Beta testing is your first opportunity to get real feedback from your target customers. Mobile App launch is especially crucial because it is the single biggest opportunity to get your app discovered in the appstore. Beta testing your app will reduce your product risk and get you that initial push in the appstore, if you can convert your beta testers to users. Here we will discuss how to prepare for the beta launch and getting the most out of it.
Preparing for beta launch1. Define target customer
It is very important that you identify and clearly define your target audience. This will help you identify the right testers during your beta tester recruiting. Doing some early market research to understand market segmentation will ease the process of beta testing. According to apple beta testing rules, you can only recruit 100 beta testers for an app, so it is crucial that these 100 testers are your target audience.2. Eliminate bugs and Device coverage
Before Beta testing your app on platforms like Android you need to ensure you cover majority of the devices and eliminate device specific bugs. Alpha testing with a small number of users can really help you clear out most of the bugs. It is also important to come up with a device coverage plan before you start alpha testing. Device coverage is important for quality assurance of your mobile app.3. Identify goals
Beta testing is your first opportunity to get real feedback from your target customers. It provides a great opportunity to further understand your target market and their needs. Establishing goals of the beta test can help you focus your efforts. These goals will reduce your product launch risk. Define parameters that indicate customer satisfaction and engagement of your app and measure them.
Recruit & Managing Beta testers4. Identify channels for recruiting
If you were able to clearly identify and define your target audience, you will be able to figure out where and how you can find such users. The timing when you pitch your product to the customer is important. Try to identify channels which your customer uses to discuss the problem. These channels to find your target audience need not be scalable during beta testing.5. Be responsive and attentive
Active engagement with your beta testers is very important to keep them interested. You also need to enable your beta testers to communicate with each other so that they feel involved and part of a community. Observing this community and participating can yield patterns that will help you learn about your target audience and their needs. Appstark can help you build and manage your community of beta testers.
Post beta test6. Incentivize active testers
After you launch your app and end your beta testing, you need to incentivize the active users in some way. If you are building a paid app, consider giving your app for free to your most active users. Appstark can help you Identify active users and analyze their activity which can help decide who to reward.7. Analyze results
Reaching your target audience is one of main checks you need to perform before you start analyzing your data. You need to analyze your data to measure your goals in terms of engagement levels, customer satisfaction, finding distribution channels and gathering user stories.
Let us know if you have found some other tips to be useful for beta testing mobile apps in the comments section.
Using feedback from our early adopters we have updated Appstark with some new features to make the experience smoother. We’ve also improved the user interface and navigation.
Here’s what’s new in Appstark
- Notifications and Search
- Cleaner post creation
- Know your users
Notifications and Search
The users can click the notification indicator and know when the admin has replied to their posts.
With the new search field, your users can now search the posts without having to scroll through a whole list of posts.
Easier Post Creation
An important goal of ours’ is to create an amazing user experience. We redesigned the post creation screen to provide a clean and distraction free interface.
Know Your Users
You can now choose to collect your users’ email IDs(opt-in) and we’ll fetch their Klout scores with which you can understand your user demographic better.Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Analytics and data driven product development are crucial for any product development. They are extremely important for mobile apps because they help gather data about app usage and users. Mobile App developers have a wide choice of analytics software in the market today. Some of them are mobile-only like Flurry analytics, Apsalar and Kontangent and others like google analytics and mixpanel offer mobile and web solutions. Even though analytics play an important role in product development for mobile apps, it cannot be data-driven alone. Analytics fall short in the following situations.
Analytics can only tell you ‘what’ is not working not ‘why’
Analytics are great to understand how users are using your app but analytics cannot capture some element of user behavior. You need to directly talk to your customers to understand how they use your application. For example, a to-do app will be used differently by different people. You might be surprised to find out that your app is popular with a segment which you didn’t even know existed. Knowing your customers and talking to them will help you build better and more engaging apps.
