According to Kevin Werbach, an associate professor of legal studies and business ethics at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, “gamification is the use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts.”
In other words, gamification is a strategic and thoughtful approach to enhancing non-game contexts by incorporating relevant game elements and game design techniques with the aim of addressing real-life customer problems.
What Gamification Is and How It Works
There are several key principles of using gamification:
1. Thoughtful Application: Gamification isn’t just about tossing in game elements without a plan. It’s more about carefully and purposefully weaving game mechanics into a setting that’s not typically associated with games. Let’s imagine a company wants to increase the number of pages customers view on their website. In this case, they could design a game that offers rewards to customers each time they visit different pages on the site. Or if the purpose of gamification is to encourage website visitors to make a purchase, a spin wheel can be used to achieve the target.
Therefore, when applying gamified elements the aim of their application should be considered in order to drive the best results.
2. Real-Life Problems: Gamification should be focused on addressing tangible, real-world issues faced by customers. It should provide solutions to their problems or needs in a manner that is measurable and impactful. If the effects of gamification cannot be quantified or observed in the real world, it becomes less effective. Metrics and outcomes should demonstrate the positive impact on the targeted problems.
For example, how to encourage drivers to adhere to the speed limit? Penalties? Traffic speed cameras? New Mexico Department of Transportation came up with a better solution. In 2014, in partnership with National Geographic Channel they installed the “Musical Highway” on a sleepy stretch of Route 66 near Tijeras, New Mexico. On the quarter-mile section of the highway the rumble strips were designed to sound like the song “America the Beautiful” if drivers were going at exactly 45 miles per hour speed. It not only encouraged drivers to follow the speed limit but also created a buzz in the media.
3. Connected to the Organization: An organization’s objectives and goals are what the organization wants to achieve by using gamification.
An organization’s objectives might be to increase sales, improve customer satisfaction, reduce costs and many more.
For example, a gamification solution that is designed to increase learning and development of employees in a company should reward them for it. Some companies are using a reward bonus system that gives employees points for completing lessons and achieving set goals at work. Then, employees can exchange the points for some valuable goods such as gadgets, bonus cards to shops, etc.
The gamification solution can only be successful if only it is aligned with the organization’s objectives and goals.
Gamification in Business
Gamification can significantly benefit businesses by adding an element of fun into the workplace. It can lead to such positive results as higher levels of employee satisfaction, increased productivity and reduce the level of work-related stress. Moreover, it serves as a powerful motivator for employees to reach their objectives, enhance customer service quality, boost sales, etc.
- A sales team can use gamification to motivate employees to make more sales. The team can set up a chart to keep score of how many sales each employee makes. They can also give rewards to the employees who sell the most. This creates some friendly competition and incentives for the sales team.
One of the examples of how effective gamification can be is a competition among salespeople created by the company called ePrize, which leveraged the power of prizes and leaderboards in order to change the old sales habits of their employees. The purpose of the sales contest was to encourage employees to start logging call reports by using Event records. The person who logged more Events would receive a $100 of worth coupon for a dinner in a restaurant. Even though the contest continued for one week, it demonstrated significant results. The number of logged Events increased from about 10 a week to 40 and made the team see how effective for the sales and customer service the logged Events are. Once the contest finished, the number of logged Events increased even more, to 60 per week.
- A customer service team can use gamification to improve customer satisfaction. The team can put in place a system where customers earn points for having positive interactions with customer service representatives. These points can later be used to get discounts or even free products as rewards.
- A training team can use gamification to make training more engaging and effective. The team can make the training feel like a game, where trainees earn points for finishing tasks and getting the right answers to questions. This keeps trainees motivated and interested in the training.
- A product development team can use gamification to gather feedback from users. The team can make a trial version of a new product and share it with a particular group of users. These users can try out the product, provide feedback, and earn rewards like points and badges. This input can improve the product before it is released to the public as well as create a stronger connection between customers and a brand.
In 2019, Gamification at Work Survey was conducted by TalentLMS with 526 respondents from a variety of industries and job roles. The survey found that gamification is a popular and effective way to improve employee engagement, motivation, and productivity. According to the survey:
- Employees say gamification makes them feel more productive (89%) and happier (88%) at work.
- 33% would like more game-like features in their employee training software.
- 83% of those who receive gamified training feel motivated, while 61% of those who receive non-gamified training feel bored and unproductive.
- 89% believe they’d be more productive if their work was more gamified.
- 78% of the respondents say that gamification in the recruiting process would make a company more desirable.
Examples of Brands Gamification
Customer loyalty programs
Gamification can be used to create customer loyalty programs that reward customers for their engagement with a company. For example, Starbucks’ My Starbucks Rewards program allows customers to earn stars for every purchase they make, which can then be redeemed for free drinks or other rewards.
