Have you built an app that you thought users would love but they’re just not using it? Or perhaps you’re looking to improve how users engage with your app. As a product manager, you’re constantly thinking of ways to increase engagement and improve your product. Gamification is the perfect method to enhance app engagement and increase loyalty to your product.

So, What Exactly Is Gamification?

Gamification applies game-design methods to non-game applications to make them more fun, engaging and interesting for users. The gamification approach has proven to increase people’s motivation to either demonstrate certain behaviours or complete a desired action. Things like Facebook addiction or Uber ratings are prime examples of gamification at play.

There are typically two kinds of motivations that drive users to use your app: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is when a user engages in a behaviour that internally and personally rewards them with things like positive emotion or enjoyment. Extrinsic motivation is the opposite, where behaviour or actions are performed by a user with the intention of achieving an external incentive or reward, such as money or praise.

The prime objective of gamification is to enhance the motivations of the user. Over time, external motivators create greater intrinsic motivation. When the user has greater intrinsic motivation, they will be more inclined to return to your app without an external prompt, as they have already become hooked on or are internally incentivised to use your app.

What Can Gaming Teach Us?

Gaming companies spend a heap of time and energy on keeping their users engaged, to keep them coming back over a long term. Usually, the acquisition cost is greater than other apps, so players need to hang around for quite some time for developers to regain the initial cost.

Most of these methods can be applied to other industries for the benefit of user experience. They can also assist with driving engagement, when thought about in terms of service or user expectations.

That’s a pretty solid guideline for how to think about gamification within your app or service!

Decide What Needs To Be Accomplished

Whether you use gamification or not, you must define what you aim to accomplish. Do you want to improve retention or drive engagement? Creating a clear idea of your objectives for a gamification strategy helps you define which incentive will best drive user motivation.

Keep objectives separate from your metrics or company KPIs. One company can maintain many KPIs across the sales funnel, but you’ll want to limit the goals to around 1-2 key metrics. These could include 7-day retention or engagement to implement gamification strategy, for example.

Encouraging Specific User Behaviours

Based on the objectives you planned earlier, your next mission is to determine which specific actions you want your users to engage in. Do you want them to share your app on social networks? Do you want them to interact more with content? This is where you need to be specific. General objectives such as ‘increasing the virality of the app’ or ‘growing our social community’ are difficult to numerically measure.

A good approach is to break down the specific behaviours you’d like your users to engage in. An objective like ‘enhance the number of articles average users publish from 2 to 3’ or ‘increase average share by X amount’ are great starter goals.

Reward Good User Behaviour

When you know what behaviour you want your users to exhibit, you can move onto building the right incentives to reward that behaviour. An incentive could range from attaining status to a monetary sum or even a badge – anything that provides value to the users.

Engagement That Counts

User engagement is central to the survival of every app on the market. One of the best ways to drive and harness user engagement is through incentivised activities. If you provide users with a task they must accomplish in order to receive a reward, the reward acts as an incentive. Otherwise, they may not have completed the task in the first place!

These incentives should be based upon the behaviours the app’s users naturally display, while using the app to drive greater adoption. Actions that warrant these rewards must vary, depending on which part of the app is used.

At the end of the day, gamification leverages basic psychological principles and adapts them for a digital platform. Who would’ve thought such an “out-there term” could be so elegant and simple at its core?

We hope the term ‘Gamification’ makes a bit more sense now! While you’re boosting your skills in the app-making game, why not take a look at our blog on How A Smart SEO Strategy Can Help Your Mobile App Get Found, or discover these 5 Tips on Enhancing Your Business’s Social Media Presence. You just might learn something worth taking away!