5 Things to Consider When Adding Gamification to Your Membership Site
Gamification, the act of applying game elements and game theory to non-gaming situations, can be a great addition to many membership sites and provides a number of different benefits that can aid both member success and retention.
However actually adding gamification to your membership site can be a bit of a balancing act, and successful gamification requires some careful thought and planning in order to be effective for your members long term.
Why Use Gamification?
Gamification provides a way to:
- Direct members behaviour and move them from A-Z through your membership
- Motivate members to complete content
- Improve member engagement and enjoyment of your site
- Reward members for desired behaviours and actions
- Increase member retention and keep members logging in
Above all else, gamification is designed to encourage members to keep returning to your site. For course based memberships in particular, gamification can be useful for ensuring that members actually finish your courses, as statistically course completion rates are very low.
We can see from the above that gamification can be a great tool in the membership owners toolbox and with gamification methods varying from simple progress tracking to points systems, badges, physical rewards and even content unlocking, there will typically be a gamification method suitable for most membership sites.
But there is more to gamification than simply adding some badges and ranks to your site.
So how do you actually make sure that your gamification is a success? Well, here are our 5 core things to consider before implementing your gamification:
Make it relevant
You need to make sure that any gamification that you add to your site is actually relevant. Whilst you might like the idea of an all-singing all-dancing points, badges and leaderboards system, if it’s not actually relevant to your topic, your members or the goals of your membership site, then it’s only going to provide some initial flash bang at best.
If the gamification isn’t relevant to your members goals, and doesn’t integrate seamlessly with the topic of your site, then it’s not going to motivate and engage your members in the long term.
So, ensure that you choose a gamification method that matches up with your membership – if you’re helping people to pass an exam then utilise quizzes and award badges for successful passes. If you’re creating a community membership then award points and make use of community rankings to reward members who answer questions. If you’re offering a mastery style membership then provide an achievement award for each course a member completes.
Make it easy
You don’t want your members to actually struggle to understand or use your gamification!
It should be really easy for your members to get started with your gamification and to know how it works. If you need a 20 minute video or a whole guidebook to your gamification elements, you’ve probably over complicated things somewhere.
Ideally your gamification will start as part of your onboarding, so maybe you award a ‘new member’ badge as soon as someone logs in for the first time, and they get another reward when they complete their profile or start their first course. Integrate the gamification into your members use of the site straight away.
If you’ve ever played a video game you’ll know that usually when you start the game you go through an initial training level, where you learn all that you need to continue and you get your first rewards, skills and level up. Rather than everything just being explained to you, you learn by experience. By the end of the training you’re already excited to carry on with the game, and you’ve had the behaviours that you need to be a success reinforced without you even realising it.
You should aim to achieve similar with your gamification.
Make it challenging
This may sound like a contradiction to the above point, however whilst you want the process of gamification to be easy, you do want there to be some challenge involved in actually achieving points, badges or whatever gamification method you’re using.
Once your initial onboarding is over you want to gradually increase the challenge involved in your gamification. This could be a simple case of it taking 10 points to get your first badge, 100 to get your second and 500 to get your third. Or it could be making quizzes and challenges more difficult.
If you’re simply rewarding points or achievements for every action a member takes, the shine and fun will quickly wear off and your gamification will no longer be serving it’s true purpose.
Make it voluntary
Gamification is designed to increase motivation and engagement in members, and one of the main ways it does that is by making the process of using your site enjoyable.
But not everyone will be a fan of your gamification. Some members just want to log in, do their thing and then log out again.
So whilst you might use gamification to provide things like exclusive content to members, the actual use of your gamification should be voluntary. You therefore want to avoid having any of your core content dependent on gamification – people should be able to make good use of your membership even if they don’t care about points, badges or leaderboards.
That’s not to say core content shouldn’t be gamified – award points and badges to your hearts desire! But don’t make delivery of core content or features dependent on having achieved a certain level in your gamification.
Don’t make your gamification a chore that must be worked through – you want members look forward to the next challenge, the next reward.
Make it beneficial
The most important thing about gamification is that is needs to have a purpose. Just awarding points and badges for the sake of it isn’t going to get you very far.
To make your gamification as beneficial as possible you need to know:
- The desired behaviours and actions that you want to encourage
- What motivates your members
Once you know those things then you can create a gamified system that works to continually move your members towards success with your membership site and achievement of their goals.
By considering these five things when creating your gamified membership site, you should be able to ensure that your gamification actually works to motivate and engage your members in the long term, rather than just providing some initial excitement.
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