One of the things I learnt as a computer programmer in my past life was that if you want to track progress keeping good metrics are the way to go.
At the moment I'm trying to improve awareness of my games, as the more people who know they exist, the more people might buy them. Most of my distributors are now pretty well stocked, so if I want to make any money I need to get people to buy my games, so that the shops re-order from the distributors and eventually the distributors re-order from me. I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of the game buying public (even among those people who regularly use BoardGameGeek and hence are much more in the know than the average Joe who just wanders into a games shops every now and again) have never heard of my games.
So, as you'll know if you're a regular follower of this blog, I'm intending to run a competition on BGG in a week or so's time. The competition is more expensive than advertising on BGG, but it has a couple of advantages over advertising: it's not hidden by AdBlock (which allows you to turn off adverts if you support BGG financially) and it occupies pride of place on the BGG front page for two weeks. I'm hoping that running this competition will boost people's awareness of my company and my games - but how can I tell?
Firstly, I ran a market research questionnaire competition on BGG a couple of weeks ago. I'll run the same competition a few weeks after the main competition and compare the two results - hopefully that will show a big boost in awareness. But as someone spotted in the competition comments, the respondents are skewed towards people who already know me, so the results aren't very accurate (but seeing as the two competitions have the same bias I should be able to compare the results). What I really need is a way of tracking people's interest in my games without relying on them to put any effort in.
That's where BGG statistics come in. BGG tracks and publishes a whole bunch of statistics on each game in it's database:
Most (if not all?) of these statistics are updated each day. The only one I'm not sure about is Views, which I think might be the total number of BGG users who have visited the page at least once. This doesn't seem to change very often, and I'm not entirely sure what it does.
For the last few days I've been recording the rank, average rating, number of ratings, views, people owning, people wanting and people trading for each of my games to build up a baseline of how things change normally. I'll continue doing so while the competition is running to see how these statistics change from the baseline when a competition is in progress. Should be quite interesting...