the beta group data comes rolling in, having your analytics at hand will allow you to easily outline which expectations were met, which weren’t, and what parts of the app need to be tampered with. It will also give you a ball park idea, a benchmark, of what you can expect from your users in terms of usage frequency, loyalty and retention.

  1. Recruit your users

Recruiting beta group testers can be a bit challenging, but totally worth it in the long run. These people, if you treat them right, will stay with you and will always be ahead with you, testing your next version. Dedicate a few days to do your research. There are Google+ and Facebook groups that are dedicated to beta group testing. Some just for Android, some just for iOS and some for both. There are also companies that like to promote beta programs such as ErliBird, Beta list, Product Hunt, and more – not all of these are free to post in. Estimate what an outreach to friends and family members (not only yours but everyone involved with the app) can get you in terms of users, leverage your social channels. And these are just online channels. Maybe you can cooperate with local universities or other organizations. Think outside of the box, based on your specific app and the people you are after.

  1. Careful Communication

You’ll need to tread carefully when it comes to communicating with your beta group. You’ll have to have an open line of communication from within your app so that group members can easily contact you with queries and feedback, but you don’t want to make them feel like you’re breathing down their necks either. Keep your distance from your beta group and allow the results to come in naturally. Create an “open-door” policy and let your app testing users come to you.

Having said that, we are here for a reason, so define a certain timeframe, such as a month after they initially joined the group, and send a short survey (not more than 10 questions!) asking your members specifically about things that you are interested in hearing about (e.g., would you recommend this app to others?) I personally like Survey Monkey as they are great at guiding you in regards to how to build your questions in an objective, not-misleading manner (market research methodologies)

  1. Say thank you..

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Everyone likes being thanked, and it’s worth keeping this in mind for your beta group as well. Give your beta tester something to look forward to once the app testing is complete. If you’re planning to charge for your app, offer them a special code that’ll allow them to download the completed version for free. Give them a free theme, early access to something.. Anything that will make them feel special.  Show your appreciation and they’s stick around for more. Which you want them to!

  1. Use the dam feedback!

No need to say, it’s obvious, right? Wrong! So many developers are so in-love with their app, that even if they bother doing beta testing, they tend to ignore or dismiss a lot of the feedback that’s coming in. If the results you get back from your beta group test aren’t exactly what you were expecting, that doesn’t mean you should write them off. Value the feedback you get from your beta group and use it to tweak your app accordingly. Successful developers acknowledge their mistakes, make the necessary amendments, and go on to create a modified and more successful version of their original design.

A beta group, like a diamond, can and should be forever. Having a vibrant, bubbly beta group is important not only before a launch but throughout an app’s lifecycle. These are your toughest critics but your ever-loving ambassadors, so get ready for a fruitful, ongoing relationship.

Tsipi Joseph
Tsipi is one of AppGo2Market.com Co-Founders, a mobile expert and a mentor. Over 10 years of experience in the mobile and marketing industry: Director of Marketing at Telmap, Comverse and marketing professional development director at the American Association of National Advertisers.
Tsipi Joseph
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