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Beta Testing 101: A Guide for Businesses to Validate and Improve Products

Discover what beta testing is and how it can help businesses validate and improve their products before they reach consumers.

Testing your products before they go to market can help you identify major issues and bugs that affect the user experience. Beta testing enables brands to learn how customers use their products and test them in real settings before products become publicly available.

If you run a software development company or develop games or apps for your business, you should always conduct beta testing to ensure your product works properly and can help you achieve your objectives.

But what is beta testing, and how can it improve your business’s products and services?

Beta tests are a component of software development that validates and improves products before they reach consumers. Keep reading to learn more about beta testing and how it works.

Beta tests are part of the software development process or product management framework in which end users test the app or software before it launches for public use.

Through beta testing, a development team can understand whether their product is viable and improve any bugs based on user feedback. When you create a product strategy for an app, website, or software, it should always include beta testing.

When users test the product, they provide feedback that can help improve it before it gets released to the public. At the same time, beta testing validates the need for a product. Hearing end users tell you your product is a success validates it and gives you the confidence you need to launch.

Difference between beta testing and alpha testing

Software testing a product before it's available to the public is crucial because it helps you identify and address issues. The development process has two types of testing: alpha testing vs. beta testing.

Alpha testing comes first and uses an internal testing team. This initial testing phase validates the features and functionalities of software or applications.

When developing software, you have an internal team that conducts tests to make sure the features work properly. Then, once alpha tests are complete and any issues are resolved, you move on to beta testing, which focuses on how the product is used.

Beta testing is similar to usability testing. However, instead of measuring how easy a product is to use, it determines if/how people will use it.

Where alpha testing aims to test an app's functionality, beta testing tests the validity and reliability of the product. While eliminating either alpha or beta testing might seem more cost and time efficient, both serve different purposes. For instance, you might use alpha and beta API testing to ensure the software is working as intended.

Alpha testing is more efficient because the product is still in development so you can quickly resolve issues. Resolving issues after beta testing can be more time-consuming because the app is technically completed.

Types of beta testing

There are three types of beta testing, all of which can be used to improve applications and software before they're publicly available.

Closed beta testing

Closed beta tests allow you to release the software to a select group of end users to test its features. Many application developers use this type of testing because there's a limited number of testers, so user feedback is easier to manage.

Unfortunately, closed beta testing also means that there's less feedback. This means that when the product is finally released, users may find other problems you'll have to resolve as quickly as possible.

Open beta testing

Open beta testing is open, meaning there's no limit on the number of testers used. Instead, it's completely open to the public.

Open beta testing is typically performed when users already have software and developers are designing an update, allowing them to collect feedback while the product is still in development.

Focused beta testing

Focused beta testing can be open or closed and exists only to get feedback on a specific feature or functionality of an application. For example, if you're testing a marketplace app, focused beta testing might focus on the checkout process.

Focused beta testing is typically used with existing software when new features are added or released. Users will still have access to the software, but a new feature might be added, allowing them to use the beta version.

When should you conduct beta testing?

In general, beta testing happens after issues from alpha testing are resolved because it allows you to gain feedback from end users directly. However, there are other circumstances when you might conduct beta testing, such as:

Collecting data about users

You can conduct beta testing to collect data about users to help you effectively target your products. During beta testing, you can gather qualitative and quantitative data about your users, their usage patterns, behaviors, and so forth.

Testing new features

Beta testing doesn't end when your product becomes publicly available. Instead, you might want to improve your product by adding new features. Any time you add new features to an application, you can use beta testing to gather feedback and improve upon it.

Determining deadlines

Businesses can perform beta testing to determine when to push your application live and make it publicly accessible. If the product is likely to have bugs, you can use beta testing to gather feedback and determine how long it will take to resolve the issues before it can be released to end users.

Validating new products

Beta tests should always be done to validate new applications and software before you put them on the market. Is there a need for your software? Beta testing can tell you how likely apps are to be downloaded by your target market.

For instance, you might create an app to supplement your financial trading software. Beta testing helps you determine whether customers would use the app before you spend any more time or money on it.

Beta testing can also be used to help you determine how to price your products based on customer feedback. After beta testing, you can ask users to fill out a survey about the likelihood of them purchasing it for a specific price.

The beta testing process requires developers and end-users to work together. While end-users only have to test the software by using it, developers must learn from their feedback and make improvements that increase customer satisfaction.

The beta test phase consists of five important steps:


You should determine which type of beta tests to perform based on how many people you want to involve. A closed approach works best if you're unsure how many hidden bugs your application has.

However, you could also plan both a closed and open beta test. Once all bugs from closed beta testing are resolved, you can move on to open beta testing to get feedback from more end users.

You should also determine how long to run your beta test. Beta testing can range from two to six weeks or more, depending on your product. What's most important is giving end-users enough time to identify and report bugs.


After determining the type of beta testing you want to use and how many users you need, you can start recruiting beta testers. If you're performing beta testing on a new feature of a program, you already have testers available to you — your existing customers.

However, if you've created a brand new product, you can use existing customers as your beta testers or use paid beta testing sites to gather participants.


Beta launching is the process of distributing the product to beta testers. Since beta testers are responsible for identifying issues with your application, it's crucial to motivate them. The easiest way to make the experience as easy as possible is to send them to a link where they can download the beta test and begin using the application.

You should also set expectations for testers by telling them the type of feedback you're expecting and how they can provide that feedback.

Analyzing results

After beta testing is complete, you should have collected feedback from each user. Take the time to go through each piece of feedback and prioritize issues. Responding to feedback quickly allows the data testers to continue to use the application or software and report more bugs.

Finalizing the product

After the beta testing phase is complete, you can finalize the product. Your beta testing period shouldn't go on forever. Instead, give beta testers several weeks to use the product and report issues they experience. Then, you can send beta testing once all those issues are resolved. You can close the testing phase and finalize the product once feedback stops coming in.

Best practices for beta testing

Beta testing apps and software can be a complicated process for small businesses. If you're developing an app, skipping the beta testing process may seem like a faster way to go to market. However, it leaves you open to bugs and an overall poor user experience.

Follow these best practices to streamline the beta testing process and ensure it helps you improve your app or software.

  • Set objectives: What do you want beta tests to accomplish? Setting objectives before testing can help you prioritize feedback and help you determine whether a product is ready to go to market.
  • Perform market research: Determining your ideal end user can help you choose beta testers wisely. Ultimately, you want beta testers to be your end users so they can provide you with key insights into how they'll use your app.
  • Set expectations with testers: Beta testers should understand the requirements. You should send them a plan with a deadline for when their feedback must be submitted.
  • Offer incentives: More beta testers mean more opportunities to improve your product. Unfortunately, not many people are willing to work for free. Since your beta testers need to be within the same target audience as your end users, you may need to offer incentives to give them a reason to test your new product or features.

Beta testing ensures there's a market and need for your product while helping you identify and eliminate bugs that can affect user experience. Beta testing is typically used in software and app development, but it can also be used to improve your marketing efforts.

With the right beta testing plan, you can test different marketing messages and get customer feedback. Using Mailchimp's suite of marketing tools, you can uncover actionable insights to improve product development and overall business performance.

With Mailchimp, you can run A/B tests on email campaigns, gather customer feedback in surveys, and create a better website to lead your business to success.

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