Gamification for business: How it works and 5 tips to get started

Are your employees missing their targets, or your sales numbers lower than you’d like? If so, gamification for business might be just what you need.

Have you been trying to boost your employees’ work performance, or your revenue, only for your attempts to be met with lackluster results?

The reason could be that your employees or customers just don’t find what you’re doing interesting enough to engage with your business more. Yawn.

To improve the situation, try “gamification,” or turning your operations into a game. Because games involve fun, and challenges, and even prizes! Who doesn’t love these?

If this tactic sounds intriguing, then keep reading as we get into what is gamification for business, and five tried-and-tested gamification ideas for adding excitement and competition to your business activities.

What is gamification?

Gamification in business is the process of implementing gaming concepts and principles to non-game schemes.

In simpler terms: it’s the process of turning a situation into a game (or more like one, anyway!)

For example, perhaps you run a B2B business and you want your sales team to get more B2B leads. So you could make their work into a game, where the top three salespeople who bring in the most leads for the month will receive a bonus.

Gamify your schemes effectively and you stand to enjoy improved outcomes for them. That’s because you incentivize your scheme’s target audience—such as your employees or customers—to take part, and do their best, in exchange for prizes.

Even users who may be less competitive in nature may be motivated to try harder as they see their peers get ahead of them!

So exactly how can you gamify your marketing campaigns, employee programs, and other schemes? Here are five methods.

5 ways of gamifying your business operations

1. Offer a variety of challenges

Games with only one objective are straightforward: for example, you might have only one boss to kill, or one item to collect.

But if users aren’t interested in that objective, they might decide not to play your game at all. This isn’t ideal if your goal is to attract as many users as you can to participate in it.

So in gamification for business, plan a variety of challenges for users to tackle. The more, the merrier. This way, even if one challenge doesn’t strike their fancy, they can go for another that does.

When Cisco ran a social media training program for its employees, for example, it designed the program to include three levels of certification—Specialist, Strategist, and Master.

Employees could also choose to focus on one of four sub-specializations for human resources, sales, executive communication managers, and internal partner teams.

2. Design your gamified scheme for longer engagement

The best games are those that hook users into playing them for as long as possible. That’s because the more engaged users are, the more invested they’ll be in the outcome—and the harder they’ll work to win.

Accordingly, try to replicate such “stickiness” when gamifying your scheme.

Need an example? Then consider how Eloops’ employee team-building activity (being a scavenger hunt at IKEA) involved not one, but 30 challenges!

As Tal Groder, Chief Marketing Officer of Eloops, writes:

“Everyone on the team agreed: ‘When you said we were going to IKEA, I was thinking, WHATTT?! Then the competition began, and it ended up being one of the best things I’d ever done!’

We had really high engagement. Everyone was running around IKEA, trying to complete more and more challenges, and no one even thought about shopping.”

3. Show off who is in the lead

While we play games for fun, we’d love to win if we can, too. So to check if we’re winning, we can look at a board that tells us who is in the lead.

Can you implement a similar leaderboard for your gamified scheme?

On our PosterMyWall platform, for instance, talented designers and agencies can contribute templates for marketing collateral such as small business flyers, social media posts, digital signage, videos and others.

We rank each designer based on the number of submissions they’ve made, and then feature the top-contributing ones on a Designers Leaderboard!

This leaderboard has served us well because we get to publicly acknowledge the designers who have contributed their amazing designs to our platform.

Apart from that, these designers can also see their rankings compared to everyone else’s. They’ll then be motivated to share more designs to beat the designers higher up on the leaderboard—and keep themselves ahead of those currently behind them!

4. Leave the result up to chance

If you’re gamifying a scheme for employees, you may want the scheme to involve a certain level of skill. That’s because doing so encourages your team to improve their abilities and get better at their job.

But if you’re gamifying a scheme for customers, making it skill-based may deter people from taking part if they think they won’t be good at it.

So instead, why not leave the result of such games up to chance?

For an example of such a luck-based customer-facing game, check out what Clarins did for a previous summer sale.

The brand previously offered free beauty treats to customers who spent more than €40 with it. However, customers didn’t know what they were going to get in advance.

They had to spin a wheel, and the beauty treat they landed on would be their prize! Easy-peasy.

5. Review the results from your gamified scheme regularly

After you start running your gamified scheme, review its outcome regularly to identify how you can increase its effectiveness. Metrics to pay attention to include:

  • How many people participated in your gamified scheme
  • How many dropped out along the way
  • The average duration of engagement
  • The difference in outcomes achieved before and after the scheme (such as the number of sales leads closed, or the number of customer orders received)

You can also conduct surveys with your users to learn their experience taking part in your game. Reviewing all these results, you may discover valuable insights you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

Just take it from Krissy Espindola, Director, Knowledge Management and Social Customer Support of T-Mobile:

“It wasn’t long before we realized that the gamification data was revealing information about staff strengths and customer needs that we otherwise might not have seen. […]

We have also been able to better identify where customers were having problems with specific devices or features and are using that information to help us anticipate support questions and even provide feedback to manufacturers and developers to improve their products and services.”

Let the games begin!

Nobody likes to lose, and everyone wants to win. Taking advantage of this simple concept, you can turn boring business operations into hot-blooded competitions where your target audience is raring to join—and do their best to make your operations a success.

If you’re using gamification for business for marketing purposes, don’t forget to keep your social media game up! These guides provide a good refresher on social media marketing if you need it:

You can also find more of such resources on the Gradient blog as you work on growing your customer base and sales quicker than your peers. May the savviest business win!