Marketing technology — it’s better with beta

Last week we talked about the swift rise of the popular mobile app Snapchat, and the fact that its poised to either significantly increase its revenue or lose out big-time, depending on how it treats its existing users and maintains their experience as it branches into advertising sales.

If you’re thinking that your company’s marketing plan could use a mobile element (and that’s usually true), or you want to develop and sell a mobile app, you should definitely consider the plan that happens before the plan. That is, before you’ve got a mobile product or presence you’re ready to share with your established clientele, you’ll want to see how it’s received and how you can tailor it to their exact preferences for interaction.

Studies show that users may give a new app a try once, or possibly twice, but then they’re not going to use it if it’s hard to use or buggy. That’s why releasing a beta version (especially a free version) matters so much. You want to get your technology into the hands of the people who will be using it, without letting them lose faith in it before you’ve even worked out the kinks. And you want to survey those test subjects to learn about their experience and how they’d like to see the product improved. (Plus, it helps to ask for a few basic morsels of information about the user so that you can start tailoring the experience to certain groups.)

Not only is one-way commentary useful (comments and reviews are common fixtures on mobile apps and hugely impact the way others will see the product), but finding a way to actually engage your beta test group may also prove valuable, so that you can learn if you actually addressed and resolved the issues they presented. Plus, nothing makes a person happier than seeing a friendly update saying that a feature that was giving them issues has been fixed. That means you’ve been listening, and users love to know that their voices are being heard.

And beta testers get something out of the arrangement, too. Not only do they get the product for free, but they’re also the first to know about it. For many technophiles, this is a huge bonus in a world that frequently rewards the first-to-know. Then, when it hits the market, they’re the ones with the best insight about how to make the most of the mobile component. (But, let’s be real, it’s mostly just for the bragging rights — and some free software.)

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