Okemos-based TechSmith says its Snagit screen capture software has been available to PC users for twenty years, so the desire to answer users’ top request — Snagit for the Mac platform — required an open dialogue to make Snagit on the Mac worth the wait.

So TechSmith launched a crowdsourcing initiative on a Get Satisfaction community site to seek ideas and feedback, producing 450,000 participants and $500,000 in research cost savings.

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Get Satisfaction, an online community-building platform, details the crowdsourcing effort and the return on TechSmith’s investment in a case study on its Web site. More than 48,000 companies use Get Satisfaction to provide a more social support experience, build better products, increase SEO and improve customer loyalty.

TechSmith launched the public beta of Snagit on Mac in December 2009 along with the Get Satisfaction community site. Snagit on Mac 1.0 was released Nov. 9, 2010.

“We’d never done this before,” said Tiffany Wood, Snagit product manager at TechSmith. “Sure, we always had beta software, but it was only accessible to select users — not to the broader public. And feedback came in via individual emails, not collaborative conversations. This time, we wanted to engage our entire user base in our agile development process.”

TechSmith’s use of crowdsourcing enabled it to capture an exceptional amount of information on the features and feel that its users and targeted customer base wanted from Snagit on Mac. Developers were able prioritize their plans by using the voting functionality of the Get Satisfaction site to determine which features were most important to users, and also used the discussion forums to seek feedback on the overall design and feel of Snagit on Mac, which users wanted to be ‘Mac-like.’

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“We were able to collect so much valuable information through crowdsourcing,” Wood said. “It benefited everyone involved in the development process, and most importantly, our customers. Our users were able to help design the product that they wanted, and could ask questions, report problems, make suggestions and share what they loved about the product. Meanwhile, TechSmith saved hundreds of thousands of dollars on the research phase of this project. It also helped speed the process and aide developers, as they already knew exactly how to approach the development of Snagit on Mac.”

Here is a deeper look inside the numbers of TechSmith’s crowdsourcing effort:

10: Minutes it took for TechSmith to implement and complete its branded Get Satisfaction site.
10: Months TechSmith’s public beta process lasted.
100,000: People who downloaded the beta version of Snagit on Mac.
120,000: Unique topics about Snagit on Mac generated by users through the Get Satisfaction site.
450,000: People who engaged in dialogue about Snagit on Mac on the Get Satisfaction site.
500,000: Dollars saved on research that TechSmith did not have to conduct due to the information received through the Get Satisfaction site.

Since the Snagit on Mac launch, TechSmith has since implemented Get Satisfaction for its entire portfolio of visual communication software, including Camtasia Studio, Camtasia for Mac, Camtasia Relay, Jing, Morae, Snagit (Windows and Mac) and Screencast.com. More information is available at feedback.techsmith.com.

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More at www.techsmith.com/snagit or http://getsatisfaction.com/.