Mobile App Gamification: Why, How and for What?

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So, mobile apps...

Today, the mobile app market is enormous, and the numbers from Statista prove that: on Google Play, you can find apps totaling $2.5 million, Apple App Store - $1.8 million, Windows Store - $669 thousand, and  Amazon App Store - $489 thousand. In total, we have a number of $5,5 billion in mobile apps! For business owners, both exciting and disturbing at the same time!

Thus, it’s getting more and more challenging to create a mobile app that will stand out from other apps, be interesting for users, and kept on the shelves like a  favorite toy. Yes, users are quite spoiled children - so many toys in the stores to play with - no chance for boring toys to survive.

mobile app gamification benefits

[Source: Mambo]

As a result, offering boring apps to users will lead a business owner, not only to a loss of user interest but, of course, the impossibility to involve new users and their money. In the end, we come to an unexpected mathematical equation:

No users = no reviews, comments from them = no leading positions in searches = no new downloads = no success.

But don’t be so quickly disappointed. There is a way to transform an app and achieve all your business goals in a much short period of time.

Interested? Keep reading so you don't miss an opportunity that will really work for your app!

What is Mobile App Gamification and Why This is What You Need

According to research conducted by a neurology scientist, Matthias Koepp, adult brains release the hormone dopamine and serotonin while playing games and taking challenges. They feel that internal accomplishment which makes them happy, full of energy and the motivation to continue and move to another level. This answers the question of why people desire to and actually play more and more. 

In real life, it’s harder to experience these emotions because for this to happen you need to achieve bigger goals. Emotional triggers are what returns us to one source of happiness - games - and we can be happy again and again.

So here we go - to the games or it would be better to say ‘mobile app gamification’.

Mobile app gamification is a marketing concept based on the use of such game techniques as rewards, progress display, leaderboards, competition, and social interaction. As people are more inclined to fulfill tasks when they know that at the end a reward will be waiting for them, mobile app gamification is a guide which leads you directly to the user’s production of dopamine and serotonin hormones.

Mobile App Gamification Benefits

Turning the user experience into playing a game can significantly increase the users’ engagement and encourage them to interact with the app more often. 

The possibility of winning influences the user’s behavior even more than we can imagine. But nothing negative here: this works both for a user and business owner as both of them are reaching their goals. In essence, a user is happy to accomplish a task and is rewarded for that, and a business owner has revenue growth and a delighted client who is likely to bring new clients to the app.

Gigya says that mobile app gamification can boost interaction with an app by one third, the number of comments rises by 13%, shares on social media by 22%, and content discoverability by 68%.

So,  what will you as a business receives from mobile app gamification: 

  • A constant social presence without putting in any effort
  • A leading positions in searches
  • Growth of engagement with your app
  • Active users on social media
  • More and more positive reviews
  • Increase in the number of new users who are your target audience, who are ready to start using your app right now

and one more important thing:

  • Happy users whom you helped to make their lives better every day.

other benefits of mobile app gamification

[Source: Mambo]

How gamification works

A user should accomplish a particular task in an app, and for this, one is pleased with different rewards. In this way, a user feels like a superhero who is struggling to succeed in something, and in the end, it is an enjoyable experience because everyone wants to win.

Let’s move to the practical issues and find out how to actually gamify an app.

There are different techniques of app gamification you can use, but your success depends on your imagination and how good you know your users. We give you insights, you turn them into the cherry on top of your app gamification strategy, ok?

Rewards

mobile app gamification rewards

[Source: Forbes]

Remember being given a new toy for getting a good mark at school? That motivated us to study even those subjects we were not interested in as we knew that in the end, we would have that desirable present from our parents. Yes, it was hard to achieve, but the happiness we felt when we had finally got the prize couldn’t be compared to anything. More importantly, we are rewarded in both ways: an excellent mark and reward for our success.

That works even now: we’re still those kids who are too lazy to do important things even while realizing the scope of their importance for us, but a possible reward is what encourages us at least to try. And when we try, the desire to get more and more increases.

Providing your users with rewards for the frequency of using an app, purchasing goods, accomplishing personal goals, participating in quizzes, competitions, sharing posts with their friends and inviting them to join the app, will not only help to keep their interest in the app but increase their interest continually. 

What kind of rewards can there be: 

  • Сash rewards - money is a never-changing motivation for everyone
  • Digital goods that can be exchanged for real goods - this will give customers a chance to choose what goods inspire them more to fulfill tasks
  • In-app currency to spend inside the app that will promote more purchases as a result  

In other words - anything that has value for your target audience. But avoid useless prizes - they are just a waste of time and money for a business. Identify exactly what will make users come back to your app again and again, and offer it to them. Yes, simple to say but hard to achieve, but we know that you will find the answer, or you can always ask us.

Progress Display

mobile app gamification progress display

[Source: TrymyUI]

It's important to see how far we have moved towards our goal, and what improvements we can see right now. This inspires us not to give up and do more. 

If we’ve succeeded, we want the whole world to know about it, that’s why we post on social media so much and share our results with others. Recognition is a huge need for every human being. And it actually works for business presence and promotion.

Leaderboards

mobile app gamification leader board

[Source: Dribbble]

Improving ourselves is the right motivation, but often it’s not enough for users to stick to the goal. However, when talking about comparing our achievements with others, that becomes much more interesting and tempting for us to participate in the ‘race’ and prove who is the winner.

