Watch Aaron as he pitches a panel of judges ‘Dragon’s Den’ style in front of several hundred conference attendees at April’s FFP Spring Event, dubbed the “Loyalty Innovation Show”, at the Freddie Awards.  Watch the video here.

 

Montreal, QC (May 28, 2013) – Friendefi today announced a new one-year licensing agreement with PointsHound, an online hotel booking service that allows you to earn points and miles on over 150,000 hotels around the world in any of 10 frequent flier currencies.

PointsHound aims to accelerate its growth using Friendefi and selected their social gamification platform for its ability to quickly launch highly engaging promotions that are social, interactive, and fun.

“Running contests and promotions with our loyalty program partners has been a very effective channel for acquiring and engaging customers .  Friendefi allows us to supercharge these types of campaigns– their platform is integrated with Facebook and Twitter for powerful social-sharing and enhances the existing game mechanics that we rely on to drive results for the business,” said Pete Van Dorn, CEO of PointsHound.

Friendefi’s social gamification platform provides the ability to offer highly engaging promotions where participants ‘play’ against their social network friends to earn rewards.  Promotions can be based on social engagement objectives, such as liking and sharing, or on purchasing behavior.  Friendefi’s social network integration enables promotions where participants can invite, share, or even compare their accomplishments with their friends.  And its gamification features enable promotions that generate excitement, competition, and recognition through points, badges, and leaderboards.

“We’re thrilled to have been selected by PointsHound.  They’re an innovative company offering a great service and through this agreement, Friendefi officially breaks into the hotel category,” said Aaron Carr, CEO of Friendefi.

About Friendefi

Friendefi Inc. is a privately owned company that owns and operates a proprietary promotions platform that uses social gamification to achieve outstanding engagement and results.  Friendefi primarily offers its services to loyalty programs in the travel, financial, and retail categories.

About PointsHound

PointsHound.com is the most flexible way to collect the most points and miles when booking hotels online. PointsHound allows its members to earn miles on over 150,000 hotels around the world in any of 10 frequent flier and loyalty currencies. New members can sign up for the service at pointshound.com/ 

For more information about Friendefi, please visit www.friendefi.com

For more information:

Aaron Carr, CEO & Founder Friendefi Inc.

Email: aaron@friendefi.com

Office: (514) 397-0415 ext. 100

Aaron Carr, CEO and Founder of Friendefi, will be speaking at the 3rd annual FFP Spring Event at the Freddie Awards in Washington on April 25, 2013.  Themed: “The Loyalty Innovation Show”, the FFP Spring Event will look at the developments and trends that travel loyalty programs must stay ahead of.

Look for Aaron during the audience favourite, Lion’s Den, where he will pitch Friendefi to a panel of judges as well as the audience and compete against three other innovative start-ups in the loyalty space.

For more information, see the conference agenda.

News Release

Montreal, QC (March 7, 2013) – Friendefi Inc. announced today the launch of its social gamification platform with Aeroplan, Canada’s premier coalition loyalty program, to provide its members with a novel way of earning Aeroplan Miles through social media as part of Aeroplan’s Star Challenge promotion.

Starting today until April 10, 2013, Aeroplan Members that register for the Star Challenge promotion will be able to earn Stars towards bonus miles for social activities on Facebook.  Friendefi is providing Aeroplan with a branded Facebook application that tracks members’ social activities – from referring friends to the promotion, to following Aeroplan on Twitter, to answering trivia questions.

“For this year’s Star Challenge promotion, Aeroplan wanted to offer members more ways to earn Stars and ultimately bonus miles, while increasing member engagement with the program through social channels,” said Tarik Qahawish, Director, Digital Marketing Strategy & Communications, Aeroplan.  “With Friendefi, we quickly got a branded Facebook application with customized game mechanics that offers a fun and engaging experience for our members.”

Through a variety of social media and gamification features, Friendefi’s platform allows loyalty programs to offer fun and engaging promotions where their members can invite, share, or even compare their program activities with their social network friends.  These activities may include purchasing products and services (from program-affiliated merchants and service providers) to activities within the program’s social media properties.  Similarly, programs can offer promotions where their members can compete or collaborate in their pursuit of earning rewards.  And though it is designed to be an ‘app’ within popular social networks such as Facebook, the platform can be deployed stand-alone and through mobile providing flexibility to both loyalty programs and their memberships.

