- Katrina Aronson
Oftentimes in business we look for a way to test a concept or service in order to work out the kinks and gather feedback, or data points.
You're still in the testing phase, so a full-blown launch just doesn’t make sense. Enter the concept of a beta run, or a soft launch. Extremely valuable for gathering information, but perhaps less so if you’re giving away your service for free.
The thing is, when you give things away for free, people are far less invested than when they pay for it. I’ve been there, and I’ve learned how I can do better.
Recently I ran a beta test for one of my newer programs which needed a lot of data points that I gathered by way of sending out surveys. I decided to offer it, completely free, to three willing and awesome individuals.
It garnered a lot of attention and I had a ton of people reach out to volunteer – that felt good. However, a problem came up for me, one that I've heard many, many times over.
What I needed was really articulate feedback: bad, good, or ugly, about the entire program. While I got that in terms of face-to-face conversation, the surveys I was sending to my beta testers were not generating nearly enough useful data.
I reflected and realized I could have solved that by asking people to pay a nominal fee (not nearly the full cost), but investing, let’s say $50, into the program. Psychologically, those beta testers that paid $50 are going to take their role in the process much more seriously, and be willing to provide greater feedback, both in terms of quality and quantity.
If they have financially invested, even with a small amount, they will have much stronger incentive to share their honest opinions and ideas for improvement.
One creative way could have been asking for that $50 to be donated to a specific charity or the charity of their choice (shout out Sara Wiles for the idea!), that way you get the joy of doing something good for the world at the same time as running a really successful beta program – and keeping your testers invested.
Beta testing has been incredibly helpful in the history of my personal business. It’s a great way to work out the kinks and launch a program with its best foot forward. Doing it for free, however, I’ve learned isn’t always the best way.
Asking your beta testers to invest a little something in you is a great way to ensure your program gets the best results.