Crowdsourcing is one of the hallmarks of Web 2.0. Even though it might fail, as we know from all the times someone just edited Wikipedia to serve their own agenda, it can still help businesses no matter their size. Some websites allow you to crowdsource anything from logos to interior design and architecture.

This gives you the chance to tap into public knowledge for many purposes. In this article, we'll show you how this applies to eCommerce businesses and how you can use this to your benefit.

Remember, Platformly now integrates natively with WooCommerce, so you can use Platformly to email the new contacts you'll get using the techniques we mention below and reap the benefits for your eCommerce business. πŸ›οΈ

If you're afraid of crowdsourcing anything for your business, you should know you're always in control. If you crowdsource a design, you get to pick your favorite. But the real beauty of crowdsourcing for eCommerce purposes, if you do it right, is that it creates an opportunity for you to collect email addresses from people who are genuinely interested in your products or services.

1st Idea: Looking for New Product Names

This is a great way to add new contacts to your mailing list with very few resources. Using crowdsourcing to name a new product is not only going to help you grow your contact list, but it will also:

  • encourage social interaction with your brand;
  • let you know your customer favorites among your products;
  • increase engagement among your customers.

A lot of companies already crowdsource new product names and ideas, but they forget to use that opportunity to collect email addresses, letting all the effort die in social media. As nice as social engagement is for your brand, getting direct access to your customers via email is a lot more effective when it comes to generating actual sales. πŸ’΅

You probably already knew this, but studies have shown that email generates $42 for every $1 invested. Also, there's a common saying that “money is in the list“.

We've mentioned that ourselves and this saying, while probably as old as marketing itself, still stands. We would just change it a bit: money is in the relationship you have with your list. But we'll talk about that soon enough.

Let's say you run a contest to name one new product which you are about to launch. Ideally, you would offer an incentive, like a gift card or a voucher to spend in your eCommerce store. That's a small price to pay for what could potentially be thousands of new email contacts in your list if your contest is well-publicized and well done.


For it to work, you need to have a form for submissions in which you collect names and email addresses. The gift card or other benefit you're offering provides the incentive for customers to participate in the contest, and you're going to want to communicate with the winner via email and state it clearly – this will make the participants willing to share their actual email address with you and avoid misspellings and fake addresses.

Platformly allows you to create a form in which you'll collect your customers' ideas and contacts.

However, there are a few mistakes you'll want to avoid to make this idea work.

Using the Wrong Incentive

Let's imagine your eCommerce store sells novelty socks. So, you design a contest to name a new collection of tropical inspiration socks, and as an incentive, you give out an expensive, top-of-the-range, mobile phone. Right? Wrong. If you use the wrong incentive, you'll attract a lot of contest-addicts who are only in it for the mobile phone.

Mobile Phone

It seems like it wouldn't be an issue since you're getting plenty of contacts anyway. The thing is, are all these new contacts that you have gotten interested in novelty socks? Most likely not. Offering the wrong incentive attracts the wrong people to your contact list. πŸ™…β€β™‚οΈ

What is the solution in this case? If you sell novelty socks, that's what you should offer as an incentive. The same thing applies to any product or service your brand sells. Getting a lot of email addresses shouldn't distract you from the real goal: sales. If your contact list is not interested in what you have to sell, it's very unlikely that you're going to score many sales from it.

On another note, people who are only after the prize will just ignore any other emails they get from you with sales and special discounts, or unsubscribe altogether. That will decrease your deliverability.

If you run a naming contest, offering the winner that same product they named is the perfect incentive. In case that is not an option, offer something else related to your niche.

This will get you the consumers that are genuinely interested in your product, which, in turn, helps ensure sales.

2nd Idea: Looking for Product Ideas

Gift Box

Another way to get email addresses for your contact list is to ask for product ideas. This will also help you understand which products your customers would like to get from you. A great way to implement this is to offer your customers a few options, so they can vote on their favorite product. Then, you can start producing that new product and give a random voter the product they chose as a prize. 🎁

This allows you to collect email addresses during the voting process, and to also offer your customers products that are going to be bestsellers. If a lot of people vote in a specific product to get to your virtual shelves, you can bet it's going to sell.

This option also allows you to fully control what you provide as options so that you can make sure the products offered are in alignment with your brand values.

