Business Gamification For Dummies book cover

Business Gamification For Dummies

By: Kris Duggan and Kate Shoup Published: 02-04-2013

The easy way to grasp and use gamification concepts in business

Gamification is a modern business strategy that leverages principles from games to influence favorable customer behavior on the web in order to improve customer loyalty, engagement, and retention. Gamification can be used by any department in a company (HR, Sales, Marketing, Engineering, Support, etc.), for any web-based experience (mobile, website, retail, community, etc.).

Business Gamification For Dummies explains how you can apply the principles of this strategic concept to your own business model.

  • How gamification evolved from Farmville/Zynga and Facebook and is now something that can be applied to the work environment
  • How to build a successful gamification program
  • How to entice and retain customers using gamification
  • How to drive employee behavior inside your organization
  • Real-world illustrations of gamification at work

If you're interested in learning more about this exciting and innovative business strategy, this friendly, down-to-earth guide has you covered.

Articles From Business Gamification For Dummies

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57 results
57 results
Business Gamification For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-27-2016

Using gamification in your business boosts customer loyalty and engagement. But you need to know how to motivate customers to do what you'd like them to by providing the right types of rewards and understanding effective modes of gamification.

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Does Business Gamification Really Work?

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

In short, yes, gamification works. That being said, gamification is not a panacea for your business woes. If your business or product is lousy, or if you're at the bottom of a dying industry, gamification alone can't save you. People look for value; if your value proposition stinks, gamification won't make it smell like roses. The German chemical company BASF once used this slogan: "At BASF, we don't make a lot of the products you buy. We make a lot of the products you buy better." That's kind of what gamification does. It doesn't make your offering; it makes your offering better. And it has done so for a number of businesses. As you will see from the following real-world examples, successful business gamification is possible if you know who your audience is and what they like to do.

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How to Develop a Business Gamification Program

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

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.

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How to Identify Gamification Providers

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

If you’ve opted to go the provider route to build your gamification site, the next obvious question is, what provider should you choose? Although gamification is a relatively new industry, there are numerous organizations to choose from. This is by no means an exhaustive list of gamification providers. It’s a growing industry, and new players emerge (and old ones fold) at a breathtaking pace.

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10 Great Gamified Sites and Apps

Step by Step / Updated 03-27-2016

Business gamification uses elements like points, achievements, levels, leaderboards, missions, and contests to drive desired behaviors. All of a sudden, promoting a brand becomes fun for customers, and sharing troubleshooting solutions with fellow consumers is an engaging challenge. Likewise, employees actually enjoy training instead of seeing it as a chore, and they’re motivated to work harder on a day-to-day basis. Here are ten examples of websites and apps that feature smart — and successful — gamification:

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Effective Game Mechanics in Business Gamification

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Any good gamification guru will tell you: You’re only as good as the tools in your toolbox. When it comes to game mechanics, various tools are available to you — each designed to elicit a specific reaction in players. You can combine these tools in nearly infinite ways to create a broad spectrum of responses and experiences. These tools include the following: Points: Unless a player receives points during gameplay, he or she may not even be aware that a game is afoot. Points help users know they’re in a gamified environment and that many of the small behaviors they take along the way are being recognized at a system level. Companies running gamification programs use points to spur desired behaviors. To really drive desired behaviors, game designers can weight points — that is, award more points for those behaviors deemed more valuable or that require more effort. Gamification efforts typically employ a few different types of points, including experience points, redeemable points, and karma points. Leaderboards: The purpose of a leaderboard is to show players where they rank. Those at the top enjoy the notoriety it brings; as for everyone else, the leaderboard shows them where they stand relative to their peers. Often, the very presence of a leaderboard can elicit the desire to play. The simple goal of rising up the rankings serves as a powerful motivator to continue. Levels: Levels serve two important roles in gamification systems: They indicate progress and they convey status. In a gamified system, a level is effectively a rank that corresponds to the player. It’s earned through accomplishments and represents additional privileges or abilities. The change in level occurs when the user reaches a set point threshold. Missions, challenges, and quests: Missions, challenges, and quests are essentially different words for the same thing. They require users to perform a prescribed set of actions, following a guided path of your design. A mission, challenge, or quest might involve a single step (for example, creating an account on your website) or several steps — even as many as 20. Often, they are about discovery or education. Feedback: One game mechanic that helps to encourage engagement is feedback, or the broadcast of well-written, helpful, engaging on-screen messaging in the form of real-time notifications within the game system and/or via e-mail when users perform a desired behavior, level up, unlock a reward, or need to complete an additional behavior in order to earn their next reward.

