The Role of Marketing During Beta Testing

Feb 6, 2014 | Marketing, Marketing experiments, Nurture, Strategy

role of marketing in beta testingBeta testing isn’t just for software development – this is a critical time for marketing too.

In the same way that your beta period allows you to get feedback from real-world users and discover hidden bugs, your beta period should be used to test your marketing and find the bugs there too.

You would never ship a product without testing – you shouldn’t launch expensive marketing campaigns without testing either.

Even if you are absolutely certain you have everything right, there’s no reason not to validate your target market, your messaging, your offer and your pricing strategy. If everything is correct, you’ll have the validation fast and can invest in a big launch with confidence.

If you’re wrong, the earlier you find out, the better. You will be able to make changes early, when it’s less expensive to fix (just like the earlier you find a bug, the less it costs to fix). You won’t waste precious dollars on ineffective marketing – and you won’t waste time, which is often more important then the money.

Early beta is the ideal time to start.

Step 1: Test market segments

Even in a simple market, there are different segments to your target market. We like to choose three to start with. Yours might be CIOs, CTOs and network engineers. Or VP Marketing, VP Sales, VP Product Management.

One group will be more receptive to your product than the others. We’re going to find out which.

Step 2: Test your messaging

Every kind of software does three things:

– Saves time

– Saves money

– Lets you do things you couldn’t do before

So how should you begin your conversation with prospects? Will they be more receptive to saving time or saving money? Or do they want to hear about some of your cool features? We’re going to find out.

Step 3: Develop a test matrix

We like to start with 3 market segments and 4 different messages. That gives us a matrix with 12 test cells, which is an excellent starting point.

Now you need to find 50-100 people for each test cell. We do that on LinkedIn, which has arguably the best people search engine ever.

We send each group the appropriate message, and measure the response rate.

Step 4: Tweak and repeat

As you run these experiments, the data you bring back will spark other ideas for experiments. You’ll change the wording on your messages, you’ll think of new target market segments to try.

You can also run other types of tests:

  • Test your offer – Will your prospects respond better to a white paper or webinar?
  • Test your pricing – Some price points will convert much better than others.

This marketing testing is amazingly powerful. Once you get started, you will learn so much about your target market and what it takes to get them to engage.

Plus you’ll be generating early leads for your sales force, so when you launch you’ll be able to hit the ground running.

This is a great way to get ready for a highly successful product launch.

What are your tips for marketing testing during beta?

Who else should read this? Please share!

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