An Intro to Crowdsourcing as a Highly Effective Product and Marketing Tool

What do Coca-Cola, Google and 23andMe all have in common?  These leading companies are all turning to crowdsourcing as a tool for marketing and product development.

In this digital age, it’s easier than ever to connect with your prospective customers and tap into their collective knowledge. The savviest companies are using crowdsourcing to engage customers, solve problems and innovate on their products.

 

Wait, what even is crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing, in its broadest definition, is the practice of turning to internet users (the crowd) to provide (source) services or ideas.  In recent years, big name companies have begun using crowdsourcing to shape their practices.  

Examples of crowdsourcing include:

  • Content Creation Campaigns: A request for user-generated content around a specific theme.

  • Opinions/Feedback: Asking the crowd to provide insights and feedback

  • Ideation Competitions: An open call for ideas around a specific theme or need.

  • “Solve for” Challenges: A call for solutions to a specific problem.  “Solve for” Challenges  have a more focused problem than an Ideation Challenge.

  • Crowdfunding: Pitching a potential product or service in hopes of microfunding from the crowd.

 

Do you mean like a focus group?

While the idea of looking to customers for feedback and ideas has long existed, traditional focus groups fall short in a number of ways. They are expensive, time intensive and often require heavy administration including recruitment, scheduling and moderation, for even a small sample of customers. Within a focus group there’s the potential for certain participants to dominate the conversation and bias the other participants, thus skewing the entire session.

Crowdsourcing, on the other hand, offers incredible flexibility and control. Various web platforms now specialize in crowdsourcing, offering an array of functionality to take the administrative burden off your company.  Through the internet,  you reach a much larger, more diverse population, without the risk of your participants influencing each other. Because crowdsourcing is less expensive than focus groups, more people can participate in the process at a fraction of the cost.  

 

When’s the right time to crowdsource?

If you’re looking to:

  • Get quick results: With a seemingly endless supply of crowd, you can get feedback faster than from consultants who are balancing other clients, or traditional focus groups that take a long time to organize.

  • Save money: Crowdsourcing provides financial flexibility - no contracts required, and you only pay for what you need, and sometimes not at all.

  • Get a fresh perspective:  Tunnel vision in product development is real, and can lead you down a rabbit hole. If you need a gut-check, turn to the crowd to set you straight.

  • Explore more options: Similarly, if you are tapped out of ideas and not thrilled about any of them, engage with the crowd.  They will ask questions, offer suggestions and give feedback that will illuminate new product pathways.

  • Create publicity: Who doesn’t like some buzz? Crowdsourcing campaigns serve a dual-purpose of soliciting engagement while publicizing your organization.

 

How have other companies used crowdsourcing?

Here’s how some of the biggest names are using crowdsourcing for serious impact:

In 2015, Coca-Cola ran the “Coca-Cola China Print Ad” crowdsourcing campaign in China to gather marketing inspiration. The campaign was an open call for people to submit creative print ads aimed at those craving a coke. Winners received a cash prize, and Coca-Cola gained unique content and valuable insights on how their consumers view their product.

Google took crowdsourcing a step further, using the tool to tackle a problem their own staff could not. Their “Little Box Challenge” aimed to reduce the size of a power inverter, a picnic cooler-sized device, down to the size of a laptop. Open to all, Google offered a $1 million prize to the winner. In 2016, Google announced that CE+T Power’s Red Electrical Devils has won the challenge - proving again how mutually beneficially crowdsourcing can be.  

23andMe is a company that’s entire model is built on crowdsourcing  Users provide their DNA via spit swab, and 23andMe provides genetic analysis. Customers are also given surveys about their medical history in exchange for additional insights. Through this model, 23andMe has built an impressive repository of DNA and medical data. With more than 450,000 customer samples, they are able to conduct research at a scale unreachable by traditional academic medical centers and are publishing their findings.

At WEVO, we use crowdsourcing paired with machine learning to predict landing page performance. By turning to the wisdom of the crowd, we ensure that our clients build websites optimized for their target demographics, while saving them considerable development resources. We’ve seen first-hand the benefits that crowdsourcing can have for our marketing clients. To learn more about WEVO, you can reach us at success@wevoconversion.com.

How are you leveraging crowdsourcing within your organization? What crowdsourcing practices have you seen to be effective?

Interested in learning more about WEVO? Grab 15 minutes on our calendar.