A new LeadGenius to help your business grow

When we started LeadGenius, our goal was to combine the power of our amazing worker community with world-class technology in order to help our clients find and reach out to the best targeted leads for their businesses.  Today we’re launching the first major product update to LeadGenius since we launched last summer.

The team has spent the last several months speaking with our customers and our global worker community about how to extend our virtual work platform to make LeadGenius the must-have SAAS product for companies doing sales prospecting and outreach.  It was pretty clear that incorporating more data into the product was critical to making this happen.  So we took a fresh view of the current dashboard, rethought the customer experience, and infused the product with readily available and relevant data.

screen

After logging in, you’ll see some of the most critical data front-and-center: number of leads, cost per lead, and basic funnel metrics to name a few.  You can view an overview of your campaigns or drill down into lead prospecting or outreach to understand your ROI.  Communication with the project management team has been streamlined: we’ve taken out some little-used functionality and made it easier to follow topic threads.  And we’ve made it easier to access lead and outreach data and download it for use in your CRM.

dashboard_overview

 

This release also comes with a number of improvements behind the scenes, including better tools for both our worker community and account management teams to monitor campaign performance.  Because of our roots in workforce management, we’ve built an incredibly robust platform to manage large crowds of teams effectively, which means that your campaigns benefit greatly from the combination of collective intelligence and super-smart technology.

In the coming months we’re going to continue improving the client experience, adding more ways to view and slice your campaign data, and fully integrate with your CRM.  And ultimately, help you close more sales.

If you’d like to see our analytics dashboard in action, contact LeadGenius today for a free demo.

Introducing Customer Acquisition as a Service

“Identifying new customers distracts me from serving current customers!”

And serving current customers distracts you from identifying new customers.

You can’t have one without the other. Yet it’s a struggle to do both simultaneously. That’s the catch to running a business. It’s hard to serve current customers and identify new customers at the same time. They’re very different activities. They require very different skill sets.

It seems like a Catch-22, but there’s help…

You want to serve your customers profitably. That’s where your margin is. A big distraction is customer acquisition. That’s part of your “overhead”. Customer acquisition reduces your margin, because it distracts you from doing what you’re in business to do.

Someone else can identify your new customers

You’ve identified your target market and you’re already making things people want. So, spend your time and effort focused on doing that. This focus allows you to delight and retain your existing customers. Meanwhile, someone else is helping you locate who your next customers are.

Large enterprises have people dedicated to customer identification and acquisition. For SMBs, employing such a staff fulltime is unrealistically inefficient. You’ve got to focus on the main part of your business while controlling costs.

Customer acquisition as-a-service helps control costs

SMBs use Software-as-a-Service to control costs. But software is just one thing that can be provisioned this way. Customer acquisition can be a service too, and LeadGenius provides it. LeadGenius employs qualified workers to identify customers for you based on your objectives. You control costs by hiring them only when you need to.

You know what your business does, so you have an idea of the types of customers you’d like to have. The LeadGenius team will consult on the correct channels to utilize to gather information on prospective customers. Then, a team of outreach specialists researches leads based on your criteria. Professionals manage the team and deliver your results. While this is happening, you can focus on other important parts of your business

Outsourced targeting works

A benefits, payroll, and HR outsourcing firm uses LeadGenius to contact 300 new potential customers each week, with an average of about 100 replies and 30 sign-ups for demos. From there, the firm takes over and closes the sale.  Companies with a clear understanding of their goals, objectives and target demographic continue to see positive results. This case study explains how the process works.

Try it

Do what you’re good at. By letting someone else take on the burden of identifying new customers, you can focus on the business of serving, delighting, and retaining your current customers.

Our team will continue to provide resources on customer acquisition. Subscribe to our blog or follow us onTwitter and Facebook to ensure you’re up to date.

MobileWorks Announces Pro-bono Projects for Nonprofits

Do you have a data entry, transcription, or computer related project that your organization could use additional resources to complete? We’re here to help!

We realize at times, some of the most tedious and time consuming tasks can be a critical obstacle when understaffed. MobileWorks is leveraging our network of skilled workers and providing organizations the opportunity to complete work more efficiently, ultimately freeing up more resources to focus on tasks that mobilize change and impact our world!

