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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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BigDoor Cracks The Code On Web Site Engagement

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One of the most enduring challenges any Internet marketer faces is getting users to come back regularly and engage on their website.  In other words; loyalty. Social gaming companies and a few very popular consumer web services have gotten extremely good at creating loyalty, where loyalty rate is defined as Daily Active Users (DAU) / Monthly Active Users (MAU). Yet when you look at loyalty rates on the rest of the web, they look downright abysmal.  According to data from Nielsen, of the top 2,000 biggest sites in the US, only 21 of them have a loyalty rate better than 25%.  In fact the average loyalty rate among the top 2,000 US sites is less than 7%.  Do some quick math (7% * 30 days) and that means that on average their “active” users are only visiting their site two days out of the month.

That doesn’t feel very loyal, and this is the challenge, or opportunity, that our portfolio company BigDoor set their sites on.  The team at BigDoor has been busy building a gamification and rewards platform, but after two years of work and a lot of learning they discovered that what they had really created was an engine that helps publishers increase user loyalty and engagement.  Once they realized this, they also realized they needed to have a drop dead easy way to measure the impact they were having on loyalty rates.  So they built in cohort analysis that automagically creates a random control group and the analytics engine needed to compare control groups versus reward user groups.  Next came an iterative exposure function, because no smart marketer would roll something out to their entire site without testing it first on a subset of their traffic.  Then they made it as easy as possible to implement, with the requirement being that it should take the same technical ability that a person needs to install Google Analytics.

BigDoor has been in private beta with this latest version of their gamified rewards program for the last few months, and the results surprised all of us.  That’s because when a user goes to a site that is using BigDoor, they see a tightly integrated and highly gamified rewards program that lets them earn real rewards for engaging with the site.  The more loyal and engaged the user is, the more points and rewards they get.  Think of it like a fun and engaging frequent flyer program for any website.  But behind the scenes is a white-label gamification engine that is churning through data, comparing cohort performance, and measuring results.  And what has their impact been on loyalty rates?  On average, across all of their publishers, they saw a lift in loyalty rates of over 150%.

If you talk to the BigDoor team they will tell you that they still have a ton of things to improve upon.  They want to make the implementation process for a new publisher even simpler.  They want to create more and better integrated widget templates.  They want to get their loyalty score lift even higher.  They are busy doing all of those things, but what’s already there is working incredibly well.  That’s why we decided to double down with our investment in BigDoor and lead another round of investment into the company.

In addition to announcing their new funding round, yesterday BigDoor also announced they were bringing their gamified rewards program out of private beta, so it is now available to everyone.  They currently have a huge pipeline of publishers they are working with, but if you manage a website that is struggling with that never ending challenge of loyalty and engagement, give their gamified rewards program a look and let them know what you think.

Update on Feld Gelt

Comments (41)

Wow – that was cool. Thanks for the help with the experiment in the post How To Score 30 Minutes With Me. Tons of great feedback – both in the comments, by tweets, and by email.

In case you missed the post, I decided to offer one 30 minute session with me per week for the next four weeks in exchange for 10,000 Feld Gelt. At least one person found the “Purchase Feld Gelt” option (which I’ve since disabled, at least for now) and bought 9,995 Feld Gelt’s for $10 valuing my time at around $20.01 / hour! Oops.

I was surprised that the slot for the first week of running this was purchased within eight hours (I posted last night – by the time I woke up it was gone.) It’s also super interesting to me to see the movement on the leaderboard (via the detailed BigDoor stats that publishers get to see) which just reinforces the importance of having more options here (e.g. daily leaderboard, biggest movers).

The next 30 minute session goes on sale in “about a week” which means you need to check back periodically in the BigDeal section to see if it’s active. In the mean time, activity on Feld Thoughts earns you more Feld Gelt, as does activity on my partners blogs (Jason Mendelson, Seth Levine, and Ryan McIntyre) and activity on the Foundry Group blog. Yup – the Minibar works across blog networks!