Even if you open your contest to any ideas, you can always limit what is considered a valid result by establishing rules like disallowing all products related to anything illegal, immoral, or even something that just does not align with your brand identity.

Of course, if you sell rainbow flags, you don't want people to suggest products with homophobic connotations. This is just an example, each brand has its own values.

In some cases, you can also ask your customers to design or plan how that new product is going to be exactly. Then, to create an incentive for participants, produce the product with the most votes; give discounts to the first few voters (how many is entirely up to you); offer a random voter or the author of the best product idea the finished product.

3rd Idea: Crowdsource your Market Research

Your market research can also benefit from crowdsourcing, and this is another opportunity to get some email addresses in the process.

Build a survey (if you use Platformly, you can use the native integration with JotForm) and create some benefit to be attributed to the participants at random. You can offer one prize, five prizes, as many as you can afford to offer, or as many as you think will be relevant. Once again, we recommend offering prizes related to your products or services.

Using the questions in the survey, you can segment your mailing list. It has been proven that segmented email lists work a lot better than their non-segmented counterparts, with higher open rates and click-through rates, and lower bounces, unsubscribe rates, and abuse reports.


There are many ways to segment your list, but we'll go through a few:

Gender πŸ‘©πŸ‘¨

Especially useful for stores that sell products that are specifically for men or women.


Usually, every eCommerce store sells products in different categories. Let your users pick which categories they are interested in, so you can email them special offers and new products of the same type they mentioned in the survey.

Email Type

Some users are interested in company news and updates, whereas others only want to know about special offers. Give your email recipients that choice by asking them about it in the survey.


You can send emails every week, every two weeks, or even every day depending on the type of customer. Choose wisely.

Location πŸ—ΊοΈ

If you sell seasonal products, you'll agree that you wouldn't sell summer products when it's winter at your consumer's location. So, segment your recipients according to their location so you can offer them the right product according to their season. This also applies to situations other than the seasons, for example, location-related events and holidays.

How did the user find your survey?Β 


This is especially important for you to evaluate how each of your channels, be it social media, search, or anything else is working. If you have a lot of users finding out about your survey through Google Search, that probably means your SEO strategy is on point.

If you've been sharing the survey quite often in social media and you still get few users coming from those channels, then probably you need to improve your social media tactics.

On the other hand, where that user found out about your brand tells you something about their online habits as well. This information might help you segment your users further.

These are the minimum segmentations we recommend. Some other segmentation items, such as open rate, abandoned carts, order value, and so on, can wait until your survey has been in place for a while.

However, you should know there are people who love contests and freebies, and no matter how well you pick your prize to try and discourage this kind of user, you'll always end up with a few of those.

A survey will help you figure out the difference between users who are only after the prize and the ones who are actually interested in your products or services.

How to Validate Data Entries in a Survey

Timing πŸ•’

Some survey tools let you check how long each user spent filling out your survey and how long they spent on each “page”. Users who spent more time on the survey usually means that they were taking the survey more seriously.


We recommend repeating one question of the survey to check for the validity of the responses. If a user gives two different answers to the same question, they probably weren't paying any attention.

Fake Answers ❎

If you see one-word answers to open-ended questions, it's a sign the user wasn't invested in the survey. When this happens, probably the user wasn't paying attention to other questions in the survey or answering truthfully.

Response Pattern

If a user provides the same answer to each and every question, it's a sign that they might be completing it just to get the prize.

Trap Question πŸ•ΈοΈ

Add a question that is quite easy, to confirm that the user is paying attention, like “Which colors are commonly used in traffic lights?”. If the answer is wrong, the user wasn't filling out the survey truthfully.

Speaking Bubbles

Wrapping Up

In order for crowdsourcing to work for your eCommerce business, you've got to balance your needs with your customers' needs. Pick prizes which are good for you and good for your users. In the end, the choice is yours.

If the terms are beneficial for both you and your customers, your crowdsourcing efforts are going to work. Of course, you should also follow the rest of the tips we talked about in this article to make sure you get the right response from actual customers rather than participation from freebie-seekers.

In this article, we gave you three ideas on how to use crowdsourcing to increase the number of contacts in your mailing list. However, that's not all there is.

Stay tuned for more tips about email marketing. Have you checked our article about the best Gifs in email marketing? If not, we recommend it! βœ‰οΈ

About Author

Deeply passionate about writing, copy, and social media. Digital Marketing Assistant at Platformly.


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