Gamification in Leading and Development
Gamification, the framing of an activity like a game to make it more motivating is not a new concept. The concept of gaming has been around for years – credit card companies and airline reward programs for example. (1)
Gamification is not literally a game, but using game mechanics and thinking to create a game-like experience. (4) The most basic characteristics of gamification in action are: (9)
- Simple, recognizable cues for the next action
- Clear, instant feedback when action is taken
- Easily identifiable markers for performance and ranking
- Streamlined and easily accessible paths to further achievement
The term gamification is used in many different areas and not always accurately. Since it is the latest buzzword, businesses are calling any new program they institute “gaming.” However, in order for your business to use gaming successfully, it is necessary to understand the purpose of gaming and the results you wish to achieve.
Two major areas gaming impacts for business are leading and development. Leading involves providing direction or guidance. Gamification can lead your customers to provide customer data, and involve themselves in your business. Additionally, you can guide your customers’ motivation and involvement, and use gamification as an educational tool, teaching your customers the benefits and rewards of using your product or service.
The Four Benefits Gamification Brings to Your Business (1)
#1 Your Business Should Gamify to Collect Powerful Customer Data
Gamification platforms usually require users to log in with a valid email address or social media identification. Now your company can collect data on users and see what they do on your website. However, data is worthless unless it is analyzed effectively. According to Mike Hugos, gamification expert and author of Enterprise Games: Using Game Mechanics to Build a Better Business, “This is the real-time feedback world we live in. Now the business needs to figure out how to engage in that.” (1)
When you are choosing a gamification vendor, check for an offer of analytics as part of their product. For example, Badgeville offers Behavior Analytics software to measure customer engagement, behavior, growth, and user activities. Additionally, Bunchball has Nitro Connectors, a product that connects their gamification platform to enterprise software such as SAP, SharePoint, or Yammer to collect activity and behavior from employees. (1)
#2 Gamification Helps You Solve Complex Business Problems
Many companies, among them GE and Allstate, have used crowdsourcing to solicit answers to complex business questions. (1) When customers log in and participate on your website you can use them as a sounding board.
“Games With A Purpose” is a gamification site that crowdsources information in order to use computers to generate accurate answers. A game called the “ESP Game” shows two people the same image and has them type in various one-word captions for it. When the two people agree on a caption, they earn points and move onto the next round, earning as many points as possible in two minutes. The agreed-upon images are made into tags, get recorded, and search engines then have a better idea of what each image contains. (1)
#3 Gamification Can Be Used As an Educational Tool
Use gamification as a useful and creative and useful way to introduce customers to a new product you may be launching. Create a game designed to teach customers how to use the new product. An example of this application of gamification is Adobe, who gives a 30-day free trial for users of its software. Now they are using an onboarding program called LevelUp for Photoshop. Customers are taught the basics of the software with “assignments” completion of which earns points and badges.
#4 Gamification Helps You Stay Relevant With Your Customers
Use of gamification to let your customers know that you are constantly present and remain engaged with them. This involves keeping regular, current content up on your website. Engagement must be kept “fresh.” (1)
The rewards you provide must also be customer relevant. You need to provide rewards your customers want. Additionally, rewards should be evolving, stimulating your customers to keep participating. “. . .when you reward customers for engaging in fun, easy activities, they engage more often and more deeply.” (17)
Game Mechanics for Leading and Development
When you look at gamification, you see certain techniques for getting users engaged. These techniques are called “game mechanics“. Try using one or more of the following in your company’s gamification plan: (11) – Achievement
A badge, level, reward, or points given to for accomplishing something.
- Breaks a storyline or activity into levels or chapters, creating smaller goals
- Leveling up – shows how long you have worked
- Certain tools or story lines only become available at a certain level
Come to the site at a particular time and get something good. An example is Farmville – “your crops will be ready to harvest in 12 hours.” – Progress
Showing the percentage of a task completed or the portion of a map explored – Countdown
Giving a time limit to for completion of a task – Tools
The need to gain a specific item to be able to complete a task – Free Lunch
Lucking into something free because someone else did the work – Loyalty
Gaining benefit or status for returning to a task or location repeatedly – Leader Boards
Publically displayed list of people who have earned the most achievements – Loss Aversion
The loss of a benefit if a talk is not performed
Once you determine to apply gaming mechanics to your business environment, focus on the following five principles. (9)
- Focus on What Customers Already Want To Do or Are Doing
Your business’ best starting point for gamification is to reward a behavior that is already happening
- Have a Measurable Goal
Focus on encouraging a specific desired behavior. For example, if you want to increase the number of product reviews on your website, reward those who write product reviews by giving them points for each one written.
