Crowdsourcing for Business

What is Crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing, a term coined by Jeff Howe, is the act of outsourcing traditional business tasks to a large group of people or community (a “crowd”), outside the company (think Wikipedia). Simply put, it is a way of using “crowds” to “source” solutions to your problems.  Crowdsourcing has become popular with businesses because the concept of leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies enables them to vastly expand the size of their talent pool while also gaining deeper insight into what customers really want.

How to Use Crowdsourcing for Business

Over the last couple of years companies have become more aware of the benefits crowdsourcing can bring to their business. Here are some of the main ways businesses are incorporating crowdsourcing into their everyday activities.

Gather Feedback and Ideas

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an easy way to get instant feedback from your consumers on a product you are working on, or even solicit ideas from them directly? Well crowdsourcing offers businesses that possibility with sites like UserVoice, which is a site designed to allow individuals the ability to submit their ideas and vote for the one they like the best. Dell, Starbucks and let’s not forget PepsiCo are all great examples of how companies are using crowdsourcing to gather feedback from their consumer base. Don’t let these big brand names scare you off. Crowdsourcing feedback is a very cost effective option even for the mom and pop shops.

Get Low-Cost, Professional Designs

Sites like 99designs and CrowdSPRING let businesses leverage the power of crowdsourcing for all their design, creative and writing needs. This is especially beneficial for the small business owner who is looking for a professionally designed logo, landing page or marketing brochure, but doesn’t have the big brand budget to spend on a pricey marketing agency. These crowdsourcing design sites allow you to post a design project to thousands of designers. You set a cash prize for the winning design, and the community of designers submit their concepts to you for critique and feedback. You could have hundreds of designs to choose from, ensuring you find the perfect design for your needs.

Have Professionally Written Content Produced

In the same way crowdsourcing is used to get design work completed for a low cost, you can have professionally written content produced at a discounted rate through crowdsourcing as well. Sites like, and have freelance copywriters who can produce content for your company, such as articles, newsletters, blog posts, reports, etc.

Find the Perfect Product Name and Price Point

If you’re launching a new product or service, determining its product name and finding the right price point for it can be an exercise in guesswork. With the power of crowdsourcing though, you can put the task to your consumer audience to see what they think, which could help jumpstart your creative juices. From a pricing standpoint, try asking your audience how much they would pay for your new product or service. Averaging out the submitted price points is a great place to start your pricing research.


Conduct Usability Testing

A decade ago, usability studies cost tens of thousands of dollars and took months to complete. There were 3 standard types of testing: in-house usability testing, QA testing and large-scale surveys. Today, thanks to developments in crowdsourcing which leverages community-based testing, an informative round of usability testing can be carried out in as little as 10 days, and within the budget of start-ups and small businesses. Here is a list of benefits crowdsourcing brings to usability testing:

  • Cost containment
  • Faster time to market
  • Meeting expectations for higher quality


Empowering the user Sourcing High Quality Images for Less

When it comes to creating your website or any marketing collateral’s, it is important that you have good quality images to complement the content of the materials. Many small and medium sized companies don’t have the budget to hire professional photographers to take photos for them, so they must rely on stock photo providers for their images. Some stock photo sites can be quite expensive but sites like iStockphotoand FlickrCreative Commons use the concept of crowdsourcingby where they have a crowd of amateur photographers submit their best photos for purchase at a much more cost effective price than premium images taken by pro photographers.


Crowdsourcing Best Practices Checklist

Be clear on the goal of the project.

When submitting to crowdsourcingdesign sites, you will be asked to submit a creative brief with the project. It is important that you complete this as much as possible and explain to the designer exactly what you are looking for. This will save you from any unnecessary headaches later when you are reviewing submissions.


Ensure communities are driven by credibility

When selecting a community to work on your projects, choose a community that has proven success and exposes the past performance and reputation of community members. Ensure you can leave performance ratings for members as well because this will increase accountability and performance


Set expectations of what you’re looking the crowd to do

Whether you are asking participants to serve as creative inspiration, be the creators and designers or serve as judges, it is important that you are clear up front as to what role you want them to play.


Get your employees involved.

If you are going to run a crowdsourcinginitiative to complete a job that would normally be tasked to your employees, ensure you involve them in the process. It will not only make them more accepting of the feedback, but they can help bring that necessary guidance to the project as well.


Include a reward for participation.

Many of us require some sort of incentive to even get involved with something. Including a draw for a reward for those that participate will help entice people to participate and make them feel more appreciated.


Provide regular feedback.

In addition to providing a clear description of your project, it is important that you provide ongoing feedback to the participants who submit for your project. Many crowdsourcingwebsites encourage feedback from the project submitter to ensure that expectations are clearly communicated. Feedback also helps creators work with you to deliver a project that will meet your expectations.


Assign an internal project manager.

Effective, detailed communication and project management is key to any successful project. This is true in managing in-house resources or outsourced partners, and crowdsourcingis no exception. So assign an internal project owner to keep the information flowing and manage the process.


Crowdsourcing Tools and Resources:

  • A website dedicated to everything and anything crowdsourcingand crowdfunding –
  • 99designs: A crowdsourcingsite dedicated to providing businesses with design crowdsourcingoptions –
  • CrowdSPRING: Similar to 99designs, CrowdSPRINGis a crowdsourcingsite dedicated to design options like logo design, web design, and writing projects –
  • Namethis: A way of creating a 48-hour contest to find a brand name for your venture –
  • Chaordix: An enterprise platform for people who want to engage the crowd via the web to “submit, discuss, refine and rank ideas or other contributions” in order to figure out “the most-likely-to-succeed solutions” –
  • Kluster: Allows you to harness and manage your hand-picked crowd for brainstorming ideas –
  • Poptent: A crowdsourcingwebsite that allows you to get feedback from a user base on your advertising campaigns –
  • Redesignme: A platform where communities and companies collaborate on new/revamped products and services –
  • uTest: Community of QA professionals that you can have conduct online testing for your web, mobile, gaming and desktop apps –
  • FlickrCreative Commons: Website that provides you access to millions of high quality images that can be used with appropriate credits. A great alternative to purchasing images from a stock photography site –

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Richard Coen

With over 21 years of experience in Digital Marketing, 31 years in sales and 25 years in business development, Richard assists companies to develop key growth strategies on a local or international basis. He can assist marketers to achieve balance in their approach to key areas affected by the growth in digital marketing.