You have many ways to increase engagement on your website. If you’re looking for a new and effective means of boosting engagement, gamification might be what you’re looking for.
Gamification is a process designed to increase the engagement of every action users take on your site. It encourages them to interact with elements that you design to make their experience more rewarding. For that reason, gamification can be applied to email marketing campaigns, customer retention projects, and even employee training!
In this article, we go over what gamification is and why it works. Then, we guide you through the process of applying gamification to a WordPress site.
What is gamification and why should you use it on your WordPress site?
Gamification is the use of game mechanics and design in contexts other than games. These mechanics and design techniques reward users for certain actions and make the user want to repeat them. When gamification is applied correctly, it brings greater engagement, retention, and loyalty. In the marketing context, gamification is applied to improve customer retention, encourage repeat purchases, and increase sales.
Many social media and other platforms apply gamification principles to keep users coming back. In marketing, this can be a bit difficult to get started with at first. After all, is making a purchase the same as taking a specific action when playing a game? In some ways, yes.
You can probably already think of many examples of the above being applied in all kinds of businesses. Loyalty rewards and points are perhaps the most ubiquitous and are used by retailers, credit card providers, and more. But even subtle user interface design methods are often meant to enhance user engagement.
There’s a reason why the option to make a purchase or sign up for an email list is often in color, while the option to reject these prompts is in a dull gray. The list goes on and on, with marketing professionals incorporating attractive game elements in many ways.
These changes can increase your brand reputation while improving your average customer value. After all, gaining new customers can be hard. So, the best thing you can do is improve your new customers’ experience.
Gamification can bring more benefits than long email lists and more sales. It can also be applied to market research when used to help you collect data from your users. This enables you to improve your products and/or services.
At this point, business owners should consider gamification a must. The benefits are clear and include user:
- Emotional satisfaction
When you play a game, the object is to perform in a specific way and be rewarded for successfully doing so. Your reward system then reinforces the actions that led to you succeeding at the previous segment. Gamification examples include:
- Receiving points for completing certain actions
- Hearing audio cues or themes when certain actions are successfully completed
- Different visual cues for positive actions and negative actions
- Obvious alerts for any meaningful actions
- Making positive actions feel fun
- Making negative actions feel bad
There are a few game-specific interactions you can apply:
Video games often give players an overview of the game’s concepts and controls. Your site’s tooltips can be used in the same way. Create a fast, intuitive, and nonintrusive guide or pathway for site visitors to follow. When placed properly, these can keep visitors moving along.
Representations of progress (rewards)
This can be a simple bar at the top of the screen that represents how far the visitor is to completing the desired (“right”) action. These bars can be used to keep visitors engaged while waiting for a slower page to load as well. They are also often used during sign-up processes, so visitors have a feeling of progress as they complete the process. You should also use them for any quizzes you have on the site.
Using customizable rewards can be a great gamification tool. This works by using rewards parameters that unlock badges and corresponding rewards (points, discounts, etc.).
Quizzes, when used in the right situation, boost engagement. That’s why they’re used by some large websites. They provide additional engagement, often including some educational value.
How to implement gamification on a WordPress site
You can implement gamification in a few ways. Let’s go over the main options so you can see which path makes the most sense for your business.
While gamification can lead to several ends, there are few simple means to get there. Many aspects of gamification can be simply inserted into your site. Just use gamification concepts and code them in.
Of course, choosing this option can be much harder. First, you need coding skills and a lot of time to do it. If you want to outsource that work, you need a higher budget than you would for the more efficient and cost-effective alternatives. If anything goes wrong, you also risk crashing your site. If you’re not a professional developer, we don’t recommend custom coding, unless you have someone who can code on staff full-time already.
WordPress gamification plugins
In order to make gamification feasible for any business, a WordPress gamification plugin is the easier path to follow. Using a plugin for your WordPress website saves you a lot of time and money from the onset. You don’t need to be (or have) a developer to use plugins. They’re all-in-one, streamlined products for gamification.
As a non-developer, you also don’t need to worry about troubleshooting. More importantly, you don’t need to worry about accidentally crashing your site. In addition, gamification best practices can be implemented more easily. The built-in functionality of the right WordPress plugin gives you all you need to quickly and easily apply gamification.
Top WordPress plugins for gamification
Let’s go over the top plugins to help you gamify your WordPress site.
Sensei LMS is a learning management system. It was designed to help launch and manage online courses. Many of its features useful for gamification, particularly Sensei Blocks.
