How ThreeDots increased Customer Retention by 2x

Amreeta Joseph

August 18, 2022

A million users in 6 months, yes you read it right! Want to know how this brand got there? 
Stick around for a fascinating conversation about customer engagement –  overcoming challenges, breaking the norms and everything in between!

We had a conversation with Akul Aggarwal, Co-Founder and CTO at Threedots in the first episode of our podcast series: Glucast. He is a passionate product-builder and his growth strategies have worked phenomenally well for Threedots.

More About ThreeDots

A social investing platform, Threedots connects beginners with investment experts on their platform. The startup was launched in 2021 and since then, hundreds of thousands of people have consumed insights, trends, and expert advice around trading on their platform. 

Inherently, the problem with investing is that the space lacks trust and guidance. It always seems like a complex space which has a steep learning curve, you’re often confused - you don’t know what to do, what to buy and what to sell. At Threedots, we are trying to solve the investing problem for masses through social means and gamified learning”, Akul Aggarwal - 0:40

The Pandemic’s Impact on Investing

The COVID-19 pandemic had an extraordinary effect on the retail investing space in India. The number of investing accounts nearly tripled during 2020-21 and it left a big gap because most of the beginners did not know how to begin with – there wasn’t any source of organized guidance. The audience was more than ready, with their accounts open but had no clue how to begin investing! Threedots came into existence with the aim of filling this space. 

We saw this behavior developing on social media platforms where a lot of financial influencers came to rise and they were trying to educate users on investing and guide them through their journey but there was no dedicated platform uh for that space you know solving it for this audience and that is where Threedots came to rise”, Akul Aggarwal - 3:25

What’s the Biggest Growth Challenge Today?

Contrary to popular opinion, the biggest challenge of startups isn’t getting the initial audience. It is not raising funds or building a team either. Then what is it? Listen to what Akul had to say:

“Since January, we really started scaling up and in the past six months, we were able to acquire close to a million users. One of the biggest challenges in the company right now is how to manage that growth and still build our product and keep developing our tech to sustain that growth”, Akul Aggarwal - 5:05

Startups, especially with unique solutions – usually face this problem of customer engagement and retention, that’s where they can sustain their growth. While scaling up, products move to the hands of larger and more diverse audiences. The real challenge begins there. Continuing with your product building and still maintaining the growth with retention and customer engagement defines the trajectory of a business. 

Why Push Notifications are Not Working Anymore?

Engaging customers with your product is trickier than ever. One-sided interactions like push notifications have lost their impact due to many reasons. Users have their smartphones flooded with enough notifications at any given time to skip all of them. Just hooking your audience with quirky one-liners to draw them to your platform seems to be a high-effort and minimal-ROI practice.

Amidst the wildly competitive era, retaining customers requires triggering motivation in a unique and actively engaging way. Gamification comprehensively caters to this need of brands.

“Push notifications have been over-used by everyone in the industry. Talking about the results of our PNs, with respect to industry benchmarks, we were at a good place but the overall impact was still not there! The number of PNs you get on your phone has developed this inherited line of blindness to ignore all of them”, Akul Aggarwal -  8:47

How Gamification Changed the Game for ThreeDots?

As a startup, when you scale, attracting a huge number of users comes with its own set of challenges. The intent towards your solution, their domain knowledge, motivation factors, way of learning  – everything varies but you ideally want to cater to everyone by engaging and retaining them.

Subsequently, it is vital to understand what worked for your initial audience, who were probably high intent users, and might not engage the bigger audience while scaling up. 

Threedots focused on experimentation early on, and it clearly benefited them in their aim to engage and educate their target audience.

We had high intent users who actually wanted advice then we had people who didn’t know what they wanted. To simplify the flow, we then began experimenting with gamification because with intent users, engagement was there, but with the masses, it wasn’t. That is where gamification played a very critical role in the product and especially in driving retention and engagement. With gamification, we were able to solve all the inherent drop-offs in the investing space - from delayed gratification to a progressive learning curve and telling users exactly what to do. We started experimenting in December, and it really laid well for us”, Akul Aggarwal - 9:46.

The 4 Psychological Factors of Gamification 

In order to experiment in the right way and even before you begin executing gamification in your product, you need to know how exactly gamification works. What is the gamification framework that affects our psychology? 

Akul had a fantastic take on it, which explained gamification comprehensively:

“There are basically four psychological factors why you play and get hooked on certain games:

  • Goal setting: Effectively tell your users what they need to achieve and how they need to go about achieving it.
  • Feedback system:  For everything a user does, the system should tell how they are doing or reward them.
  • Social Information: The social information that motivates users to do better.
  • Growth mindset:  Foster a growth mindset in your users. Set a learning curve where the users think they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. 

