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The Beginner’s Guide to Gamification to Engage Employees and Grow Sales

It wasn’t too long ago when gaming was thought of as this niche hobby that fans would grow out of sooner rather than later. Gaming was never expected to go mainstream back then.

These days though, gaming has evolved into a culture. It has its own lingo, major events dedicated to it, and game launches are now treated much in the same way as movie premieres.

The influence of gaming has become so prevalent that it has even begun to affect how businesses operate, and it has done so in a positive way. This practice even has a name and it is known as gamification.

What Is Gamification?

At its core, gamification is about using elements that are often featured in video and then re-purposing or tweaking them to achieve other goals. More often than not, the game elements that are used in gamification are the reward systems.

According to Techopedia, the implementers of gamification practices may use badges and tiered achievements in order to motivate people to improve their performance or simply maintain engagement.

The goals of gamification can be quite diverse too.

Gamification strategies have been used to incentivize students, engage customers, and of course, boost businesses. When you take the time to think about it, the fact that elements modeled after the reward systems of video games have translated well to aspects of the real world is not at all that surprising.

The feeling of finally vanquishing that powerful final boss or solving that mind-boggling puzzle can be incredibly gratifying. If you can somehow approximate that and make it accessible to people in a different way, you are likely to capture their attention.

That’s exactly what the most effective gamification strategies are able to accomplish.

What Are The Benefits Of Gamification?

Gamification is spreading because it is providing results. To get a better idea of what those are, let’s examine them in this section of the article.

Gamification Strategies Provide Exhilarating Rewards

You may have heard about some gamers who spend hours at a time just trying to obtain a rare piece of equipment. From the outside looking in, it can seem unusual to be so motivated to obtain an item that only exists in a specific digital world.

But the thing is, it’s not really the object that gamers want. What fuels them is the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing that task.

When you are challenged to do something difficult and you actually pull it off, you will feel proud of yourself, regardless of whether that happens inside a game or in real life.

By taking the time to carefully figure out the right rewards to offer to your employees or even your customers, you can effectively elicit the same kind of reaction from them when they finally put themselves in a position to receive what they have worked so hard for.

It’s not just the reward you’re offering that will make them feel better, but also the knowledge that they accomplished something meaningful in order to obtain that.

Gamification Encourages Focusing on the Task at Hand

Failing again and again to defeat a boss in the game you’re playing can cause you to concentrate on a level you may have never tried before. You take those earphones out, sit upright in your favorite chair, grasp the controller tightly and then proceed to spend the next hour or so just focused on taking that boss out.

Distractions are obviously plentiful in the workplace and consumers can similarly have their attention divided among many businesses offering their own products and services.

What gamification does is it encourages employees and customers to just focus on what you are specifically offering.

Tell them that they can obtain X amount of reward points if they get a specific task done within the next hour and chances are that they will drop everything to just focus on that. If you’re looking for something that can effectively boost employee productivity and customer engagement, feel free to give gamification strategies a try.

Gamification Helps Develop Old Skills and Create New Ones

When you start a new game, you will usually have to learn new button commands, new tricks, and new strategies to beat the challenges coming your way. If it’s a new game in a franchise you’re familiar with, you may end up having to hone the skills you acquired previously so that they are sharp and ready to deploy again.

Obviously, your employees can benefit from doing those same things within a professional setting.

Employees are routinely asked to perform new tasks on a regular basis. Make doing so more appealing by framing it as them acquiring new skills that will transform them into more capable workers.

Gamification should also encourage them to continue improving the skills they already have, particularly if they can clearly see that those talents are still required for their day-to-day tasks.

Gamification Can Lead to Improved Communication

By enacting a new system that makes use of gaming principles to motivate and incentivize employees and customers, you may also be introducing some elements that they are not entirely familiar with. You certainly want your employees and customers to pick up on those new elements as soon as possible, but it wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing in the world if they came to you for some guidance.

Take advantage of that opportunity to improve the way you communicate with your employees. Ask them what they think of the new systems put in place.

You can do the same thing for your customers. Gather feedback on the mechanics you have implemented and see if there may be changes that have to be applied or if things are good as they currently stand.

What Are The 8 Core Drivers Of Gamification?

Author, consultant, and entrepreneur Yu-Kai Chou is known for espousing the benefits of gamification. Chou has also been making the rounds as a speaker. His Wikipedia page notes that he’s been able to share his insights with gigantic international companies such as Google, Huawei, and Tesla just to name a few.

Among his more notable contributions to the increasing acceptance of gamification as a viable strategy for businesses to adopt are the so-called 8 Core Drivers. Those Core Drivers are what “motivate us towards certain activities,” according to Chou.

He dives deeper into what those Core Drivers are and how they can affect people on his website.

1. Epic Meaning & Calling

The first Core Driver highlights how people tend to feel a certain way when they believe that they are particularly suited to perform a certain task, possibly because of how skilled they are at that activity. It’s similar to knowing that you are the “chosen one” in the game you are playing.

2. Development & Accomplishment

This next Core Driver is about the meaning of what you’re doing. When you’re undergoing training for a job, you work on skills that you are expected to use later on. Crucially, the process of developing those skills has to be challenging or else it may not register at all.

To give greater meaning to the time you dedicated to honing your skills, there must be a suitable reward provided upon completing the process.

3. Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback

Encouraging your employees to be more creative is a good move. It could help them become better problem-solvers in the future. However, you can’t stop there.

Providing feedback is critical because it helps employees understand if they are taking the right creative approach or if they need to switch things up a bit.

