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Gamification for Communities: Interview with Badgeville CEO

Expert Interviews

Recently I had a chance to chat with Kris Duggan, the CEO and co-founder of Badgeville, a social engagement and gamification platform for incenting positive behavior from customers, developers and internal teams. Badgeville participated in a panel I attended at the Social Media World Forum 2011.

1. Give a little background on Badgeville. What was the motivation to start the company?

Badgeville, The Behavior Platform, is the first Behavior Management technology that drives, measures, and surfaces user behavior.

The original idea for the company came on a day my co-founder Wedge Martin and I were using advanced Google Analytics settings for a friend’s business, and we realized that traditional analytics programs could not show the identity of users, provide deeper information into user behavior, and, most importantly, could not change and increase those behaviors.

At the time, companies like Zynga and Playdom were exploding due to understanding the fundamental psychology of what drives human behavior, so we sought to launch a company that merged deep, identity-based analytics with the best behavior-driving techniques from social gaming. In September 2010, we launched Badgeville at TechCrunch Disrupt, and it quickly became the leader in gamification — having raised $15M in the last year, gaining nearly 100 customers with many in the Fortune 1000 across retail/ecommerce, telco, technology, internal/enterprise applications, media & entertainment, health & fitness, and education.

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2. What is your definition of Gamification?

Gamification is one element of Behavior Management. Gamification basically means taking proven behavior-motivating techniques from game design and using these in non-game user experiences. When done correctly, gamification will increase engagement, lifetime user value, and business objectives on your site, app, and digital network.

The more social that experience is, the more valuable a deep gamification experience will be. This is why we recently launched a new product Social Fabric that turns any site into a social network.

The product provides proprietary social networking technology that allows behaviors tracked through Badgeville’s core gamification platform, the dynamic game engine, to be surfaced to users on a site or site network with real-time alerts, activity streams, and notifications.

Gamification can be applied in many different ways to best suit the specific business objectives of a company. We have six different gamification frameworks and our producers work with each customer to help determine the best programs for their unique user experiences. For example, some programs are extremely “gamified” in that they offer missions and virtual rewards such as badges and achievements for user behavior — other programs are primarily about reputation and rank, where users gain status and levels in a community for the quality of their contributions.

3. How does your new platform encourage higher purchase velocity, loyalty, and retention? Can you give examples?

Badgeville increases user behavior with game mechanics, lifts engagement with social mechanics, and provides insights from analytics.

We’ve already seen huge customer demand for Badgeville in the enterprise. In the last 90 days we have secured very large brands: more than a dozen Fortune 1000 companies including Deloitte Digital, CA Technologies, X.Commerce, the developer community of eBay and PayPal (with hundreds of thousands developers), Rogers Communications (the largest communications company in Canada) and Samsung, to name just a few.

Companies use Badgeville for everything from turbo charging their developer community to adding reputation and rank to incent different behaviors.

For example, Samsung recently launched Samsung Nation on Samsung.com. Here, they are rewarding for loyalty and engaging with their brand in between purchases. After all, even the biggest fans of Samsung or any other consumer electronics company only make major electronics purchases a few times a year at most. For companies like this, it’s important to grow a community around their brand. They’ve done a great job of this so far with their innovative social efforts, and adding a gamification program to that experience is the next step in rewarding loyal fans, and creating a cohesive social loyalty program, rewarding for user touch points with the brand in between transactions, such as researching products, reviewing products, sharing links, and more.

Gamification for Communities: Interview with Badgeville CEO image samsung nation 300x161

Samsung Nation uses Badgeville's proprietary software for analytics and customer engagement

On the other end of the gamification and behavior management spectrum is an internal application, such as the one in development for CA Technologies. Here, employees will be motivated for sharing ideas, and participating in internal communities. Many of our customers use Badgeville internally for performance management, while others focus on influencing and rewarding customer/user behavior. Badgeville customers see on average a 25% increase in user behavior, with some customers seeing anywhere from 30% to 200% ROI for specific behaviors that are motivated through the program.

4. For large companies with enterprise data warehouses and analytics systems, can they take the data accumulated from your platform and use it to help calculate customer lifetime value? (The reason I ask is that many companies need to justify spend on engage platforms by having the ability to quantify lifetime value of customers engaging with your platform versus no platform. Companies can use this data to better serve high value customers, refine product offerings for their desired target or calculate “return on advocacy”.)

Badgeville is designed to integrate with third-party systems, whether that be best-in-class platforms such as Janrain, BaazarVoice, Echo, LiveFyre, on the front end, or analytics programs on the back end. Our goal is to provide a holistic view of the user (customer, developer, employee, etc). The Badgeville Behavior Platform ties into your existing registration systems, thus tracking user behavior data on top of your existing data-gathering techniques. The goal is always to tie the insights you gain from your behavior management program with your transactional identity-based data, to develop a full picture of your audience, and be able to use that information to ultimately increase profits and/or efficiency in your business.

5. Where can readers learn more about you and your company?

www.badgeville.com and www.badgeville.com/blog

Do you think gamification can increase lifetime customer value? In what industries do you think this could be particularly helpful?

Comments on this Article: 1

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  1. Emil says:

    Gamification of loyalty is certainly interesting from a profiling/academic point of view. I do agree there’s a need for businesses to differentiate themselves, particularly when it comes to loyalty. One interesting tech that I’ve come across is http://mazecard.com.au, where multiple merchants participate in one consolidated program, which is accessible to all customer via a single account.

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