Gamification injects game play and rewards into everyday activities to build customer loyalty and increase engagement.
- Gamification involves the introduction of gameplay to a traditionally nongame environment. Gamification is meant to encourage user engagement.
- Many large corporations have used gamification strategies, including the U.S. Army, Starbucks and Nike.
- There are limitations to gamification, but companies are becoming more resourceful in finding innovative ways to use the process. For instance, rewards programs are relying on gamification to increase brand loyalty.
Table of contents
- What is Gamification?
- Elements of Gamification
- Gamification Techniques
- Gamification in Marketing
- Gamification in Health
- Gamification in Education
- What does Gamification do?
- How does Gamification work?
- Why is Gamification important?
- How does Gamification motivate people?
- Risks of Gamification
- Benefits of Gamification
What is Gamification?
Gamification is the strategic process of introducing game-like mechanisms into any digital experience to increase user activity and drive engagement and loyalty. It takes user, customer, fan and employee data and turns it into actionable behavior that supports business goals.
The key elements of Gamification include:
- Clearly defined business goals. Gamification goals are business goals and require a deep understanding of the business outcomes you intend to achieve with the program. It supports marketing goals (more engagement, viral audience growth), sales goals (increase in bottom line revenue, decrease customer churn, sponsorship opportunities) or HR goals (better onboarding, training, growth in employee performance and cooperation).
- User data. Gamification sits on top of the data that users generate as they interact with various systems. It uses this data to motivate, engage and drive actions that support business goals.
- Defined target audience. The success of any Gamification program depends on the motivators and behaviors of the target audience. A good gamification program will segment the audience, create personas and tailor the gamified experience around them.
- Using game mechanics in a non-game context. Gamification puts the user, customer, fan and employee experience at the epicenter and adds game mechanics around it. It’s easy. You take something that already exists: a customer or fan engagement platform, a loyalty program or enterprise software, and turn it into a personal, fun and rewarding experience playing it.
- Variable rewards. Our brains are wired to perform certain actions and engage in certain behaviors in exchange for rewards. Rewards can be either extrinsic (gift cards, loyalty points) or intrinsic (social status, advancement). Rewards trigger the release of dopamine in our brains, and recent neuroscience has found that our dopamine system skyrockets motivation when rewards are unknown. Because Gamification ties a certain behavior to a variable reward schedule, it’s a powerful hack that focuses attention and increases motivation.
Elements of Gamification
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of mechanics and concepts derived from games that are used to gamify everyday activities and environments. Here are a few of the most common game elements seen in successful products.
Purpose is all about instilling the sense that you are specially chosen for an epic quest and are contributing to something larger than yourself. This often is communicated through narrative.
Progress refers to an indication that you are overcoming obstacles and getting closer to your goal. This often takes the form of points, levels, boss battles and progress bars.
Pressure is created by promoting urgency to take action, the fear of losing or the feeling that you can’t turn back now. Countdown timers, streaks and scarce collectibles are all examples of pressure in action.
Position in gamification means there is a way to showcase your accomplishments and compete with — or compare yourself to — other peers or players. It shows up in activities by way of trophy shelves, badges and leaderboards.
Play refers to the sensation of fun, pleasure and surprise. Typical examples of play include Easter eggs, branching choices, exploration and customization.
There are a lot of ways to gamify your processes. But they share the same goals—to motivate and engage audiences. This is why knowing the latest gamification techniques is important. Read on to learn some of the most effective gamification techniques that you can employ, categorized by processes.
Give away prizes, generate leads.
Holding contests is one of the oldest marketing techniques. Many businesses have been using gamification in marketing. And you can use it to gamify your marketing programs. Remember that for a customer to enter a contest, he/she must leave contact information. This is to ensure that the winner can be contacted easily. Valuable customer information is collected as a result of this process. And in case gamification is already in place, your players shouldn’t find form-filling that difficult.
Setting Minimum Scores for Better Engagement
These days, companies set minimum scores for users to win prizes from playable ads. This will challenge, engage and encourage players to aim for high scores. For newbies, failing to meet the minimum scores will be no biggie. These players will most likely retry, further exposing themselves to business brands.
Use Upload Challenges to Generate User Content
Engage your audience by giving them challenges. You can easily glean user-generated content by doing this. One good way to accomplish this is to challenge your players to upload content like videos or images. Handing out prizes for cool uploads will encourage participation, speeding up the process.
Video Games in the Curriculum
You can use gamification in education. Gamification in e-learning using video games can help students learn math and language. Students receive instant feedback and rewards. These serve as external motivators that help students focus on their goals. Video games provide students with control over the choices they make. Gamified curricula, in essence, allows students to face failure, overcome them, and persevere.
Teachers can replace conventional grading systems by gamifying their courses. One method is the adoption of a system that is based on “experience” points. Under such a system, the number of points that students accumulate by the end of the course will determine their final letter grades. In a nutshell, grading will be based on student accomplishment. Experience points allow teachers to align skills with levels and put the spotlight on education’s value.
