What is Gamification?
Games aren’t just for kids. What was once a niche hobby the kids down the block wasted their summer days on has grown to become a major player in today’s entertainment world. Those kids from down the block have now become a critical part of today’s tech-driven economy and they’re spending big dollars across all areas of our economy. Gamification strategies have become a cornerstone philosophy for many companies and for good reason, they skyrocket engagement. Gamification applies unique game design concepts to websites, mobile applications, and software such as scores, leaderboards, quizzes, achievements, badges, and interactive elements. These types of awards help to drive users to work harder, spend more time, and engage at a deeper level than they otherwise would. They help unlock the healthy sense of competition that lies deep within each of us.
But just what does gamification look like in the context of a typical e-commerce or business platform? One of the most common ways we see these strategies implemented are point or achievement awards or badges. A popular example is the location-based review app Foursquare. As users traverse the real-life world, they are encouraged to check in and leave reviews on restaurants and businesses they visit. Foursquare rewards active user participation with the app by giving them recognition through badges, levels, and status within its community. Users who frequent a particular location can become the “Mayor” of this destination, showing their status off to anyone else using the application. This encourages users to not only return to that business, but to make sure that they never go anywhere without using the app to get the benefit for each trip into the real world they take.
This strategy is effective as it makes interaction with the app inherently rewarding and more enjoyable. Leaving a review is a bit tedious and if that is all a user gets, they will not be highly motivated to follow through and complete the task unless they received either exceptional or exceptionally poor service, but by adding gamification, Foursquare has given users a whole new reason to participate.
Another similar user of gamification in the B2B space comes from IEDS. IEDS manages a number of drivers moving loads within distribution facilities across the United States. To help better understand their efficiency and to provide better service to customers, IEDS developed a mobile tracking solution where drivers would keep track of the status of their loads. This is not all that different from something UPS would use to manage tracking numbers, but the loads were shorter and adding the app created extra steps. To help make the app an enjoyable experience instead of an added step, the app tracked drivers speed, number of loads, and distance to give them an idea of how they were stacking up against other people working the same shift at that location or other locations, giving each driver insight into how they were performing and making the monotonous task of moving trailers into a race against the clock for the glory of being the top driver in the network.
Boost effects Brand Recognition and Loyalty
The world of the Internet is flooded with a million websites doing just about anything you can imagine. It can be difficult to get your content in front of the people you want to see it, let alone stand out from the other myriad of businesses competing for that same customer. It can also be incredibly difficult to get users to return to your website or application, but a site that provides an easy and fun way to interact has a much better chance of obtaining follow-on engagement.
A website or application that uses a fun quiz to see which of your products is right for them or the ability to earn points for rewards by signing up for your newsletter is going to stand out over a site without these interactive features. A survey done by Talent LMS in 2018 shows that 85% of participants surveyed said they would spend more time on an app with gamification elements than one without, and 81% said they would be more likely to suggest an app with gamification elements to a friend or colleague.
Maximize Engagement and User Retention
It’s been a long-known fact the more your customers are exposed to your products, the more likely they are to convert. You can use this fact to your advantage when designing game-like features for your site and try to create features that reward repeat visits. New types of achievements of badges and creative uses for points earned by engagement are all effective tools to keep people coming back to unlock all the features you offer. Humans are natural completionists, and if we enjoy one of your quizzes, chances are we’ll come back to try the others. Often, customers are much more willing to spend more money on websites or apps with gamification features than those without.
Increase Employee Productivity
Gamification is not just for customers but for your employees as well. Maximizing engagement and rewarding an employee’s milestones has had documented improvements on both their productivity and their enjoyment at work. In the same survey by Talent LMS, they found that “Employees agree that gamification makes them more productive (87%), more engaged (84%) and happier (82%) at work. This held true across gender, age, industry, and roles.” Games aren’t just for younger employees, everyone benefits from having a more fun and engaging experience. Interactive training models have been used with great success to train new employees and using incentivized leaderboards can create some friendly competition within the workplace as well.
There is a strong case for gamification as a way to increase user retention and learning, but our research is far from over. The industry is always innovating new ways to grab and keep attention and the best way to stay ahead of the curve is to know your user base and know what sort of interactive features would appeal to them the most.
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