If your small business develops new products, it’s likely that the final stage in your product development schedule involves running a beta test. Beta testing is a term most commonly used in the software industry, but it’s a highly useful practice in any industry.
What is Beta Testing?
Beta testing involves letting a small sample of your intended customers try the product out for free, for the purpose of giving you detailed and useful feedback before the product goes to actual production. You use this information to further refine your product to appeal to a wider audience, and to ensure it works as intended. This beta test phase can last for as long as you like, while you or your development team implement changes based on input from the testers. Beta testing is typically performed after you’ve run your own internal testing — known as the alpha test phase– just prior to releasing the product to market.
Which Small Businesses Use Beta Testing?
You can run beta tests in any industry in which you’re making new products or versions of a product and improving it in stages. For example, Intuit beta tests it software products, including its Connect-to-PayPal Quickbooks integration app. In the software industry, some companies like Beta Family help mobile app developers run small-business testing with their community of 50,000 testers.
Beta testing isn’t just for software and tech products, though. If you’re a pastry chef, you might want to make the perfect gourmet chocolate chip-macadamia nut cookie. You can create a beta tester questionnaire to focus on issues that matter to you and your target consumers. Once you select a group of cookie lovers from your customer base and new individuals who fit the profile of your target market, you can run your beta test batches. Based on their insights and feedback, you can tweak your recipe or even your product’s packaging design to improve its marketability.
The Benefits of Beta Testing
A key benefit of small business testing is the opportunity to learn how to improve your customer’s experience with your product. You might want to focus on the goal of fixing bugs and adjusting your product to make it better for your end-users, whether they’re retail consumers purchasing your new game app for their kids or commercial store owners purchasing your inventory control app for their online or brick and mortar operations.
Perhaps this year’s budget doesn’t allow for a full-blown beta testing spree. That’s okay. Even small beta test groups can be eye-opening, as they allow you to gauge how potential customers might respond to your product.
Before you roll out your next product, it’s wise to do some beta testing. Why? Small business testing gives you a clear picture of how your product functions outside of the lab, workshop, or kitchen. These tests can give you useful tips for developing future versions of your current products and great ideas for new products. What’s most important is that beta tests provide you with insight on implementing changes that make your customers happier and put your brand’s best foot forward.
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