Gamification can be a subtle incentivizing action

YouSendIt founder believes companies need pick 5 metrics before gamifying the business

Technology trends and news by Krystal Peak
May 2, 2012
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While many businesses are fluttering about to engage their social audience in order to magically boost brand awareness and revenue, some entrepreneurs are saying that getting people to tweet and "like" you on Facebook isn't a whole lot of bang for your marketing bucks. On Tuesday, May 1, Vator brought together various gamification thought leaders to share insight on how gamification can benefit businesses when thoughtfully executed at the gathering Vator Spark.  

Ranjith Kumaran, co -founder of and founder of did some research and found out that social engagement only moves a very small number of people so you can't focus your entire brand outreach on something with such a small amount of effect.

Kumaran pointed out that you need to place a great deal of attention on the way the product works and impacts people more than starting the conversation and hoping to goes viral.

"When you are building a game to incentivize users for your company it is important to leverage things that are already a part of the user's common activity," Kumaran explained. "Since this helps them incorporate the game elements easily and increases the likelihood of long-term adoption."

Here are some key points that Kumaran had for our Sparkees:

-- The word gamification has gotten a lot of bad press and it might be better for some businesses to talk about these elements as loyalty programs within those engagement tools

-- Pick no more than 5 metrics and figure out how to measure them. These can be the number of users, shopping cart abandonment, visits, social media connection points, or revenue, but you have to determine what will give you a picture of how the company will be tracked to succeed.

-- If none of those metrics are in red then don't worry, you are doing just fine.

-- For YouSendIt, the metric being used was the number of files. That was the top level metric and it was never red so Kumaran knew that they were headed in the right direction and any gamification shouldn't let that action dip. 

-- Gamification and loyalty can be very subtle such as encouraging the invitation of friends to unlock more content or use certain tools a numb of times to gain access to premium packages.

-- There is a 90% chance that you will be roadkill a year from now so learn from the metrics you set up and apply the behavior you saw on any future startups.

-- When you are building a game to incentivize users for your company you have to have realistic goals since there is a very small average conversion rate from website visitors to social media action-takers.

- Roughly 4 of each 10,000 website visitors will tweet about the brand. 

- 18 out of the 10,000 people you serve each month with take action Facebook.

- Only 1 of each 10,000 people visiting your service will follow you on G+.

  - And 32 of 10,000 visitors will actively comment on your site.

- When you game-enable a user that engagement jumps up to 80 people out of 10,000 taking action.

-- Make your on boarding process simple and allow the player to gain points passively much like the airlines have done. The airline industry lets its users get points by pumping gas, buying groceries and just getting the credit card. Over time, if you create real value (like raking up these points) then you can engage them to make company-specific purchases and actions.

-- Be smart about the type of rewards you are offering. You need to make the rewards real for people in the first 30 days -- even better in the first 17 days -- so that they see the fruits of their engagement and continue to act.

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