“Our platform is purpose-built for loyalty programs to offer interactive promotions through social networks,” said Aaron Carr, Friendefi CEO and Founder.  “The platform helps loyalty programs turn their promotions into fun games or challenges their members play with friends.  By doing so, we’re providing loyalty marketers a new way of getting consumers excited and engaged with their programs.”

About Friendefi

Friendefi Inc. is a privately owned company that owns and operates a proprietary social gamification platform aimed at helping loyalty programs create fun, social, and interactive promotions that increase membership engagement and profitability.

For more information about Friendefi, please visit http://www.friendefi.com

SOURCE: Friendefi Inc.

For more information:

Aaron Carr, CEO & Founder Friendefi Inc.

Email: aaron@friendefi.com

Office: (514) 397-0415 ext. 100

Interview: Friendefi speaks to Corporate Knights Magazine

Friendefi’s CEO and Founder, Aaron Carr, talks to Corporate Knights Magazine about rewards, gamification, and encouraging environmentally sustainable behaviour.

For more, read the full article.

A first step in gamifying loyalty programs is to create a more interactive experience for the customer.   More specifically, we mean points promotions that allow greater interaction between the program and customers as well as between customers and other customers.  Allow us to explain.

In previous entries, we’ve discussed the motivational effect of feedback on behaviour.  Why, you ask, is feedback in the context of a points promotion so powerful?  For one, people respond to feedback – whether good or bad.  Imagine that you failed to beat your friend’s score on a favourite video game.  You see she’s ahead of you on the leaderboard and has 10,000 more points.  How does this feedback make you feel?  And what do you do in response?  If you’re like most people, you probably feel like playing again to beat your friend and achieve a higher score.  So you play again.

Leaderboard

In this way, feedback is powerful but is so often not harnessed by marketers.  Why not?  Many brands and retailers don’t have the ability to track your purchases or your interactions with their channels.  However, loyalty programs do track your purchases and already let you know how many points you’re earning.

However, most loyalty programs rely on you as the customer to look-up your points balance on their website or, worse, to check your monthly statement when it comes in the mail.  Instead, if programs provided an easy way for you to see how many points you’re accumulating throughout a promotion – on their website, mobile site or application –  the experience would become interactive and you could adapt your purchasing behaviour to maximize your rewards.

Leaderboard 2

And if loyalty programs allowed customers to see how their rewards were stacking-up compared to others during a promotion, it would unleash incredibly powerful social mechanics and take engagement levels that much higher.  Here, we’re refering to social comparison, competition, sharing, and collaboration.

The ability to see how you’re doing compared with others – for example, through face piles, leaderboards, or progress bars  – is powerful.  However at Friendefi, we advocate that social mechanics are only maximized when the other customers you’re comparing yourself to are either people you know (i.e. friends) or peers that you identify with (i.e. other elite status customers, colleagues, members of the same interest groups).  This is when engagement levels have the potential to really take-off as customers not only see their progress in real-time but are also seeing that of others they already compare themselves to.  And even if the promotion isn’t competitive (i.e. has one winner), the addition of social mechanics can still drive greater engagement because your customers are no longer responding to a promotional offer in a ‘silo’.   They’re doing so with other people they know, which increases relevancy and sharing and, well, is just more fun.

At Friendefi, we’re pretty busy building-out our new interactive gamification platform.  But when we got a call from the big man in the North Pole – that’s right, Saint Nick himself – who were we to turn down a last-minute gig?

North Pole

It turns out that Santa (he’s a pretty informal guy) had already successfully implemented various gamified applications within his production and customer service operations.  We won’t name names, but he’s using some pretty big enterprise applications with gamification functionality – he is, after all, running a serious manufacturing, logistics, and customer service operation.  So, we wondered how we could help.

Santa cut right to the chase (he’s also no nonsense when it comes to business).  He told us that his Business Intelligence team had uncovered some pretty discouraging trends amongst children over the past decade.  While the majority of children are still “nice” and not “naughty”, a growing segment appeared unengaged with Christmas and generally apathetic towards good behaviour.  Moreover, his BI team indicated that the current trends could become a real problem in the next few years if not addressed now.

So he told us, “I need you to help me gamify Christmas and get children all over the world more excited about being good!”

Our collective “holy cow” reaction was nearly audible, but our Team Lead replied enthusiastically the next moment: “No problem, Santa, we’re engagement experts and have just the gamification solution for you!”

