Izzui Case Study — Building a Web-Based Digital Platform for Content Engagement
First let me say this: engagement is not only about views or clicks.We all know the statistics and understand that online video is one of the best ways to get your users’ attention. But once you get the views, what’s next? It’s time for the experience revolution.
“Experience is something special. It’s all the rage at the moment, yet, we often talk about it as is if it’s a thing. But, as we know, deep down, the best things in life aren’t things, they’re experiences.”
Some data to reassure the trend:
- 1/3 of all online activity is spent watching video.
- After watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online, according to ComScore.
- 46% of users take some sort of action after viewing a video ad, according to Online publishers association.
- 147.MM Americans watch video on the internet, according to NIELSEN.
- According to ComScore, the average user spends over 16 minutes watching online video ads every month.
- 90% of user say that seeing a video about a product is helpful in the decision process.
I’ve been working on Izzui for the past few years developing a content engagement platform. This way, anyone with content could transform it into full experiences in simple steps.
And you know what? We were right. Providing experiences instead of simple online videos is an excellent way to connect with your user.
With Izzui first channel’s launch we’ve achieved:
- 92% visitor-to-player conversion rate.
- 97% mission completion rate.
- 32% engagement rate for the biggest online store of Latin America (with 10mi clients and 20k companies associated) generating more than 200k in revenue.
And this progressive engagement curve:
We hit the secret spot! The percentage of users who were engaged with content grew progressively. And we did that by providing a mission centric experience.
It Works Like This
We provide the pieces to free your imagination — just like a digital LEGO
Any brand or content producer can import (from YouTube, DailyMotion, and others) or upload their videos. After that, they start to build the experience around it. By arranging interactions, rewards, and content the ‘Mission Builder’ allows them to create a full experience - even without any gaming knowledge. It’s just drag and drop.
We not only provide the parts for you to put it together, but also an environment that turns your content into a fun game.
You manage the pieces, we deliver the experience. That way, the platform provides different solutions for different problems.
You can address different goals
- Using for boost sales.
- To create deeper relationships with the products.
- To gather user knowledge and intelligence that you can’t get from the traditional data.
- Use the platform to teach something.
- Use it to evaluate your users knowledge.
- Use it to build a community around a specific subject.
- Launch new products.
- Create online treasure hunts.
- Connect with the offline world (like your TV audience).
- Gather user intelligence.
- Improve brand awareness.
- Reward specific behaviors.
And all of that in a multi-platform web based experience. No worries about compatibility, downloads, apps or devices. It works for everyone.
Your experience can be just a mission or a complete channel. Spread missions on the internet using the embedded version or bring it all together with channels and more customizable options.
What I did
Limited time and our small team gave me the opportunity to play important roles in different areas of the product. Such as:
I did the product management and set the vision, kept the team involved and motivated with new ideas and concepts in each step of the process and lead them towards our goals, also translating the business and users needs into the development.
Marketing & Sales
I took part in all marketing needs such as email campaigns to increase awareness and ensure retention. Also was responsible for planning the go-to-market strategy and taking care of our brand.
I did the user experience for the full project and was responsible for the research, interviews, user flows, wireframes, mockups, product analysis, information architecture, and the design itself.
Support & Customer Relations
Also took advantage of our reduced staff to relate directly with our users using our communications platforms, creating deeper relations with them in order to apply their motivations and behaviors into the development.
User Interface Design
Since our team only had 4 Developers and 1 HTML & CSS focused designer, I also took ownership of the UI and designed all the patterns, guidelines and look & feel.
Here’s my process
- Understanding the Context (The Company & Goals | The Product | The Audience)
- Identifying the Problems
- And ith every problem comes an opportunity
- The Product Pivot
- Separating the key audience for each project & understanding their needs (Admin | Final User)
- Analyze & Document
- Relationship and the early adopters
- Combining the new vision with the existing structure
- The Vision: Mission Centric
- New Vision, new KPIs
- The Business Model
- Prioritizing and setting a new Roadmap
- Getting the new concept approved by the investors
- Iterate & Test
- Sharing the Beta with stakeholders
- Feedbacks & More Tests (Customer Relations & Researches | UX | Product Testing)
- Implementation & Launch (Follow-up and rapid improvements)
- It’s On!
- What went wrong and what I would do differently
Understanding the Context
The Company & Goals
When I entered the company, the product was on it’s second version. I studied the choices that led to this decision and how the company was built.
The first intention was to create a learning experience inside Facebook.
The first version was built and launched. And it failed. By that time, they learned that not everybody has the ability and dynamics to teach something and be relevant. Some of them lack the teaching experience, some don’t have the skills to make a good online video and some just weren’t built for that.
So it was time for the first product pivot.
