Friday, April 29, 2011

Start-Up Watch COD: Crowdtap makes influential people available to brands on demand

We all understand the value of consumer feedback for marketing ideas. By involving consumers at various stages of products and marketing program development, we can drive better results and a more efficient use of resources.

Of course, market research has been around for decades, and has helped brands get in better touch with how to meet consumer needs. But the costs, time, and complexity of developing and fielding traditional research studies make many companies decide to “wing it” instead of seeking feedback. The results often aren’t pretty.

Getting connected to consumers is even more important these days, because consumers play a much larger role in shaping the brand identities we work on. How can we get crucial feedback while also addressing some of the problems of the traditional market research process?

Crowdtap is a...hmm…how do I describe it? Social services company? Social research technology platform? The challenge is that it’s a whole lotta things. It’s a combination research sample/brand participation community/crowdsourced marketing/influencer marketing platform. Essentially they have recruited an energized and enthusiastic community, profiled them minutely, and made it easy for marketers to access them for a variety of purposes.

The profiling enables Crowdtap to give marketers REAL TIME access to populations within their target audiences. In addition to simply asking respondents questions, Crowdtap analyzes the content of their FaceBook pages to determine interests and eligibility for other marketing programs through which they can earn money,

In exchange, community participants get virtual rewards as well as cold hard cash for participating. When they reach a $10 earning threshold, they can take the money in the form of a gift card. In addition, five percent of their earnings are given to charity.

Another interesting layer for Crowdtap is a points system through which you earn badges and can participate in more activities. This adds a fun game mechanics dimension to the platform.

Here’s an interview of the CEO, from Served Fresh Media.

Crowdtap describes its value prop in terms of two key marketer needs:

Insight: The platform and community can provide real time research into virtually any question a marketer might have – about a product, about media, even a campaign. They offer multiple service levels, from a free version with limited capabilities for small business to larger versions geared to enterprise. Charges are based upon cost per action, so they relate to how many people you want in your sample. But the charges are quite reasonable, especially if you typically use conventional market research methods to communicate with customers and prospects. The platform includes multiple choice polls, open ends, and real time discussions with one or more respondents at once.The company can also establish “brand crowds” for more long term participation by respondents.
Influence: Crowdtap also offers brands peer-to-peer marketing opportunities by mobilizing individuals with high influence to communicate your product story to their social graphs. Influencers spread the word about brands in a variety of ways. Crowdtap can connect them to sharable/embeddable content that they can distribute across their social presences. Alternatively, they offer a sampling program that helps companies collect feedback about products and services quickly and easily. Third, they offer a program through which influencers host house parties in support of a brand.
One interesting use of this platform has been as a tool to help agencies gauge consumer reaction to creative concepts. Certainly the affordability of this solution makes it appealing to agencies.

CrowdTap is one of a growing number of start-ups that are causing genuine disruption in the market research world. Based upon the buzz they are getting, the disruption that this particular company is driving is very positive indeed.

Thanks to ad:tech for publishing this first!

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