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Types of Rewards Useful in Business Gamification

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

You can attract users to your gamified business website using various types of rewards. Arguably, business gamification rewards are in three categories, recognition, privileges, and monetary: Recognition: Pretty much everyone wants to be recognized for their achievements. Recognition for completing a task or accomplishing a goal not only feeds this basic human need, it also encourages engagement and increases repetition — both of which are probably in your list of business objectives. In a gamified system, you can recognize your users by conferring reputation and status. Privileges: Some users are motivated by the promise of privileges. These might include early/VIP access, moderation powers, or stronger votes. Monetary rewards: Certain users may hold out for more tangible benefits. These benefits are typically monetary in nature, but could also involve free stuff. A few examples of monetary rewards include discounts, free shipping, prizes, and redemptions.

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Motivating Key Behaviors in Business Gamification

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Business gamification is all about driving key behaviors. You can harness game mechanics to enable people to experience something they like. In general terms, here are a few things people like: Recognition: Recognition, a foundational building block for gamification, simply means acknowledging desired behaviors. On a website, that could mean being recognized for expertise based on writing reviews. Inside a company, it could be an achievement for closing more sales in your customer management software. Status: Status refers to a position or rank relative to others. Those with a higher position or rank are conferred a higher status. Status — and the rewards or privileges that come with it — is valuable to the player because of the sense of worth and pride that comes with an increased standing in a community of peers. Identity: For some users, it’s all about identity. They want to be known. Recognizing who a user is, what expertise he carries, and what social standing he has is important. Ideally, the distinguishing character or personality of an individual is also showcased, leading to desirable engagement and increased community participation. Specialization: Expertise in an area, or specialization, will typically cause users to perform actions that relate to that topic. For example, a vegan might start a thread on a forum about a new vegan product. This in turn should help to build his or her reputation as an expert in that field. Positive reinforcement: Everyone’s heard of the ol’ carrot-and-stick approach — using a combination of positive (carrot) and negative (stick) reinforcement to guide behavior. Although sticks like punishment for an undesired behavior can be effective, most people agree that when it comes to motivating people to do what you want them to do, carrots work best. Rewards: Rewards are valuable to all users. Rewards can be tangible (cold, hard cash or, free airline tickets, or a discount on your next purchase) or virtual (points, badges, levels, and so on). Relevance: Nobody wants to look at a bunch of information that has no bearing on their area of interest. People want relevance. They want the material that satisfies their needs to be right there. And they tend to create and consume content that’s relevant to them. Competition: Many people are motivated by an urge to compete. Indeed, competitions — whether for prizes, badges, or honor — are among the oldest forms of recreation. Tapping into this innate desire is a great way to motivate desired user behaviors. Visualization of progress: With any type of journey — be it a literal one, like a coast-to-coast scramble, or a figurative one, such as losing weight — being able to visualize the progress made and distance still to go can be powerful motivators. Gamification offers a great way to keep users apprised of their progress. Baby steps: Baby steps — breaking down larger, overwhelming tasks into smaller, easily accomplished micro-tasks — make it much easier to get things done. Each micro-task becomes a little victory, and the larger task is no longer overwhelming.