The second version was a platform Facebook-dependent but outside Facebook that provided a structure for qualified users to create courses and use gamification tools to complement it. It was all about making learning more fun with game elements and with a different set-up.
With the product’s shift the audience that once was any person who wanted to teach something became brands with content that wanted to use it in a game environment. That was the first big change that impacted the business model and possible revenue.
Identifying the problems
By observing the lack of user adoption of the second version I started to study the product and the data to understand behaviors and needs in order to discover possible improvement points and opportunities. One of the main problems that I’ve found was the administration system. It was hard for the brand to build a consistent game logic since they were experts on content, not gaming. The structure also had too many options leading to a series of lost-track ramifications.
We had to let go of the learning heritage. Courses, Lessons and the content segmentation didn’t make sense anymore. We weren’t building a learning tool, we were starting the process of content engagement.
On top for that, the platform was still Facebook dependent for the login authentication and that became a problem for large companies who wanted to use their own system and their own security measures.
To sum up, the main problems were: Too many options to decide, learning heritage and vocabulary, Facebook dependency, complex administration tool, and SCORM as content.
And with every problem comes an opportunity
Despite the problems, we discovered that creating an additional level to content was indeed relevant and truly engaging. We were on the verge of something.
My first solution was to use the platform to test some hypothesis while I planned a product pivot and set the new vision and goals to be discussed with the team. I introduced the interactions in that model using challenges and tested simplifying the points and coins.
My vision was to build a more broad platform where anybody could build their own experience with their existing content. To do this, we should focus on video as a content, content producers as an audience and the experience as a goal.
The Product Pivot
The first step was figure out we were dealing with two different projects: one for the administration tool and one for the final user. Each one of them had their own audience and set of requirements.
We also had to be careful with the transition not only to make it smoother for our early adopters but also try to re-use the same structure that was built for the second version.
Separating the key audience for each project & understanding their needs
The audience for the administration part of the platform was brands or content producers focused on engaging their users. Our key strategy were B2B2C.
We partnered with consumer-oriented product and service businesses to validate and experiment with their users in order to launch a more independent version.
It wasn’t hard to figure out their needs and desires. We had the data from the past versions to influence our decisions and a open door to test our assumptions. The main need for the admin was: it had to be quick and effortless to build a full and great experience. They don’t have much time to learn how to use unknown platforms. They also need significant customization so their brand is reflected to their users.
And we also had to assume that they don’t know how to build logical games, so the platform should fill that gap by providing a tool that creates a game without asking them to build one.
We used the 5 minute challenge: they had to be able to build a complete and unique experience in less than 5 minutes.
Our final users were totally dependent on the admin target and could vary from different ages, gender, locations and objectives. We had to build an one-size-fits-all structure to guarantee that it will work regardless of the chosen audience. But we also knew that it had to be fun, engaging, addictive and simple to use.
Since the users were defined by the administration part and their clients, we had to focus on the part of the experience that was universal.
We had to be different, relevant, and for that, we knew that the platform:
- Had to be fun.
- Had to be addictive.
- Had to be responsive and run on all devices.
- Had to rely on great design — it had to work considering any customizations that the admin may use such as colors, images and patterns. It had to deliver a great experience even with bad modifications.
Analyze & Document
After identifying the users for each part of the project, it was time to know more about them and understand everything from the previous versions. I had to learn what went wrong and why and what our future users will need. For that, I relied on the data from the first launches, user interviews, researches and deep product analysis.
I also had to motivate the team to pursue a new goal and used a data-driven vision to convince them.
Relationship and the Early Adopters
In between deliveries and changes, it was crucial to maintain a good relationship with our early adopters from both ends. We had to keep the brands engaged to build new experiences using the new version and be excited about that while it wasn’t fully ready.
We also had to keep our first users continually using the platform to learn their behaviors and translate it into product improvements, so I did campaigns and used our communications platforms (Intercom,MailChimp,Facebook) to always present new content and let them be the first to know of any new feature we developed.
Combining New Vision with the Existing Structure
We already had two platforms running and had users in both of them. We couldn’t just toss it all in the trash and forget about it. We had to came up with a strategy to close the first version without much harm and to transform the second into the third with the fewest lost as possible (in users, clients and technology).
It was a challenge since they had two different visions and goals and we were still developing the project itself. I had to absorb the concept and technology to develop something in between them. We started changing the administration part and then moved to the final user.
The leverage that we had was to use the second version as a test base for the new one. Improving gradually parts of the product and introducing the new concepts step by step.
The vision: mission centric
We started to develop the ‘Mission’ concept using videos to create missions with interactions and rewards involved. Instead of being content centric, the platform should be mission centric. It was easier to set challenges and create a community around it.
The users played the missions and were rewarded at the end. The mission would be fun and unique. Using interactions to make a connection with the user and boost the content.
