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PunchTab gets $4.4M to pile on gifts

This loyalty program is pretty cool, but the social analytics might be the TKO.

PunchTab developers Ben Nichols and Arthur Rio along with founder Mehdi Ait Oufkir get ready to do what they do best: Punch, naturally.

PunchTab, a startup creating loyalty programs for bloggers and businesses, today announced it raised $4.4 million from Mohr Davidow Ventures. PunchTab essentially helps people with loyal readers or frequent shoppers reward those folks for sharing their love.

"It's like an airline loyalty program, without the airline," laughs PunchTab co-founder Ranjith Kumaran. He is also the founder of YouSendIt, a company that helps you collaborate on and share large files online.

"We start by asking our clients 'What are the top five actions you want your users to take and what types of rewards would make your users excited?'" says Kumaran. "We're helping businesses put their most loyal consumers to work as brand advocates."

Businesses can base their loyalty program on mobile (just iOS is available) or the Web. Consumers earn points for engaging with Web sites, in stores and on social-sharing sites like Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. These points are redeemable for discounts and prizes from a customized catalog created by the businesses using PunchTab. Told your friends on Facebook you ate a Kara's Cupcake and it was the bomb? Get a point toward a free cupcake.

That's PunchTab's current business model, but I'm going to bet that's not what caught the attention of Mohr Davidow Ventures.

Mohr Davidow is known for backing companies utilizing, and profiting from, big data. Companies like Audience Science and TicketFly are using in-house data to help their clients target the right customers. With more than 3,000 clients and access to more than 7.5 million users each month, PunchTab is amassing analytics data behind social sharing.

"We're getting souped-up Web analytics around social media," says Mehdi Ait Oufkir, co-founder of PunchTab. "Those analytics mean businesses can better understand their customers."

Selling those analytics could be a profitable revenue stream down the road.

"This team is incredibly savvy in terms of user distribution and engagement and have already begun to quickly scale the product," says Katherine Barr, the partner at Mohr Davidow working with PunchTab. (She's now on the board, too.) "There are multiple monetization paths in this particular market given the billions of dollars flowing through it, so I am excited about this team and company's potential."

PunchTab reports businesses using its loyalty programs have had a 50 percent increase in Facebook Fans, up to a 100 percent increase in repeat site visitors, and doubled their number of online purchases.

While Mohr Davidow led this latest round for PunchTab, other investors include Michael Arrington's CrunchFund, and former Facebook VP Chamath Palihapitiya's The Social+Capital Partnership. Founded in January, PunchTab raised an undisclosed amount in a seed funding in February. It currently has 10 employees.