Gamification - What is it and do I need it?

We all know that the World Wide Web is huge, that’s a given, but with so much information accessible from just about anywhere, how do you hang on to loyal customers when there are rival businesses waiting to lure them away at the click, slide or tap of a finger?

It is pretty much basic business common sense that if you want to retain customers and create a loyal following you need to offer something in return - enter gamification.

The size of the gamification market, currently estimated at around $100m, will grow to more than $2.8b by 2016.


So what is gamification?

In general, gamification is the application of game processes in a non-game environment to motivate and engage people to achieve certain goals. Gamification revolves around our impulses and desires related to status and achievement and can be used across a variety of different sectors. One of the most widely known examples of gamification is company loyalty cards that reward users with points, money off coupons and special offers.

Why use gamification?

More and more businesses are coming to realise that their most valuable asset is the customer base they already have. Looking at it from the business’ point of view, who better is there to champion your brand than someone who has had positive experience of using your brand.

By rewarding loyal customers, businesses can gain valuable feedback on their brands, generate organic content for free and gain a loyal customer base who in turn will spread the (positive) word.

Ok, that cleared that up but how does it work in a web context?

Gamification is fast becoming a process that businesses are starting to take seriously. To demonstrate how it works in a web environment it is worth looking at online communities such as Stack Overflow and Treehouse.

The idea is simple – the more that members contribute the more rewards they get. The rewards could be anything, but are most commonly higher scores, more points, badges, levels, statuses and privileges (to name a few).

Gamification sounds great where do I sign up?

Gamification takes a huge amount of planning to pull off successfully and requires careful thought. It is not just a case of awarding some points and badges, a bad attempt at gamification could be detrimental to a business.

In order to effectively implement gamification on a website, it is a necessity that there needs to be constant monitoring of performance to ensure that your users are happy. Listening to the needs of your customers is paramount to maintaining the success of any gamification driven online social community.

Having a clear goal of what you want to achieve will help determine which areas and behaviours you want to encourage, working out what rewards your users want and what you can/are prepared to give is also important. There is an off the shelf solution to gamification for DNN in the form of DNN Social but due to the diverse nature of every business I doubt there will ever be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. However, although gamification is not for every business there are some who will benefit massively from the customer loyalty and interaction it generates.

Now the next question I have is:

Can gamification ever translate to a work environment?