We’re seeking to complete 3-5 pro-bono* projects for non-profit organizations located anywhere in the world.

Project requirements:

  • Data entry, data validation, research, photo editing, and short writing tasks.
  • Each project should contain at least 1,000 entries (Ex. 1,000 names to digitize, 1,000 companies to research)
  • Projects should have a 2-4 week turn-around time depending on project length

*There will be no cost to nonprofits to participate if their projects are selected!

Still not sure? Here’s a few more examples.

  • Find the name, address, and founder of a list of 1,000 businesses
  • Digitize a 200-page scanned list of conference attendees
  • Convert a 1,000 receipts from different stores into a typed spreadsheet

Why participate?

  • Complete work that’s been on your desk for months
  • Seamless experience from start to finish. Easy setup & execution.
  • Free!

Apply now and make a big impact on a small budget!

Contact annalisa@mobileworks with questions or submissions.

LeadGeni.us: User acquisition as a service

A recent Paul Graham essay talked about the importance of manual user acquisition for companies.

We couldn’t agree more.  Here at MobileWorks, we’ve been running manual user acquisition as a service for a whole bunch of YC companies (from Stripe to Zenefits).

I’m pleased to announce that we’re offering this to non-YC companies and the broader public for the first time.

We’d like to do this for your company, too.

Meet LeadGeni.us:

For a given market segment, we can:
– get you a new list every week of target users you want to talk to from a variety of sources
– help you reach out to them individually by email, at scale, using human beings, to get signups and user conversations
– reproduce this process systematically as you go from 10->1M users.

A few cool examples:
– Firebase is identifying every top developer on Github and reaching out to them to talk about Firebase (B2D)
– Stripe is evaluating 100 new companies a day and figuring out which ones will need a payment processor (B2Startup)
– Zenefits built out a massive list of potential users, then sent each one a handwritten invitation (B2B)
It even works for recruiting and press outreach.

Here’s how it works.

Behind the scenes, we use a community of expert LeadGenius researchers and writers to carry out the work – folks who know where to find users and how to talk to them:

– Researchers collect facts about large numbers of potential users to decide if they’re worth contacting and what kind of pitch would interest them.  (We’ve pulled potential users on Craigslist, LinkedIn, Crunchbase, Kickstarter, private and public databases, and the web as a whole.)
– Writers craft custom outreach emails to prospective users at scale, and send them out from your email address.
– Interested users write back to you directly or click through to your site
– You get ROI data on what lead sources and templates work best for you.

LeadGenius fills a missing gap between Google Adwords and having an in-house sales team.  We’re confident enough that the results are terrific to offer a ridiculously nice guarantee: if you don’t like what you get, we’ll cheerily make it right or refund you.

New Year. New Look.

Today we’re launching a new look and a redesign to help improve our service specifically for our MobileWorker community.

We’ve been hard at work, gathering feedback and giving our service a makeover so it’s even easier to use and earn money as a MobileWorker.

Next time you sign in to your account, you’ll notice a whole bunch of improvements, including:

  • Choose which type of tasks you’d like to do.
  • A new certification system so that you can qualify to work on a variety of tasks, everything from video analysis to transcription. The more certifications you earn, the more types of work you’ll be able to complete.
  • New, easier-to-use service with a fresh design.
  • The opportunity to learn new computer skills.

If you are an existing MobileWorker, all of your current account statistics and payment balance will remain the same. Any certifications you’ve earned will carry-over to the new system. To help familiarize you with all of the improvements, next time you sign in you’ll have the opportunity to follow a brief walkthrough that will familiarize you with the new interface.

We’re excited about these changes and are eager to hear your feedback!  Let us know what you think.

What did people crowdsource with MobileWorks in 2011?

Here at MobileWorks, the next-generation replacement for Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, we’ve processed nearly half a million crowdsourcing and human computation tasks since launching in mid-2011.

We’ve built a platform that’s powerful and versatile, but we’re still constantly surprised by the ingenious uses of human brainpower that our customers come up with.

