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How Highlight Cultivates an Engaged Community of Product Testers

At Highlight, people make all the difference. Whether we’re talking about our team of product research thought leaders, our customers, or our leadership team, it’s the amazing people that enable us to build better products.


In the case of our community of testers (who we call “Highlighters”), they’re VIPs. This highly engaged group delivers Highlight customers the insights they need to innovate products consumers will love.


“Once becoming a Highlighter, I truly understood how much my honest opinion was encouraged and genuinely appreciated.” - Kathleen


Communities this good aren’t built overnight. And they’re not a “one and done” process, either. Maintaining a thriving, mission-driven community of product testers takes a dedicated team to make sure Highlighters are set up for success and satisfied throughout the entire process.


So what goes into making sure that the Highlight community performs to the highest standards? Here’s a peek under the hood:


Test your products with real consumers, at home



How we grow our community of product testers

Everything about our community growth strategy is designed to source thoughtful, engaged, and articulate product testers.


Example of depth of qualitative articulation

This side-by-side shows the difference between typical industry panel respondents and the quality of the responses members of the Highlighter community provide. (Click to zoom!)


This effort comprises a thorough range of tactics. Becoming a Highlighter begins with an application process, which we use to screen whether or not someone may be a good fit for our community. For open-ended questions, we look at how long, detailed, and clear their answers are. We ask psychographic questions such as “How do you like to spend your free time?” to get a view of each applicant as a “whole person”. We also ask “red herring” questions that weed out those who may carelessly plow through a survey without fully reading the question.

Key success stat: 48% acceptance rate

In some cases, Highlight also requires photo uploads to verify identity. For example, if a Highlighter is recruited to test a product for consumers with curly hair, we might request a photo of the Highlighter holding up two fingers to be absolutely sure they have curly hair and are qualified for the study. This ensures that the right members are selected for each study, and guarantees reliable data for our customers.

Photo upload is also an important step for testing alcoholic beverages. Highlight IDs! And we also require ID verification upon receipt of the product.


“We grow the community with quality people who are eager to share well-articulated, honest feedback for the products they test.” - Caroline Shone, Director of Community


This rigor becomes all the more important when it comes time to recruit Highlighters to research for our customers. Highlighters who opt in to participate in testing a specific product are often asked for additional screening measures. For example, if a Highlight customer needs to elicit feedback from current consumers of their product, Highlight may request potential product testers to upload photos of the current product already in their house, or receipts showing a recent purchase of the product. This provides Highlight customers the ability to get hyper targeted data, whether focusing on a geographic area, or on consumers who are loyal to a specific retailer they hope to sell into.


Demographic + Psychographic filtersWith the parameters listed above, Highlight customers are able to curate the niche audience of product testers they want to hear from. (Click to zoom!)


Highlight grows our community to ensure the diversity our customers need for a complete, reliable data set. With 25 different options for demographic and behavioral characteristics, customers can narrow down–way down, if need be–to the reflective range of consumers they are targeting.

Key success stat: Highlight customers have the ability to engage super niche audiences (as low as 3% IR audiences!)

While our community is expansive, it is also dynamic. We're always reviewing our waitlist to increase the size and diversity available to customers, and have the ability to actively recruit for specific studies to ensure the demographic you want to validate your product research.



How we support our community of product testers

Welcoming new Highlighters into the fold takes more than just approving an application. We make sure Highlighters are equipped with the knowledge and support they need to give honest and thorough feedback. Our teams of research experts and operations associates support Highlighters throughout each study.


“The people behind the scenes are absolutely amazing and the nicest, friendliest, most helpful people… They are available and ready to answer any questions you might have. Being a part of Highlight is super rewarding and absolutely fun!” - Bree


The goal is to make product testing as easy–and enjoyable–as possible for our Highlighters. For example, it may sound simple enough to provide instructions for how to do a product test, but as anyone who has tried to write or follow instructions can tell you, it’s not so easy. At Highlight, we provide instructions for testers in both emails and on physical inserts in the product package–and before distributing, these instructions are reviewed across multiple teams to ensure clarity and simplicity.

In case there are questions, though, Highlighters have access to frequently asked questions and a dedicated support team throughout the process. Our team members usually answer questions within just a few hours.


“I love the great technology and the customer service that are the backbone of the wonderful experience as a Highlighter.” - Abhinav


Speed is very important, not just for getting insights to customers, but also for holding up our end of the deal with our Highlighters. This is key to maintaining trust and transparency. For example, if any incentives are offered for participation such as a gift card, we deliver those quickly upon study completion.

Our dedicated team monitors all submissions–yes, for quality control–but also to help our Highlighters with any challenges they may face. For example, if a Highlighter is struggling to upload a sufficiently clear, bright photo or submit an unboxing video, we are here to help! We make sure testers have the real-time feedback they need to succeed. 

Key success stat: 90%+ completion rates

Another perk of working so closely alongside our Highlighters is that we’re able to actively improve the quality of our Highlighter feedback every time we work with them. We not only help Highlighters who might struggle with technical questions, but we also take note of those Highlighters who give in-depth, high-quality qualitative feedback, and “tag” them as star contributors for future opportunities.


Get the feedback you need to succeed


How we engage our community of product testers

Collecting feedback from our Highlighters after every testing experience is an important step to making sure that we have the data we need to continually improve the experience for them and keep Highlighters happily opting in to our testing opportunities.

Key success stat: Only 0.7% of Highlighters have asked to delete their account

 We take Highlighter feedback seriously, because it’s important that our Highlighters feel not just supported, but encouraged and empowered. Support doesn’t end at troubleshooting. We want Highlighters to know that they are a part of a community whose opinions and feedback can be used for game-changing innovation. Their input is truly mission-critical for our many customers looking to build better products for people and the planet, and we make sure Highlighters know that.


“Highlight lets me know that companies are listening to me. I get to do my little part in crafting better products by sharing my opinions on the things that matter to me. It's a great way for me to engage with the brands and products I love.” - Christopher


One way we provide transparency is preparing Highlighters for longitudinal studies. We make the time commitment clear up front, and remind them in all subsequent reminders leading up to the beginning of the study so that they also have multiple opportunities to opt out. For Highlighters, longitudinal studies can be the most fun to participate in–for example, wear testing socks for durability and comfort, or trying five different types of chips over X amount of days.

Another simple way we facilitate and encourage engaging, in-depth answers is by limiting the number of studies Highlighters can participate in: Highlighters are able to join no more than one study at any given time so they stay fresh for providing the best feedback possible.

We call the group that supports our Highlighters the Community Team because their approach is to engage with Highlighters like valued family members or friends. Speed, transparency, and respect are the cornerstones we rely on to build trust with our Highlighters. And their product feedback is the very real impact they make for better product development across companies, industries and sectors. 


“I realize the importance that honest feedback gives to both companies and their consumers. By being a Highlighter, I feel like I can help both sides to make the perfect product.” - Alyssa


Hear exactly what your consumers really think