There are many benefits to beta testing your small business software before final release. Beta testing helps you test key processes and performance, get feedback on UX (User Experience) and UI (User Interface), identify bugs, and verify that your ideas are well-received.
It’s always ideal to test your product with users that match your target audience, specifically when seeking higher-level UX feedback. However, finding beta users for business software can be significantly more difficult than it is to find testers for consumer products – especially if you need the software to be tested by a business as a whole, or by a specific group within a business. For example, if you need an entire HR department or sales team within a company to test your app as a group, you are likely to have a very difficult time finding willing testers.
Let’s look at why it is difficult to recruit small business beta testers, and what are some potential ways to get around this.
It’s difficult because:
- Incentives – Incentivizing a business is a lot more complicated than an individual. Someone interested in a consumer app might be happy to provide feedback for a small reward or for free access to the app for a certain period of time. On the other hand, it is very unlikely that even a small business would find it worth their time and effort to test / provide feedback for anything less than $5K or more.
- Reliability – Even if the financial incentive was adequate, businesses might still be reluctant to use software for testing purposes. The tasks or processes that they are using the software for, will probably have a direct impact on their customer’s experience or on operations within their company. This is why they want to use proven software, and not beta software which likely isn’t feature rich and may have technical issues.
- Logistics – It can be logistically challenging to coordinate the testing of your software with a business because it will often require buy-in and approval from multiple people.
- Individual testers – You may want to reconsider if you really need to test your product with an actual business. In many cases, it may be possible to simulate the experience / interaction a normal business might have with your product with a group of individual testers. For example, if you have a to-do app, can you recruit individuals that work for small businesses to provide you with feedback? Also, for some types of testing you can still get invaluable feedback from testing without your true target audience (e.g. Bug testing or UI testing). In any of these cases, you can follow the same advice we provide for finding beta users for consumer products. Also, at BetaTesting we can help you target professionals based on industry, company size, and job function.
- Existing network – Can you test with your existing customers, partners, or other contacts in your network? Think about if you have existing relationships with businesses that would benefit from the product you have built and if it would make sense for them to test it. This would ideally be a situation where your software or app can add value to their business without having to disrupt any of their current workflow.
- New customers – If you do not have any existing relationships with businesses that can help you with testing, it might be a good idea to start acquiring some of these customers. Some methods and resources to acquire B2B clients (not necessarily just for testing) are:
- Cold email – The important thing to keep in mind when reaching out to businesses through cold email is to not come across as spam. keep the emails short and simple, point out how your software can benefit them (if you have an example of how a previous version of your software has helped another business, definitely include that), and avoid pushy marketing lingo. Also, make sure that you’re reaching out to the right person whenever possible.
- Content creation – Writing interesting and engaging content that is relevant to your target audience will help you attract more traffic to your site and establish you as an authority in your niche, potentially resulting in more customers for your product.
- Reddit, Quora – Great resources to find people within any interest group, engage with them, and promote your product. Reddit most likely has subreddits that relate to your niche where you can run ads.
- Linkedin – You might already have people in your extended network (who you have shared connections with) that are in your target market. If you see someone that you think would benefit from what you’re offering, send them an invitation to connect, along with a personalized message. If they accept, you can now consider them a warm lead and have a conversation with them through LinkedIn’s messaging system.
- External help – If none of the above seem like feasible options for you, you will need the budget to pay for external help. This will probably mean offering sizable incentives to recruit willing businesses.
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