More apps are being developed every day, and as user attention spans grow shorter it becomes harder for developers to stand out among their competitors.
The good news is, there's a wide variety of user engagement and retention strategies that you can implement to make your app more noticeable.
In this article, we'll discuss one of the most powerful user engagement strategies: Gamification.
Gamification is all around our daily lives, and not just in mobile apps. For instance, teachers can reward students with stamps or stickers, or some stores let customers collect stickers with every purchase and then trade them in for exclusive prizes. These encourage people to stay engaged and commit themselves to the task or the brand.
As of 2022, there are over 2.2 billion active mobile gamers worldwide. Games also remain far ahead of other categories in the Apple app store this year. In 2019, the global gamification market hit above $10 billion in revenues for the first time. Incredibly, this is expected to grow to $30 billion by 2025!
These are just a fraction of the stats that indicate why it isn't a surprise that many apps are actively borrowing game-design-elements such as:
So, how exactly does gamification grow engagement? Three key C’s are all you need to keep in mind.
To implement gamification in your app, you have to start with the design elements. And what better way to get off the ground than by learning from the best examples in the industry?
Advergames - these are games that are built to showcase products or brands within an interactive environment.
KFC Japan partnered with gamify to create a mobile game that allowed users to swat shrimp as they fell out of the screen a la Fruit Ninja. This campaign became so successful that their new product line sold out from voucher redemptions and KFC had to cut the campaign early to handle supply and demand.
This gamification strategy started with 22% of people who played the game redeeming their vouchers which later rose to 106% by the following year.
What if you had a very specific target audience? You can take a page from Under Armour's campaign which partnered with Steph Curry to launch a surprise trivia game during the NBA playoffs.
Every time the player scored his first three-pointer during all-season games, a sudden game of Steph IQ would start. The elimination-style trivia app featured questions about Steph's rookie season, epic playoff performances, or sneakers.
People who could answer all eight questions within the time window would be entered into a special raffle with exclusive prizes like a signature shoe, playoff tickets, and Under Armour gear.
The campaign was a success as it increased NBA viewership and Under Armour's sales, and fans got rewarded for their knowledge.
Sometimes, simplicity is best, and not many campaigns display that more than M&M's eye spy pretzel app. Users had to do the easy task of finding a pretzel in an image full of M&M's which resulted in 25,000 new likes and 6,000 shares on the company's Facebook page.
Advertising experts recommend keeping game elements simple, as complex elements can easily overwhelm users.
In this particular case, the activity was made to attract new customers who are willing to interact with the brand repeatedly so the app was made to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.
Loyalty programs are nothing new, but Starbucks took it to a whole new level with their Starbucks Rewards app which grew as one of the most successful loyalty programs ever.
The program works by allowing customers to earn points towards bigger prizes with each purchase. Starbucks reported a revenue increase of $2.65 billion thanks to its new rewards program. Since then, membership has grown by 25% and their program members contribute to about 40% of the brand's US sales.
The takeaway is that the app provided an inviting and innovative unique experience. On top of that, the convenience and simplicity of the app made it appealing to users.
A lot of app developers know that there's no better reward than validation and self-satisfaction. That's why Nike's fitness app, Nikefuel encourages users to compete with each other and share their results every day. Their progress bar represented how far they've gotten in their personal training, which they shared and resulted in a community around the brand.
They also celebrated their users' achievements with unique messages for every small victory which encouraged them to keep going, resulting in increased engagement for the app.
Each run unlocks new achievements which could be shared with friends and improved over time. These achievements could automatically be shared creating a retention hook that further brought attention to the brand.
Overall, this proved that validation is one of the strongest drivers of long-term engagement as it helps to form communities organically.
The fun factor is a key aspect of what makes gamification attractive and Duolingo utilizes this to make a challenging task feel more approachable.
With Duolingo, learning a language became associated with game-like tasks to help users retain information. These include points, learning streaks 🔥, badges, rewards, and more helping build momentum and motivation for users as they study.