So, what did people crowdsource through MobileWorks in 2011? Here’s a breakdown of the 7 most popular and most innovative tasks we saw:

#1: Human-powered search and information collection

Organizing the world’s information constituted nearly 30% of our brainpower usage this past year. While modern search engines do a great job at gathering the individual pages you want, they can’t yet deliver the exact information you need.

What do you do if you want to find the homepages of 1000 people working as software engineers and willing to move across the country to take a new job? How about if you want to generate an up-to-the-minute database of the most popular products sold on Craigslist in San Francisco? What if you need to generate a verified list of leads for a sales team, like 100,000 restaurant phone numbers in New York City?

In these situations, Google may be able to deliver individual pages for you, but it isn’t able to extract and collect exactly what you’re looking for. A trained crowd is still the best way to get it done.

We aren’t surprised that this task is so popular, as the ability to quickly gather this sort of information is enormously valuable for recruiting, lead generation, and maintaining databases.

(If you’re interested, MobileWorks has a dedicated application for web scraping: the Excavator.)

#2: Text extraction: OCR, handwriting recognition, form digitization & data entry

Digitization exploded in 2011, fueled in part by the medical industry’s push to move paper records to digital ones.

Why use the crowd for a classic AI problem like OCR?  Although plenty of software-based OCR solutions exist, they’re often expensive and aren’t great at understanding handwriting that’s a little sloppy or unusual. They trip up on documents with mixed typefaces or changing orientations. Simply put, they can’t handle corner cases. Crowds provide a completeness and robustness that traditional OCR doesn’t.

On top of that, lab research shows us that crowd solutions can digitize documents that are simply beyond the capabilities of OCR software. In one experiment by our friends at MIT, a crowd deciphered this handwritten note:

Image credit: Greg Little, Lydia B. Chilton, Robert C. Miller, and Max Goldman, HCOMP 2010

You misspelled several words. Please spellcheck your work next time. I also notice a few grammatical mistakes. Overall your writing style is a bit too phoney. You do make some good points, but they got lost amidst the writing. (signature)

Let’s see OCR do that!

In 2012, we expect to see more and more companies with piles of paper choosing to send their work to the MobileWorks crowd to be digitized, rather than investing in developers or OCR software solutions.

#3: Tagging and sorting

As the web produces more user-generated content is produced — photos, podcasts, and more — more of it needs to be tagged by humans. Don’t just think of your pictures on Flickr and Facebook: MobileWorks received requests to tag user-generated content in games, relevant segments in videos, and customer phone calls for automatic follow-up.

#4: Content filtering

Was that post naughty or nice?  Machines do a good job keeping pill ads out of your email, but for almost all other kinds of content – marketplace listings, advertisements, and more – humans beat machines every time in checking whether content is relevant, interesting, and on-topic.  More companies are finding that it’s simpler to use a one-line crowd solution than try to fight a technological battle against spam.

#5: Advertising analysis

The popularity of ad-distribution networks sometimes means that advertisers don’t know where their ads end up on the web. It’s critical to understand the content of an ad and an article to avoid slip-ups like this:

Image credits:  The Stupidity of Scripts, James Duncan, Flickr

We had two common advertising-related tasks: judging which company was behind a particular advertisement, and judging whether an ad was appropriate on a certain page. The cost of slip-ups are in ad placement are fairly high for advertisers and content producers alike, and it’s very simple for humans to determine whether a particular combination is appropriate or inappropriate.

#6 Image recognition and description

We saw a good number of tasks that involved recognizing objects in images, classifying objects in pictures, or tagging images for a machine learning system to analyze later. These tasks came from a variety of sources, including a number of mobile phone applications letting users ask questions about documents or objects in the real world seen through their cameras.

This is another application where lab research paved the way: Rochester’s VizWiz project allowed visually-impared people to upload pictures from their mobile phones and get descriptions of what they photographed back in seconds.

#7 Audio transcription and analysis:

Whenever a podcast is produced or an interview goes up on a tube site, advertisers want to be able to place relevant ads in it. And until speech recognition can deal with complex words, music, and accents, it’s still better to use qualified humans.

And, without further ado, 2011’s Task Of The Year…

Human powered website testing took the role as the most interesting task we saw in 2011.

