Gamification in Enterprise Growth 2/3–7 Ways to Apply Gamification to B2B

Enterprise growth is still a relatively nascent field where experiments are key to understanding user behavior and driving product usage. In this post, we will explore concepts from the consumer world, from fields like Gaming and Entertainment, and provide examples for applying these to SaaS products. Prefer videos? Check out the presentation from Mobile Apps Unlocked 2018.

7 Ways to Apply Gamification to B2B

Now that we know what gamification is and what it can do for your metrics, let’s deep dive into how to apply these user psychology concepts in your SaaS products.

  1. Learn By Doing. Guide users to achieve core actions and create sticky habits.
  2. Rewards and Achievements. Reward your user after they complete desired actions.
  3. Paywalls in Freemium Models. Contextually upsell users so they can connect value with price.
  4. Interactive Storytelling. Let your users choose their own in-product experience.
  5. Competition. Build on natural competitive tendencies to drive desired behavior.
  6. Suggested Messaging. Guide by offering suggestions when users are confronted by choice.
  7. Contextual Learning. Give your users the right information at the right time.

1. Learn by Doing

Guide users to achieve core actions and create sticky habits.

Games: When starting a new game, there are a variety of levers you can pull to get users to understand the core actions they need to take in order to win. Learning by doing helps users understand how these actions will create value to them, and allows them to learn by interacting with the game. This creates a fast feedback loop, and eventually helps users build sticky habits that increase product engagement.

A great example of this is Jelly Splash by Wooga, a connect game. As an onboarding tactic you are clearly shown how to connect jellies and are then rewarded by clear visuals showcasing your rewards.

B2B: Gamify your onboarding!

At Box, we applied the Learn By Doing principle to onboarding in our web trials. Our goal was to increase web trial conversion so we determined what core actions correlated with web trial conversion, and rewarded users with extra days in their trial if they completed these actions.

Through this project we were able to drive web trial conversion by +32%, core action engagement in web trials +22%, and number of users sharing +90%.

Users in the Box web trial onboarding experience interact with a “learn by doing” checklist, which uses tooltips to help users complete core actions associated with web trial conversion. Design credit: Lu Liu & Vivian Phung.

2. Rewards and Achievements

Reward your user after they complete desired actions.

Games: In games, rewards are everywhere — game developers understand the need to incentivize users to complete actions to get to their end goal (winning).

These can be in the forms of extra lives (Mario), unlocking more content (like outfits or vehicle customizations in MarioKart), or badges for completing desired actions (FrontierVille by Zynga).

B2B: Referral Programs and Badges!

Two ways to use rewards in B2B are through Referral Programs and Badges. Incentivizing your users to engage in core actions, such as inviting a user, with extrinsic rewards (extra storage, a free month, an ongoing discount etc.) increases the likelihood of them completing that action.

Referral Program — Slack will give you credits to apply to your balance if you refer other customers. This is great way to increase virality into your product and automate word of mouth.
Badges are another great example of how you can reward users for either completing actions, or reaching customer journey milestones. Giving users badges for usage related achievements will help drive those sticky habits home.

3. Paywalls in Freemium Models

Contextually upsell users so they can connect value with price.

Games: One thing all successful games have in common is that they’ve learned how to monetize efficiently and well. The freemium model is by far the most profitable, with Clash of Clans at one point making $2.4/million a day compared to one of the most highest grossing paid games, Monument Valley, which made $14 million in 2 years. Paywalls are a way for companies to contextually ask users to purchase at pivotal moments in the game, where they can connect value with price.

In Clash of Clans, if users want to progress further in the game, they either need to wait for resources to become available or they can pay using gems (hard currency) to speed up their wait.

B2B: Try paywalls in your freemium experience!

In B2B, it’s a lot easier to convert an existing user than a new one. Your freemium population is prime for expansion, as these users already understand the value proposition of your product and are actively using it. When your customers are ready for more sophisticated use cases, paywalls are a great way for helping them connecting the value of the new features with price, and increase the likelihood of conversion.

LucidChart, a diagram making software, allows you to create 3 documents in your free account before you have to pay to upgrade.
Slack’s free product allows you to send a certain limit of messages before they no longer record your conversation history. Using clear messaging about what you’ll lose if you don’t upgrade notifies the user of exactly the value they would be getting from purchase.
At Box we used this concept when our free users try to upload too large of a file, or go over their storage limit. Instead of just limiting our users from interacting further with the product, we offer a path forward to unlocking more of the product in the form of a paywall. This was incredibly successful at aligning our customers with the right plan for them, resulting in a 9.3% upgrade rate. Design credit: Lu Liu.

