RunKeeper: Surprise, Delight, Motivation and Marketing

The e-mail comes promptly after my swim work out, “500 kilometers! You’re kind of a big deal…you’ve logged over 500 kilometers with RunKeeper!” Assuredly the bigger deal, is that RunKeeper continues to surprise and delight me nearly every workout, that leads to motivation, and some very effective marketing.

Overall, RunKeeper is a straight forward to use fitness tracking app. The user interface is easy to navigate, it tracks and charts your workout routs, elevation changes, duration, pace, calories burned, and other essentials. There is also integration of training schedules for those who enjoyed more scheduled excise or torment. More important, RunKeeper has a surprising broad range of achievements.

Overall the formula for these achievements is relatively simple they are; “Fastest Average Speed”, “Longest Duration”, “Most Calories Burned”, “Farthest Distance”, “Most Activities”, “Largest Elevation Climb”, etc. Which are then suffixed by a duration like “in a workout”, “in a week”, “in a month”. However, the effecRunKeepert on motivation is anything but simple.

The creative genius here is that RunKeeper finds at least one achievement every few workouts, and sends them out promptly after you’ve completed your exercise. The variety seems staggering, and I keep discovering new achievements – like todays 500km notification. The timing of the pat on the back is important too, generally you’re still a little high on the endorphins when it pops into your inbox – in short it helps you feel a little extra good creating a positive association with the app.

The obvious marketing play here is that you have the option of sharing this achievement on the back via Facebook or Twitter, and it goes out to your own RunKeeper Network of Friends. Often, I choose not to share with the extended social media, exercise for me is still a bit of a private struggle. When I do share the “big stuff” though, anyone who cares is exposed to RunKeeper. The other benefit to RunKeeper is that by motivating users, they’ve increased the apps retention.

Now, perhaps I’m a bit to simple and respond to positive reinforcement on a suspiciously Skinnerian schedule, but I truly feel motivated by RunKeeper, if only to find out what achievement RunKeeper will come up with next. I’ll only be better for finding out, I am quite curious to see what the next major landmark is. Maybe I can reach the next 500km a bit faster.

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