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Updated Dec 01, 2023

What Is Gamification?

Gamification involves the introduction of gameplay to a traditionally nongame environment.

Gem Siocon headshot
Gem Siocon, Staff Writer
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This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

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In a business environment, company owners, managers, department heads and team members all deal with processes, problems and systems. Gamification is a way to make these tasks and goals more fun while boosting efficiency and engagement. We’ll explain more about gamification and how businesses can use it to improve operations, brand reputation and morale. 

What is gamification? 

Gamification is the application of game-playing elements to nongame environments. For example, if you’re engaging in social media marketing, you may allow your social media followers to earn rewards for commenting on your posts or sending user-generated content. Adding this game-like element to your marketing plan can stir user interest and is a fun way to boost customer engagement

Businesses can use gamification to enhance their marketing campaigns, consumer product launches, brand profiles, customer service efforts and much more. Gamifying customer loyalty programs can increase participation and enhance brand and customer loyalty. Organizations can even incorporate gamification elements into their company culture to improve employee engagement and team morale. 

Gamification isn’t just about fun and increased participation. It provides businesses with a wealth of customer behavior data and valuable insights into consumer activities. This information is part of the big data stream that can help businesses improve operational practices and identify new marketing opportunities.

Did You Know?Did you know
According to the Gamification Global Market Report, the global gamification market grew from $14.87 billion in 2022 to $18.63 billion in 2023. And because of consumers' smartphone addiction, the gamification market is expected to continue skyrocketing.

How does gamification work?  

Gamification works by rewarding participants, and these rewards can take shape in many ways. Here are a few examples of how businesses use rewards in gamification strategies:

  • Rewards for brand-specific actions: For example, as part of a brand’s gamified marketing campaign, a customer may earn a badge for checking in to a brand event or gain a higher standing on a virtual leaderboard when vying against other consumers, including friends and total strangers.
  • Rewards for product usage: Gamification rewards can also be incorporated into a product. For example, language-learning app Duolingo uses points, badges and leaderboards to make learning fun and engaging for its users. Duolingo users can receive points when they complete tasks or achieve a milestone, providing a sense of accomplishment that inspires further usage.
  • Rewards for behavior: Wearable fitness tech Fitbit provides another example of gamification. Its activity tracker gamifies fitness goals by awarding badges for reaching step milestones, motivating users to stay active.
  • Rewards for advancement: Gamification can empower individuals to advance through different levels when they accumulate points or move through a structured progression system. For example, customer relationship management (CRM) powerhouse Salesforce’s online learning platform, Trailhead, uses gamification to encourage individuals, teams and companies to amass Salesforce skills and other critical interpersonal and business skills, like data literacy and emotional intelligence

What are the benefits and limitations of gamification?

Gamification can be a powerful, effective strategy. However, it’s not without its drawbacks.

Benefits of gamification

  • Gamification can increase user engagement: Adding a gamified element to a process or strategy can increase user interest and engagement. For example, Beat the Graduate Management Admission Test is a test preparation resource for Master of Business Administration candidates. It encourages competition among users by awarding points and badges for completing various preparatory tasks. If the participant has fun, they’re more likely to stay engaged and retain information.
  • Gamification provides a way to participate in the learning process: Gamification adds another layer to learning. Instead of just reading about an activity or subject, you participate in the learning process. You receive feedback on your performance and become motivated to do better.
  • Gamification appeals to competitive natures: Many people strive to be the best and are motivated by competition. Gamification introduces the element of competition into a task and motivates participants to outperform their competitors. For example, a sales manager may create healthy workplace competition by awarding a bonus to the sales team with the highest quarterly results. Optimal results can be achieved when you’re highly motivated.
  • Gamification provides desired prizes: Many gamification strategies reward participants with real-world benefits. For example, a coffee shop’s gamified customer loyalty program may reward participants with free beverages, upgrades, mugs, gift cards and more. Prizes are high motivators. 