Gamify Existing Sessions
Coming up with new games can be tedious and expensive. Evaluate existing materials and try to figure out where gaming elements may be inserted. Identify areas where employees can solve challenges to achieve behavioral change. You can then insert gaming elements in these areas of the training program.
Alter Lesson Formats
Complex lessons that could stump your employees are bound to pop up in your lessons. You can break down these lessons into sub-sessions to as a way to make them easier to understand and learn. In a sense, it’s a lot like video games where players must first complete a level before moving on to the next and so on. Points accumulated by an employee are the basis for passing a session. An employee will only be allowed to move on after passing a session. These points and peer competition serve as motivation in this gamification technique.
Boost Employee-LMS Interaction
Interaction between your employees and learning management systems (LMS) is always a good thing. To foster such practice, consider handing out academic awards for LMS achievements. Award employees who comment on online training sessions or help colleagues with training sessions. Workers who add value to your LMS can also be given LMS designations in the form of badges.
Humans are naturally competitive. And what better way to promote competition than to use leaderboards. You can easily apply this element to your content. Say, for example, you have a message board where online community members throw around ideas. Using a leaderboard will allow you to rank members based on factors such as comments, thanks, and replies, to name a few. It will encourage members to keep on commenting and engaging others to improve their rankings.
Everyone loves a good challenge. After all, it pushes people to strive to be better individuals. You can use challenges to gamify your content. Challenging users to answer hypothetical questions about your product/service at the end of a blog post. You can also use social media to challenge customers to post pictures showing alternative but effective ways of using your products. In the long run, challenges are a very good way to improve customer engagement.
Gamification in Marketing
Gamification marketing is an enhanced marketing technique that borrows design elements from games to attract and retain customers. In gamified marketing, consumers are driven to perform an action because it offers elements of competition or reward. These elements can run the gamut from “spin to win” pop-ups all the way to actual video games.
Gamification marketing campaigns can take the form of gamified loyalty programs, interactive quizzes, etc. Simple game elements can include:
- Points. Users can collect points by winning a game or each time they purchase something. The points can be exchanged for a discount or free stuff. (Travel credit cards excel at this.)
- Badges. Award customers badges for accomplishing something.
- Levels. Appeal to customers’ sense of achievement by offering bigger rewards for saving more points.
- Virtual currency. Invent your own money to be used only at your store, then use it to reward frequent shoppers.
- Leaderboards. Post players’ names and scores on your website or social media to encourage competition.
- Countdowns. Challenge players to complete a task within a certain timeframe.
- Progress bars. Show customer’s progress toward reaching the next level.
Gamification marketing is great for getting consumer attention, but it also delivers valuable data. You can offer an exciting reward in exchange for a customer’s name and contact info. Or simply request their name so you can put it on a leaderboard. After collecting customer data, you can add them to your marketing emails list so you can send them badges, newsletters, or discounts.
Finally, gamification is popular with marketers because it can inspire users to create and share user-generated content (UGC). People taking to social media to share their best times on your branded racing game, or using a branded hashtag to enter a contest, represent priceless, organic, word-of-mouth marketing.
Gamification in Health
Healthcare gamification means applying gaming principles, game design techniques, and game mechanics to non-game applications in order to improve clinical outcomes.
In most healthcare and wellness-related applications, gamification manifests itself in three ways:
- Progress bars used to measure success. They increase the perceived value of the service by invoking progress-related psychological biases.
- Sharing progress and results with friends or other users of the service. It creates a competitive spirit to elicit better use of the service.
- Giving progress medals, badges, stars or other virtual gifts at each stage so that users get a sense of achievement.
More advanced medical applications feature various gamified exercises for individuals with movement impairments, older people, people suffering from back pain, etc.
The most relevant solution topics that include healthcare app gamification are:
- Self-management medication and chronic condition,
- Fitness and nutrition,
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy,
- Emotional health,
- Healthcare for kids.
Gamification in a health app is a win-win situation for both users and healthcare providers. Users enjoy their experience with an application, while healthcare providers engage users and improve their satisfaction with the app and the brand in general. This, in turn, draws more users and promotes customer retention.
Gamification in Education
The gamification theory in education is that learners learn best when they are also having fun. Not only this – they also learn best when they have goals, targets and achievements to reach for, of course in a way the learner still perceives as fun.
Because of the addictive features of video games that intrigue children (and adults) and get them hooked, it’s only natural that we see similar engagement results when these game-based elements are applied to learning materials.
Gamification in learning involves using game-based elements such as point scoring, peer competition, team work, score tables to drive engagement, help students assimilate new information and test their knowledge. It can apply to school-based subjects, but is also used widely in self-teaching apps and courses, showing that the effects of gamification do not stop when we are adults.
