“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” W. Edwards Deming and Peter Drucker.

When your initiatives are backed by data, they become more predictable, leading to better planning and growth results. While a lot of businesses talk about having a data driven marketing approach, very few talk about how it is done.

There are few exceptions, like the latest session from Sachin Uppal who was in Pune for a day at the Sokrati office to share his thoughts on “How a data driven approach to manage digital business leads to better results”. Sachin, the Marketing Director at also backed up his hour long exciting talk with multiple real life case studies from his eight year work experience at the online skill-based gaming site.

Online business and Why have a Data Driven Approach

After the quick round of introductions and by the time Sachin had moved from his agenda slide, the open space at one end of Sokrati’s office was already packed with no signs of Monday blues. Not sure if the team was super excited about the latest funding round, at least the founders were.

With the first few slides focusing on what an online business is and why have a data driven approach, Sachin set the environment for the rest of the evening. Moving ahead, he elaborated on Tools and Techniques, but not before sharing this Dilbert cartoon.


One of the methods that he highly recommended was A/B Testing; it came as a big help during decision making at RummyCircle. Smaller data sample tests along with Regression Analysis and Big Data have also been of help. He explained how he has used them while covering the case studies at a later stage of his presentation.

Before moving to real life case studies, Sachin also touched upon the Business Intelligence structure RummyCircle has at its end. Half an hour into the session and he moved on to explaining the data driven approach via four case studies. A section that most of us were waiting for given the majority of digital natives in the audience.

Case Study 1: Acquisition – Consumer Behavior and Preferences

Before the Tiger Global funding, Sachin’s CEO came up with a thought that he should scale up acquisitions while keeping the cost per acquisition (CPA) low. A tricky situation for a startup that is yet to find base in the market.

To overcome this situation, the approach taken was Full Funnel Optimization (FFO). This meant optimizing media buys to reduce cost, optimizing creatives to improve conversions thereby leading to reduced costs or leads and optimizing the landing page, to increase Click to Visit Rate and Visit to Lead Rates.

For optimizing media buys, RummyCircle opted for micro targeting with structured spends since their belief was that aggregated demographic targeting was leading to increase in CPA. The experiment worked and the CPA’s were down by 10%.

For optimizing creatives, the lesson learnt was that not only simplicity in communication is required but audiences also need a problem that they think is challenging as well as quickly solvable.

The team arrived at this insight after they carried out a simple experiment. “We made two versions of an ad to test if Absolute Simplicity in Interactive Banner works better than Moderate Complexity,” said Sachin. The outcome is shown in the below visual:


The insight for the team was that while Absolute Simplicity drives higher clicks, it doesn’t drive higher conversions as audience needed a challenging but quickly solvable problem.

For optimizing the landing page, Sachin chose A/B testing to start with. “Initially we didn’t have a landing page and user registration to re-market the users. We carried several A/B tests to understand what works and what doesn’t.” He cited an example on how changing text of “Register Now” to “Register Free” increased click rates.

Case Study 2: Product – Design, Pricing and Revenue optimization

Optimizing the Shopping Cart since RummyCircle is real money online game was one of the product challenges. This was again achieved by running multiple A/B tests. One of the tests that Sachin talked was about splitting users entering the funnel into two groups randomly.

Tests showed that giving fewer choices helped player to make quick decisions. Besides the propensity to deposit higher amounts reduces when lower amounts are available. In other words when RummyCircle removed the Rs. 25 group, users opted for Rs 100 deposit rather than quitting the game.

Case Study 3: Retention – Big Data Predictive Analysis

One of the problems that RummyCircle faced was that a significant portion of players did not respond beyond first day even if they had deposits on the site. It was then decided to incentivize players sitting on the fence to return to play.

RummyCircle then performed Predictive Analytics with Data Mining on the customer data and came up with the list of players who are Fence Sitters and Enthusiasts. The fence sitters were then provided a 200% bonus incentive if they return with the offer valid only for a day. The campaign worked and over a period of two months, an ROI of 62% was achieved.


Case Study 4: Risk Management – Case for automation

By the time Sachin landed on the fourth case study, his talk had more than 60 enthusiastic minds listening keenly to him.

He spoke about how automation of processes actually benefits online businesses if it makes customers life easy. RummyCircle believes that it is a skill based game so it should be entertainment. Hence the game has put limits on players early on, so that they don’t lose too much of cash when they are amateurs. Besides to protect players’ and manage risk, RummyCircle follows a KYC process before they increase limit. However, the challenge was that KYC process was slow and customers hesitated to share identity documents.

To meet this challenge, the company decided to increase KYC verified players without a monetary incentive. Instead the company offered a faster service of withdraws for KYC verified players. The Time Series experiment got an increment of 200% verified members.

Another Time Series experiment by RummyCircle was to automate the document uploading process. The result: KYC verified players are now 1200% higher/day and it’s sustaining.

In conclusion, Sachin touched upon future trends, social gaming and how mobile will drive the growth for RummyCircle in 2015. Embedded below is Sachin’s presentation of the evening:

The floor was opened for remaining questions which revolved around social media marketing strategy, the impact of mobile, risk management process and finally why the re-branding from Play Games24x7 Pvt. Ltd. to Rummy Circle.

Sachin answered all of them while being politically correct at times. He informed that email and SEO worked better than Facebook ads and mobile will drive growth even though the infrastructure is a problem in the country. To check bots and other malpractices, the company has intelligent algorithms but certain challenges like breaking the nexus between common rummy players still exist.

By now the clock indicated that it was more than 90 minutes and hence certain questions were left for offline discussion. A round of tea and snacks served by Sokrati called it the end of an insightful event.