Chris Pitre is a social marketing strategist at Idea where he serves as an in-house maven on social, mobile, and integrated strategies. Chris is also an instructor at the Houston School of Advertising on social media and digital strategy.
When it comes to marketing strategy, research is critical. Marketing research, an unsung hero of the marketing cosmos, tends to be excused, neglected, forgotten, or ignored as concepts move into execution and execution turns into conversation, engagement, or criticism. Why?
Sometimes the cost alone to execute a valid study can blow the budget. In addition, as timelines are getting reduced in order for brands to get consumer attention, taking the time to recruit participants, execute the study, and analyze the results extends beyond, or well into, the go-to-market plan. Or, the findings are stale from the time lapse between executing the study and reporting the findings.
Crowdsourced research can help span that gap by providing timely, detailed results to help marketing strategies at large. Read on for some of the associated advantages and tools to get you started.
The Advantages of Crowdsourcing
While traditional research is proven, scientific, and almost always reliable, there is room in many marketers’ plans for crowdsourced research. It can be a timely addition to the traditional efforts brands employ as it allows some degree of collaboration, control, and continuity to flow between consumers and those brands interested in learning from them.
Whether for agencies, brand marketers, researchers, academia or media companies, crowdsourcing research can provide insights and opinions to the team quicker and cheaper. Crowdsourced research comes from the collective voices of consumers and typically constitutes some form of digital collaboration between a brand and its community.
Traditional research is one-way, where the brand, or presiding organization, has the control and employs rigid, scientific methodologies. Crowdsourced research began with private communities and wikis but has come a long way. Communispace has been helping brands since 2000 when it launched Hallmark’s first private community. Now, monitoring tools, video chat capabilities, social networks and advanced mobile devices makes crowdsourced research easier, cheaper, and quicker to do.
What are the advantages of crowdsourced research?
- Cost-effectiveness –- Comparatively speaking, crowdsourced research can be done at a fraction of the cost of traditional research.
- Quick Turn Around –- The time it takes to gather, execute, and analyze is shorter thanks to a purely digital foundation.
- Flexibility –- As trends emerge in findings, researchers can easily adjust their strategy to catch any shifts or “surprises.”
- Collaboration –- Crowdsourced research allows brands to collaborate easily with customers to ideate or improve upon products, to test concepts, ads, and experiences, and to continue the conversation over a longer term.
- Velocity –- Crowdsourced research can travel at the speed of digital, allowing for real-time consumer behavior analysis and insight for new technologies, memes, trends, and conversations.
- Marketing and Marketing Research –- Even though it’s frowned upon and often times refuted in traditional research, the nature of crowdsourced research implies there will be some form of marketing intertwined as consumers share their stories, insights, and ideas for brands they support.
Crowdsourced research can be very helpful in getting a quick pulse on a strategy, idea, concept, or experience before it’s released to the public. It also can be a great complement to traditional research to validate or re-validate findings after time lapses. For agencies, crowdsourcing research can be a resource saver on new business pitches while still showing the client innovation through research, not just ideas and traditional methodologies. Our agency has saved thousands of dollars, as well as enhanced the final product, by incorporating crowdsourced research into our pitch development process.
Crowdtap, which is still in beta, is a tool that fills the gap between traditional research and digital, and helps with insight gathering, customer empowerment and influence. At my company, we use Crowdtap to augment our research activities, especially when time is of the essence (i.e. new business pitches, client presentations, low-budget projects). Brands and agencies can leverage Crowdtap to target questions (polls, discussion topics, and open-ended queries) to a certain demographic profile subscribed to the tool.
You can view responses in real time, which can allow you to optimize subsequent questions or actions based on those responses. The tool is best for B2C efforts, especially marketers interested in Millennials and moms. B2B marketers will have to be more creative in using the tool. Marketers can sign up at Crowdtap to be notified when it launches publicly.
While it’s not a replacement for traditional methodologies, Crowdtap comes close to providing similar qualitative and quantitative findings to traditional research. In addition, it takes away the burden of providing incentives to participants, as they are rewarded through a unique combination of cash and points. Between 5 and 100% of this cash reward can be donated to a designated charity, with another 5% matched by Crowdtap if donated. The tool can also be used to help organize events or share digital content.
With advancements in digital, brands can (and should) go beyond engagement and drive more intelligence, especially social intelligence, into its marketing efforts. This can be done by employing crowdsourced research as well as using findings to optimize strategies. With so much focus on content and conversation these days, it seems as though research from the crowd is a perfect fit.
More Marketing Resources from Mashable:
– Case Study: How Google Sells Its Free Products
– HOW TO: Create a World-Class Online Community for Your Business
– How Social Data & Mobile Tech Can Improve the Retail Experience
– Making Data Relevant: The New Metrics for Social Marketing
– Why Marketing Threatens the True Promise of Social Media
Image courtesy of Wayne Large