And so, we set off on our task to gamify Christmas.  How did we do it?  Well, if over the next year you hear your kids talking about earning “Nice Points” and “leveling-up” to compare their good behaviour achievements with other kids in Santa’s social network, you’ll know.  And, don’t be alarmed if your children are late for dinner because they’re busy competing in a challenge with their friends to out-do one another with good behavior.  But mostly, if you notice a distinct improvement in your kid’s behaviour – it could little things like preparing the table before dinner (10 Nice Points) or cleaning their rooms (25 Nice Points) or even telephoning their grandparents to hear how they’re doing (50 Nice Points) – then you’ll know…

In the meantime, the team at Friendefi wishes everyone a very happy holiday season and offers you our best wishes for a tremendous 2013!

Happy Holidays

Previously, we defined gamification and reviewed examples across a range of sectors – from fitness to scientific research.  Now let’s get to the heart of the matter and talk about potential applications for the loyalty industry.

But first, let’s get a couple of obvious points out of the way.  In evolutionary terms, it could be said that gamification is of the same ‘genus’ as loyalty programs.  They’re distant cousins of one another and when applied to consumer marketing both largely serve to drive brand engagement, repeat purchasing, increased basket-size, and – well – loyalty.  So, it’s no surprise that gamification providers refer to their “behaviour platforms” and loyalty providers claim that their programs “profitability change consumer behaviour”

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Okay, with these obvious similarities on the table, let’s look at where gamification parted ways with loyalty programs along the course of their evolution.

Anyone who has ever been a frequent flyer, a frequent hotel guest, or a frequent shopper (at grocery stores, pharmacies, coffee shops, etc.) will know the basic elements of a loyalty program:

  • Program members earn points on their purchases;
  • Points accrued can be redeemed for discounts or other rewards;
  • High-value members can achieve ‘status’ with additional benefits;
  • The program sends offers targeted to members based on their past purchases, demographic characteristics, and behavior within the program.

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While we can’t offer objective data, we would estimate that the vast majority of loyalty programs – both big and small – don’t go substantially beyond these dimensions.  The sophistication of their practices is more measured by the strength of their analytics capabilities and their resulting ability to customize the program experience and offers to the individual.  And at Friendefi, we fully subscribe to this practice – offer relevance through targeted marketing is powerful.  But despite this, loyalty promotions all too often lack the full engagement power of well-designed gamified systems.

Why is this?

Well, to start, think back to the various mechanics we’ve reviewed to date: progression loops, feedback, competition, cooperation, comparison, achievement, recognition…to name a few.  This is not to say that these mechanics are wholly absent from loyalty programs.  In fact, many are present to a certain degree.  For example, earning points puts a value on each transaction allowing members to keep ‘score’.  And members can progress to elite tier levels with more exclusive benefits and recognition.  But these elements are not at all optimized within the program to ‘turbo charge’ the consumer experience and to maximize engagement.

Mark Goldstein, the former CEO and founder of Loyalty Lab (now a division of TIBCO Software), recently wrote in his Top 10 Coolest Things Going On In Loyalty that “Game mechanics are today’s rocket fuel of loyalty programs.”  He went on to say that game mechanics have gone beyond strictly social applications and are now being used to increase customer revenue and lifetime value.

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So, you may ask: If loyalty programs have many of the essential ingredients of a gamified system and strive to achieve similar, if not the same, consumer engagement objectives, then why haven’t they incorporated game mechanics to produce a new, thoroughly kick-ass marketing model?

About one year ago we asked ourselves the same question.  And roughly 6 months later, Friendefi was born.  We fully believe that the global loyalty industry would benefit from the turbo-charging power of properly deployed gamification.  And, we’ve developed a platform to help programs do just that.

Stay tuned – in our next commentary, we’ll elaborate with descriptive examples.

Practically Green is a program that encourages sustainable living.  It’s a fantastic example of using gamification to engage people in a cause.  Their website says: “We make healthy green living simple, personal and relevant, trackable, and shareable. We also make it fun!”  It also mentions that Practically Green uses interactive technology, game mechanics, and social media, which as we saw with Fitocracy, are core to creating an engaging user experience.