For me, gamification is around cracking those behaviors by using game mechanics”, Akul Aggarwal - 12:48

What Happens When You Implement Gamification?

The best thing about gamification is that it triggers unique behaviours. Let’s say a brand launches reward campaigns for activities like daily login streaks, sharing products with friends and points leaderboard – it suddenly becomes more of a social aspect for the users. The best example of this is Snapchat streaks which makes 60% of users create content on the platform every day!

In the case of Threedots, the story of social experience is similar. Let’s take a look at how gratification and rewarding layers on their product helped them.

“One of the unique behaviors was the social aspect of our experiments. We saw gamification get us a lot of organic growth. People would love to take screenshots of their rewards and brag about them. They don't really care about the reward but about the experience of getting the reward. We were able to even drive that behavior better than we expected”, Akul Aggarwal - 18:56

How Long Does it Take to Launch an Experiment?

“It's fairly quick I would say. Especially since we've been using CustomerGlu – the kind of customizations and campaigns that you guys offer, it's very quick. I would say within a week. I think more of the work goes around planning the right model and reward structure we want to give out, but within a week we're able to quickly launch an experiment and get insights”, Akul Aggarwal - 40:03

The time taken to create and launch a gamified campaign is a critical factor that product teams consider while planning their engagement activities. CustomerGlu enables the integration of gamified experiences with ease after allowing brands to choose from various templatized options. With a low-code gamification builder, you can begin acquiring, engaging and retaining users to your product in a hassle-free way.

What’s Next for Threedots?

“What we were able to do with gamification is launch it in silos, but we haven’t been able to model the right user journey. So, figuring out the right journey with gamification is the next big step. We want to model it in such a way that whether it is a beginner user, an expert or a seasoned trader – our journeys using gratification and rewarding layers should lead them to our power user or a retained user. It's not always about the reward but that entire experience that makes the user feel like a part of the product - so modelling that journey would be our next biggest focus”, Akul Aggarwal - 43:08.

The number of problem statements that gamification can potentially solve is growing tremendously. From customer engagement and retention to proficient user experience –  it has become a full-fledged solution to product growth.

Especially the way Threedots has leveraged gamification in its deep-rooted strategies and the organization’s future plans look exciting too. This category-creator journey of Threedots is a huge example for brands willing to experiment and go all-in with gamification.

Let The Numbers Speak

Great results, fast growth and improved engagement - sound fine but wouldn’t you love to find out the exact numbers Threedots generated after bringing in gamification? 

“The moment we launched gamification we saw instant results. The biggest achievement for us at that time was launching gamification in the beta program. The day we launched it, we saw that apk going viral, which became a big issue for us to manage, but on the other end - it was a great success story. In terms of retention and engagement, certain cohorts of users jumped by at least 2x. It works if you model the right way, especially in contexts that really lack that user intent. Usually, 70% of users uninstall the app in the first three days. However, our uninstall ratio became much better. We got almost 60% to 70 % uninstalls in the first two days and then that number went down to 30% – people were really liking it. The CAC (customer acquisition cost) went down to 50% of its original - it was a great success for us”, Akul Aggarwal - 49:17

How can Brands Crack Engagement to Grow with Gamification?

Addressing the elephant in the room - how can businesses make the best out of gamification? Even before we move on to convenient execution, awareness of the numerous possibilities is vital. Brands know how critical engagement is, but they don’t do much about executing and playing with it. 

Akul, who has had more than enough experience already with gamification, has some advice for brands peeking into gamified experiences from the fence:

“They need to give it a shot and especially with the product that CustomerGlu has developed for them – it should be a no-brainer. You know everything is good and you don't have to use a lot of resources and you don't take a lot of time to launch. You get a lot of variables to experiment with, so definitely launch it and don't make it in-house, there are folks doing it right here”, Akul Aggarwal- 52:56

How can CustomerGlu help?

CustomerGlu provides end-to-end solutions for creating gamified experiences that can transform your product’s growth curve. With a low-code CX builder, you can start acquiring, engaging and retaining the maximum number of users possible. If you have thinking about gamification for enhancing your product – there has never been a better time to narrow down your focus on customer retention and experience. We would love to invite you for a Product Demo Session, book it today to have a deep dive into how CustomerGlu helps you make your product more engaging and grow your business.