How to Make the Best Use of Gamification

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

If you’ve ever collected Air Miles or tried to get to the next level on a computer game, then you’ve experienced gamification - the art and science of incentivising people by offering rewards for taking action and reaching goals.

But while gamification has its roots in entertainment and fun, it’s a topic that has serious applications in business. The term ‘gamification’ was only coined in 2002, but since then this sector has grown at a rapid pace. Worldwide, gamification is a $5.5 billion industry, with use cases across all kinds of businesses and organisations.

Gamification can help your organisation in many ways, in particular by:

  • Incentivising customers to make additional or bigger purchases

  • Motivating employees to hit targets and get more done

  • Inspiring the management team to set and reach bigger goals

  • Encouraging suppliers and partners to participate in the success

Investing in gamification can be a powerful yet cost-effective way to take your business to another level. It’s a strategy that sets you apart from competitors and creates the potential for a whole new level of success.

Gamification works because it offers a kind of reward beyond simple monetary compensation. By creating community engagement and rewarding progress in a variety of ways, this strategy encourages people to go above and beyond ‘the call of duty’ to accomplish a wide range of goals.

How to Create a Successful Gamification Strategy

Taking advantage of gamification all starts with defining your goals. You need to know exactly what you want to accomplish with the program, and what success will look like in concrete terms.

Once you have defined your overall goals, you can set the milestones that participants must reach on their journey to success. In particular, you need to clarify their objectives and the key results that measure progress. Examples might be:

  • Customers qualifying for additional discounts by making one extra purchase per month

  • Employees winning vacation trips by hitting increased productivity targets

  • App users collecting points and badges for increased usage

  • Affiliates ranking on a leaderboard according to the sales they drive

For gamification to work, participants need to know exactly what their purpose is. They must have the required skills or be given the opportunity to acquire them. And they must have the freedom and autonomy to do what it takes to hit their targets. 

Once the system has been created, it’s important to communicate clearly to the users. They need to understand exactly how the program works, and how they will benefit. Then they need access to transparent performance data that allows them to see their progress, and compare their success with others

Gamification is Not a Game

While gamification certainly draws inspiration from recreational activities such as online gaming, it is a serious business. People often confuse gamification with learning games or simulations, and that’s a big mistake.

For example, a flight simulator has real business applications in training pilots. But even though many people also fly such simulators just for fun, this is not an example of gamification. 

It’s important to understand the difference, or an attempt to use this strategy is doomed to fail. Gamification is all about borrowing the systems of rewards and incentivisation used in gaming to motivate and inspire communities of users in business contexts. 

So in the world of gamification, a website becomes an opportunity to engage with users on a journey that offers real rewards. And those rewards offer a way of maintaining an ongoing conversation with users and validating their participation. A level or leaderboard becomes a symbol of status within the community, making it possible to build deeper and more meaningful relationships. All of this is true, whether you are simply awarding points, or immersing users in a deep and complex 3D experience.

Gamification Strategies

The structure of these systems falls into two main categories. The first is a structural-based system, and the second a content-based system.

A structural system is the simplest and most common form of gamification. It rewards users for hitting targets and getting things done. The rewards may be in the form of:

  • Points

  • Leaderboards

  • Levels

  • Badges

Content-based systems are more complex, and therefore much more challenging and expensive to develop. But they can also offer much greater engagement and success. In this type of gamification, content is changed to be more game-like in nature. 

A content-based system may use stories and characters, with users taking on specific roles within the environment. This creates a more immersive experience and raises interaction and involvement to a whole new level. 

Grow with Gamification

Success in any organisation is all about motivating various groups of people to take action. These stakeholders may be customers, employees, investors, suppliers or executives. 

Gamification provides a real opportunity to leverage complex reward-based systems to incentivise these groups in a whole new way. In the 2020s and beyond, investing in gamification is a sound strategy for reaching bigger and bolder goals in the fastest possible time.

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