Whatever your business or team may look like, you can apply the principles of gamification to keep your customers engaged, and to build a habit-forming product. Every team in your company can be involved in an effective gamification strategy – be it product, design, tech, marketing, or social media.
You can introduce gamification to any product or service workflow to enhance a desirable outcome. This could be anything from reducing Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) to increasing the amount of time a user spends on your website. How you gamify often changes based on what your business objectives are. Your gamification strategy should be closely tied with the product DNA. It will help you achieve your business objectives at a minimal cost. With gamification, you’re able to significantly lower your costs and increase your ROI. For example, a refer-and-earn programme will lower your CAC but gets you a large volume of new customers.
So, where do you begin?
Start by knowing what you want to achieve before incorporating gamification into your business. Are you designing it for acquisitions (for example, Google Pay) or time spent on your app (for example, Instagram)? Once you’ve defined these objectives, narrow down on the action you want your consumer to take. This action should be tied to a habit that you want them to form. Double tapping on Instagram or swiping left or right on Tinder – it's such simple actions that become habits! The trick to successfully gamifying an experience is to latch onto behaviour that comes naturally to people. You want to design your experience around those habits such that your customer forms an associated habit around your product.
Anything can be gamified. This is all the more reason for you to be careful about being very specific about your objectives. Your objectives will also impact the way you measure the efficacy of your gamification campaigns. Are they being met? If not, you need to go back and rethink whether you’re working with gamification in the right way.
For today’s generation, rewards have to be instantaneous and variable. People don’t want to wait. They want variety and love surprises.
So if you’re a food delivery app, your reward shouldn’t be in the life insurance sector unless there’s some overlap. Let’s say you’re an airline that’s giving out free dinners in Paris to customers who are booking tickets to France, that makes sense. Find a strong link between what you’re selling and the reward you’re offering your customers. Scratchcards with a variety of different rewards are an idea to consider.
If you are on Instagram, Snapchat or Whatsapp, the story option is actually a form of a reward. You keep scrolling to check for new updates. What does it do? The simple action of a scroll down gives you a refreshed feed with new pictures, which triggers a dopamine release in your brain. That is what the reward is. This is what Instagram has been developed around. You feel a sense of reward by looking at what someone is doing, how many likes your picture got, or how many people have viewed your stories. People are slowly moving away from Facebook to Instagram because of the dopamine secretion, which gives a sense of gratification, and it's stronger on Instagram. The action is also simple and uncomplicated. You are just tapping, or double tapping. Easy and habit-forming!
That is the power of variable rewards. Accessing new information is a type of reward as well. This is why people follow election results, or invest in the stock market. They feel rewarded by the unpredictability, and by constantly receiving updates or new information.
Why do you think people go on LinkedIn to share their knowledge more so today than five years ago? People are now using hashtags to share their posts. They want their networks to know what they believe in, and the moves they’re making. They also want to have more connections, and have more people following them. This is a form of a reward as well!
Let’s say you have a preview of a sale only for customers who have signed up to be members, people who are shopping are more likely thus to sign up. Now, if you gave them a cashback offer along with the sale preview, the effectiveness of the membership increases. More gamification is better! Studies show that putting together different gamification elements result in the product being more addictive to the customer.
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Sumit Kumar Singh
Former VP, Online Products | Principal Product Manager
Yatra | Microsoft