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November 8, 2012 // 12:00 AM

Tech Profile: PunchTab

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What is PunchTab, and how did you and your team get started in this field?

PunchTab is an engagement and on-demand incentives platform powering loyalty and reward programs, giveaways, sweepstakes and customized campaigns for marketing and advertising agencies. PunchTab allows bloggers, brands and businesses to create social and mobile-enabled loyalty programs in minutes. More than 12,000 publishers are using PunchTab's tightly-integrated rewards program to engage and incentivize over 22 million consumers every month, with no development or marketing costs. Web and mobile app developers can also utilize the PunchTab Developer Tools for a tightly integrated solution.

Ranjith Kumaran and Mehdi Ait Oufkir founded PunchTab in January 2011. Previously, Kumaran founded YouSendit, and Oufkir was one of his early employees at the company.

How should the marketing/advertising industry utilize PunchTab to create better end-results for its clients’ marketing strategies?

campaign-dashboardMarketing and advertising agencies are constantly tasked with finding new and effective ways to reach new clients and interact with current customers through social and digital media campaigns. PunchTab offers a number of proven tools that can seamlessly blend with an existing website or social channel, such as incentivized actions, customized branding, website and app integration, points systems, badges, giveaways and e-commerce integration. PunchTab also provides deep analytics and support to ensure that clients can accurately measure their program’s success along the way and get assistance from PunchTab to ensure maximized results.

What trends and changes in the market led you to realize that PunchTab would fill a void?

Traditional rewards and loyalty programs typically reward customers for purchases. While they have been effective, they are also one-dimensional. Brands and businesses need to look at engagement and rewards beyond the purchase. Loyalty 2.0 extends to WOM, social sharing and social endorsement. Today’s customers use social media to share everything they do, eat, buy and places they visit. By rewarding these activities, our clients are able to create more touchpoints with their customers to further drive loyalty, engagement and reach.

What incentives can PunchTab’s clients offer customers to encourage social sharing return visits to the site?

Some of the incentives PunchTab’s clients offer to customers are:

  • Giveaways – these allow clients to boost awareness and build a following by offering entries to a giveaway in exchange for social sharing.
  • Rewards – users can accumulate points for multiple rewards by continuously sharing and coming back to visit a page.
  • Badges – virtual rewards. Every time a user takes a social action they earn points towards that next badge.

PunchTab currently powers more than 12,000 loyalty programs and 1,000 new giveaways each month. PunchTab has awarded 400,000 badges for taking social engagement actions.

How can gamification be used to help build brand awareness and loyalty?

Gamification encourages customers to frequently interact and engage with a brand through fun or competition. The programs are designed to reward those who engage with your brand regularly, helping to create more loyalty and affinity. Furthermore, activity is recognized and rewarded through social media, so your brand’s reach is extended to your customer’s friends and connections, helping you build awareness among new audiences. PunchTab loyalty members share 1,200 times more, visit 11 times more, comment/contribute to the conversation 200 times more and consume 16 times more than non-members.

How are local incentives and rewards becoming more important to PunchTab clients?

We have multiple out-of-the-box solutions that reward and incentivize customers for every dollar spent, check-in logged and product or service shared through integrations with Foursquare, Instagram, Pinterest, SoundCloud and more. Your customers can choose from your own catalog of discount offers, swag or giveaways to keep them coming back. Furthermore, our tools are designed to be easily added to any website, blog or social channel, so local businesses of any size can easily integrate PunchTab into their existing site. Advanced customization allows our users to do even more.

Can you give an example of a client who has used PunchTab in an effective or creative way?

PunchTab has powered thousands of loyalty programs for brands like eBay, Arby’s, WalmartLabs, Atlantic Records and more, as well as agencies like Initiative, Wirestone and others. For example, earlier this year, PunchTab worked with the eBay Green Driving Center on a two-week campaign that resulted in double site traffic, drove more than 20,000 online social actions, grew its Facebook page by 7,000 likes, Google+ by 5,000 +1’s and saw more than 6,400 tweets about the campaign.

How do you see gamification and social incentives evolving in the next three to five years?

Right now gamification is a novel concept for most brands, and platforms are still in an experimental phase. With the success that the industry is seeing in specific verticals like marketing, employee management, healthcare, CPG and entertainment, Gamification will soon become part of an overall business strategy for those use cases very soon. Long-term gaming elements and game mechanics will become an essential element of all products and services that are looking to engage customers over a lifetime versus a transaction, because most revenue is unlocked through ongoing conversations with customers.

Ranjith-KumaranRanjith Kumaran is the founder and chief executive officer of PunchTab. As CEO, Ranjith is applying his previous entrepreneurial experience toward both product and business development. Prior to launching PunchTab, Ranjith founded YouSendIt, a cloud-based file transfer solution company. At YouSendIt, Ranjith served as the chief technology officer and continues to be a member of the board at the company. Prior to founding YouSendIt, Kumaran held marketing positions at Verisity Design, a key provider of verification process automation (VPA) solutions, where he managed product marketing for the software tools of Axis Systems. Previously, he was the director of sales engineering at Celoxica, a leading provider of C-based design and behavioral synthesis solutions, where he built the company's sales engineering team. Kumaran was also a software systems engineer at Red Hat, one of the largest and most widely recognized companies dedicated to open-source software and the largest distributor of the GNU/Linux operating system.

Kumaran received a bachelor of engineering degree in computer engineering from McGill University and is an active member of TiE Silicon Valley. Kumaran is also a C100 charter member, an organization representing the top 100 accomplished Canadian entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.

You can connect with Ranjith on Twitter @ranjithkumaran.


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