Challenges are an effective way of generating interest and initial engagement in taking alternatives to solo driving. If you’re new to running challenges, or just new to running them in RideAmigos, here’s what you need to get started:

Step 0: Survey your users

We’ve said it again and again: surveying your users is critical to getting the most out of any of your programming. Even challenges. Check out the example survey we’ve put together and edit for your users with specific questions and answers.  Once you’ve collected your responses, you’ll have a better idea of what kind of challenges will be most appealing to your users.

Step 1: Pick a challenge or two or three or…

Challenges generally run for a month at a time (sometimes less, rarely more.)  What that means is that you should consider running a few spread out throughout the year.  Remember, challenges are really catalysts, whereas rewards and incentives are for maintaining mode shift created during those challenges.  That means that conducting challenges too frequently can be just as detrimental as conducting them too often.  Every three to four months is a good rule of thumb.  And keep in mind the time of year when you consider the incentive type.  If your organization is in Canada, for example, maybe don’t conduct a biking challenge in January.

Now that we’ve discussed that, what type(s) of challenges do you want to run?  Take a look at your survey results: what modes did drivers say that they might be willing to consider?  Those could be good challenge opportunities. You’ll find links in our content below to a few presentations with more in-depth information on certain challenge types, as well as some case studies of some of our partners that have seen a lot of success using challenges.  Use these for inspiration, but be sure to make your challenges your own…after all, you know your users better than we do!

Step 2: Create the challenge

Okay, so you’ve decided what type of challenge you want to start with, now it’s time to set up the challenge in RideAmigos.  As an administrator, navigate to your ‘Manage’ menu and select ‘Challenges’:

This will take you to a list of all current challenges as well as an archive of previous challenges.  To create a new challenge, simply click the green ‘New Challenge’ button:

When creating your challenge you’ll be asked basic information like dates for the challenge, which networks are eligible to participate, and what travel modes will count toward the challenge. After setting these up, there are several other key questions to consider.

Key Questions – Leaderboards

Settings related to leaderboards determine how challenge results will be displayed, how users will compete, and on what basis the challenge will be scored.

Which leaderboards to show

Do you want this to be a challenge between individual users only, or do you want teams or networks to compete, or any combination of the above?  This is where you choose who is competing and what leaderboards will be shown on the challenge page as well as on the user dashboard.  Learn more about the different challenge types here.

Leaderboard types include Individual Users, User Created Teams, and Networks. You can select multiple leaderboard types via ctrl+click or command+click.

Criteria for leaderboard rankings

Much like incentives, picking the criteria for the challenge is important with respect to ensuring that your users feel like they are competing fairly.  For example, trips may be the most fair for individual users, but if you have teams competing, it may be more reasonable to use other criteria such as CO2 saved or distance as the diversity of the team will help to level the playing field.

Options include:

  • Trips
  • Points by Mode
  • Distance
  • CO2 Savings
  • Calories Burned
  • Money Saved

*Only one criteria can be chosen per challenge. If you would like users to compete based on multiple criteria, consider running multiple concurrent challenges, one for for each criteria. Eligible users’ trips will automatically be counted toward all active challenges.

Normalize network leaderboards

Do you have networks that are of vastly different size?  Consider normalizing the network leaderboards.  This adjusts network scores according to the number of participants in each competing network, allowing tiny organizations to compete against large ones without any disparity in fairness.

Step 3: Launch the challenge

As we’ve said before, challenges are one of the best tools for user engagement. However, engagement depends on users being aware of and excited about the challenge that is happening.

Challenges are intended to catalyze mode-shift or another behavior (such as referring a friend, etc.) and should be advertised as heavily as possible.  It is critical to the success of challenges that users are excited by/about them. Email announcements, postings around the office, campus, etc, as well as kick-off events are a great way to go. Kick-off events might include food, some flyers or a person staffing a table to explain what is happening. Additionally, any way to tie marketing back to the challenge is terrific. For example, a kick-off event for a bike to work challenge might involve a visit from a local bike shop to give free tune-ups or a bike maintenance demonstration.

Make sure that if you’re doing a team challenge your users have time to find, organize and register a team. Let them know what is up at least a week in advance.

Google did a great job with a kick-off event for their bike to work challenge, featuring food, a local bike shop, as well as other vendors and prizes.  Check out their coffee talk video for more information on what they did and why it worked.

Step 4: Maintain the excitement!

Keep the ball rolling…please don’t stop the music…

Keep everyone interested and engaged throughout your challenge period to see the best results.  To do that, periodically remind your users that it is happening through email nudges, surprise catered breakfasts, or random drawings from active users for small scale prizes (think $5 giftcard to the coffeeshop around the corner). Additionally, leverage social media campaigns to keep people thinking about the challenge and participating.  The Region of Waterloo is a terrific example of how social media can contribute significantly to the success of a challenge.  Their annual #CarpoolSelfie instagram campaign complements their carpool month challenge well, and really increases the excitement that their users experience during the event.  Check out their #CarpoolSelfie video on YouTube.

Step 5: Consider a follow-up incentive

Challenges are great.  They use people’s natural instincts of competitiveness and social behavior to get users to do something that they may not have otherwise.  But sometimes this isn’t quite enough.  Offering some participation prizes, as well as a grand prize to the winners of the challenge, keep users engaged along the way.  Remember that challenges catalyze, but won’t necessarily maintain behavior.  Any behavior change made during a challenge period needs support to be sustained and ongoing, and long-term incentives are a great way to do that.  For more information on incentives, check out our incentive support pages.

Step 6: Assess results and repeat

The MOST important part of having a successful challenge is learning from what you’ve done, making educated adjustments and starting again. Hopefully you’ve given some serious thought to what you hoped to achieve with your challenges.  If so, you likely already know what metrics you plan to look at to assess the success of your program.

The RideAmigos reporting tools are excellent at providing you with whatever information you need to assess your program. You can generate reports for participating users and associated triplogs from the main Challenges page.

A follow-up survey or even your annual survey are great ways to learn about the perception of the program you’ve run, including what worked and what might work better in the future.  Spend some time following the completion of the challenge to review how it went, and what might work better next time, and use that information during your next challenge…or if this is an annual challenge, during next year’s iteration.