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7 Tips for Using Gamification to Influence Behavior

You may or may not have heard of the term “gamification.” But if you’ve ever strived to see that online confetti fall when you break your own personal exercise record, earn a new badge when you discover that new craft beer, or accumulate those Farmville coins, then you’ve been gamified!

The term gamification dates back to the early part of this millennium. It encompasses the basic elements of a game – scores, challenges, rewards and rules – in an online setting to influence someone’s behavior. In the business world, the behavior is tied to marketing, product innovation, employee training, sales incentives or some other objective to create competition to achieve a goal. Gamification has become a successful means of customer on-boarding. According to a report from Research and Markets, the gamification market will become an $11.1 billion market worldwide by 2020.

One company successfully using gamification is Starbucks. Customers who register for its Star Rewards program can earn points that can be exchanged for free drinks. In addition to earning points via purchases, you can also earn points by playing a bingo game. Customers are incentivized to keep returning to Starbucks to achieve different levels of loyalty, such as the coveted gold status, to earn special rewards. 

Here is a list of things to consider when starting your gamification program: 

  1. Understand what motivates your audience. Is it social expression, receiving freebies, mastering a skill, competing against others or obtaining status? 
  2. Establish your behavior modification goal. Is it to increase purchases, engage customers, educate staff or incentivize salespeople?
  3. Determine the rewards. Are you letting people earn points, prizes, badges? Have a “leader” board so participants have something to aspire to.
  4. Make it fun and uncomplicated.
  5. Pick the right technology platform for your needs. You can either develop your own or use a third-party vendor. Also, make the experience aesthetically pleasing.
  6. Allow people to cultivate the social aspect by sharing with friends and family via their smartphones (i.e., for each person you bring on board, you get 25,000 points).
  7. Track the results, adjust if necessary and repeat.

Gamification works for the same reason you loved skee ball on the boardwalk as a child. You play a game, get tickets for doing well and turn in those tickets for prizes. Why not give it a try?

Stephen Doneson is an Audit Manager in the Audit and Assurance and Pension Services groups with SEC financial statement audit experience for both public and private companies in the technology, manufacturing, distribution, and insurance industries.

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