The opposite of love is not hate. Love and hate are two sides of the same coin, and that coin is called passion. The opposite of passion is apathy. In the same way as this, content creation and gamification are two sides of the same coin and that coin is called user stimulation. The opposite of which is discouragement. If you’re not stimulating your users then you’re discouraging them.
Proper user stimulation requires at least two things. One is relevant and quality content to appease the intellectual side of the user. The other is well-designed interfaces that utilize gamification tactics to appease the emotional side of the user.
The problem with many retailers’ apps is that while they struggle and focus on the content of the app they never prioritize or think about gamification. Successful app makers know that gamification (or whatever you like to call it) is just as important, or maybe more so, than content.
It’s important to make sure we’re speaking a common language here so lets start by defining gamification. Here’s a pretty decent definition as provided by Google:
Gamification: the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.
Ok great, now I know you know what gamification is, but that doesn’t really get us any where. Knowing what it is, doesn’t mean you can use it; just like knowing what a helicopter is doesn’t mean you know how to fly it. Gamification, like any strategy, is implemented with tactics and tactics are often best illustrated by examples, which is how we’ll explore gamification in this series of posts.
Onboarding: First impressions
We have another blog post here educating on proper onboarding techniques but here we’ll look at it from a different angle. For more detail jump on over to the link. Onboarding is a crucial part of the user’s overall experience in your app. But often times onboarding is one of the most neglected and undercapitalized experiences in an app. This is because developers, designers and product managers tend to focus on working on the core functionality of the app. The onboarding/authentication process is just a door that needs to be passed through to them.
The analogy here is that many development teams are like interior designers that don’t care about the exterior of the house or the front door. After all you can’t appreciate most of their work until you pass through entrance (or login). But we all know on some level the power and impact a well-designed front door can have on people. Picture walking up a sidewalk to an entryway with flowerbeds lining both sides, and well-manicured lawn beyond that. Imagine it’s evening and there is soft lighting every 3 feet emanating from hidden bulbs in the flowers. The entry way has two grand pillars supporting the roof that covers it and some tall luscious plants to each side. The front door is large and painted boldly red with a regal looking brass knocker and the windows to each side have impressive white trim and delicate crystalline beveling. This house makes an impact and you’re not even inside it yet. And even if you walk though it 5 times a day, every day, you will continue to be influenced by it. Your goal as an app maker is to make sure that entry into your app makes the user internally or externally say “wow” or “cool” or “neat.”
How do you accomplish the "wow"?
Well let’s look at an app that requires that the user create an account via either a username and password or facebook login. The landing page for the app will probably allow them enter an email address and password confirmation or have a facebook login button. A few fields on a page and a button or two is what you usually get. Not very exciting but it is simple enough. Now how to gamify it and make it stimulating?
Two useful elements of gamification are “suspense” and “reward” (there are more, but we’ll get to them later.) So how can we add suspense for before they signup and then reward for after they do? Creating suspense is the same as preselling your app. Using a grocery store for example you could have text on the signup page telling them something like “Sign up now for exclusive member access to over 200 coupons and deals.” Or “This Friday is a special sales event Sign up for an early preview of what’s on sale.” You want to make them excited to cross through the door. What ways can you think of that might accomplish this?
Rewards your users
After they complete sign up you want to reward them. First off you have to provide access to whatever you presold them with. It doesn’t have to be in their face and obnoxious, just clear and not hidden. What you should make big and put in their face is some sort of unexpected reward. If you have customer loyalty points give them an extra 1000 or whatever, if not you have coupons or deals. Make sure to make its delivery exciting. Like you won at a slot machine in Vegas with colors, lights, movement, & sound. There are certain times when going over the top is exactly what’s called for (over-the-top doesn’t necessarily mean cheesy.) Make sure it’s a reward they’ll probably like. If a 22-year-old college kid creates an account don’t give him a coupon for prune juice or dog food. Give something appropriate to the demographic of the user. If they have a loyalty card with you then you already have some info about them. Technically at that point it’s more of a first time sign-in experience because they may have already created an account with you in the store but first time logins and signups should be treated with equal enthusiasm.
Well begun is half done
The idea behind this saying also embodies how important first impressions are. If you make an honest effort you can easily improve your onboarding experience. You don't have to create perfection. That's the wrong way to aproach this. Make a good effort and iterative improvments. The time and effort you spend on your onboarding will create larger ROI than you probably expect and will earn you new customer respect. Stay tuned for for parts 2 and 3 coming soon.