Build Measure ‘Learn’
Lean startup advocates process of ‘Build Measure Learn’ for product iterations. Analytics are valuable for the ‘Measure’ stage of product iteration cycle. Learning about your product from your customers plays a crucial role in product development. ‘Learn’ phase of the product iteration cycle includes customer interviews and customer development. This phase helps you understand the data that you have gathered and helps you act on that data.
Analytics will not help on a small scale
Lean startup advocates the principle of failing fast and learning from smaller failures. It also advocates to make sure your failures are on a small scale. The early adopters of your mobile apps will be more forgiving of you than your users in the appstore. Analytics will not help you identify usage patterns when beta testing your mobile apps on a small scale. Although it is on a small scale listening to the feedback from these users is critical to your app development.
Appstark can help mobile app developers communicate better with their users. It helps developers increase app iteration speed by helping them gather feedback faster from their app users.
Please use the comments section to express your views on mobile app analytics
We are releasing Appstark for a few developers today and will gradually start rolling out to others. With this release Appstark brings a lot of features that will help app developers be more productive. Below are some of the reasons you should integrate Appstark today.
1. Communication between app developer and user is broken
Appstark fills a gaping hole in the communication between app developers and users. The Appstore has grown to become the primary channel for users to communicate with the developers. Without a two way communication developers don’t get a chance to solve or explain problems before they become damaging to the app ratings.
2. No support system for apps
Mobile apps today are missing a support system for their users unlike the web where support is readily available. Appstore is increasingly becoming the place where users cry for help. Developers are pointing towards their websites for support but the process is not seamless and taking the user out of app is almost never ideal for engagement and retention.
3. Communal App Building
Appstark builds a community around the app which the developer can use to find out what the users think. This is will help developers assess the magnitude of problems and also help validate feature requests before building.
4. Iteration speed
The faster the developer can generate feedback about the app, the faster he can iterate. Appstark helps speed up the feedback loop by allowing the developer to ask specific and direct questions to the app’s user community.
With the advent of “Mobile first” philosophy, the idea of minimum viable product(MVP) and customer development needs to be extended for mobile apps. The concept of MVP translates differently in the mobile context since, building an MVP on mobile comes with constraints like longer release cycles and needs different tactics for idea validation. The process of customer development is more complicated in mobile than developers are used to on the web.
Some of the problems with customer development and iteration on mobile are
- Iteration speed
- No A/B testing
1. Iteration Speed
Even though the distribution has been taken care of by the platforms. They have also made the process user driven. Contrary to the way developers are used to on the web(‘Release early, release often’), the release process involves the user’s permission and participation. This slows down the iteration process of apps. New technologies like Phonegap/HTML5 are promising a way out of the release problem but we have yet to see the impact in the ecosystem.
Android device fragmentation has become a problem while building your MVP. This is leading to apps being built for iOS first and only when an app sees traction, it is being built and released for android. This problem is more important now than ever before because the android device market share is growing up to be more than iOS devices. Developers are willing to forgo the market numbers in favor of building an MVP faster.
3. No A/B Testing
The ready built infrastructure available for web developers to start A/B testing is virtually non-existent for mobile developers today. Without A/B testing on real users, developers are forced to find other ways to circumvent the existing distribution system and release a different version to different users. Building these different versions is not as easy as it is in the web.
As mobile overtakes other devices to become the primary way people access the web, the trend is to going to change to ‘mobile first’ (or already has! Path) for web companies to roll out products. Although the verdict is still out whether it is mobile web or apps that are going to dominate, we are betting on apps being around for atleast the next half a decade.
Mobile apps whether inside a walled garden or in an open market are facing problems with discovery. We believe it is only going to get worse since appstores have reduced the barrier to entry by taking care of the distribution. The switching costs are not too high for apps being built right now but this is going to change as apps become more compelling (Instagram!). To deliver a great experience on mobile devices developers need to iterate faster than ever and will look for third parties to provide certain core infrastructure (Parse).
We believe that there are still gaps in the infrastructure needed to build great apps and managing them. We are out to fill these gaps for mobile app developers.
We are a two person startup team based out of India currently incubated at The Startup Centre.
You will hear a lot more of us on this blog.