March 31, 2023 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Marketing data comes from a variety of sources. From your internal testing to analytics programs, marketers have seemingly unlimited options from where they can choose to source information about their audience and their response to marketing campaigns. Crowdsourcing is one of these available data channels. Today, we’re looking at different ways to collect crowdsource data and how to apply that information to your marketing campaigns:
Crowdsource marketing is a data collection strategy that allows you to learn more about your audience through their own words and observations. Companies often use crowdsource marketing to learn more about what their prospective leads, audience members, or current customers and clients want from their relationships with the brand. Most crowdsource marketing involves collecting qualitative feedback about someone’s opinions or experiences dealing with your company, products, or services. The more your company learns about its audience interactions, the more targeted you can be with your marketing campaigns.
There are many ways your marketing team can collect information through crowdsourcing. Some of the most common take place on your digital channels such as your website, social media, or email communications. Other crowdsourcing opportunities take place in person when members of your marketing team meet with select members of your audience to get more information from them. Some of the ways your team may crowdsource data include:
Beta testing is a process that occurs before the launch of a product or service. It’s most commonly used for software or tech product launches. During beta testing, a group of qualified testers uses the unreleased software or product as they would in their daily lives. These people may be coders or technology professionals who try to “break” the product or hack the code to find flaws in the design. They also look at the user experience of the product or program and its intuitiveness for other users at different skill levels.
Beta testing may also take place before the launch of a program or software update. This allows a group of current users that opt into the test to provide feedback about new features before they go live to the entire world.
Companies may ask audience members for content submissions as a form of crowdsourcing. This is a popular social media strategy for companies to collect user-generated content. Brands ask their followers to share photos or videos of them using their products or taking advantage of their services. Then, the companies like, share, or otherwise use this content to learn more about their audience. They also use submissions to supplement internal content marketing materials.
Companies may disguise crowdsourcing as games or contests to learn more about how an audience perceives a product or service. If you’ve ever seen a brand run a contest like “name our new ice cream flavor,” or “pick our next color of nail polish,” you’ve seen a crowdsourcing campaign. These contests often give the audience guidelines for how to choose their responses. They may also ask for explanations as to why the audience choose the particular name, color, or flavor they submitted.
This type of crowdsourcing helps a company understand what people think or expect when they encounter a particular product or service. For example, an ice cream company that wants to name a new mint flavor may receive name submissions like “Hulk Smash” because, to children, it’s the same color as the Incredible Hulk. Companies make this type of crowdsourcing beneficial for audience members, too. They often pick a winning submission that includes naming rights or some kind of notoriety for suggesting or choosing the “best” option for the product or service.
Crowdfunding is the process of collecting small donations from many sources to fund a business venture or a product. While the primary goal, especially for entrepreneurs and startups, is to earn enough money to start your business or make your product, this practice is also crowdsourcing. How? Let’s look at Kickstarter as an example.
The Kickstarter donation platform allows anyone—from individuals to large corporations—to donate money to fund creative projects they want to see get made. It supports content projects in a variety of areas from games, film, music, publishing, and even food. People can donate money to specific projects but they can also upvote and share their favorites to get more donations and bring that project to life. That’s where the crowdsourcing angle comes in.
If you start a crowdfunding campaign for a new project or service and you don’t get any donations or online buzz about the campaign, that tells you all you need to know about its future success. But if you start to see donations pouring in from different sources, and they want updates about development and launch, then you’ve got a winner.
Market research is one of the oldest and most common ways to crowdsource for marketing. It often uses focus groups to conduct interviews and tests for tangible products or services the way beta testing does for software programs. During these focus groups, audience members share their opinions about products and services in a variety of categories, like appeal, functionality, and usability. The information from these focus groups helps research and development departments change a product’s function or design. It also helps marketers and advertisers understand the best features to focus on when promoting the product or service.
Many brands use polls and questionnaires to crowdsource information for decisions about products, services, or updates. For example, a band that’s releasing a new album may create a poll on social media to ask fans which song they should release as the next single. This type of crowdsourcing helps you learn what the majority of your audience likes or wants to see from your brand.
Asking your audience to rate a product, service, or experience is a very simple way to engage in crowdsourcing. While this method might not provide as much data for your team as more qualitative methods, it’s still useful. Rating scales can tell you if your audience is satisfied with a product or service. If you ask for additional information, they can also tell you why they’re satisfied or dissatisfied with an expanded explanation.
Reviews are a crowdsourcing technique that allows your audience to scrutinize a brand or product in detail. Review options often accompany a rating scale and allow your audience to explain more about why they like or dislike an aspect of your company. While you can prompt your audience for reviews on your website or eCommerce store, platforms like Google My Business and Yelp also offer review options. Be sure to check all these channels for crowdsourcing data to get the most accurate information from the largest audience possible.
Many audience members or followers often participate in crowdsourcing without prompting on social media. They may share their opinions about content you’ve developed related to your products or services. Through social listening, market researchers can find mentions of their brands, products, and services across a social platform. From there, they can group and analyze the data to find correlations among different audience segments regarding a specific area of business.
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