New vision, new KPIs
With a new project, new KPIs had to be defined as well. What was measured by acquired knowledge from the content and number of completed courses had to be shifted to user adoption and retention.
With the mission concept, our success rates will be the use and the propagation of the missions. Metrics like number of used prizes, number of missions completed by the same person, length of engagement for each visit and lead conversion were our new metrics of success.
The business model
The advantage of MVP is to be able not only to test different products and assumptions but also different business models along the way.
We tested partnerships with major brands with a fixed monthly rate. Customized experiences for key clients and sponsorship. Freemium model, with some features offered to premium users only. Tested the Affiliates Commissions model using sales strategy with coupons and discounts and the pay-per-user and pay-per-engagement model with the missions.
Prioritize and set a new roadmap
The more versions we built, the less time we had to launch them before our funding ended.
We had to focus on the highest priority deliveries with most impact on the product.
The coding also had to start right away — the developers couldn’t waste time waiting for full projects and instructions and we all had to work together at the same time. So we focused on delivering the parts that we knew should be developed while we planned the next steps.
Getting the new concept approved by the investors
The fundamental part was to get the investors on board with the new vision and convince them to let us develop a new product instead of insisting on the old version. But we also had to make this transition smooth and lossless, we had to get them excited about the new launch making it clear why we believed we must make the shift.
So I prepared the new sales pitch with the new launch structure and roadmap, showing specifically the parts that we were maintaining and improving to minimize the changes, like the mission builder (administration part) and showing relevant data supporting the need for the change from the collected user data.
Iterate & test
After the approval for the changes, we started to test the new concept with real users and by ourselves. It was time to use paper prototypes, sketches, emulated transitions, concepts and launch the beta version to gather as much feedback and data as possible without compromising the alpha product and users.
Sharing the Beta with the Stakeholders
We were with an MVP mindset, it was fundamental to deploy the beta version but also to be prepared to use this version as a starting point for the technology that we will use for the final one.
At the same time, the prototypes weren’t enough to engage all the stakeholders so we had to speed up our usability and the product interface and not be so focused on the backend.
We had to find the perfect balance between them.
Always looking forward to new investments and adoption, we set out some press releases with the product’s changes and updated our social medias with the transition. We didn’t want to lose our acquired fans. We introduced the new version as an update and made campaigns to engage our old users.
Feedbacks & more tests
Customer relationships & Researches
Using user feedback platforms such as Intercom, Tawk.to and others, we started to build a relationship and gather feeback and usage data from our audience. That allowed us to learn everything about our users maintaining a good relationship and proximity. We started to understand their motivations and thoughts, creating patterns of behaviors that could improve our product.
Along with understanding the users needs, we also had to create a great experience with the product. To achieve that, we relied on A/B testing, users interviews, controlled experiments with the beta version, and other tools to guarantee the best experience and best interactions.
Usage patterns started to be available with our beta launch, so it was time to understand the product needs and the pain points by analyzing the user’s behaviors. We had to look out for bugs, experience problems, and know how our users were using the platform without our supervision. By analyzing all these behaviors combined we were able to make improvements in all areas.
Implementation & launch
With a hands-on attitude from all team members we started the full implementation for the platform. Everything had to be addressed and planned: from servers to launch strategies.
We released the first version with the B2B2C focus and partner with major brands to create model channels in order to validate the platform and set the standards for the small content producer.
Follow-Up and Rapid Improvements
Every product is a work in progress. You can always learn something new and improve things. By following the data and the usage, you can trace the patterns, see the new needs, and set new visions testing them in a controlled way.
One improvement that we did after the first launch was the mission builder — we took away unnecessary steps and made it quicker to launch and embed missions.
The product went live and achieved some impressive numbers at start.
Here’s first launch in numbers:
- 20 brand channels
- 500.000 Users in all channels
- 400.000 completed missions
- 200.000 used rewards
- 50.000 e-mails registered — users signed up to receive new missions.
We were on the right track. It’s now time for more improvements and keep pushing the product to it’s limit.
The product is in constant change and I left the team in April of 2016, but you can always see the latest version here.
What went wrong and what I would do differently
Because of my frustrated experiences with the complex administration tool of the second version, I spend too much time trying to perfect it. I wanted so bad to provide an amazing experience for the admin that I forgot about the importance of the final user at some point. And if we are talking about brands, the final user plays the most important part. The brand will do anything to keep them engaged and happy.
Besides that, we figured out late that the missions didn’t had to be channel dependent. That we could just provide a mission builder and let it be spread instead of forcing the channel creation.
I would definitely put the focus on the missions and leave the channels to the second round of investment by adding it as a extra set for premium users if I had the chance to go back.
And finally, I would focus on the social aspect and community and trust the power of the missions. Let everybody build their own and share them over the internet.
Thank you for reading this. If you want to know more about me check my LinkedIn.