Games are designed to keep us playing as long as possible. By presenting players with challenges and rewards for completing them, apps can generate dopamine hits in their users that can keep them coming back for more. Most people love a challenge, and consciously or not, we love rewards even more, even if they’re largely arbitrary.
For example, many games use achievements to congratulate players for completing certain tasks, big or small. In games, it’s easy to understand: “Score a goal with a certain car” or “Kill 5 opponents without taking any damage.” But what about SaaS products? Can we use gamification to keep users coming back to our products?
The answer is yes, and there are tons of SaaS products out there to help us do it (search “gamification SaaS” on Google). The easiest way to gamify your app is to start with the onboarding process. Reddit has badges for verified users - a simple email-based task. Hacker Noon gives out a badge for completing their community discussion training, all automated with a chat bot.
When you offer a reward for completing onboarding tasks, it incentivises users to learn everything there is to know about your app. For an added bonus, you can gamify by adding in hidden badges - that is, don’t tell users directly, but hint at something small. If a curious user goes the whole nine yards, reward them with a unique badge for their profile!
If your SaaS product already has an onboarding flow, then you’re halfway there! Give out a badge for completing the onboarding and watch your users finish it in record time. On top of badges, offer leaderboards, progress trackers, levels with profile displays, or even something as simple as a “Congratulations!” message or notification.
But you can push even further than onboarding. Keep an ongoing counter for each consecutive day your user logs in and present them with a badge or level-up for 10, 30, or even 90 days. Use a social leaderboard to show off your most proficient and successful users. Have a team-based product? Provide an internal leaderboard so team members can enjoy some healthy competition. There are hundreds of possibilities for gamifying your SaaS product and delighting your customers.
Most product managers understand that good onboarding leads to better customer retention, but using gamification on top of that can push it even higher. Consider what kind of rewards you can offer your users and use them to drive customer success and retention.
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