The 12 Keys To Successful Gamification (Part 2)


If you are building out a loyalty solution for your business gamification is already a part of your marketing in at least a small way. Take some time to go through these 12 keys and the results will follow.

You may have caught my previous post where I talked about the first 6 keys to successful gamification:

  1. Designing the system
  2. Directed user engagement
  3. Social referral programs
  4. The dangers of long-term contracts
  5. Revenue sharing
  6. Gamification as a profit center

In this post, I’ll focus more on the development side of gamification and the importance of the using the right metrics.

7. Deploy it quickly

It can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to a few months to launch a new gamification system, but a good time frame to aim for is about 2 weeks. If you deploy your system too quickly, you may not be thinking it all the way through. It’s pretty easy to add a game layer to your website that doesn’t mean much.

If you’re spending more than 2 weeks (and upwards of a few months) to deploy, you may be investing too much time, effort, and money into something that may not payoff. Gamification is a promising new technology, but that doesn’t mean it works for everyone. It might be a better idea to start off simple and build from there.

8. Don’t depend on developers

Let’s face it, good devs are hard to come by and the good ones are usually backlogged with more work than they can handle. It may take months to schedule the dev time to build a gamification system from scratch.

Another option is try an off-the-shelf gamification platform and customize it to your own needs. A good platform doesn’t need an expensive team of developers to expensively fulfill every request. With a platform, you can start out with some simple game mechanics, and if that works for you, add more complexity. The API of the gamification platform should be robust enough that you can quickly customize the system.

9. Use open and secure APIs

Speaking of APIs, a good API not only allows for easy customization but it is also secure. A secure API protects transactions like awarding points and gathering data, preventing users from gaming your system and circumventing the whole point of a gamification system.

The API should also be open so you can integrate gamification into your site without dealing directly with the platform company. Your developers can just plug in and grab the functionality they want. A good example of this is the Facebook application platform.

10. Seamless user login

In order for users to get the best experience from a gamification system, they need to be logged in. That way, the system can customize their experience as they progress and remember their place if they leave and come back. From a business perspective, you want users logged in so you can track their movement on your site, see what interests them, and know how often they come back.

The trick is getting users to log in as soon as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to ask them to log in with their Facebook or Twitter account. People are becoming more comfortable with this; it’s required by most Facebook apps and is becoming increasingly common on non-Facebook websites. If you don’t want to use a Facebook login, make logging in is as easy as possible because a cumbersome login is one of the biggest hurdles to getting users to try gamification.

11. Focus on metrics that matter

Another part of the gamification puzzle is measuring how effective it is. When coming up with a set of metrics, concentrate on these four areas:

  • Loyalty: To get an idea of how loyal your users are, divide your daily active users (DAU) by your monthly active users (MAU).
  • Engagement: Engagement is how many premium actions your users make when they visit your site (actions like sharing with a social network, voting, commenting, etc.).
  • Virality: To measure virality, track how often users share, how influential they are (a unique click on a shared link), and how much they recruit (a unique sign up from a shared link).
  • Revenue: To see how much revenue you’re bringing in per user, divide your monthly revenue by an average of your daily active users (DAU).

12. Own your data

You can see that metrics are important, but all that goes away if you lose access to your data. Be careful about getting into a situation where you don’t own your data. One possible downside to working with a gamification vendor is that if you stop paying, you might lose the rights to your data. You don’t want anyone holding your data hostage when you need it most.

If you decide to give gamification a try, I encourage you to refer back to these 12 keys so you know what to plan for and what to avoid. Combine these keys with your own research and planning and you’ll come up with a solution that works for your business and your customers.


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