Considering that it was gamers who first succeeded in monetizing mobile apps, it’s no surprise that over the past few years businesses across all verticals have added game-like elements to their products.
People are naturally competitive, strive for validation and achievement, and enjoy being part of a community. Gamification plays on those reasonably universal human attributes, adding elements from the world of games to all sorts of other types of tasks.
Businesses who use gamification within their product or app are recognising these desires in their users: and using it for mutual benefit. They can do this in all sorts of ways. Badges and points have become commonplace among many non-gaming apps, but many businesses are finding new and inventive ways to create enjoyment, competition, and achievement for the user, while in turn driving stronger engagement.
Here’s one obvious example. Waze, a navigation app, with over 50 million monthly active users, has used a strong gamification angle to position itself against serious competition in the form of Google Maps.
From the minute you download the app, you are not merely a nameless, faceless user, but are part of a community, with a unique profile with which to interact with other ‘wazers’, who provide the tips and updates, which make the app so useful.
Once part of the community, you’re rewarded for being an active participant, helping both your fellow Wazers and - of course - ultimately the app’s success. Each time you report an incident that will help the community - a fallen tree, a police speed-check, you get points. You even get points for simply having the app running while you’re driving!
The great thing is, if you’re satisfying these desires of your users and thus driving engagement within your app, you can then go about asking your customers to share your brand socially and create a buzz about the product. People in a community they love are more likely to spread the word, another benefit of maintaining a personal relationship and developing real enthusiasm in your audience.
Remember, gamification is just one aspect of building those relationships. And like all the others, it is worth refining and testing the app experiences, in-app and push campaigns that make up your efforts in this area. Nobody gets it right first time, and a gamification strategy involves a whole heap of variables that you’ll need to fine tune over time.