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Blog Product Management Tips

How to manage feedback from beta testers

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If you’ve convinced people to be beta testers for your product then you’re already ahead of most product development teams. Congratulations!

Now your challenge is to convince your beta testers to actually give you feedback. Once you’ve navigated that hurdle, you’ll need to manage the feedback you do get. You don’t want it getting lost or becoming a time-management headache.

In this article we’ll look at 6 ways you can get and then manage feedback from your beta testers.

Get those beta testers talking to you…
Find out how what beta testers think of your product using a feedback board

1. Ask at the right time

The three best times to ask for feedback are:

  1. In a ‘thanks for being a beta tester’ email. When giving someone access to your beta version state clearly that you want feedback more than anything else.
  2. While someone is using your beta version. Make sure your product has an obvious way to directly give feedback. For a web app, this could be a ‘Submit feedback’ link on every page. For a mobile app, put this link in your settings screen or on your welcome screen.
  3. Soon after someone uses your product for the first time. When a beta tester first signs in to your product automatically send them an email. This should thank them and remind them how important feedback is to you, so you can build a better product.

In all three cases, make it clear exactly how to give feedback.

2. Make it easy to give feedback

Your beta testers need a way to give you feedback almost as soon as they think of it. They are doing you a favour and they’re busy.

Don’t force your beta testers to go through a series of complicated steps. Make your minimum feedback requirement no more than a single sentence. Make it possible for the user to give more detail if they want to.

Get those beta testers talking to you…
Make it easy for your users to give one line of feedback, or to go into more detail

Avoid having a complicated signup process for a feedback gathering tool. The process of signing up can be enough for the beta tester to lose interest in giving feedback. It changes their mental context from ‘I really want to give this feedback’ to ‘what password should I use?’.

3. Make the feedback process visible

It can be easier to persuade beta testers to give you feedback with a public feedback system of some kind. If beta testers get an instant buzz of satisfaction from the response of other testers to their feedback they are more likely to keep engaging.

Another advantage of encouraging public feedback in one central place online is that – to an extent – you can control the feedback. It’s better to deal with negative feedback in one place where you can quickly respond rather than having it scattered across social media.

You can use a messaging board, community forum or existing social space to gather public feedback.

Example of forum
Minecraft have a community forum for feedback

The downsides are that these spaces can be hard to moderate and to track feedback. An online feedback board is easier to manage and use although you have to pay for it.

In this article we ask: Why Make Your Customer Feedback System Public?

4. Acknowledge the feedback

When a user gives feedback, they’ve helped you out. No matter how positive or negative their feedback, no matter how creative their suggestions, you should show that you are listening.

If you are sending a newsletter to your beta testers or showing a change log at startup, thank your most prolific beta testers by name in the newsletter or change log. Most of us appreciate receiving some public acknowledgement.

If your feedback tool allows it, use it to add a comment to the beta tester’s feedback.

Get those beta testers talking to you…
Comment on feedback to show beta testers that you’re listening

5. Iterate quickly

During a beta testing period, you can improve your product rapidly because your user base understands your product is prone to rapid, breaking changes. Take advantage of this and act quickly on some of the feedback you get from beta testers.

Release frequent updates that include changes suggested by beta testers. Many beta testers will lose interest before too long, so by iterating quickly you’ll get a chance to get those changes tested and retested.

How quickly should you iterate? We’d suggest daily during the initial part of your beta-testing program.

6. Use the right feedback management tool

If your beta program is successful, you’ll get swamped with feedback. Make sure in advance you have decided on how users should submit feedback so it doesn’t get lost or become a burden in terms of trying to sort it all out. Here are some options:

  1. Feature Upvote
    We make Feature Upvote which we think is perfect for managing feedback from beta testers. Users don’t need to create accounts, can vote on existing suggestions, you get notified of all new feedback, other users can comment directly on each suggestion, and you mark each feedback as “under consideration”, “planned”, and “done”. But clearly we are biased. So let’s continue this list with some other options.
  2. Email
    The easiest thing for a beta tester is to click on a “mailto:” link or to reply to an email from you. Even if you don’t use email as your primary means of collecting feedback, you should still accept feedback via email. In this case you would manually copy their feedback into your feedback management tool.
  3. Google Sheets
    If you use this approach, you’d give all your beta testers ‘edit’ access to a shared Google Sheets doc. Just about everyone already has a Google account, so your users won’t need to sign up for anything. Make sure the sheet clearly states how users should add suggestions.
  4. Bug tracking software, such as Jira
    This is a good option for an in-house product, where your beta testers also happen to be employees of your company. I wouldn’t recommend this approach for products with a wider user base. However, Feature Upvote has a Jira integration which makes public feature tracking with Jira much easier.

Keep asking for feedback, even when your product is out of beta

With all that valuable beta feedback, you’ve now hopefully got a product that is easy to use, has features that are genuinely useful and has minimum bugs. It is so good that customers are now giving you money (or advertisers if you’re going for a freemium model).

However, don’t stop there. Keep gathering feedback from your customers and your team so you can continue to improve your product, grow your user base and increase revenue.