The best way to keep users engaged in your product is to cater to one of their most basic needs: entertainment. If a customer enjoys using a service they're that much more likely to recommend it to their friends and family. Consequently, in order to keep customers hooked a lot of businesses are now attempting to gamify
Simply put, to gamify something is to add game mechanics to a non-gaming environment. It's an attempt to take an aspect of your business a consumer might not normally notice or enjoy and transform it into something engaging and fun. Think of it like this: if most recruiters will strive to make a job look enjoyable to a potential employee, why shouldn't you go to the same lengths to keep customers engrossed in your products? Customers are just as vital to a business as any employee, so their enjoyment should receive equal attention.
So let's take a look at GrubHub, a site that allows you to order food online from restaurants in your area. The main benefit created from using GrubHub is the ease with which you can locate new restaurants near you. As soon as you locate a restaurant you're interested in, you can have food delivered right to your house.
Consequently, GrubHub's founders have surely had to ask themselves the following question at least once: Why should anyone use our site more than a few times? After all, once a customer has found their favorite eateries, can't they just call their restaurant of choice directly? They need to keep their ordering process engaging and enjoyable.
That's where gamification steps in.
When you complete an order on GrubHub, you are automatically shown 4 cards in a game called "Yummy Rummy." Pick one of the cards, and you'll receive a prize that you can cash in on your next order. To entice you further, details on the multitude of available prizes are listed at the bottom of the page. You just have to pick whichever card feels luckiest.
Just like that, they've got a game of chance that can keep customers coming back for more than just the online convenience. To top it off, you can't play again until you've ordered from GrubHub a few more times. With a game like this they'll be able to retain active users on their site, and even get them to tell their friends about it, if only for the chance to win a year of free food.
Gamification doesn't always have to involve a prize (whether it be material or virtual). In fact, more often than not it can be just as beneficial to give users a little recognition for the hard work they've done.
In line with this theory, we here at Scripted believe writers should get a little something more for doing great work. Sure, we could send them a thank you note telling them to "keep up the great work," but any robot can do that. That's why completing certain tasks as a writer at Scripted will reward you with a nice badge - a constant reminder that you're great.
It's a good way to keep track of your own achievements, but it also lets you brag amongst your friends. [And sure, we're working on a few prizes to throw out to writers that earn badges, but that's just because we love them.]
Maybe you had never even thought of gamification, but now there's only one question left to ask yourself: Why not? It keeps users hooked and it's one of the best ways to acquire good word of mouth on your product. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go order some more Mongolian beef and see if I finally win that year of free food...