People love competitions, and they love to win. They’re striving to have the highest scores, and when they see someone’s above them in a leaderboard, they start to do everything to be in 1st place. That’s human nature.

Competition

mobile app gamification competition

[Source: Snake battle]

Your business can help people to fulfill this immutable desire to be the best while really becoming the best. Everyone benefits here - business has higher conversion and user activity, and the user has his/her need to win satisfied and a reward for their efforts.

Social Interaction

mobile app gamification social interactions

[Source: SaaSquatch]

Moreover, people are inclined to challenge their friends and compete with them, so involving new users is guaranteed! 

Successful examples of gamified apps

Starbucks

mobile app gamification starbucs

[Source: Zinrelo]

Starbucks is a coffee giant that offers a loyalty system to its clients.

Used technics:

  • Progress display of your purchasing frequency
  • Rewards for each order in the form of stars which can be exchanged for material prizes later

Duolingo

Duolingo is an educational app for learning foreign languages.

Used technics:

  • Progress display of course completion in the form of a percentage
  • A reward for actions - an internal currency called lingots 
  • Competition - voting for the best  translation
  • Leaderboards with scores based on learning achievements
  • Social interaction with friends on Facebook

Fitbit

mobile app gamification clearbit

[Source: Modrsk]

Fitbit is a fitness app for the completion of different kinds of sports activities.

Used technics:

  • Progress display while filling in a circle of your physical activity
  • Rewards for walking a certain distance every day. Different badges for different distances.
  • Social engagement - to find friends or invite them
  • The possibility to compete with your friends in sport
  • Challenge yourself with original tasks

Todoist

mobile app gamification examples

[Source: Todoist]

It is a tracker that allows controlling the completion of both daily and business tasks.

Used technics:

  • Rewards for tasks - karma points (a user can also go minus if deadlines are missed)
  • Progress is shown in a number of unlocked levels
  • Social shares of a user’s karma on social media

SmartyPig

mobile app gamification examples smart pig

[Source: Philip Schriver]

This is an app to manage user finances and help them to achieve their financial goals, for example, to save money for a new car. 

Used technics:

  • Progress bar to see how much money is saved and how much is left.

What to Remember: Risks and Challenges

Despite all the advantages of the gamification of an app mentioned above, you, as a current or future business owner should always remember that it is not a one-way working panacea that guarantees the success of your business. It might work, and, at the same time, it might not work. 

So, it’s vital to consider all possible risks and challenges that can prevent you from reaching set business goals. To be entirely sure you’re investing your money and time resources in the right direction, we encourage you to contact the App Solutions and leverage our expertise. 

And here are some tips are taken from our practice to show you how to get the best of app gamification and build a successful mobile app gamification strategy:

  • Set clear goals and monitor their status

If you decide to implement a solution, then you’re doing it for some purpose. Know your purpose from the very beginning, keep it in mind and follow a plan or your actions won’t bring the desired result. Shape your app gamification strategy while focusing on both your needs and the needs of your users. Remember that you both need benefits. 

  • Identify your target audience, learn it and always analyze

Even a well-developed gamification app strategy won’t work if it’s not developed based exclusively on your target users’ needs and interests. In this case, you will simply hit the wrong target. 

Data is what helps you to find out who is interested in you, how he or she behaves, why something is happening in a certain way, and how to make it play for you. 

  • Find what has value for your users and integrate it into your app

Even if we’re sure that something will definitely work because we like it, it doesn't mean our users will share our opinion - they have their own likes and dislikes. 

So here it's important to discover what your users want the most, what will become their biggest motivation to complete the task, what will make them use your application, and not others. 

  • Keep it simple 

Probably, it’s the biggest mistake to think that you have to rebuild your app entirely to make it gamified. That’s not always the case. If it works well, adding some unique gamification features to it will be enough. 

Don’t confuse both yourself and your users with complex systems, techniques, and approaches. The rules of the game you’re offering to other people should be easy to get and follow. You don’t want to make your users irritated, right?

  • Keep it entertaining

The success of your app gamification is directly dependent on the user’s experience while using an app. The more playful and enjoyable it is, the more delighted your users are.

It often happens that, in the beginning, an app attracts a lot of users, but then, the app gets more and more boring and predictable and has nothing new to experience. So, users have no motivation to explore it further. 

To avoid this, build your app gamification strategy in a way users can be entertained throughout the whole game, not only at levels 1 and 2. They shouldn’t know what is coming next, but be curious to discover it by themselves.

  • Encourage users to share

All people want likes and shares. So does a business. Make your users proud of the achievements they’ve accomplished with your app, and they will say ‘thank you’ with shares on their social profiles. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram - communicate with your audience everywhere.

  • Hear your users

Pay attention to what your users are saying; what they’re complaining about and what they’re complimenting about your app. This will give you a clear picture of what to improve, change, or keep.

The Game is Not Over Yet

Remember that game we started in the beginning? Congratulations! It’s almost at an end.

The point here is to see how gamification works as an example, influences your behavior, and how it can make a usually long and boring to read article fun, entertaining, and simple to finish. 

You’ve been challenged, you’ve won, and now, you get a price - knowledge of how to gamify any activity and achieve much better results than could be reached with a traditional approach. 

Now, imagine what scale of feedback you can get with mobile app gamification. Inspired? We’re here to implement your most creative ideas. Just contact us here.

 
Valerii Filipets

Developer