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5 Steps to Beta Launch Success

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5 Steps to Beta Launch Success

A beta launch is an incredibly important stage of the software release process. It marks the first time that external users will be exposed to a new software product and is a great opportunity for companies to collect valuable feedback.

Updated 06/10/2023

Software development can be a long and challenging process, and it helps to divide that process down into different steps. Beta launch, or beta testing, is one of the most significant software release life cycle steps.

But how does beta testing work and what steps should you follow for a successful beta launch? This guide will cover all you need to know on the subject. 

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What Is a Beta Launch? 

Beta testing is one of the final steps in the software release lifecycle, typically coming right after the alpha release stage. A beta launch can also be referred to as user testing, customer testing, or user validation.

The purpose of a beta launch is to build confidence in the program you're creating and identify issues, like bugs and glitches, that will need to be fixed before the proper launch.

A trusted software development team will test a program or application extensively during a beta launch to look for bugs and errors.

In addition, another purpose of the process is to find out if the product in question is ready to meet user needs and satisfy the target audience. Feedback will usually be collected from users and then analyzed and acted upon to make any necessary improvements.

5 Steps for a Successful Beta Launch 

It's important to note that the beta testing process can vary significantly from one business to the next.

Different approaches will be needed depending on various factors, such as the product, the audience, the size and nature of the company, and so on. 

It's, therefore, crucial to adapt and adjust your own strategy accordingly to match the specific situation and needs of your business. With that said, here are some of the general steps you can follow to make sure that your beta launch goes well and provides ideal results:

  1. Set a goal
  2. Plan your approach 
  3. Identify testers
  4. Gather feedback
  5. Implement feedback

There's no set formula or singular method to follow for a beta launch, but these steps should get the ball rolling. 

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Step 1. Set a Goal

The first thing to do when preparing for a beta launch is to set your objective. There's no sense in simply diving right in without a clear set of aims and goals. You need to have a target in mind, so ask yourself "What are we trying to learn?" 

Are you focused on making sure that your app is stable and reliable, with as few bugs as possible? Or are you confident in the stability of your program so far and want to prioritize the user experience? 

The targets you identify will help you when it comes to actually carrying out your beta launch and gathering feedback from your testers. Consider hosting a strategy session with key stakeholders to set out expectations and identify the correct methods to achieve your aims.

Step 2. Craft a Plan 

Once you have an objective, or multiple objectives, in mind for your beta launch, it's time to start planning it. 

Beta launches and testing are not easy, and there's a lot that can go wrong along the way. You might encounter a lack of interest and low participation rates, for example, or feedback that isn't useful to you or relevant to your targets. 

Often, a lack of planning is to blame when these kinds of issues present themselves. So it's vital to plan with care and diligence, taking the time to think about every eventuality and look at the beta launch from all angles. 

To plan your beta launch, keep the focus on your targets, get stakeholders and key players involved in the planning process, set a reasonable timeframe, and list out the various activities and actions that need to be taken to ensure it runs smoothly. 

Step 3. Identify Your Testers 

No beta launch can be complete without testers to put your beta to the test and see what they think of it and how it all works. So, the next step is to identify your testers and bring them on board. 

Different companies may have different approaches here. Some start very small with beta launches, bringing in less than 50 testers and targeting specific demographics and tech requirements. 

Others can be broader, with bigger tester audiences and a more comprehensive range of testers. Often, the best course of action is to start small and scale up over time once your product has proven stable. It's also a good idea to try and bring in a relevant target audience of testers for your product. 

Let's say you're testing an app for a rideshare business in a big city, for example. You'll want to identify testers who live in and around that city, spend a lot of time out and about, rely on public transportation, and have smartphones.

Step 4. Gather Feedback 

Once your testers have been identified, and the testing phase has begun, you'll need to start gathering feedback from your testers.

This is, after all, the main aim of any beta launch, and feedback is the fuel you need to learn about your product and find ways to make it better. So, make sure that you've set up an intelligent feedback system to get user reviews and opinions. 

It's also a good idea to set out expectations for feedback to your testers when they sign up, acknowledge and thank them for their contributions to motivate them, and don't over-burden them with too many feedback requests. Feedback forms and scorecards are straightforward and popular methods you can use.

Step 5. Use Your Feedback 

The final step of the process is to put the feedback you have gathered to good use.

This is where a beta launch can pay off, and you can start seeing your efforts’ results. You'll need to analyze and evaluate the feedback data you have collected, assess it with your development teams and stakeholders, and then implement actions to adapt and improve the app accordingly. 

During this phase, it's essential to take your time and have a broad approach. You'll want to focus on fixing the most pressing and most-mentioned issues first, but be sure to look at all feedback to identify the problems that may not be as critical but could still affect the usability of your program.

Beta Launch FAQs

Whether you’re a scrappy startup or have a robust product management department, beta testing only works when you understand the role it plays within the wider development process. 

How Long is a Beta Phase?

Beta testing can take about 6 months to complete. Prior to a product launch, it’s essential to build confidence in the performance of the final product. Beta tests facilitate this, but results don’t happen overnight. 

Why is a Beta Phase Important?

The beta test is an essential step in ensuring the functionality of a new product. Beta users simulate real users, testing new features and generating user feedback to make smart iterations. During product development, it’s critical to collect feedback and connect with early adopters. Launching a beta version of your app is a great way to do both.

What Comes Before a Beta Launch?

Before beta testers are brought into the picture, alpha testing often occurs. This is the first round of “real-world” testing with a user base. Unlike beta testing, where the beta product is tested with external end users, alpha testing is conducted by an internal testing team. Once known issues are addressed in the alpha testing environment, the product will move into the company’s beta program. 

What is a Public Beta vs. a Private Beta?

These are two different types of beta releases. A public beta program means that any external end user can test the new product or feature and provide feedback. A private beta test, or close beta test, means that not just anyone can participate in testing. The testing group is pre-determined by the internal team. 

Follow Our Plan for a Successful Beta Launch 

Beta testing can be so beneficial, but you have to get it right. Heading in half-baked without a proper plan or clear objectives can be a recipe for disaster. 

Therefore, make sure to follow these steps to establish your goals and strategy before you begin. That way, you’ll be able to bring in adequate users and make the most of every piece of feedback you collect.

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