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How to Develop a Business Gamification Program

Interested in applying gamification to your business? If so, the first thing you need to recognize is gamification is a program, not just a project.

You can’t just apply gamification for three months and call it a day; you need to invest in the strategy for the long term. These are the steps involved in developing a gamification program.

1

Pinpoint your business objectives for gamification.

Yes, it’s tempting to just slap some game mechanics on your company’s website and call it a day. But gamifying your business is, unfortunately, a bit more complicated. For your gamification efforts to be successful, you must first pinpoint your business objectives — what, exactly, you want to achieve.

Maybe you want to increase customer engagement. Maybe you want to build a community around your website. Or perhaps you want to improve employee performance. After you’ve identified what you want to achieve, you can design a gamification program that helps you meet that goal.

2

Identify desired behaviors for your gamification program.

Next you have to determine which user behaviors will drive the objectives you identified. Put simply, behaviors are the foundation of all gamification programs. Once key behaviors are identified, you can determine which game mechanics are most likely to drive those behaviors and reward users for performing those behaviors — that’s what gamification is all about.

3

Choose rewards to ensure gamification success.

Even the mere hope of receiving a reward — even a really lousy one — can motivate a player to perform a desired behavior. It makes sense, then, that successful gamification hinges on the use of rewards (preferably good ones).

Rewards can be divided into three categories: recognition (in the form of reputation or status), privileges (for example, early access to products or site features, moderation powers, or stronger votes), and monetary rewards (think discounts, free shipping, prizes, or redemptions).

4

Select game mechanics.

Game mechanics describes the components of a game — the tools employed by game designers to generate and reward activity among players (or, in the case of a gamification program, customers, employees, or other users). Most gamification programs leverage game mechanics in one way or another.

When it comes to game mechanics, various tools are available to you, each designed to elicit a specific reaction from players. These tools, which can be combined in infinite ways to create a broad spectrum of responses and experiences, include points, leaderboards, levels, missions, challenges,quests, achievements, rewards, and feedback.

5

Pick a gamification framework.

A gamification framework is a holistic program designed to achieve a specific business objective. The framework you use depends on the outcome you want to achieve. Each framework —six of them are identified — is designed to tackle a specific business need.

Some of these frameworks address an internal (employee-facing) need, while others are designed for external (customer-facing) use. Some frameworks work best in solo environments (for an individual); others are ideal for collaborative settings (for example, a community); and still others speak to competitive arenas (say, a gaming site).

The six gamification frameworks are social loyalty, community expert, competitive pyramid, gentle guide, company collaborator, and company challenge.

6

Decide to build or buy, and choose a gamification program provider.

Should you attempt to build your gamification program in house from the ground up? Or should you buy a gamification system from a company that specializes in that sort of thing? That’s a decision you’ll need to make as you develop your gamification program.

7

Assemble your gamification team.

Regardless of whether you build your gamification program in house or partner with a gamification provider, you’ll want to assemble a top-notch team to see it through. Some team members might be employees in your organization. Others could be external — say, consultants from a gamification provider or other third party. Broadly speaking, these team members will include business champions, nerds, and creative types.

8

Configure and deploy your gamification program.

It probably goes without saying that gamification programs can be quite complex. But don’t freak out! When you break it down, it really consists of just four simple stages: design, development, testing, and migration.

9

Use analytics to track your progress.

How do you know that the gamification program you put in place is actually driving the behaviors you need to occur in order to meet your business objectives?

Analytics. Using analytics, you can assess the success (or lack thereof) of any business operation. With analytics, you can pinpoint where the problems with your program lie — Is the design off somehow? Did you use the wrong platform? — and determine how to correct them. In today’s high-tech world, it’s all about optimization, and that’s exactly what analytics allows you to do.

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