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.
Forgot to post the link to Joel's article, so you don't have to search for it...
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.
Start a weblog, gain a cult following, and build excitement around anything you do?
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.
Pay them? At one company we gave beta testers a computer to keep.
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.
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