It’s sometimes difficult when maintaining large projects to write test cases that simulate extended human interaction with all parts of a website.

But it’s dead simple to ask a human on MobileWorks to carry out a list of tasks on your site and make sure everything’s working OK. It’s cheap that many developers wanted to include a call to MobileWorks in their “automated” test routines, as a final deployment step.

What do you want to see crowdsourced in 2012?

Crowdsourcing is growing by leaps and bounds, and we can’t wait to see what the next year will bring.

If you’ve got an idea for something you want to crowdsource, what are you waiting for? There’s no easier way to crowdsource work than MobileWorks.  Try it today for free!

Turbocharging MobileWorks: Job management, webhooks+callbacks, and HTML5 support

Since launching our beta in August, we’ve received a lot of feedback from developers about how to make MobileWorks better, faster, and stronger. We’ve launched a new generation of features that make using crowds in your applications easier than ever. Here’s a quick look at what’s new:

HTML5 Support:

Designing crowdsourcing tasks has historically been a major difficulty for developers, so MobileWorks has always made posting simple tasks really easy. Here’s an example of how a question is presented to the crowd:

Almost all of this rendering and design happens without any action on the part of the user – you just ask your question and it’s presented naturally.

However, a few developers had needs for more sophisticated, customized interfaces for interacting with the MobileWorks crowd.

As a result MobileWorks now lets you embed complex questions into a Javascript or rich HTML interface that lets you post any structure you like. It’s as simple as putting HTML and JS into your ‘question’ parameter.  Be as creative as you like!

Job Management:

With bulk uploads, developers can now post hundreds of task at once instead of having to loop over individual tasks. A bulk upload unit is called a “job” and can consist of any number of individual tasks.  An example of a curl call is given below:

curl –dump-header – -H “Content-Type: application/json” -X POST –data
‘{“tasks”: [{“question”: “What is two plus two?”, “answerType”: “t”},{“question”: “What is seven plus eight?”, “answerType”: “t”}],
“webHooksUrl”:”http://www.yourURLhere.com/”}’ https://sandbox.mobileworks.com/api/v1/job/ -u yourusername:yourpassword

New API options:

trackingId lets you, optionally, mark individual tasks with a unique tag of your choice, for better integration with your own task management platforms.

webHooksUrl: Webhooks let you receive the answers for a job as soon as they’re available via a POST request to a url of your choice. You don’t have to poll tasks for answers anymore. You can receive callbacks for individual tasks as well – just post a job with a single task and you’ll receive a callback as soon as the task is done.

Want to get up to speed fast? Just visit http://www.mobileworks.com/developers/index.html

Try it now!

Here at MobileWorks, we’re always working on improving giving our developers the right tools to quickly integrate crowds into their application, as we build the world’s best crowdsourcing engine. Try it out and let us know what you think.

MobileWorks has three new partners.

It’s out of the bag. MobileWorks is happy to announce that we’ve accepted investments from Y Combinator, SV Angel, and DST. This means that some of the smartest incubation money in the Valley is betting that crowdsourcing-as-a-service can follow in the footsteps of powerful technology platforms and marketplaces like Heroku, Dropbox, Clustrix, and AirBnB.

We’re pleased to welcome these three strong groups onto our team as we continue on our quest to change the way the world works online.

Crowdsourcing is a powerful force and growing trend in the way work is being done on the web. We’re seeing new applications emerge every day. Until now, using crowds has required tremendous expertise in how to recruit workers, manage crowds, and obtain accurate results.  By managing these automatically, MobileWorks provides a radically simple way to use crowds in all kinds of applications.

If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for?  You can put human intelligence into your software.  (Really!)  Try it out at http://mobileworks.com.  We’re changing the way the world works, for the better.

MobileWorks: A new kind of crowdsourcing company.

Hi!  We’re MobileWorks, a different kind of crowdsourcing company.

MobileWorks is based on the simple premise that making crowd workers happy with their work leads to better quality results – especially when combined with a slew of mathematical tactics, clever algorithms, and UX innovations from one of the world’s best teams in the science of crowds.

Can we make using crowds dramatically easier than it is today?  The answer is “yes”.

Join us as we reinvent the world of crowdsourcing.