7 Simple Gaming Techniques To Drive Onboarding Success

Leveraging game mechanics can mean the difference between getting someone to sign up or register and losing them forever. In this post, I’ll provide a quick overview of various parts of onboarding that can be gamified and how earning points at various places along the way can dramatically impact your conversions. It’s a slight bit tailored to a technical startup or SaaS company, but you’ll see how you can generally apply the thinking to just about anything.

Let’s start with a few quick mini-themes:

  • It’ll be enjoyable and totally worth their while — Fun enough for them to want to go through the entire origination/onboarding process
  • The product will perform, without question — Ask questions that are insightful enough, use verbiage that’s just geeky enough, and display “thinking” indicators that make people feel like your product has already started working its magic
  • Many others are doing it — Because this concept is so new, you’ll want to establish relatedness right away
  • It can be completed on their own time — You don’t need everything now, but once you get us all the information we’ve asked for, it’s gonna purr like a cheetah
  • The more they give us the more rewarding it will be — Earning points along the way will improve or enhance the end result, whether those points are used for upgrades, or to seed their own customer loyalty accounts (as would be the case in a B2B2C business)

Establish A Narrative

The most important thing you can do to set the tone of your relationship with the new subscriber is to establish the narrative and get full buy in. Be conversational, like, “Hey Stacy, nice to meet you! This won’t take too long, but the more info you give me now, the less it will hurt later.” The story you’ll tell is how your system was designed to pack lots of oomph into pithy actionable notifications (or whatever you do), so you’ll be more successful. The narrative will be an objective of the entire user experience, not just onboarding.

Create An Identity

Ask your new customer to upload items they’ll need for various sections of the whole experience, in app and out, such as photos, logos, profiles, etc. Perhaps introduce how many others (relatedness) are like them as you go through this step. This is how you and your new subscriber will personalize your experience with each other and establish a comfort level for your customer.

Provide A Step-by-Step Tutorial

The onboarding process should include small snippets that explain why orwhat you can expect by giving you an answer. You want your customers to understand what the system is doing so they become more comfortable with what might be a new concept to many. This would be a good spot to help explain, more or less in layman’s, how these questions feed the brains of your system. Subscribers should be able to turn off tutorials, but not in the origination phase.

Leverage Social Influence & Relatedness

It’s important for you (since your concept is so new) to introduce some form of “relatedness” to the onboarding portion of the experience. The more a subscriber feels like other companies like hers, or other companies in her area are using your system, the more confident she’ll feel about using it herself, and completing the critical onboarding process. “This journey is worth taking (and paying for).”

  • Consider a profile similarity approach where all onboarding users are organized into baskets based on answers such as anticipated usage rates or frequency of use, habits, geographic locations, budgets, business types, customer types, and more. These groups or baskets will become their peers. This approach will also help you later on as you look to further customize or add to your product, or analyze usage patterns, or otherwise leverage the data you’ve earned in the onboarding process to develop your business (or report to your investors!).

Establish Early Win States & Scarcity

Subscribers will earn (their own) points as they do more (generally speaking), or progress through the onboarding process. You’ll want to explain this in the onboarding process or in the tutorial. For example, “If you see this little yellow flashing icon, then you can earn additional points in your account.” There will only be a certain number of points available to subscribers (scarcity), so the more informed you help us become, now, the fewer points will be available to others, and so forth. Begin with small amounts like 100 points, then increase the points they can earn as they begin to more deeply integrate with your system.

Set Goals

This is where your system takes general gamification an additional level higher. In order for your system to work as designed, and be as profitable for you as possible, you’ll ask each subscriber to establish goals. Goals can be anything that helps them grow their business, or otherwise achieve whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish — but enabling your subscriber to set their own benchmarks and earn more points as they get closer to their goals and exceed them, use the tools you’ve built, engage with your platform, or otherwise become more successful, can be a powerful revenue driver for you.

Recap & Win

The final step will be a compilation of your answers into a wonderful screen, possibly showing the subscriber’s goals, the range of ways you’ll help them exceed those goals, or other important facts you’d like to present. Prove to your new customer you understand their goals and will be there every step of the way. “Congratulations, let’s go crush it together.”

Introducing game mechanics along with points can be a powerful way to collect the information you need to be successful, while increasing the likelihood that someone will complete the process of onboarding.

To learn more about using points and rewards to achieve your business objectives, contact Andy or Justin.

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