4. Ownership & Possession

When your name is attached to a project or a new product offering, you will inevitably feel more attached to it. There’s nothing wrong with that and as the owner of a business, you can leverage that as a tool that helps your employees take more pride in the work they produce.

5. Social Influence & Relatedness

Peer pressure is a negative term and rightfully so as it can cause people to form and/or adopt bad habits. However, if you are motivated to do better because you know that a friend and/or co-worker is excelling, that’s a good thing.

6. Scarcity & Impatience

Some game developers will employ the tactic of making a particular item available only for a short amount of time. They do this to create scarcity and encourage more players to log in on those days when the item in question will be available.

You can do that as well by presenting time-locked offers. Make a certain product or service available only during one day of the week and see more people take an interest in that.

7. Unpredictability & Curiosity

Once you’ve been hooked by a compelling story, it’s difficult to overcome the urge to keep going to find out how things eventually unfold. There’s also that exciting thought that perhaps something unexpected could take place next, thus compelling you to continue.

Utilized properly, unpredictability & curiosity can be powerful motivators of prospective customers

8. Loss & Avoidance

After making significant progress inside a game or advancing far in your current career path, the idea of not seeing things through to the end can be scary. You don’t want all the time and work you put in to be rendered meaningless.

Wanting to avoid that feeling that everything you’ve done up to this point doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things can offer plenty of motivation.

Why Does Gamification Appeal To Us?

When it gets right down to it, gamification works because it does a few things exceptionally well.

First off, it presents a clear and tangible reward. It’s true that simply knowing that you are improving yourself should serve as enough incentive, but it’s also nice to have something you can physically grasp or see onscreen as a token of your accomplishment.

Gamification also documents your progress. You are able to see how far you’ve come from when you first started and that can encourage you to keep progressing along the path you’ve taken. It’s easier to tell yourself to keep up what you’re doing when results are showing up.

GameLearn also notes that gamification works because it can make otherwise mundane tasks fun. It’s easier to stay engaged when you actually enjoy what you are currently doing.

How Can I Incorporate Gamification Into My Marketing Strategy?

If you’re intrigued by the idea of building a revamped marketing strategy featuring gamification, there are things you absolutely have to do first.

Try Out the Most Popular Games

The best way to develop an understanding of how the reward systems in games can motivate people is to simply experience them yourself. Find out why people are so drawn to those games in the first place and see if their reward systems can work for what you want to do.

Keep Your Target Audience in Mind

Ideally, you want your new strategy to appeal to as many people as possible, but that kind of approach can be risky if you are still not very familiar with gamification.

Focus on a target demographic first and build your strategy around what you have determined through research to be appealing to them. Once your first strategy yields positive results, you can think about expanding.

Create Attractive Incentives

At first, the offer of 50 percent off on the price of a specific product can catch your eye, but then you take a closer look and see that the discount only comes into effect when your total purchase is something like $200.

No ones like those incentives.

Make an effort to come up with incentives that are genuinely appealing such as valuable freebies or discounts that come with no strings attached. Offering incentives like that may hurt your bottom line at first, but they should also help you land customers that will return for future transactions.

Which Gamification Techniques Should I Start Using?

There are numerous game elements that can be useful for marketing. Listed below are the ones that you should strongly consider featuring in your own gamification approach.

Daily Challenges

Giving your customers a reason to check back in with you every day should help improve engagement and lead to sales down the line. Make these challenges quick, but worth the effort. You don’t want the challenges to be easy because they could end up just boring your customers.


The appeal of having something challenging to take on every day may not be enough to keep all your target customers engaged. Provide something that shows that their efforts are yielding results such as leaderboards and/or badges. Seeing that they’re ranking well or that they’re falling behind the leaders may encourage some of your customers to engage with your business even more.


Ranking high or earning a special badge has to mean something. Make it worth there while by offering special rewards that are available only to those who reach a certain ranking or earn a specific badge.

What Are the Metrics I Need To Measure To See If Gamification Is Working?

This article from MyCustomer highlights three metrics that you must keep track of if you want to see if your gamification strategy is working.

  • The first metric is adoption and this should tell you if your customers and/or employees are responding well to the new elements you have introduced.
  • While adoption focuses on the initial reaction customers and/or employees have to your new gamification strategy, usage measures how well it is being received over a longer period of time. You can check out the usage to see if the strategy is hitting engagement targets and it should also point out which elements are unpopular.
  • Performance is the third metric to monitor if you want to gauge how successful the strategy is. This metric should highlight any changes in how customers interact with your business and how your employees have performed with the strategy implemented.

You can also refer to the performance metric to see how those changes are impacting your company’s finances.

What Statistics About Gamification Should I Know?

  • Before we conclude, let’s take a look at some of the statistics that really drive home the fact that gamification is here to stay.
  • Via FinancesOnline, gamification had a global value worth of $6.8 billion last year and that is expected to reach $40 billion by the time 2024 rolls around.
  • Employees also have a very favorable opinion of gamification, with 87 percent of them saying that it helps boost their productivity.
  • Integrating gamification into your corporate strategy now could also make your company better prepared for the arrival of new members of the workforce. 67 percent of students said that they were more motivated by a gamification course compared to its conventional counterpart.

Gamification is not just some fad that will start to lose its luster as the years go by and new ideas emerge. It has legitimate staying power born out of the fact that the approach is rooted in solid logic, based on reacting to human behaviors, and inspired by a medium that has proven to be wildly successful.

The idea of implementing a gamification strategy may still seem strange to some, but in a few years, it could be the norm across all kinds of industries.

Thanks for reading "The Beginner’s Guide to Gamification to Engage Employees and Grow Sales", by the Linchpin Team in Chicago, Raleigh, and Wake Forest.

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