What is Gamification? A Beginner’s Guide

Ian Edwards
August 7, 2020

Gamification can increase employee engagement and improve customer experience. Done right, it breathes motivation into employees and converts online audiences into loyal customers. So just what is gamification and how are organizations using it to make work more enjoyable and shopping ultra gratifying?

Dartboard

If you’re new to the world of gamification, this guide’s for you. 

 

What is gamification?

It can be entertaining, but gamification is not meant to turn work into a game. Instead, it plays on the basic psychology that drives humans to compete, improve, and win—and get rewarded for it. Are you familiar with Kahneman and Tversky’s Prospect Theory? First introduced in the late 1970s, the behavioral economic theory showed that small incentives inspire people to make an extra effort to do something they otherwise would not. Put another away, if a reward awaits them, people are motivated to work a little harder.

 

What is gamification for?

For customers, gamification is a way to reward them for playing and doing business with you. One of the most successful customer gamification campaigns is McDonald’s long running Monopoly game. In the 30 years the game’s been offered, the fast-food giant has given away more than $40 million in cash and product prizes. That makes for a lot of happy customers. Even better, every time the annual game runs, McDonald’s see its sales boosted from one to six percent.

In the workplace, gamification is not only a terrific motivational tool, it also makes for more effective training and learning. Employee incentives don’t have to be boring. Using game mechanics in non-game contexts it helps employees work towards real-time, meaningful, and measurable targets.

  • Points and levels aka value and markers are awarded (or earned) for single or multiple actions and show players where they stand in the game experience over time.
  • Progress bars motivate people by letting them see how close they are to obtaining their reward.
  • Badges mark the completion of goals and the progress of play.
  • Leaderboards make comparisons between players or teams and drive competitiveness.

Coworkers

There are also different types of gamification such as challenges, games of chance or luck, or quizzes. Gamification apps are popular choices for some employers; another option could be gamifying existing employee incentives. It really is up to you. We’ve got a range of gamification solutions below. BeeLiked’s platform hosts a range of pre-built promotion templates including:

  • Quiz Creator that can be used to drive traffic to your website and build marketing leads.
  • Personality Quiz Maker that can be customized to drive engagement, personalize your brand’s message, and speak to younger generations who don’t necessarily respond to traditional advertising.

  • Spot the Ball Game, a unique challenge campaign for free-to-enter games that has shown incredible measurable results, including a 675 percent ROI for online gaming and betting company Skybet.

  • Poll Creator simplifies market research and motivates players to share more accurate, candid, and detailed feedback on products and services.

  • Loyalty programs can be made more fun by including easy-to-win games of chance such as Spin the Wheel. Rewards like vouchers, coupons, and special content can be offered to boost sales and drive revenues.

The same solutions can be used to educate, motivate, and engage employees while optimizing workflows and attracting top talent.

PPP & OKR

 

What makes gamification successful?

Games are fun, engaging, and mentally stimulating. The human brain is hard-wired to enjoy games. Witness the resurgence of board game nights and the popularity of pub quizzes and casinos. Or consider the over 900,000 gaming apps Apple’s App Store offers or nearly 350,000 mobile gaming apps Google Play has available.

Just like people will only replay board or online games because of the joy they get from them, successful gamification strategies only work when users get:

  • The necessary motivation to perform a task and receive a reward or recognition.
  • To carry out tasks at their own pace and skill level, i.e., a sense of control.
  • The right cues or triggers, including progress bars, to complete a task.

And just like in games played for entertainment, employees want to feel a real sense of competition, even if they’re competing with themselves.

 

Good examples of gamification in business

There’s no shortage of examples of companies who have profited from gamification strategies.

  • Nike’s running app, Nike+, is a masterpiece of gamification that’s used by customers to track their physical activity. Nike uses the collected data to market directly to customers in the future and has seen its member base more than double in the first years of the program.
  • Google has gamified the travel expense reporting process for its employees. When employees don’t spend their entire travel allowance they can choose to donate the unused portion to a charity, apply it to a future trip, or receive it in their next paycheck. The result? Submission compliance reached 100%.
  • Bosch, a global supplier of technology and services, and a company celebrated as a workplace innovator, uses workplace gamification to build HR analytics skills by turning working with data into a more enjoyable experience.

upward trend graph

 

Why does gamification work?

For employees and customers alike, workplace gamification works because it triggers powerful human emotions that translate into positive experiences. It also rewards “good” behavior and gives people a true sense of achievement. And when employees are happy, your customers are too, as they receive an improved customer experience.  

 

Does gamification increase engagement?

Employees report they feel much more motivated and a lot less bored when they receive gamification training. Good gamification design fosters better engagement by keeping employees and teams playing to gain more points and rewards or to simply discover more information.

 

What are the benefits of gamification?

There are plenty of numbers to back up just how beneficial gamification can be in the workplace.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of gamification is how it promotes teamwork and collaboration, issues that have become even more challenging as more organizations make a digital transformation and embrace remote work.

 

What are the best ways to implement gamification?

Gamification can be traced back to 2003 when inventor Nick Pelling coined the term. But it wasn’t until 2010 that companies began to see it as a way to better appeal to online customers and improve customer retention. And it’s only more recently that it’s been seen as a way to engage and motivate employees.

The good news is gamification is pretty darn simple to implement. Using gamification techniques like leaderboards, quizzes, challenges, and more, you can quickly increase engagement and loyalty and generate positive user experiences. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you adopt gamification into the workplace.

  • Keep a game’s complexity to a minimum. Too many rules, elements, or mechanics will cause people to become frustrated and quickly lose interest.
  • Reward people for playing or performing, not “winning.”
  • Leaderboards are fun, but the focus shouldn’t be on who’s on top. Including team-based comparisons, not just individual ones, lets people feel good about their personal performance.
  • When possible, match elements in the game with the way they would play out in the real world.

Finally, not every game has to be super fun for employees or customers to enjoy it. Of course, everyone loves to have fun, but people enjoy a game because of how they feel playing it. Games should be fun enough to keep people engaged, but they should also include things like problem solving, strategizing, and collaboration, all skills people use in their daily lives.

 

About BeeLiked

Helping marketers engage, incentivize and reward their audiences with interactive promotions. From engagement to loyalty. BeeLiked helps you create value across the customer lifecycle. 

BeeLiked can help you identify and reward your influencers, your most loyal customers or your best performing employees. Spread your effort and budget more effectively. 

Ready to incorporate gamification into your employee and customer experiences? Get in touch with us today or click that big yellow button below to set up a no-obligation 10-minute discovery call.

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