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Beta Testing, how to get the users?

I started the beta test of my software in early June with about 11 users that specifically expressed interest in being involved with the beta test.  I contacted them all and asked who was still interested.  I got a response from 4 of them.  Of those that reconfirmed their committment, only two gave me feedback, and it hasn't been as much as I need (definitely not the 3 pages of comments each, but close).  I then extended by beta offer to a specific mailing list for those interested, and got another 7, that expressed interest.  Of those 7, none have given me feedback.  I gave them the software more quickly than I did the first 4--without making them wait, or reconfirming their committment.  Now, I have another interested party, and they are giving me tons of feedback.  So, I am up to about 3 out of 11, not bad compared to the 1:5 odds Joel gave.

Any comments on market size as it relates to the 1:5 giving feedback, and needing to get 100 serious testers.  I figure my market size (based on trade association Enrollment is just over 10,000 or so, for the specific targeted market) and because the application is on the Mac, those with existing hardware requirements shrinks the number of feasible beta users fast.  What's the Mac market share at now; 4% according to Google?    : )

Do you really have to have 100 serious testers?  Can you get by with less?  What are everyone's thoughts?

Also, any additional suggests for acquiring beta users?  Especially for such a niche market, like Mac Software.  Do people post to versiontracker.com and downloads.com their beta versions, I guess that would be an open beta.  Is there a way to use those sites to promote an enrollment for beta?  Just kinda opening up for discussion.

Thanks!
Pete Gordon
http://www.usersfirst.com

Pete Gordon
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Forgot to post the link to Joel's article, so you don't have to search for it...

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/BetaTest.html

Pete Gordon
Wednesday, July 28, 2004

We are doing a beta program at work and the userbase was culled from a combination of the general public and existing customers.  I would say 90% of the testers are existing customers with the remainder being non-customers from potential customers / partners / OEMs.

Sassy
Thursday, July 29, 2004

Start a weblog, gain a cult following, and build excitement around anything you do?

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, July 29, 2004

I will just suggest spamming (in a nice way) everyone you think that might be interested. Do not be deterred by the lack of responses. People are generally lazy. If there is nothing in it for them, they will not act quickly. Throw in some incentives. First ten person that response get a free optical mouse or something like that.
The key is persistence.

rz
Thursday, July 29, 2004


I've always like the idea of going to existing customers and offering significant discounts on the next version for "good" feedback.


Just make sure you define "good".

KC
Thursday, July 29, 2004

Pay them?  At one company we gave beta testers a computer to keep.

BW
Thursday, July 29, 2004

Thanks for the feedbak.  I had thought about the blog and trying to generate more "buzz".  I will likely have to follow through with that at some point here.

Been doing some polite spamming, but yea, response rates are dismal.

The software still being in beta; I like what Joel said about "guriella marketing" until the software gets up to 2.0.  So as not to overly hype and disappoint potential customers.

Thanks!
Pete Gordon
http://www.usersfirst.com

Pete Gordon
Friday, July 30, 2004

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