How to keep beta testers engaged is a very common challenge facing app developers and product managers. If you’ve conducted a beta test for your app, you’ve probably seen how testers’ activity tends to fizzle out quickly.
More often than not, this is caused by a lack of adequate response to user feedback. Failing to close the feedback loop with your beta testers cuts the loop short and makes them less likely to re-engage with the feedback process. In this post, we will take a look at how keeping testers in the user feedback loop can help you maximize their engagement.
The User Feedback Loop
A feedback loop occurs when the output of a system or process is used as input to influence the future output of the same process. It is a core component of systems as simple as a thermostat and as complex as evolution. It is also a core principle of agile development, which adopts the “build, measure, learn” loop as a philosophy.
Our brain uses hundreds of feedback loops to regulate our physiology and psychology. Social media apps hack one of these loops by using feedback in the form of likes and comments. This triggers the release of dopamine, which regulates one of the most powerful loops in the brain: the reward system.
To ensure that your feedback loop is effective, your communication with the testers needs to be:
The longer the period between the tester’s action and your feedback, the less effective it becomes. The brain is less likely to associate the action with the reward (in this case, your feedback) when there is a lag between them.
Your feedback must be relevant to your testers and must address the reason they are testing your app.
Research has shown that giving praise and expressing gratitude can be powerful motivators. They increase your testers’ sense of value and reinforces the loop’s rewards.
How to Keep Beta Testers Engaged by Closing the User Feedback Loop
Before you start your beta test, you should have defined goals and a clear plan to achieve them. Have a workflow planned to handle the incoming feedback and clearly determine the responsibilities of each team member. You should also determine the scope of issues the test is going to deal with and align your testers on the kind of feedback you are looking for. Setting your testers’ expectations of the beta test early on ensures no time is wasted on either your or the tester’s side.
To give a quick response and make your life easier, automate as much of the process as you can. You might not be able to provide a personalized response with automation, but it allows you to send a quick reply to let your testers know you are working on it.
With Instabug, you can create a saved reply thanking the tester for their feedback, then create a rule that will automatically send it to testers who report feedback. You can also create a saved reply and rule to notify the tester when his issue is resolved and ask him to verify the fix.
In every beta test, there are a few testers who are very active and provide a lot of detailed feedback. Identify these testers and be extra responsive to their feedback; they are the ones who will turn into your product evangelists. Even if they don’t, their investment in the beta test and the high-quality feedback they provide make them very valuable for your test.
This is simple with Instabug’s “users” section; just sort your testers by the number of sessions or reported issues and identify the most active. You can then use the in-app chat feature to initiate conversations with them and get more in-depth feedback or a quote for marketing.
Automatic replies might save you a lot of hassle, but a personalized reply has a stronger impact. Follow up on your automated replies with a more personalized approach when you need further information or specific feedback. Try to occasionally engage active testers with a few messages updating them on the progress of their issues or asking for more details. Additionally, don’t forget to maintain a friendly conversational tone in your messages and don’t use any tech jargon.
Send regular reports on the progress of your beta test to your users. This is a tactic used by apps like Grammarly to increase user engagement in their live product and can be used to good effect for your beta tests.
You will likely be tracking several metrics for the beta test, like the number of reported issue and the number of fixed issues. Share some of these metrics with your testers in a weekly or bi-weekly report; it makes your testers feel more involved with the beta test and helps them see the impact of their efforts.
It also helps foster a sense of community by making your testers feel that they are part of a bigger picture. Moreover, you can spark a little competition between testers by including a leaderboard or a tester of the week award. Instabug’s analytics dashboard makes this easier by tracking your test’s metrics and making them available in one place.
As your beta progresses and you start to push new beta builds to your testers, you should update your testers on what has changed. Prepare detailed release notes with every update noting what issues were addressed and what is still in progress. Try to make your beta release notes more detailed than what you would normally include in your regular release notes.
Additionally, acknowledge the reporters of the issues with a shout out and a thank you, even mentioning them by name if it’s a significant contribution. These detailed reports are another good way to increase your testers’ involvement and investment in the process.