Technology permeates a lot of our day-to-day lives – having changed the way we live, shop, work, play, eat, meet people and socialize. Policy-makers are starting to explore the potential benefits of using technology to streamline teacher workload in earnest. We’ve also already known for some time that taking something many children love – games – and using some of the features to support learning has great benefits.
What does Gamification do?
In today’s digital era, grabbing people’s attention is one of the hardest things to do, and yet is critical for business continuity. Rather than using conventional strategies, clever companies are employing Gamification mechanisms to reduce churn and drive engagement and loyalty. This is how:
They use data to create gamified user journeys that support business goals.
They cleverly leverage game mechanisms to influence desired behavior.
They reward behaviors that have a direct positive impact on business goals.
In practice, consider implementing a platform within your Gamification strategy, that can plug-in Gamification mechanisms into any digital experience, and work for you towards achieving your goals. Such a gamified system must:
- Motivate users to complete a certain action
- Make it possible for the users to complete the action
- And finally, send triggers or cues to guide the users to complete the action
How does Gamification work?
Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. It can also be defined as a set of activities and processes to solve problems by using or applying the characteristics of game elements.
Games and game-like elements have been used to Educate, Entertain and Engage for thousands of years. Some classic game elements are; Points, Badges, and Leaderboards.
Points are used as visual identifiers of progress in sports, reward cards and video games
Badges display achievement, whether from service in the military or a gold star on school report card
Leaderboards are used across sports, sales teams, and in general life to present competitive placement
Gamification works by providing audiences with proactive directives and feedback through game mechanics and game dynamics added to online platforms that lead to the accomplishments of business goals and objectives.
A compelling gamification experience taps into a participant’s emotions and demonstrates, easily, the best activities an audience can complete that make an impact on mutually shared goals. As employees or customers interact with a gamification program, they receive immediate feedback on performance and guided next steps towards new achievements.
Why is Gamification important?
Conversion rates through a gamified system.
Increase in social business usage and adoption after implementing Leaderboards.
Increase in trial usage for gamified free trials.
Increases in profit margin when employees are motivated through behavioral rewards.
Increase in Employee Satisfaction and Revenues due to social collaboration according.
Less time to complete and massively improved long term engagement for gamified training programs.
How does Gamification motivate people?
Motivation involves the interaction between a person and a task, in a situation and at a time. One the most influential behavioral theories of motivation, the Self-Determination Theory, suggests that people have an internal desire for growth. But they need the external environment to support it.
In a way, people are like objects. We have a certain inertia we need to overcome in order to take action. Motivation helps us move the needle, but is a tricky multifaceted thing. On one hand, it happens intrinsically, when we take action because we want to, and because we find the activity fun and enjoyable. On the other hand, it happens extrinsically, when we do something because we need to do it, and motivation lays on outside rewards. Today, our whole business world is built on an external system of rewards. However, there is a mismatch between what science knows and what business does.
While both types of motivators are important, researchers have found that intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation can have different effects on behaviors and how people pursue goals. Latest behavioral research suggests that external motivators work up until a point where baseline rewards have been sorted, after which they will actually decrease motivation and limit performance. Intrinsic motivators on the other hand, drive behaviors that result in internal rewards, like enjoyment, positive feelings and happiness, which makes it more effective in the long run.
A well-designed gamified experience goes right to the heart of the human psyche. It blends in intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, in a variable system of rewards, nudging behavior that support business goals. The real news with Gamification is the digitalization of motivation, and the way organization’s today are successfully implementing it into their digital business strategy.
Risks of Gamification
Gamification is useful and successful because it takes advantage of the same human psychology that causes people to enjoy winning at games and to dislike or even fear losing. As a result, it can also have some downsides too.
Choosing the right mechanisms and metrics can be a challenge. Since these are what participants will focus on, it is important that the game elements actually encourage the desired behavior. Poorly designed or implemented gamification can become a distraction from other priorities, encourage people to literally game the system, or result in players engaging in zero-sum or even negative-sum competition against one another. Any of these outcomes can mean wasted time and money.
Games can also sometimes become notoriously addictive, as has been seen with immersive video gaming and compulsive gambling. This raises possible risks when using gamification for commercial purposes. From the point of view of a commercial entity that benefits from employees or customers developing an addictive compulsion to work or consume (and pay for) a product, this is a positive feature. But for workers and consumers it can easily be seen as manipulative or exploitative and raise potential ethical issues.
Benefits of Gamification
The main benefit of gamification is increased user engagement.
If the person is having fun, then they are more likely to retain information. Gamification also allows for more practical applications of tasks. Instead of simply reading about an activity or subject, you’re participating in the learning process. Feedback is provided in real time to inform the user if he or she is performing well or not.
Competition is another benefit of gamification. Many of us strive to be the best. With gamification, you’re motivated to outperform your competitors. This makes you work harder to achieve optimal results. Another motivator is rewards and prizes. Gamification platforms can offer real-world prizes for a job well done. Many people desire the feel of winning something, even if it’s something seemingly small like a free cup of coffee.