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Q&A: IPC Affiliate Director Simon Denny

Feelgood GamesSimon Denny has just been appointed Affiliate Director at IPC Connect. He was previously publisher, and part of the launch team for Feelgood Games, a casual gaming site aimed at women IPC launched in 2011, an offshoot into ecommerce, gaming and non-advertising revenues. How much of your focus with Feelgood Games has been about improving and developing user retention? Feelgood games is a casual gaming site operating a freemium business model.  Games are free-to-play and we generate revenue from players wishing to compete against each other for cash prizes or Trophies of achievement.  As the cost to acquire a new player is unlikely to be fully recovered in their first visit or first deposit, user retention is incredibly important to us.  It is vital that we retain players for a period of time, and this requires us to have in place effective strategies to bring them back to the site regularly, as well as providing compelling reasons to enter the tournaments.  Therefore, a disproportionate amount of time goes into establishing and developing retention through the provision of an excellent customer experience. Feelgood Games What have been the most effective and economical ways of acquiring new players? The simple answer is by leveraging our existing reach. We know that 75% of paying online gamers are women, IPC Media reaches two thirds of UK women so we are well placed to introduce gaming products to our existing audience.   Our ability to move an offline audience to an online platform is an advantage we have been aware of for some time and is a key asset of our recently launched advertising proposition IPC Play.  Our ability to create games for brands and get specific groups of people to play them is incredibly powerful. Are there any particular tools you found useful in organising and automating user retention to achieve better results? Yes.  User retention for me equals great customer experience.  The better the experience the more likely people will re-use your product.  Good games inherently retain players, so for us it’s the additional service that we focus on and this is delivered through support, feedback and providing entertainment.  This is done through messaging, both on-site during the visit and off-site during the time they are away.  We use a few systems to manage this.  We use Facebook, Twitter and Cheetahmail for our off-site communications and these are synced with our on-site, event based messages for which we use a bespoke CRM system. How will you be applying the lessons you learned from Feelgood Games to the rest of the IPC Connect portfolio? There are 3 key things we have learnt from Feelgood games and from wider elements of our business.
  1. Firstly the need to continuously develop the product and customer service, in small iterations from insights gained from actual users.  At the heart of this is well implemented analytics, actionable KPI's and some processes that allow the product and its features to evolve over time.
  2. Secondly a clear and well thought out communication plan.  By that I mean define who, where and how you will speak to our customers - new or old, high value or low.  Work this out independently of what technology you need.  There isn't a communications plan for Twitter or Facebook or email, on-site or mobile.  They are simply the delivery mechanics of your communication strategy.
  3. Test, analyse and refine.  You never know the answers, you have ideas that come from listening to feedback that you go on to test.  Be creative and let all members of the team input equally.

What's your view on virtual goods & is this part of your product roadmap?

We actually have virtual goods already in the form of our trophy tournaments, however this is a key area of development for us.  The games that will be launched during June and July will also be available on Facebook, iOS and Android apps.  These games will contain in-game items.  Some elements will be permanent such as additional levels, some will last for a limited time such as extra lives and cheats.

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