Would you like to increase your app engagement and revenues? The answer to that question is probably yes! It’d be great if there were a magic button for app stickiness. While there’s no instant cure for sluggish engagement, one simple strategy can help you boost those numbers and your fanbase, and that’s gamification for your mobile app.
Gamification: what’s that?
Mobile app gamification doesn’t mean you’re turning your app into a game. But it does mean blending elements of games into your app to make the experience more addictive and rewarding to your users.
Duolingo is an example of a famous mobile app that uses gamification to get its users engaged. The language-learning app isn’t a game, but it’s got many features of games, including high scores, leaderboards, levels, and achievements. It’s not just education—it’s edutainment.
There’s no one way to use gamification for your mobile app. Your app and needs are unique! But apps of all kinds have incorporated mobile app gamification tactics into their user experiences; from banking, education, and productivity to language learning, shopping, and fitness.
Why is mobile app gamification appealing?
Mobile app gamification brings out the behavior you want from your users because it inspires the feelings you want your users to feel. For example, achieving in-app goals leads to feelings of pride and accomplishment. So can reaching a certain high level or status. Friendly competition motivates users to engage more and try harder. Gamification principles appeal to your users’ emotional side. And emotion is the secret to engagement.
Gamification techniques for mobile apps
Here are some examples of gamification techniques for mobile apps. With a little creativity, you can find ways to adapt many of these strategies to suit your app and goals.
You can work a rewards or points system into your app. The prospect of rewards will draw engagement from your users, so long as the reward has some kind of value to them. Rewards must provide incentives that are enticing enough to motivate.
A loyalty program can be part of your incentive strategy. Reward points can be either in-app currency or real, with value in the physical world. And if you’re wondering how much adding rewards is going to cost you, there’s good news — virtual rewards tend to be much more effective than real ones. In-app currencies or items have immediate value to your users, unlike real-world rewards, which feel less tangible.
Adding a little friendly competition to the mix can spice things up for users. Competing with others, no matter how trivial the matter at hand, can be highly motivating. Your users will spring into action if they’re the type to find fun in a friendly faceoff.
Not everyone finds competition appealing, though; being stacked against one’s mates can be unpleasant for some people. To make sure there’s a comfort zone for everyone, you might make competitive aspects of your app optional.
Scoring points and climbing levels in-app appeals to your user’s desire to reach goals or achieve a certain status. Give them something to strive for by letting them level up and make every level feel like an accomplishment.
If you’ve got some kind of points or levels system rolling, you can add to it with a leaderboard. Your users being ranked against others will bring out that competitive spirit and turn some of them into power users.
Would a story help make your app stronger or teach people how to use it better? Work a story into your app or onboarding sequence if it makes sense for your app. Stories help make things memorable and emotional.
Does your app have tasks for the users to do? Turn them into quests instead, or dress them up in words that make “tasks” feel more exciting and fun.
You don’t need games to gamify… but they definitely help! If your app has room for a bit of extra fun, work some mini-games into the mix. Pop quizzes, puzzles, flashcards, or other small games can make work feel like play.
Whether your app has a storyline or you’re showing progress through charts and numbers, showing users’ progress with visuals can help boost their engagement and interest in completion.
Add a little thrill to your app with badges—they’re fun and make users feel like they’ve made an achievement every time they earn a new one. That’s the thing about badges, even when the task is minor or insignificant, there’s still a little dopamine rush that comes with seeing you’ve accomplished something!
Turn multiple tasks or items into to-do lists. Seeing a list and checking things off can feel satisfying and rewarding, especially for people who are perfectionists or completionists.
Last but not least, make it social! If there’s room in your app for a little collaboration, ask your users to invite their friends. Not only will it increase virality, but just about everything is more fun with friends.
Elements of games can be added to all kinds of apps, even if their purpose isn’t explicitly for entertainment. Even in completely serious settings, gamification tactics can increase your user’s enjoyment of your app and keep them coming back and logging in. Not only is gamification great for engagement, but it also works well for retention as well. Try adding one or two of these ideas to your app and see how it changes your user experience.