Sensei Blocks are interactive elements that you add to your pages. It’s worth noting that you can use Sensei Blocks to enhance your content even if your business is not centered around selling online courses. This is because you can purchase Sensei Blocks as a standalone product, without needing to pay for Sensei’s course-creating features.
Let’s look at the Sensei Blocks that are currently available. This list will grow in the future!
- Interactive Videos: embed interactive videos from any platform (such as VideoPress, YouTube, Vimeo) to your pages.
- Image Hotspots: add extra content and learning opportunities to images.
- Quiz Questions: You can add questions to your site in various formats, including multiple-choice, ordering, and fill-in-the-blank.
- Flashcards: Add content to both sides of a flashcard. Your site users flip flashcards to reveal videos, images, text, and more.
- Tasklists: Create checklists that users can tick off as they complete actions on your site.
Let’s look at an example of how you might include gamification to your site using Sensei Blocks. Let’s say you want to add a quiz.
You can design quizzes to include any of the commonly used formats:
- Multiple choice
- True or false
- Long-form answer
- Fill in the blank
You can also use features such as Auto Grade to automatically grade quizzes. This makes each quiz automated so minimal attention is required from you or your admins. Questions can also be ordered randomly with the Random Question Order feature.
If you do want to create online courses on your WordPress site, you can of course do this with Sensei, but you will need the Sensei Pro plan. This plan gives you access to Sensei Blocks, and thanks to its integration with WooCommerce you get access to a few extra features that boost your site’s gamification too.
For example, by integrating Sensei with WooCommerce, you get access to a coupon feature. Coupons can be used in email marketing or as an incentive when site visitors abandon their shopping carts. This makes them a good option that can be triggered to keep customers coming back.
GamiPress is a WordPress gamification plugin that integrates with Sensei LMS. Using Sensei LMS functionality with the GamiPress integration maximizes the gamification concepts you can insert into your site. Both plugins’ features work together to create a more comprehensive user experience.
To further gamify your site, GamiPress offers:
- A point system for those interacting with your site
- Unlockable achievements that you can customize for visitors
- A rank system so that visitors who perform desirable actions can “level up”
- Different types of ranks, perks, requirements, and more
myCRED is a WordPress points management system. The gamification value it provides comes from its simple application of a points system to existing functionality.
You can use myCRED to create a simple loyalty program, points leading to discounts, and so forth. The idea is to increase the average customer’s value with minimal marketing effort.
myCRED is a simple WordPress gamification plugin and lacks most of the features we’ve gone over. But if you’re looking for a simple gamification plugin that adds a game-like element to your business, this one can be applied easily.
BadgeOS is a plugin for WordPress that provides gamification features such as:
- A point system
- Digital rewards (badges)
- All of the above to create a loyalty incentivization structure
The rank feature is comprehensive and customizable. You can set “required steps” parameters for any badge or rank. This enables you to set up an entire loyalty program with customizable achievements for your users to gain rewards. The idea is to change your incentive structure into an entire badging system, incentivizing the behaviors that are beneficial to your business.
Best practices when implementing gamification on your WordPress site
To make the most out of gamification, note these gamification best practices.
Keep updating and innovating your game elements
Don’t stop when things are already going well. You always have opportunities for improvement. So, try innovating and subsequently updating your gamification elements. A/B testing is a good way to figure out what works better by noting results over time.
Use tactics that foster uncertainty or anxiety sparingly
Uncertainty and anxiety are great tools for engagement. However, learn how to use these methods sparingly so it doesn’t backfire and discourage engagement!
Use AI to personalize your game elements and keep them dynamic
AI is being used in games to personalize player experiences and keep them dynamic. Some games use machine learning to carve a more personal and interesting path.
Applying AI to personalize your site to each visitor’s experiences can provide meaningfulness similar to what games offer.
Looking For More?
Sensei’s Ronnie Burt led a session on gamification of content and WordPress sites at the WordCamp US 2022 conference.
You can see the talk here:
Gamify Your Site with Sensei Blocks
Gamification as a concept can be applied to most sites to improve engagement and loyalty. These practices make visitors feel rewarded and keep them coming back. With the right incentivization, this increases sales and provides long-term repeat business.
If you want a simple and versatile way to gamify your site, we recommend Sensei Blocks by Sensei LMS. Using Sensei Blocks, you can add interactive elements anywhere on your site, including Interactive Videos, Image Hotspots, Quiz Questions, Flashcards, and Tasklists.
Sensei Blocks are affordable at just $49 a year, and you can adapt them to your specific business needs. They offer an engaging and entertaining way to educate your users, get customers interested in your products, or learn more about your site visitors.