I’m still getting my mind around how to integrate Feld Gelt with Brad Feld’s Amazing Deals. I’m also contemplating getting a pet unicorn.

How To Score 30 Minutes With Me

Comments (169)

Long ago I concluded that life is just a video game. We fly on airplanes to get mileage points so we can get free stuff and or level up to get more priority. We used to get green stamps (when I was a kid) whenever we bought stuff so we could get free stuff (most of it shitty, but free). Our credit cards have points programs (and lots of free miles), we get credit (implicit and explicit) eating at the same restaurants over and over ago, and when you buy a dozen cups of coffee at the coffee shop down the street from my (they still keep track of it with note cards and one of those funny metal punch things) you get the next one free.

I love the current concept of gamification. This isn’t just my inner investor speaking; I really believe as a society we’ve embraced this completely (Forbes 400 list anyone?) Gamification is more than just flinging pissed off birds at ramshackle construction sites on your iPhone; we all set some out-of-the-way goals and try to reach them because we want to feel like we’ve accomplished something special, get something free, or receive recognition for our activity. And, yes, I own up to plenty of farming and citybuiding in order to share the results.

In the spirit of learning by doing, I want to try an experiment over the next thirty days. In conjunction with my friends at BigDoor who provide the “minibar” you see anchored at the bottom of Feld Thoughts,

BigDoor Minibar

I’d like to offer 30 minutes of my time as a prize for anyone who wants to exchange 10,000 Feld Gelt for that opportunity. You may ask yourself, “How do I earn this fashionable currency?” There are currently five easy ways:

  • Check in when you visit my site.
  • Add a comment to any blog post.
  • Share or tweet posts you like.
  • Like any post from the minibar.
  • The best way of all to earn Feld Gelt is when people click on links you share or Like links in your Facebook activity feed.

If you can put ten grand in Feld Gelt together, you can trade them in for 30 minutes with me in person in Boulder (if you’re in town) or Skype, or by phone if you are old fashioned*. Just click on the BigDeal button in the minibar.

I’d like to see whether the usual activities you do when visiting the site will be amplified once you’ve got an incentive beyond the content and conversation already found here. Plus I’m also eager to connect with those of you who may stop by here regularly but haven’t met me out in the physical world yet. So start working your way up that Leaderboard and just maybe I’ll be see you in a Boulder coffee shop, or on a Skype chat, sometime soon.

If you want your own minibar on your site, Oh – and please comment on what you think of this and the implementation (good and bad). You’ll earn some points for doing it.

* The fine print (or mouse print if you prefer): One appointment per person.  I’m only “selling” one session per week (a total of four), so act fast.  I’m going to commit to testing this for a month, and then decide if I have the spare 30 minutes in future weeks. I reserve the right to reschedule or even refuse service.

Update: Wow – that was fast. The deal sold out in about two hours. I’ll review the data tomorrow and figure out a new deal soon! Of course, your Feld Gelt will be useful for that deal also so keep earning it.

WordPress Bloggers Can Now Gamify Their Site

Comments (11)

Today our portfolio company BigDoor launched the first ever gamification plugin for WordPress. The plugin will allow a WordPress site owner to add leader-boards to their site as well as reward users with badges and points when they leave comments and check-in.  It is a great way to incentivize repeat visits and help build a community on your site.

The BigDoor team has built a powerful gamification API, but until recently it required a programmer to implement it.  The team continues to make big strides in making gamification more accessible by streamlining and simplifying the process of adding points, leader-boards, badges and virtual goods to a site or app.  BigDoor is progressing toward what they call the “15 minute install”.  Their new WordPress plugin takes about an hour from download to being live on your site, but this is a big step toward making gamification, badges and leader-boards more accessible for bloggers everywhere.

If you are a WordPress blogger, download the BigDoor WordPress Gamification plugin and give it a spin. Feedback welcome.

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