Gamification – Achievement as Reward

Oct 15

Gamification – Achievement as Reward

Many apps look to “gamify” their product so as to give the impression that anyone who uses it regularly is “levelling up” by unlocking achievements. This theory is baked into every video game that ever existed, and gives the player a feeling of visual/virtual accomplishment because they receive actual proof of their achievement, whether that be via badge, reward, or unlocking a new level. Similarly, any app can mimic this process by gifting users with points, rewards, exclusive offers, or benefits they can’t get anywhere else.

Facebook is an example of both a social network and app that uses gamification to inspire feelings of achievement, every time you logon to your account. Facebook has built-in “rewards” for users that tie into the concepts of social proof. For example, every time you post something, you expect to see (and usually do receive) likes and comments from people you’re connected to within your network. Depending on privacy settings, you can get the additional ego stroke of having friends of friends like or comment on your posts, and even sharing them with their own networks. This taps into most people’s goals of having influence; being heard, getting validation for their opinions, and possibly gaining new friends and followers because of it.

We can also see examples of gamification by brands on Facebook – usually their goal is to have people complete specific objectives. This can take the form of buying something, making them think unappealing offers sound fun, or just to keep them doing whatever it is they’re already doing (following the page or liking posts). Marketing gamification allows brands to reach millions of users, cheaply and effectively – especially if something they share goes viral. In the long view, it also enables brands to create an emotional connection with their audience and inspire deeper engagement. A brand’s followers might remember the marketing campaign first, and the brand second…but the important thing is the buzz has been created.

Healthkit is an example of an app framework that uses achievement to inspire customer loyalty and engagement. It was rolled out by Apple and included in their iOS 8 update, and has the value proposition of allowing apps that provide health and fitness services to share their data with each other and with doctors (by user permission only). Users are able to store all their health information in one place, and then decide which apps to share it with. For example, you can connect apps to each other that do things like determine what a patient’s cough means, diagnose sleep apnea, and even predict a bipolar episode before it starts – this “rewards” users by giving them a cohesive look at all their health data so they have better control over their own health.

Apple has done a great job of making sure that the inherent rewards of using HealthKit are readily apparent – who wouldn’t want to use their iPhone and a series of health/fitness apps to improve their overall health, sleep better, track weight, get faster diagnoses, and achieve fitness goals? It also allows users to better connect with their doctors – a relationship that is often complained about and seldom sees lasting fixes. Regular uses may find that they have greater access to actionable data through useful visualizations of their health state, as well as a feeling of engagement with a larger social community.

The key value of Healthkit is that each user gets to customize their experience – the available benefits of using it are numerous and therefore, those feelings of achievement and reward are effortless. It’s pretty simple to include this experience in your app.

Ask yourself if your app does the following:

  • offers clear benefits right off the bat, just by signing up or downloading (ex: access to community features, free services)
  • delivers an awesome first-time user experience. Its important to do this without forcing a sign-up if possible – you don’t want to lose users just because you didn’t want them to have an anonymous experience of your product.
  • offers some type of reward after installing/sign-up (such as access to exclusive content, free points, bonus or discount for inviting a friend)
  • triggers incentive to come back often and soon, via push notification offers. Tie this to their specific user segment and based on past activity. This is easy if your using an engagement automation tool like StreetHawk.
  • has the option for users to unlock more benefits, the more the app is used
  • include a built-in system of reward (ex: point system, loyalty program, accessing more data, customization). Foursquare’s Swarm does a great job of this – every time users check in somewhere, they earn prizes and compete with friends, which encourages them to use it even more!
  • triggers follow-up emails depending on user action (ex: signing up but then not coming back, not logging in for a week or more, or rewards for being a consistent user)

Doing any or a combination of these will ensure that loyalty is generated organically, and your users have a reason to come back to the app again and again.

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