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The ultimate guide to gamification: 4 application areas for businesses

What is gamification?
What does gamification offer? Key benefits at a glance
Typical elements of gamification
Marketing, sales and co.: Examples of gamification in business
Conclusion: Gamification is an opportunity for businesses

If you had to choose between playing video games for an hour or making cold calls, which would you choose? You’d probably opt for the game even if you’re not a gamer.

But what if challenging tasks like cold calling felt more like playing a game? This is the idea behind the term gamification.

What is gamification?

Gamification techniques refer to the application of typical gaming elements and principles in non-game contexts. This can involve learning platforms or work and extends to health promotion or lifestyle. The goal is to induce a behavior change or to boost motivation.

Since people tend to avoid unpleasant or strenuous tasks and enjoy playing games (to varying degrees), it logically follows that if mundane tasks are made more game-like, they’re perceived as more appealing.

However, through gamification, a task does not become a game. Gaming elements such as rules, reward systems and leaderboards make it more playful.

While the term “gamification” has been in use since the 21st century, the underlying principle is older and more widespread than you might think. In fact, it can be observed in everyday life. For instance, fitness trackers like Fitbit award badges for reaching step goals or closing activity rings, encouraging users to stay active, or online surveys where a progress bar shows how many questions have been completed.

Digitalization has significantly boosted the concept in recent years, as smartphone and tablet apps are particularly well-suited for implementing gamification strategies.

What does gamification offer? Key benefits at a glance

Since all humans have a playful instinct, gamification can potentially reach everyone: young and old, male, female and non-binary, and blue-collar and white-collar workers.

Studies, like this one from 2023, have shown that gamification can yield significantly more positive results than traditional methods: increased intrinsic motivation, better learning experience, stronger customer loyalty, higher return on investment and greater employee satisfaction.

Information retention will improve for those who use gamification design to convey learning content (known as game-based learning), for example, in training programs or safety instructions (gamification in the workplace).

For employers, gamification also offers a way to avoid hostile measures such as sanctions or disciplinary actions.

Typical elements of gamification

The unavoidable question here is how to gamify something that has nothing to do with gaming. This is where some typical gaming elements and mechanics come into play.

  • Progress indicators. Knowing you’re halfway through or just two steps away from completion can be motivating.

  • Reward systems. The feeling of achievement boosts motivation. Many gamification applications award badges to celebrate users’ performance and milestones.

  • Leaderboards. Competition spurs people on. Seeing that you’re the best in the department or just two points away from the top of the leaderboard can increase your willingness to perform.

  • Cooperation. Teamwork is fun, unites and can bring out new skills and ideas in team members. When several teams compete against each other, this element can also be combined with leaderboards or reward systems.

  • Story. People love stories and are always curious to see what happens next. This can be utilized by linking gamified learning content with a story that builds on itself. Consequently, learners remain engaged over a more extended period.

Marketing, sales and co.: Examples of gamification in business

Businesses can use gamification internally to motivate or train their teams using gamification software and externally to attract and retain customers, emphasizing the importance of gamification in business. This concept is suitable for companies of any size and sector. Not every company has the resources to program its own app, but that’s not necessary as the principle of gamification can be implemented in many ways.

Popular application fields include marketing, sales (sales gamification), recruiting and employee motivation as an example of gamification at work.

Gamification in marketing

The use of gamification is particularly suited to marketing. More and more companies are incorporating gamification elements into their websites or apps to engage customers, increase the duration of website or app usage or generate referrals and reviews.

One of the best-known gamification examples in marketing is Spotify Wrapped. Each December, the streaming service creates a personalized yearly review for its users, showing which artists, podcasts and songs they listened to the most. Many Spotify users share their annual reviews on social media, giving Spotify free advertising across various channels for one to two weeks at the end of the year.

Gamification in sales

Gamification is also an effective tool for sales. Playful elements such as contests or loyalty programs can motivate customers to make first-time or repeat purchases.

For example, the cinema chain Cineplex fosters customer loyalty with its digital bonus card, Cineplex PLUS. In the Cineplex app, users can register for the bonus program and collect points for every ticket purchased, food purchase, film rated and recommendation to friends. The more points app users collect, the more benefits they unlock – from a free bag of popcorn to a permanent discount on every ticket.

For sales teams, a gamification platform like Pointagram that quickly connects with your sales CRM can be handy.

Gamification in recruiting

Gamification can also make the recruitment process more engaging. For instance, companies might integrate a quiz or knowledge test on their career page. This helps recruiters to pre-select candidates.

The HR department at PricewaterhouseCoopers developed a game where candidates undergo a virtual assessment. In this Multipoly game design, players acted as interns in a simulated office and completed tasks such as interviews, training and negotiations.

Gamification for motivation and productivity enhancement

Gamification is a powerful tool for motivating teams to achieve specific goals and work more productively. A high-score system based on revenue generated can foster healthy competition within the sales team, for instance, helping improve closing rates.

MediaMarktSaturn, for example, operates an internal incentive program called “Stars of Sales” where individual stores compete against each other. Sales teams can earn points through sales and the digital application also provides knowledge about products and technology.

Gamification can supercharge sales professionals' performance, especially when integrated with powerful tools like Pointagram within a CRM platform like Pipedrive. By turning routine sales activities into engaging games, Pointagram can track key metrics, award points and distribute rewards.

This helps teams stay motivated, fosters healthy competition and ultimately drives better sales results.

What is sales gamification software?

Sales gamification software is an application used by businesses to enhance their sales processes by incorporating game-like elements into everyday sales activities. The goal is to boost sales teams’ motivation, engagement and productivity.

  • Increased motivation. Gamification introduces a competitive element that motivates salespeople to strive harder to achieve their targets.

  • Enhanced engagement. Gamification makes day-to-day tasks more exciting, helping to keep sales teams engaged and less likely to experience burnout.

  • Improved performance. Gamification’s competitive and rewarding nature can lead to improved sales performance and higher achievement rates.

  • Better training retention. Integrating gamification into training processes helps reinforce learning and improve sales tactics and product knowledge retention.

  • Real-time feedback. Gamification provides immediate feedback through scores and achievements, allowing salespeople to promptly adjust their strategies.

  • Recognition and rewards. Regular acknowledgments and rewards for achievements boost morale and encourage continuous improvement among team members.

  • Increased collaboration. Team-based challenges and goals can enhance cooperation and foster a more collaborative environment.

  • Data collection and analysis. Gamification tools often include analytics to track performance data, offering insights that can be used to further optimize sales strategies

  • Clear goal setting. Gamification’s clear and quantifiable objectives help salespeople focus on specific outcomes, improving overall goal alignment within the team.

Conclusion: Gamification is an opportunity for businesses

Gamification works across many different areas and is particularly valuable for businesses. By utilizing game mechanics, businesses can engage customers or enhance employee engagement. Thanks to digitalization, these possibilities are now available to even more companies.

This comprehensive guide illustrates how gamification can transform traditional business practices into engaging, motivating and highly productive activities. By leveraging the natural human propensity for play, companies can achieve remarkable improvements in various operational areas.

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