- Reward Incremental Progress
A good game-like experience measures and rewards small accomplishments in addition to big ones. Rewarding people for incremental progress toward larger goals encourages them to keep going.
- Make the Experience Social
Give customers a way to share their accomplishments on social media or your website.
- Measure Your Success
Track the desired behavior before and after gamifying to find out if your gamification is working.
Remember, you need custom gamification designed for your business and its needs in order for it to work effectively. Consider your company’s identity and its current relationship with its customers. Find out what motivates them and incorporate this into your gamification strategy.
Winning Gamification Strategies
In his 2004 book A Theory of Fun for Game Design, game designer Ralph Koster observes that what is fun about gaming is its capacity for delivering intrinsically rewarding experiences beyond the points and badges. Games are fun because they impart to the player “a sense of competence, self-efficacy, and mastery.” (9) To understand gaming strategies, look at the following three examples:
You are probably familiar with this on-line storage service. They use gamification to get you involved. You start Dropbox with free 2Gb of space, enough for small file sharing. When and if you want more space, you can opt-in to their paid service or you can earn more space through a few tasks: (11)
- Get Started – 250Mb
Take the site tour, install their software, share a file
- Get Social – 768 Mb
Connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and follow Dropbox
- Refer a Friend – up to 16Gb
For every friend you refer that signs up to Dropbox, you get 500Mb of storage added and each friend gets an extra 250Gb. (11)
Human nature wants completion, which is why LinkedIn and other sites use progress bars to show completion of desired information.
Many business use reward cards, but Starbucks has taken the concept one-step further. The benefits increase as you use the Starbucks Reward card and include free refills and beverages. They even offer a personalized “Gold Level Card” for ultimate users.
Three Ways Apply Gamification to Your Business Now
#1 – Using Email
If you have email subscribers, have those who “like” your page earn points redeemable for a discount or “prize” – a sample of your product. You can also offer rewards for becoming a Facebook fan. In order to choose a winner, require comments. Simply note the total number of related comments, enter that number as the max in a random number generator, and get your winner. If you prefer not requiring comments, you can use a service to help you track responses.
#2 Have a Product Use Contest
Choose something your customers can create using your product. Have them write a recipe, a review, or a funny anecdote. Alternatively, have them take a picture of either someone using the product or service with a testimonial. Then show entries on your website. You can either ask customers to choose a winner or pick one yourself.
#3 Seek Exposure
In order to generate traffic to your website, create a busy, brand-related image and post it on Facebook. Ask your customers to find one element in the image. Although subscriptions and purchases are not a result of this effort, you will have visitors that may eventually evolve into customers. (8)
Realizing the benefits of gamification takes serious thought and planning, and you are not likely to get much out of it just by littering your website with badges and achievements. (9) However, if you have a community where your customers gather and you have a desire for your business to grow, you should be looking at your gamification options. (1)
- Brousell, Lauren. “5 Key Benefits Gamification Brings to Your Business.” Jun 20, 2013. http://www.cio.com/article/2384745/it-organization/5-key-benefits-gamification-brings-to-your-business .
- Eridon, Corey, “How Real Businesses Are Using Gamification to Spice up Their Marketing.” September 20, 2012. http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/32993/How-Real-Businesses-Are-Using-Gamification-to-Spice-Up-Their-Marketing.aspx
- “Gamification in 2012: For Businesses & Companies, Employees and Customers.” http://www.witszen.com/gamification-in-2012-for-businesses-companies-employees-and-customers/
- Laja, Peep, “How to Use Gamification for Better Business Results.” KISSmetrics https://blog.kissmetrics.com/gamification-for-better-results/
- Gagnon, Amanda. “3 Gamification-Lite Examples You Can Pull Off (Today)” http://blog.aweber.com/email-marketing/easy-gamification-examples.htm
- Workman, Brandon, “Gamification: Companies Of All Sizes Are Using This Strategy To Win Customers And Pummel Competitors.” Business Insider http://www.businessinsider.com/the-growing-gamification-market-2013-11
- Smith, Andrew, “How to Use Gamification to Grow Your Business and Engage Your Employees.” http://www.socialfresh.com/what-is-gamification/
Gamification in business is about more than just games. It is about the psychology of achievement. Gamification has moved from the board to the board room.