Recruitment, participation, and compensation are three key pillars of running market research programs. Incentivizing research participation improves the quality of your insights and communicates to your users that you truly value their time and feedback; however, scaling incentive programs can be a challenge.
But it doesn’t have to be.
That was the challenge facing Bryan Tyner, the Director of Research at Kickstarter. He was brought on as its first dedicated research hire. Kickstarter, the most trusted platform for crowdfunding creative projects — everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology — tasked Tyner with addressing compensation for survey and interview participants.
When he joined, market research incentives were described as “unfeasible and unscalable.” Coordinating payments to participants between project stakeholders and their finance team quickly became a huge burden as their research practice grew. With as many as 200 user interviews conducted in his first year, scalability mattered.
The first gift card platform Kickstarter used to provide compensation was simple and relieved much of their initial burden. But as they increasingly focused on their users’ experiences and feedback in planning and decision making, the simplicity of that platform began to constrain the scalability of their research.
The first issue was that it couldn’t easily process international rewards. Tyner had very limited global reward options, and for some countries, Amazon was the only choice.
The other tipping point? Up to 40% of rewards were left unclaimed. And the only way to remind participants of their reward was to email them manually, one at a time. That platform constrained their research to domestic markets at a time when sampling internationally representative users was increasingly important.
After a detailed competitor analysis, the team decided to try BHN Rewards. “It was a much more robust platform than what we were using, especially when it came to international rewards and automated payment,” says Tyner.
Kickstarter’s users, known as “creators” and “backers,” are located around the world. With BHN Rewards’ extensive global catalog, the company can reach more of them.
In addition, Tyner liked the BHN Rewards features designed to maximize claim rates for their market research incentives. “We want to respect the time of the people we interview and express the gratitude that we promised,” he says. “We also value funneling money into the creator economy and our users.”
When Kickstarter made the change to BHN Rewards, the team quickly saw a 50% increase in the number of rewards claimed by their research participants. Now, over 90% of rewards are claimed within a very short time period.
To accomplish this, Tyner’s team first uses BHN Rewards’ adjustable claim window to give recipients plenty of time to redeem their reward. They like to be “extra generous with people and ensure they receive the compensation we promised,” so they double the default window to give recipients sufficient time to claim it.
Also unlike Kickstarter’s previous platform for market research incentives, BHN Rewards automatically sends all recipients reminder emails. Tyner says his team can “pretty much set it and forget about it.”
Next is the importance of branding, and BHN Rewards lets Tyner’s team send reward emails from their own custom domain. Before, “people would often email us asking if we sent the reward, and it had gone to spam or they ignored or deleted it,” he says. “They didn’t realize that the reward email was from us.”
Now, Kickstarter sees people claim their rewards quickly. “Once we moved to BHN Rewards, our reward emails pop,” he says. “Recipients expect them and know what to look for because they appear more legitimate than emails from our previous tool.”
After all that, if a recipient still doesn’t claim their reward within the window, the Kickstarter team automatically gets a refund in their BHN Rewards account. And better yet, the accounting team has a clear view of where funds go — and when they may come back.
“I like that BHN Rewards has robust dashboards and reporting that we can look at,” says Tyner. He’s able to quickly view the claim rate for each campaign.
Looking to the future, he likes that it’s a tool with enterprise features that can grow with them: “The platform will scale with our needs. We’re just scratching the surface of its functionality.”
Kickstarter prioritizes the recipient experience for their market research incentives, and so should you. Here’s why, along with some tips to make it happen!