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Benefits of Beta Testing Your Membership or Course

Launching a membership or an online course is an exciting time in your business. It is also more than a little nerve-wracking, likely causing you more than one sleepless night.

This is your baby. You put your heart and soul into this project and not just a little time and money. Before opening the door and crossing your fingers and hoping it all will work, you should “test the waters” first.

By “testing the waters” we mean to run a beta test. A beta test can be a great way of ensuring that you launch the best possible version of your site. Not to mention, reduce the stress associated with launching a new platform.

Benefits Of A Beta Test

When building a membership or a course it’s easy to become caught up in developing the design and creating the content that you forget about how your members will use and experience it. The way you are designing the layout and functionality may make sense to you, however, it may not be as obvious to your users.

Functional Feedback

Having your users test out all the functions on your site and all of its features can highlight any areas that are not working as designed – before it’s too late to change them.  A few areas of functionality that are good to test are:

  • Onboarding
  • Login / Logout
  • Navigation
  • Links
  • How and when content is presented
  • Accessing content

Whatever the results of your beta testing, we guarantee that identifying issues now will save you a lot of time in user support later on!

Content Feedback

You’ve spent a long time creating your membership content I’m sure and it can be easy to become quite attached to it. However, a user can often see things that we might have missed, or simply not thought of.

So, as part of your beta, you want your members to actually consume your content and give you honest feedback on it.

  • Is the content clear?  Is it presented in a logical order?  Does it provide the outcomes you promised?
  • Is the actual content itself easy to understand? Does it proceed at a pace that is easy to consume?
  • Is the content provided in multiple ways to address different learning styles?

Gather Testimonials

You already know that social proof is crucial to selling your membership or course.  But how do you get it – aka testimonials – for a product that no-one has seen?  Yep, those beta testers!  Require that your beta testers provide you with a testimonial for your site – they will make a  big difference on your sales page.

Bug Fixes

Tech can be awesome – when it works.  Sometimes, despite our best efforts, things don’t work quite the way we intended.  As with anything tech-related, bugs are a very real possibility when setting up something as “complicated” as a membership or course site.

Of course, you have tested before turning your beta testers loose on the site.  chances are however, there is something – a link, a password reset, a spelling error – that was overlooked.  A beta test will help find anything you overlooked – before you open the door.

Build Community

One thing many site owners worry about when starting a membership or online course is the sound of crickets in their community.  It is tough to build community and get the engagement going when you first launch.  Your beta testers can be key in getting the conversation started.  They have a head start on the content, and they have navigated the site already.

You may want to have them use the forum (assuming you have one), so that when you launch your community already has some interaction and engagement, making it much more welcoming to your new members.

Build some loyalty with these members as they will take ownership of being a founding beta member of your membership site.

What To Consider For Your Beta Test

Will Your Beta Test be Free or Paid?

You may initially think that a beta test should be free.  After all, you are asking them to “work” for you.  However, it is commonly known that people will often place less value on free, whereas if there is a payment involved it provides added incentive to actually make use of and engage with the content.

So typically we recommend a paid beta – even if it is a reduced fee in exchange for their efforts and feedback.

How Long Will Your Beta Test Last?

There is no right or wrong answer to this.  Your beta test can be as long or as short as you want and will depend on the level of testing and the amount of content you are asking them to consume.  If your content is provided all at once you will need less time for your beta than if your content is dripped out over time.

Keep in mind that they need to be motivated so if the testing drags on and is over-complicated, you will not get the feedback you need.

Typically we suggest 2 – 4 weeks with all feedback being received by the end of the beta test.

Where Will You Find Beta Testers?

The first thing is to be clear on who your target audience is for your membership site. Having your Mom or your spouse a beta test may seem like a win, but their feedback may not be impartial or provide a great deal of value.

If you already have a group of engaged and trusted people in your community, a few of them could be ideal to use for your beta testers. If you have peers, mentors or a coach, including one of them would provide you with feedback from someone who may not be as familiar with your content.

Or you could send out an open invite, allowing anyone who wants to sign up, until a certain number of members has been reached. This approach should only really be used for a paid test.

Whichever option you choose, remember that you want to ensure that your beta members are your (or very closely related to your) target audience.

How Will You Structure Your Beta Test?

To get the most out of your beta test you are going to need some structure.

Firstly, you will want some general feedback.  What did they like and what did they not like?  Was there anything that didn’t make sense?  Were there things they could not find?  What would have made their overall experience better?

You also want to have specific functions tested.  You can break these up and assign them to different beta testers or you can have them all test the same thing.   Also, consider how you will collect the feedback.  You could create an online for in Google, or send them an email that they respond to.

Ensure that your beta members are aware that they are getting in on the ground floor and that you want them to test everything and provide honest feedback on all their experiences.  We also recommend making it a condition of their continued membership that they complete any feedback requests.

Don’t be disappointed with any feedback that you receive – take it in the spirit that it was given.  The whole point of a beta test is to help you iron out any the kinks before you open the doors to a wider audience.

What Happens After The Beta Test?

After the beta test ends, you will want enough time to address the issues brought forward before you head into your launch.  Generally, 2 weeks should be enough to make a few changes and then test once more before the launch.  Once your launch starts, you do not want to have your focus split between your launch and tweaking your site.

Depending on what you negotiated with your beta testers, they will continue in your membership/course site.  If your content is dripped out, you may want to think about “resetting” their access so that they progress through the content along with the other members.


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