Boosting User Engagement Through Gamification

In marketing, we are often highly focused on getting the public to visit our websites by driving organic traffic, increasing search engine rankings through optimization efforts, and promoting our sites through every possible form of paid, owned, and earned media. The message is out there, and pretty much everyone is saying the same thing: Come! Visit our site!

So, let’s presume your efforts have paid off, and a consumer does come visit your site. Now what? Consider how solitary an activity web browsing actually is. The fact is that sitting at the computer browsing websites is actually fairly boring most of the time. Aside from the standard customer service pop-up windows, which new users rarely click unless they actively need assistance, there’s very little interaction going on when someone visits a new website, and that is a major concern for business owners.

It’s not enough to get people to visit a website. Businesses need those visitors to use, engage with, and depend on their websites. This is where “gamification” comes into play. Literally the “game”-ifying of a website, gamification is the practice of using gaming techniques and psychology to encourage visitors to become active site users who participate in desired behaviors by making websites more engaging or fun.

For example, consider Foursquare, which we recently discussed here on the TribalVision blog. Sure, people can simply check in with Foursquare so people know where they are, but this application utilizes gamification by turning those check-ins into games through which users earn badges, awards, and titles for going to a coffee shop and posting their visit via social media. Not only does this type of reward-based system play into the psychological impulse most people have to engage in gaming, achieve mastery and autonomy in a task, and have fun, but it also keeps users consistently coming back to the site to earn more and more rewards, even if they’re virtual rewards of no monetary value such as site community status, virtual prizes, or badges to display on a profile.

Even LinkedIn, with its somewhat staid and non-playful image, also employs gamification very well. When you create a LinkedIn profile, there’s a status bar to the right, indicating how far along a user is in the profile generation process. There’s something about being just 85% complete that makes a user want to finish that profile, if just to get rid of the status message.

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for how (or whether) to utilize gamification on your website, but it’s absolutely worth a discussion, as the numbers simply do not lie. For example, DevHub, a site where consumers build personal sites and blogs, reports that before adding a gamification angle to their end-user site processes, “about 10 percent of users finished building their sites. Now, almost 80 percent of them do.”

What would such a massive engagement increase mean for your site? For your bottom line? Already employing gamification? We want to hear from you! Comment below or connect with us via phone or email any time.