Stickiness: Encouraging Repeat Visits

[As part of a new series of articles, I thought I’d discuss a few of the design ideas within the Swopster site. These concepts aren’t just applicable to free game swapping – any sites where you’re trying to get users to interact with each other need to solve similar problems]

Encouraging members to keep coming back to the Swopster site time and time again is an important goal. My vision is of a large, healthy community where members regularly indulge in free game swapping between themselves with as few problems as possible.

The cycle of swapping a game is the biggest draw – after going through the cycle and completing a swap, the benefits to the members are terrific: the ability to try out different games by simply re-using their existing games collections.

However, until members have gone through the free game swapping cycle successfully, there’s still a need to keep them involved and active within the Swopster network. There are a number of elements designed to nurture this involvement.

Expiring Swaps

When members request swaps, there’s a time limit on each request (3-14 days). The main reason this was done was to stop members endlessly waiting for specific swaps and cluttering up other members swap lists.

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However, this also helps with stickability – even if a member has issued a whole stack of swap requests, they will still need to re-visit the site if none of the requests are agreed.

Logon Usage

As discussed in the Chicken And Egg post, the logon usage graph is publicly visible for every member within the Swopster:: Free Game Swapping network:

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This handy little graph shows how often a member has logged in over the past 5 weeks. It’s a useful way of establishing how active a member is. To keep their graph looking active, members need to login regularly.

Alternative Swaps

On the face of it, members can simply build their SwapList and WishLists, and passively wait for matches and requests. They never need to return to the site – they can just sit and wait for an e-mail request. However, new games are being published all the time, and I didn’t want members to miss out on a new game they hadn’t heard of or set-up in their WishList.

So, I implemented the Alternative Swaps function. One of the benefits of knowing everyone’s likes and dislikes is that we can suggest alternative swaps which can be immediately matched. This is a really useful way of showing the member games they might not have even thought about.

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Currently, the alternative swaps aren’t sent out as e-mails. This means members have to login to take advantage of this useful facility. As the member numbers grow, this facility will take on more and more significance.

These are just a few of the techniques I’m experimenting with to encourage repeat visitors to the Swopster site – I’ll post additional articles as more strategies are tested.

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