Limitations of gamification

  • Excellent content or products must support gamification: The most creative and rewarding gamification strategy won’t matter if no one is interested in your content, products or services. For gamification to work with consumers, your offering must be solid and have an invested target audience. In our coffee shop example, a gamified customer loyalty program can offer generous rewards, but it will fall flat if customers aren’t interested in the shop’s products. Similarly, for gamification to work in the office, your employees must care about the organization and be invested in its success.
  • Not everyone will be tempted by gamified rewards: Your gamification strategy may be ineffective if it overemphasizes points, badges and levels with nothing to back it all up. For truly invested participants, you need a gamification strategy that provides genuine gameplay and a story. A flimsy premise won’t motivate anyone.

How to use gamification in your business

There are countless ways to use creative gamification in your business to engage consumers and employees. Here are a few ideas to get you started: 

  1. Create a customer loyalty program: A loyalty program is an excellent way to build customer loyalty and trust. Loyalty programs work in numerous ways. However, the most basic loyalty programs reward customers with points and badges when they spend a specific amount, refer customers or purchase a certain number of items. For example, a deli may offer a customer loyalty program that earns participants one free sandwich for every 10 sandwiches purchased. This kind of program has the benefit of encouraging repeat business and additional sales.
  2. Enhance employee learning and development initiatives: Gamification can help create more effective employee training programs. For example, work with your onboarding team to develop interactive training materials with leaderboards and badges that encourage employees to finish modules and learn new skills. You can also encourage professional development by rewarding team members who complete certifications or classes.
  3. Implement employee productivity motivators: Boost productivity in the workplace by implementing a points-based system that rewards goal completion. For example, you can reward your sales staff when they reach or exceed sales goals. You can also monitor customer support interactions to reward team members who provide exceptional customer service. 
  4. Reward customers for providing feedback: Implement a program that rewards customers with discounts, free shipping or another incentive to complete customer surveys about your brand’s products and customer support. This valuable feedback can help you improve all aspects of your business.  
  5. Add gamification strategies to live events: If you host live events, like information sessions, product demos and meetings, include gamified features like live polling and scavenger hunts to boost engagement and participation. 
The best CRM software can help you monitor your service reps' interactions with customers so you can reward those who provide excellent service and help improve the quality of your support.

Examples of gamification

Many high-profile organizations use gamification to engage users and employees. Here are a few examples of popular campaigns:

  • Starbucks: Starbucks is renowned for its groundbreaking customer loyalty program. The Starbucks app allows easy digital payments and rewards customers who collect “stars” with generous perks like free drinks and prizes.
  • Domino’s: Domino’s has multiple gamification strategies, including its rewards program that awards free pizzas to members, its pizza-tracking delivery app and its Pizza Maker course that makes employee training interactive and fun.
  • AMC: AMC’s Stubs program lets movie theater customers earn points and get rewarded with generous perks like free tickets, free refills and specialty merchandise.  
  • Zendesk: This customer service platform awards points and badges to customer support staff for resolving tickets quickly and effectively, enhancing customer satisfaction.
Did You Know?Did you know
Fun ways to gamify your workforce and improve employee engagement include adding interactive visuals and infographics to training materials, awarding PTO to reward goal completion and holding contests.

Gamification can make any activity more fun and engaging 

Gamification works by applying game-playing principles and elements to any activity to make it more engaging and fun. Participants are rewarded with points and badges when they complete specific tasks. 

Companies can apply gamification to any work process to boost enjoyment for customers and employees. It can help increase employee engagement, productivity, sales and customer satisfaction. Notable brands worldwide have used gamification effectively in their campaigns and strategies. 

If you want to generate excitement in your business, gamification is an excellent strategy.

Gem Siocon headshot
Gem Siocon, Staff Writer
With a degree in Psychology and more than 10 years of experience in digital marketing and HR, Gem Siocon writes HR and marketing articles packed with practical and actionable advice. She has written for top-notch HR blogs like AIHR, Recruitee, Nectar, Ongig, and Harver.
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