Irad Eichler already has an impressive resume. Named the Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009 by the World Economic Forum, Eichler formed a company 10 years ago that trained and placed more than 2,200 mentally challenged people with jobs.
Now he’s focused on content marketing – or, more specifically, he’s looking at how we view content and how to truly engage the masses.
His solution? A game.
In an exclusive interview with Article-Writing, Eichler talks about redefining content marketing by leveraging social game platforms.
Enter his latest startup: Wheeldo.
AW: Explain how you came up with this concept.
Eichler: In my family, we constantly play games with our kids, small games like who will get there first, who am I thinking about and so on. After working with and training mentally ill people and (helping them find jobs), I thought it would be a good idea to train people with games. We founded Wheeldo as a platform for employee training. It took off nicely at the beginning, but it was hard to implement the concept of playing games for training with some companies. Two things worked amazingly: employees loved playing our games, and when we used our games for marketing campaigns, we generated tons of leads. So, we said, why not use it where it works: content marketing campaign platforms.
AW: How long did it take to develop this game?
Eichler: We developed the first platform in six months and then pivoting took us another three months.
AW: Is it starting to gain in popularity?
Eichler: Things are going really fast since we launched our first pilot a few weeks ago. It was a daily game for women and we had women signing up for it. After a week, we launched and had 55 percent engagement, which means that 55 percent of the people who signed up for the game played it on a daily basis. Also, within a week, our mailing list grew by 20 percent, and people shared the game with other people and invited them to join.
Since we launched, we are getting nice traffic to the website and partnering with digital agencies that are creating games for their clients.
AW: What kind of feedback have you received?
Eichler: To make it clear how addictive it is, I want to tell you about some of our users’ feedback: In one of the campaigns, one of the games was published in a delay of a few hours, and people started sending emails, “What about the daily game?” We had people writing to us saying they are playing with their peers at work, and some used it with their family.
AW: Explain why you wanted to develop this game.
Eichler: We are constantly sharing content in various ways: posts, photos and video. We are measuring the engagement with the content based on likes and shares. Games are a great way to win engagement with the content you create. It is viral, engaging and easy to get users’ action (call to action). When one uses content games, he or she gets their audience exposed to small pieces of marketing information in a fun and engaging way.
AW: Generally speaking, who’s using this game – mostly small companies, mid-size or large companies? Any big companies you can mention?
Eichler: Our games are a perfect fit for companies in any size that do marketing in general and content marketing in particular. Right now, mainly small businesses are using our platform. Dell is now checking out our platform, but nothing is closed yet.
AW: What are those entities using the game for? Promotion? Gain more visitors?
Eichler: People are using our platform for three main reasons: branding, client engagement and sales promotion (they are sending coupons to the players).
AW: Did you receive any financial backing?
Eichler: We are backed by a group of angel investors.
AW: What are your objectives – and why a game?
Eichler: Games are a great way to get people engaged by sharing content in a fun way. Since we originally created those games for employees learning, players can learn about your business or service while playing those games.
AW: Your website says “content marketing meets gamification.” Please explain – is this just a game for content marketing companies, or is this a game that uses content marketing practices that can be used for any business, website, etc.?
Eichler: Our vision is to help businesses to share content with their audience in a fun and engaging way. Content marketing companies are doing it in different ways and we want to help them do it using games. Businesses that are marketing can use our games on their website or for their email campaigns.
AW: Explain the differences between the free and paid version.
Eichler: We price our services by the number of players. So you can start sharing your content and gain leads and traffic for free. Once a business reaches 100 players per game, it’s then charged a monthly fee.
AW: Once you’ve created your game, now what – can you share it on any social media platform? Can you embed it onto a website?
Eichler: You can share it everywhere. We created a share button for Facebook, and you can send it via emails, share the link and even embed it onto your website. The good news is that every time someone plays your game, they become your followers, and if you send the games via email, they get notifications.
AW: While I can see this being useful to just about any business, is there a particular industry that you think this is perfect for?
Eichler: I agree with you that this is a great tool for almost any business, but the early adopter would be a small retail business that is already investing in marketing.
AW: Give me your opinion: How often should a company use this game — once a week? Once a month? More? Less?
Eichler: I guess it depends on the size of the business and the audience, but I would say that once a week is a great way to keep people waiting and getting used to it. Once a day is for a large company with a big audience and a good subject to run games with. For example: a books retailer with a daily quiz about literature would be someone that could run this once a day.
AW: What kinds of questions make for a good game? In other words, should the questions be focused on product promotion?
Eichler: A good game is a game with content that interests the audience. So if, for example, you are a car agency, you should write about cool things about cars. Another thing about the questions is that you have to write them in different levels of difficulty, Start with three easy questions to get people in the game, then three medium ones and at the end, three hard ones. Don’t make it too long or too short, nine to 12 questions is a good number.
AW: Say I want to pitch this to a client. What’s the process? Do I need to purchase the paid version? Afterward, do I just embed the game onto the client’s website, or do I need your permission first?
Eichler: The best way to pitch a client is to create a game for him – it literally takes minutes. You can start with the free version and take it from there, once people are into it, you can upgrade it. You can easily embed the game onto the website: just copy the embed code you get at the end of the game.
AW: How do you promote this product?
Eichler: We are focusing on partnerships with digital agencies – we love working with people who are into content marketing and social media.
AW: I don’t want you to reveal any company secrets. With that said, are you developing any other unique content marketing strategies? If so, can you give us some hints on the new products?
Eichler: Yes we are. Here’s a hint: Our next game is all about being viral while getting users to feel good about each other. So, you will get people sharing content with each other while sharing positive feedback.
Jake Rigdon is the executive editor at Nimble Media, a Toronto-based content marketing firm, and at Article-Writing.co, a content management firm. Rigdon has more than 25 years’ worth of experience as a writer, copy editor and manager. You can reach him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter or by email at email@example.com.