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Understanding Business Gamification Frameworks

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

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. Note that you can mix frameworks. As you might expect, you have many options in terms of gamification frameworks. We’ve identified six broad approaches, each designed to address a specific business need: Social loyalty: This framework is for customer-facing experiences that occur in nonsocial environments, such as a traditional e-commerce experience. This framework focuses on rewards. Community expert: This framework is for customer-facing experiences that rely on quality user-generated content and contributions. This framework focuses on reputation. Competitive pyramid: This framework is for customer-facing communities that seek to motivate competitive behavior. This framework focuses on status and score. Gentle guide: This framework guides employees through a process. This framework focuses on ensuring completion and compliance. Company collaborator: This framework is designed to increase contributions by employees, developers, and partners in internal communities. Company challenge: This framework is designed to challenge your staff to compete on teams to encourage high-value behaviors.

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What Is Business Gamification?

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Simply put, business gamification refers to the use of game mechanics and rewards in a business setting to increase user engagement and drive desired user behaviors. Businesses can use gamification to increase such things as stickiness, sharing, content creation, and purchases. What gamification is In part, the idea behind gamification is to influence how people (in this case, customers and fans) behave and what they do by tapping into their innate desire to play games. It's about making things fun — something that game makers have known for decades but that the rest of us are just figuring out. More than that, though, gamification is about tapping into what really motivates people and then using a variety of techniques to inspire them to perform desired behaviors. As a bonus, with gamification, the desired behaviors that users perform are recordable — and when you have data, you have an opportunity to act on it. Yes, gamification can certainly be used to promote behaviors in which people might not otherwise engage, but the best gamification programs operate by rewarding people for behaviors they are already inclined to perform or are required to perform, increasing their engagement and enjoyment. In other words, gamification makes things more fun. To be clear, gamification isn't about creating a game. Games are great, sure, but slapping a game on your website probably won't help you attract more users. Rather, you use game mechanics to enliven an existing experience. What gamification does Does your website have low retention or dismal conversion rates? Are your customer communities ghost towns? Is your loyalty program stagnant? Have customers forgotten your brand altogether? Or maybe your problems are on the employee side. It could be that your onboarding process for setting up new employees is slow. Or maybe your people just don't collaborate, share knowledge, or keep records the way they should. Maybe you have a high employee churn rate. All these problems stem from a single cause: lack of engagement. Here are two ways lack of engagement can hurt: Customers aren't loyal. The Internet has leveled the playing field, inundating customers with choices. Thanks to this ample choice, they often flee to competitors. Employees underperform. By underusing the technology you provide, employees fail to optimize business processes. In response, most organizations have simply invested in more technology — lots of it. Like, $1 trillion between 2007 and 2012 alone. Even so, here's the stubborn reality: 54% of customers are inactive in loyalty programs. 69% of customers don't use online communities. 50% of employees don't adopt enterprise software. 88% of employees don't use social software. What's missing? Your ability to measure and influence behaviors that matter to you. Enter gamification. Your customers and employees crave attention, recognition, approval, and rewards. With gamification, you feed this craving, and in the process convert customers into loyal fans and employees into highly effective collaborators and advocates. Gamification enables you to drive, measure, and reward high-value behaviors by customers or employees. Game mechanics use design and behavioral psychology principles inherent in today's social games to drive and reward specific user behaviors in business environments. Smart gamification elements — such as points, achievements, levels, leaderboards, missions, and contests — can drive desired behaviors on virtually any website or enterprise application. One way to think of gamification is as the intersection of psychology and technology. Most successful gamification programs rely to some degree on behavioral psychology — understanding what motivates someone to engage with certain elements on a website, app, or what have you. In the past, the people who designed websites and software applications were concerned with simply developing technology — say, to automate or streamline a business process. They weren't so worried about making sure people would actually use it. Nowadays, it's about humanizing the technology and applying psychological and behavioral concepts to increase the likelihood that the technology will be used and used properly.

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