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A critical aspect of Practically Green’s approach in our view is the broad range of ‘actions’ that participants can take to accomplish their sustainability objectives.  From not idling your car to volunteering at an environmental nonprofit organization, Practically Green provides many different ways for people to add more “green” in their lives.  This touches on two other fundamental aspects of gamification and, for that matter, games themselves, voluntariness and meaningful choices.

For something to be fun, it has to be voluntary.  This is an interesting notion vis-a-vis environmental sustainability, which many view as a societal responsibility.  Moreover, it’s not easy “being green” – the shear scale of environmental issues can feel overwhelming and intimidating for the uninitiated.  But by giving participants a wide variety of specific actions to select from, Practically Green has done a great job of making sustainable living feel voluntary, easy to engage in, and achievable.

Similarly, the notion of having meaningful choices is central to game-play because, by definition, games have uncertain outcomes.  If players don’t “choose wisely”, it can have consequences and worsen their chances of winning the game.  Practically Green scores well here.  The variety of actions provides participants with many different potential choices to make, thereby enriching the ‘game-play’.  And, like Fitocracy, Practically Green has assigned a points value to each action, helping participants understand the impact of their actions and – of course – keeping score of their progress!

Switching gears, our last example is not a fully gamified system or application, it’s the profile completeness progress bar on LinkedIn, the well-known professional network.  We include this example for two reasons – it demonstrates the power of feedback in motivating action and it’s a great example of specific-purpose, short-term gamification.

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Originally, LinkedIn didn’t have a progress bar to inform users how much of their profile they’d completed.  And many users weren’t taking the time to complete their profiles – it’s easy to see why: it’s not exactly a fun task.  By adding the progress bar, LinkedIn reportedly improved profile completion rates by 20%.  All this from a simple progress bar?  You bet: games use progress bars and other feedback devices to motivate action all the time.  And people respond to feedback.  In the case of LinkedIn, the percentage informs users how far away they are from their ‘completion objective’, while the nice little message under the progress bar provides a suggestive prompt for what to do next.  And, of course, seeing your profile completeness at 100% provides a satisfying sense of task achievement.

We also highlight the specific-purpose nature of the use of gamification in this example because not all applications require or should have a richly gamified solution.  Sometimes a feature here, or a technique there is all that is required to achieve the desired improvement.

Fitocracy is a great example of gamification applied to an everyday challenge that many people face – finding the motivation to get in better shape.  The site describes itself as “the fitness social network to level up in real life.”  In fact, Fitocracy – through both its website and related mobile app – is entirely designed around helping people find the motivation to progressively improve their fitness.  Does it work?  Launched less than two years ago, Fitocracy already has several hundred thousand users.

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The site allows users to track their progress with points, levels, and badges.  Exercises have different points values based on their level of difficulty, which provides an important feedback and tracking mechanism for users.  Not accruing enough points?  Well, you need to do more difficult exercises or to work-out more often.

And as users earn points, they can ‘level-up’.  The social network’s mascot, FRED, keeps an ongoing tally of the points users earn, lets them know when they’ve reached another level and awards badges.  Not only does the recognition feel good (who doesn’t like being told they’re “awesome”?), it importantly forms the basis of Fitocracy’s progression loop – a technique often used in video games – whereby the ultimate goal is broken down into smaller, more bite-sized goals.  And as the term suggests, each level is progressively more difficult.  This stands to reason; after all, someone who’s not in shape can’t expect to complete a really difficult work-out.  But it’s fundamental to Fitocracy’s recipe for maximizing early and ongoing engagement: users begin at a level they’re comfortable with and can progress through increasing levels of difficulty and get motivating recognition along the way.

Moreover, it’s satisfying to reach a new level.  This is another advantage of a progression loop structure; the regular completion of levels feels good and provides ongoing motivation.

Equally important in our view, is Fitocracy’s social network, which is anchored with their “Feed”.  Like many other social networks, it allows users to share and compare with others within the community.  This provides a great way for people to connect and to share work-out tips and to encourage one another towards their fitness goals, which can be a powerful motivation enhancement.  It also allows user groups to propose challenges and individuals to engage in duels, effectively turning working-out into a competition.

By offering a range of interactive, social features from sharing, comparing, cooperating, to competing, Fitocracy is recognizing that different people have different behaviours and preferences.  For example, some people will be highly motivated by the sense of community they feel by sharing and relating to others within their user group.  Whereas, the die-hard competitive-type is more likely to get pumped at the prospect of beating others in fitness duels.