How gamification can advance the engagement strategy

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Gamification is used more broadly than just in online games. Global corporations such as Google and Airbnb are using it in their products. It allows them to achieve their KPIs and create a loyal audience around their brands more quickly. The mechanism of gamification is able to automate a number of important processes. So it’s worth to implement in your project

 

Let's take a look at the basic gamification elements:

· points - “coins” given for completing simple actions within the community (comment, post, survey passed, etc.)

· badges - awards given for achieving a specific milestone in one particular type of activity. For example, the badge “Newsmaker” is awarded for those who made 50 posts in a community forum

· levels - the graduation of the community members depending on the accumulated points. The more points the member got, the higher the level he has

· leaderboard - the visual element that creates the atmosphere of competition and motivates participants to achieve even greater goals. Based on earned points.

 

Gamification is an alternative form of communication with users. Imagine that instead of sending email campaigns with endless reminders about verifying a newly registered profile, writing the first comment on the forum or uploading a profile image, you simply “say” it in the interface by displaying necessary actions expected from a user.

The effectiveness of gamification has been proven on many projects. Human psychology is a reason why it is a universal tool.

How did gamification appear and why it really works for everyone

Back in the early 90s, the American scientist Richard Bartle, one of the developers of the world's first multiplayer online game, has discovered 4 main gamers’ types:

 

· Explorers are “Zen” observers, less interested in achievement or communication. They are interested in studying and analyzing. Ratings with reviews, filters, search bar are necessary attributes for them.

· Achievers - love to collect all the possible awards provided by the system. Badges, levels, points are their main source of endorphins

· Socializers - are mostly interested in communication, they are more tend to leave a review, comment, and share content.

· Killers - love to compete, it is important for them to show their superiority over others. User ratings, badges, “VIP Status”, karma are what members of this category appreciate.

 

Does this mean that you need to choose one category of users and build a gamification strategy based on their behavior only? No, it doesn’t. But what you certainly must do - take into account all user types and include all gamification elements into the design.

Each user type has a unique value for the community: Killers are an example of how to reach goals, Explorers - create the highest quality content, Achievers - popularize gaming activities, and Socializers will recommend your community. If everything is set up correctly, then gamification will take your community to a whole new level.

How gamification is used in business

Onboarding

The community is in need of active members with high-quality profiles from the very first day after they joined it. How to avoid dozens of emails with reminders (which do not work always well)? Gamification is an automated solution for this task. 

A simple example here would be the progress bar of profile completion, where users need to do certain actions in order to get all 100%. By “actions” here could be the top 3-5 tasks that you expect from a newly registered user. For example, upload a profile picture, write the first comment and synchronize the address book. Which actions to choose here is related to the key business priorities. For example, somewhere it will be important to verify the phone number, and in other cases, it’s important to connect social profiles and so on.

 

Engagement

You can motivate users to continuously participate in various activities by using the badge system. The Duolingo students remember very well how the system motivates them to complete one more lesson. And if you have been practicing for several days in a row, you will get a badge. This is what Achievers love. For Killers, there is another element - leaderboard where user’s points are compared with friends.  This creates “sports excitement” and “sticks” to the platform.  

 

User Retention

How to make users stay with the community for a long time? Levels and points the system fits perfectly for the long term goals. After gaining a certain number of points and reaching the next level, community members do not lose their motivation, because there is a next higher level that needed to be achieved. To reach the highest possible level user need to spend a month or even years on a platform. And even when the TOP level is reached, the motivation does not disappear because the user simply enjoys the privileged status. Moreover, those privileges must go with some real rewards such as additional discounts to your product, premium support and so on.

 

User-Generated Content

If the content is the main value of your online service (like reviews and photos on Google Maps or TripAdvisor) then a good idea would be to implement gamification scenarios for contributors. For example, to keep the members motivated, Google introduced a system of levels and badges for adding reviews, new places, and uploading photos. This is not a material reward, however, many people are actively participating. Why? They do love to feel that they create something useful and important. Besides collecting badges is a perfect motivation for Achievers :)


Thus, all elements of gamification are not only abstract visual elements. They do impact on users and work as an “invisible hand”. It significantly simplifies many processes, such as onboarding, engagement, retention and creates interesting and creative scenarios for the user journey. Gamification is a reflection of the actions we want our users to do. This statement is very important to remember when designing a gamification structure.

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