Learning and Productivity
Gamification can be used to make learning and development more engaging and effective. One of the most popular education apps Duolingo is a great example of how learning can be gamified in the most efficient way for both users and the company. By combining the game elements with a reward system, badges, and achievements Duolingo proved to be an effective tool to encourage people to learn languages.
Another example is a productivity tool called Rabit, a habit tracker app that helps users build good habits and achieve their goals. One of the main peculiarities of how this app gamified the user experience is growing your own garden. Just imagine flowers and plants growing and blossoming in your garden every time you achieve your objective. Seeing your hard work turn into something as beautiful as the garden is truly an engaging and fun experience.
Health and Wellness
Gamification can be used to promote health and wellness by making fitness tracking, healthy eating, and other healthy habits more fun and rewarding. There is unlimited access to a variety of different apps that reward users for a healthy lifestyle such as FitBit. Fitbit is a wearable fitness tracker that uses gamification to encourage users to get more active. The tracker tracks users’ steps, distance, calories burned, and other fitness metrics. Users can compete with friends and family for points and badges, and they can also unlock new features as they reach fitness goals.
Marketing and Sales
It goes without saying that gamification makes marketing campaigns more engaging and interactive. From gamified landing pages to social media campaigns, brands are utilizing the power of gamification in order to increase the interest in brand and/or product.
Gamification in Marketing
Gamification is one of the strategies that can be applied for marketing campaigns and the one that is being used more and more often nowadays. Gamification is proving to be efficient and effective in terms of attracting new customers, improving customer loyalty, increasing conversion rate, purchasing intention and so on. Moreover, gamification has become such an integral part of many brands’ promotion campaigns that we barely notice it anymore; reward and loyalty programs, points and badges are the way of communication with brands that we use on a daily basis. However, gamification in marketing is not just basic loyalty programs, it is knowing how to integrate different gaming elements into campaigns in order to drive customers/users to engage more deeply with a brand/product/service.
Domino Pizza is one of the examples of utilizing the power of gamification to the fullest.
For the indecisive customers they created a special tool that looks like a pizza slot machine – just shake the phone and the app will randomly choose a pizza for you. For the customers who appreciate the personal touch, there is an app that can provide you with the possibility to create your own personalized pizza. The app’s name is Pizza Hero and it can literally turn customers into virtual pizza makers. For customers who love interacting with game elements, Domino’s introduced a mobile app that can do cool things with billboards. When you point your phone at these big outdoor ads, the app makes a special computer-generated world on your screen. In this world, you can order a pizza from Domino’s or go to their Facebook page, and even more fun stuff like that.
Big Mistakes to Avoid when Applying Gamification
Gamification is all about fun and the ability to participate in the fun, so in order to keep the customers/users entertained, particular mistakes should be avoided. According to the book “Gamification Marketing” by Zarrar Chishti, the most serious mistakes to be avoided are:
- The gameplay is too complicated. Who wants to spend the entire afternoon trying to figure out how the loyalty program works or how to get a reward? Simplicity is key since the point of applying gamification is to make customers more engaged rather than create a gamified challenge. Take educational applications for example such as Kahoot and Quizlet. Even though their point is to challenge people in terms of learning, the badges/rewards systems and gameplay are very clear making them the most popular ones among millions of people.
- The next mistake can be a surprising one – creating a campaign that can’t be played at work. Gamified elements shouldn’t contain loud music or unexpected loud sounds – nobody wants to be caught browsing websites and playing games at work. It will instantly scare people away and make them close a tab/app, which will lead to losing many potential customers, page visitors and users.
- Assuming your audience understands the games. Yes, it is difficult to imagine a person who doesn’t understand the basics of gamified elements, especially in a highly digitalised world that we currently live in. However, if a person doesn’t understand what they are supposed to do, their interest fades at the same moment. According to Yu-kai Chou’s “Actionable Gamification” book, “A product that makes users feel stupid, no matter how great the technology, is often a failing product. From my experience, if a user spends four seconds on an interface and can’t figure out what to do, they feel stupid and will start to disengage emotionally.”
- Relying too heavily on gamified elements. If only there was a magic element that could make any marketing campaign go viral, what an amazing world we would be living in, wouldn’t we? Unfortunately, gamification is not a magic wand that can turn anything into gold. It is impossible to control the outcome, so try to control all other elements of the gamified campaign: design, development and launch; combined with gamification, the campaign is destined to drive the results.
As it can be seen, gamification has become one of the tools that is used by a variety of companies and brands for both employees- and customers-oriented purposes. It is no surprise it became so popular since gamification is showing great results in motivating customers and employees and drives results.
However, like any other tool, gamified elements need to be finely tuned in order to reach the target and present expected results. There are a number of different companies like Multiplayer that provide gamification solutions for business and help achieve the desired outcomes. By gamifying business. Whether you’re a business aiming to boost employee morale or a brand looking to engage your customers effectively, gamification offers exciting possibilities for achieving enduring success.