We’ve been fans of DoGood here at Design Beckons for some time now and thought it would be interesting to have a chat with Head DoGooder and co-founder of DoGood, Faisal Sethi about their admirable social enterprise.
Tell us a bit about your business. What were your motivations for setting up DoGood?
DoGood Headquarters is a social enterprise that makes web applications. Our first product—The DoGooder—is an app that turns web surfing into cash for causes.
We started analyzing some of the barriers to social action in our own personal lives and quickly discovered that if we could break down as many of those barriers as possible, and make doing good really simple, we might be able to make a positive social impact on a grand scale.
How did you start out?
I’ve been a Creative Director for the last 12 years with an academic education in Sociology and Computer Animation.
Technologically, what were your biggest hurdles and how did you deal with them?
Well, we weren’t even sure it was possible initially, so we did quite a few technical tests before we began the production process. Breaking down larger complex problems into smaller ones and tackling them one by one seemed to work well for us. We follow a simple mantra popularized by John Lennon: There are no problems, only solutions.
Your system does not affect any CPM (impression-based) revenue but since many campaigns have a different revenue model (CTR PPA etc), what reactions have you had from publishers?
Overwhelmingly positive, or indifferent!
Once you start understanding the logic behind our paradigm shift, you realize the DoGooder has little effect, if any, on traditional revenue models. An end user has opted-in to see a (generally) particular genre of ads, so any other ads are a relatively moot point—the DoGooder eyeball is no different than someone that would never have acknowledged the “regular” ad in the first place, or clicked on it, or become a lead. But we’re always searching for ways to improve our model.
We find ourselves clicking on your banners quite regularly—from a rate of nil for corporate advertising to about 4/5 clicks a week on DoGood ads—are your figures reflecting this and have they increased or decreased over time?
Yes. We are seeing a higher engagement rate than traditional banner ads and they are holding steady. Of course, engagement rates are dependent on several variables, but as long as we keep our inventory of campaigns fresh, it seems to keep our rates solid. When we launch a new campaign or informational ad, we tend to see a rise in clicks.
We notice, understandably, that a lot of the pages are specific to the North American continent and do not apply so much to Europe or the rest of the world. Is there a measure of geo-targeting and if not is this something you guys are aiming for?
There is a measure of geo-targeting, but its quite cumbersome in its current state, and something we would definitely like to improve. The demographics of our end users also affect our content. If more users from Europe, for example, begin using the app, then we can begin creating more relevant campaigns for said segment.
Currently, a majority of our end users are from the United States and Canada, so we do tend to focus our content to said audience, but many of the pages can be adapted to / are relevant to global issues. For example, reading about a unique method of recycling in a city in the U.S. may encourage a European counterpart to do the same.
What issues get people clicking?
Cool green/social products and services do very well—people want to learn about better alternatives to what is out there now. Environment, women’s rights, and healthy eating seem to be on the top hit lists too, with statistical campaigns often being the most intriguing (and educational) for end users.
We noticed that some of the pages we land on are of a commercial origin and are trying to shift product—what kind of criteria do you apply that allows a company to be green and how is your own revenue driven?
We try to keep it pretty simple: it need not be rocket science. Most of us can discern between what is a generally healthy, green(er), or socially relevant product than one that is not.
Our revenue model has definitely been a challenge. I think you’ll find us pivoting a bit more to curated commercial campaigns to generate revenue, but we’ll always keep inventory for DoGood ads—it will be a hybrid model. We generate revenue from paid campaigns and affiliate links to products. Have to keep our CFL lightbulbs on somehow.
You have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Tell us a bit about your social marketing strategy?
We rarely talk about our product. We focus on conversations, and ultimately, providing information that people find interesting, educational and entertaining. We have never done a “social media campaign” to accrue followers or fans. It has all been word of mouth and organic growth because there is an actual utility in our conversations—we are curators of “good” things.
What other tools do you use to drive traffic and raise awareness of DoGood?
Not many really. Being a startup, we basically have a zero marketing budget (we tend to focus on the technology). What has been helpful, is simply making honest connections with influencers online that believe in what we are doing. Having them write blog posts, or send out tweets is pretty invaluable. Another thing we pride ourselves on is good design. It’s not necessarily a tool to drive traffic, but I think it leaves a positive impression on end users and may encourage them to share.
How does the future look for DoGood? Where do you see yourselves in 5 years’ time?
Well, we think it looks pretty… good. In five years time I hope we are recognized as a pioneer doing innovative things at the epicentre of philanthropy and technology, and being a source of regular funding for all types of wonderful causes.