Engage or Die: smart gamification

Gamification is a way of gaining engagement which can be turned into more sales. Many companies decide to implement gamification into their marketing strategy because it seems fun and easy way to approach more customers and increase sales in a short period of time. When you search the Internet for gamification examples you see mostly success stories and big numbers.

If that was true, why does Gartner say that by 2014, 80% of current gamified applications will fail to meet their business objectives?
It’s easy to fall in love with your idea to engage your customers. But beware, it’s dangerous. Here are 5 reasons gamifying projects fail:

1. Engagement gap
You can take your users to Disneyland but if their friends aren’t there, they won’t have the reason to visit.

Problem: Get more people to engage with the service.
Solution: Engage in a smart way. Make sure you understand what your audience want. The most popular engagement tools are:

– badges
They give recognition to the user who can then share the badge with her friends.

Foursquare badges

– levels
Levels gives this extra boost to the challenge. Noone wants to stay on the first level. Levels should be achievable. You can add sub levels if the distance/difficulty between each levels is too big.
(see an example in 3. Progession)

– social share
We all like to share GOOD, RELEVANT CONTENT. Examples of well prepared social share content

Social Share on Nike + madmen photo1

– progress bars
You can be easily discouraged if you don’t see the progress in what you’re doing. Give your users progress bars so they can see how well they are doing.
(See an example in 3. Progression)

Make sure you are using them well. If you offer badges, they should be meaningful so that everyone knows what they stand for. Social share message should be designed for the audience of your audience. It means that you cannot just say how great your company is (well, that will come later) but how cool the user that shares this message is.

Nike+ Running App used a simple social share button so the users can share the information about their achievements via social media of their choice. This is why so many people started using the app, by seeing their friends are using it. You can also find your friends from Facebook who are using the app and invite them to your group in Nike+.

2. Unique experience
Make sure your program gives something more than just the same products you offer on your website.

Zappos made this mistake when presenting an interactive experience where you can explore the world of Zappos products and find the links to the same products you can find on Zappos site. This was bad to the company’s image. The company has a very strong customer approach and this webite underestimated the customer.


3. Progression
People like to see the progress in what they are doing. If they don’t see the progress they will soon get bored with your program.

Nike + Running App Levels are presented with colors. Beginning with yellow, you can reach the volt when you reach 15000K. Levels have milestones that show you the distance to the next level.


LinkedIn knows how important it is to show the progress but fails to present it in an approachable way. You can see how advanced your LinkedIn account is but you can’t see directly what you should do in order to reach the higher level.


4. Get more social
We love to collaborate and share stuff with our friends. We also love to see what our friends are doing.

The best example of social approach that immediately comes to my mind is Facebook. It’s all about checking what your friends are doing. You may not create the new Facebook but you can use this existing tool in order to use the social approach in your business. This is a good idea for those who don’t want to spend too much on applications or landing pages.

5. Habit
If you have to pick up your device and think “Oh, I have to check in now” you will not use this application very often. This should be a part of your everyday routine like using the phone for calling or sending text messages.

Foursquare now has over 20 million users so it seems they managed to create a habit. You simply check in wherever you go.