How is crowdsourcing used in digital marketing?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - crowdsourcing

In a highly connected world, brands and their audiences are communicating instantly and across multiple touchpoints. The importance of client relationships and transparency has changed the customer’s role in commercial society. They are now stakeholders to the brand, and have an influence on whether brand messages proliferate or not. Crowdsourcing is one way of including audience members in the shaping of the brand, and digital marketing is one way to get the most input possible. Here’s a definition of crowdsourcing as well as how it enhances the brand and its marketing message:

Crowdsourcing defined:

The name kind of gives it away. Crowdsourcing is when companies or other organisations reach out to a large number of people for support. Sometimes brands need initial funding to kick-start their concept, while other times established brands reach out to their audiences for feedback regarding brand identity, marketing and advertising. Who better to request advice from than those who have a stake in your success? There are three types of crowdsourcing projects:

  1. Crowdfunding

This variety of crowdsourcing is largely used by companies who require cash injections to develop projects, products, and services. This is common in the gaming industry, a prime example being Elite: Dangerous. NGOs use crowdfunding to raise support for humanitarian projects, and even individual people use smaller-scale crowdfunding projects to help with medical bills, legal fees, bail, etc.

  1. Crowdcontests

The best way to plot a path to develop a new product, service or brand is to get input from your target audiences. They are the ones who will procure it, so it makes sense to have their take on things. Crowdcontests involve brands inviting people to compete in a contest of creativity, like designing new product packaging or coming up with a new logo.


  1. Microtasking

Imagine having to caption and ALT tag 5 000 images. While these image elements are good for SEO, so you really should have them done, you don’t necessarily have to do them all yourself. Microtasking involves approaching a large audience of people to do small things, like adding ALT tags and captions to images, and paying them for their efforts.

Marketing & crowdsourcing

Marketing is there to promote things for a brand, and will spread the promotion or advert to the largest accessible audience. After all, if nobody sees your crowdsourcing plea, what’s the point? Brands can expect to achieve the following outcomes when leveraging crowdsourcing in the marketing mix:

  • Gives people a cause

The modern consumer wants a cause to align themselves with; something to give their lives purpose, so that they feel like they’re making a difference. Crowdsourcing can be used to draw attention to the causes brands are contributing to, and thereby establishing important common ground between them and their stakeholders.


  • Drives brand awareness

A brand’s core followers are likely to contribute to crowdsourcing projects, but what about people who aren’t aligned with the brand (or who have never heard of it)? Online crowdsourcing platforms are highly sharable, and participants will likely share the initiative with their networks on social media. This serves to increase brand awareness amongst the general public.


  • Improves relations

Relationship marketing is essential in today’s society, as more people demand personal connections with the brands they’re aligned with. Crowdsourcing involves companies and their stakeholders working together towards a common goal, which breeds familiarity and improved relations overall.


  • Builds the audience

An unintended by-product of crowdsourcing projects is that a marketing department’s database of opted-in customers grows. If brands gather information in order to notify crowdsourcing contributors regarding the state of the project, they can grow their direct marketing audience pool for future similar campaigns.

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