How (and Why) to Beta Test Your Online Courses

If you're planning to create an online course there's one thing you must do: a beta test. Why? Because beta testing is the simplest way to find out if your course delivers results and for you to gather feedback.

But maybe you're wondering HOW to do a beta test? Cool. I'll answer that. But first, let's talk about what a beta test is.

What is a beta test?

A beta test (or beta run) is an early test run of your online course before you launch it to the general public. You may have also heard it described as a private beta. Successful course creators do these, but you'll also find them in the SaaS world too. Beta testing works great for just about any product.

Should your beta be free?

Okay, let's get one thing out of the way: your beta can be free or paid. There’s no hard rule that you have to make your beta free. However, it is a good idea to make it free to a small group of people if it's your first run of the course.

Tip: If you offer free access to your course, just remember to give a feedback deadline and incentive for completing the course.

Who Should Beta Test Their Online Course?

Every online course creator should beta test their product, but especially:

  • Course creators who need to get testimonials for their public launch 
  • Course creators who want to get feedback on their content before launching to their audience
  • Course creators who want to minimize support requests

Which takes me to benefits...

Why bother beta testing your course?

you get Feedback

Beta testing will give you the opportunity to gather feedback, test your course's user experience and find out if your course delivers the results you promise. 

you get Testimonials

Beta tests are also a great way to get testimonials for that sales page when you launch publicly. And we all know social proof makes a difference when it comes to sales.

If you’re a new course creator, you may not have any testimonials for your online course. By giving a small number of people free or significantly reduced access in exchange for a testimonial, you can overcome that problem. 

you find Support Traps

One last benefit is the ability to identify potential support issues in your course.

For example, if there's something that's unclear and you get a lot of emails about it during the beta, you'll be able to fix it before you release your course to the public--and avoid hundreds of emails about the same issue. 

So those are some benefits of running a beta. Here are a few tips to make your beta test run smoothly.

3 tips for running your beta test

#1 Be transparent

Tell people they’re in a beta and let them know what they’re getting in exchange for being part of it.

#2 Offer reduced pricing

If you charge for your beta, it should be a fraction of the full price you plan to charge for your course. Generally, I've seen paid beta courses at 15 - 50% off.

Again, there's no hard rule. It's your call. And remember, you can offer access for free. Whatever you do, be transparent. 

If you plan to raise the price of your course after the beta (which you should, because you’ve tested and improved the course) let people know the price will go up. If anything, it’s incentive for signing up and completing the beta. 

#3 You can run more than one beta test

When I spoke with Paul Jarvis in episode 045 of The Zen Courses Show we talked in depth about his practice of running two beta tests.

He starts with a small group, then opens it up to a larger group from his audience. This is a great strategy.

Personally, my first beta is to have my mastermind group go through my course for free. For my second beta, I offer the course for a low fee and give testers free access to the next version of the course.

Still have questions about beta testing?

Want to learn the exact steps I use to beta test my courses? Not sure how a beta differs from a pre-sale? Need help creating a waitlist for your beta?

Lucky for you, I cover all of that in my latest course, Jumpstart Your Course. In addition to learning how to setup your beta test, you’ll also learn how to validate, pre-sell, and design your online course. 

Click here to sign up for Jumpstart.

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