4. Interactive Storytelling

Let your users choose their own in-product experience.

Games: Interactive storytelling is a huge genre of games, especially prevalent in story-based games. Players want to create their own unique experiences and see how their outcomes change based on their decisions.

In games like The Sims, you can choose how you interact with other Sims to either build relationships, start a family, make an enemy, etc. Each choice you make has consequences and changes your in game experience.

B2B: Targeted Onboarding Paths!

At Box, we used the Interactive Storytelling concept in the form of targeted onboarding paths for our web trial users. After conducting user research and interviewing customer success stakeholders, we narrowed down the three main problems our users were facing that brought them to Box. In the onboarding experience, users can pick a path based on the problem they want to solve, which will generate a unique in-product experience that will help guide them to solve it.

After users select into a path, they are presented with a onboarding checklist geared towards actions that help them solve their core problems. Our Goal Oriented Onboarding helped us drive another 8% in product engagement as well as build a better experience for our customers. Design credit: Lu Liu & Vivian Phung.

5. Competition

Build on natural competitive tendencies to drive desired behavior.

Games: Competition has existed in games for a long time, a desire to be the winner or to beat your friends or competition is an inherent part of our human experience.

Goldeneye multiplayer allows players to compete against each other for glory and the chance to be the last person standing.

B2B: Try leaderboards!

Leaderboards allow you to rank users by those who have completed the most actions that you deem important to your business. Here you are able to reward active members and incentivize others to do the same in the hopes that they can reach the top.

In Box Community, users that have posted the most are ranked the highest. This helps instill a sense of winning in the most active of your users, while also still driving the creation of content.

6. Suggested Messaging

Guide by offering suggestions when users are confronted by choice.

Games: In some games, especially open worlds, users have a lot of choice of where they can go next. To keep the momentum going and minimize frustration there are some tactics like in game guides, visuals or messages to guide players in the right direction. The core concept here is to contextually guide your users to select the desired choice when there are many in front of them.

In Zelda, Navi the fairy will prompt you with “suggested messaging” on what location to go to next to help you find the right path forward.

B2B: Suggesting plans to your customers!

At Box we’ve seen a lot of success with matching users to the right plans using suggested messaging in our signup flow. If we know users are coming from a geographic area with strict storage guidelines, we present the option to purchase local storage to help them make compliant decisions. Your customers have a lot of plan options to choose from, so we use suggested messaging and real data like “44% of users like you purchase Zones” to direct them to making the best decision for their company as well as drive revenue.

Suggested messaging guides your customers to the right information at critical decision making points in your product. Design credit: Lu Liu & Vivian Phung.

7. Contextual Learning

Give your users the right information at the right time.

Games: Showing the right information at the right time effectively teaches a player how to complete the right action to get to their desired goal.

In Final Fantasy VII, the materia/magic system is extremely complicated and doesn’t come into play until later on in the game. When you can finally use magic, they use tooltips at that point to show you where to find it and how to use it.

B2B: Contextual Learning tooltips!

We applied contextual learning to our self-serve product at Box in order to teach users valuable use cases across the customer lifecycle. Giving users the right information at the right time helps them achieve success in the product while not overwhelming them during the first time user experience.

Users can self-select into learning several skills such as sharing and collaborating, or creating a shared link, where we then guide them with tooltips to complete these actions. Design credit: Lu Liu & Vivian Phung.

We’ve also expanded this to include some of the more confusing use cases based on customer interviews and internal interviews with our support teams. This not only helps our customers that have little access to support options but also contributes to efficiency gains as less customers will be calling into our support team for answers to super tactical questions.

To recap, there are a lot of lessons we can learn from games to create better user experiences in our products and drive our key growth metrics:

  1. Learn By Doing. Guide users to achieve core actions and create sticky habits.
  2. Rewards and Achievements. Reward your user after they complete desired actions.
  3. Paywalls in Freemium Models. Contextually upsell users so they can connect value with price.
  4. Interactive Storytelling. Let your users choose their own in-product experience.
  5. Competition. Build on natural competitive tendencies to drive desired behavior.
  6. Suggested Messaging. Guide by offering suggestions when users are confronted by choice.
  7. Contextual Learning. Give your users the right information at the right time.

In the next post, I’ll discuss a framework for how you can apply these concepts to your products through a Gamification Product Framework. Feel free to share your ideas on how you’ve applied these techniques to your SaaS products!