I had a great chat with Trapper Markelz today. He’s the Head of Product at Daily-Challenge.com and it’s fair to say that he’s a bloody expert on behavioral-change and gamification. I’ve had my eyes on Daily Challenge pretty much from the beginning of my Startup career. They have been doing exciting ground work in getting people to take up new behaviors and today I got to chat with the brains behind it. Again, the internet is awesome!
Even though the initial research that went into the product was a fair bit of effort, I was surprised how the actual development of the platform was anything but lean – and yet pretty successful in the outcome. So coming up, I’ll rant a bit about that:
They started with a very detailed research project that interviewed 40 people on video and in their homes about their “well being habits“. They then analyzed the shit out of that data and broke these people down into three core-segments. The Highly Adapted Well-be’ers, Seekers and Laggards. Next they hired a company to do a keyword analysis on their segments and got a big fact sheet with the different personas and the actual targeting. Then they built the MVP.
They hired a couple of writers from elance.com and had them write 80 “challenges”. A crappy website was built to sign up for the daily Email; presenting you one challenge for your everyday well-being. The email consisted of:
- Why do it
- How to do it
- The Source of the excercise
- A Fun Fact
- A button that said “DONE”
Clicking the button it simply said “Thanks”. And that was it. Now that’s very minimal and I like the way they went until here. They ran some tests and the retention was amazingly high. But someone must have had rather large balls when they suddenly decided to abandon all Lean methodology and go with the next step:
Okay, we’ve got our proof of concept – Let’s build the whole system.
Wait, WHAT? And so they did!! For almost 9 months without really testing anything they stuck to their tiny bit of learning and build the whole thing!! Now this really struck me, because it seems so completely wrong and yet it worked so well. And oh yeah, they had an ad-buying budget of way over $150k 😉 That might have helped.
Daily challenge today has a very solid user-base and sold versions of it to several B2B and governmental institutions (78% of their user base is female btw). Now while I may differ with their approach of ‘just building it‘ they had some very smart early-ideas that I never thought about:
- Only allowing straight-up Facebook-signups. It’s common now, but it wasn’t then. the reason is, you just don’t have to deal with creating a system that lets people build a user-profile. Just import everything from Facebook and you’re good to go. Don’t bother!
- DC only focused on buying ads on Facebook, because this gave them way better insight into their customers. What is their age, taste in music, number of friends, personal interests? – The data is already there – Google can’t support that.
- Trapper is a firm believer of asking the user to interact with the app. There-forth, the daily email. The reason why so many calorie-counting apps fail is because you install them – simply to forget about them the next day. As long as an app reminds you that it’s there, you’ll feel more obligated to interact with it. Yes, it may be spammy, but that still gathers more attention than none.
- They came up with a clever way of blogging. In order to herd new users they featured articles of other private blog-entries from random people, who just overcame a personal obstacle. Then they left a comment on the guys private blog, linking to the blog of Daily Challenge – What happens next is obvious: This dude activates his whole network of friends, telling them to look at the blog of daily challenge where he got featured. And boom, you get a bunch of potential users who will actually spend time reading your shit. Smart.
Once again I got a load of new infos, ideas and intros to new people from the scene. I hope we can get the best learnings out of this. It’s cool to see how we’re getting involved with all kinds of cool companies right now. I’d sure like to see more of that happening!
And yeah – instead of your meme up top, here’s your video-treat! It’s got something to do with phone calls, so it should do the trick. Enjoy.