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In an age of instant gratification and immediate payoffs, time-consuming certification courses can often become a mundane aspect of membership. Knowing the importance of certification courses, associations should invest time into making these courses fun and stimulating while continuing to be informative. 

Enter gamification. 

Usually implemented as an online marketing technique, gamification is the application of game-playing elements in other activities to encourage engagement with products or services. Point scoring, progress bars, contests, rewards and trivia are all aspects of gamification that can be applied not only to certification progression, but many other aspects of your membership, as well.  Trophies can be awarded for most attendance at conferences, volunteering can lead to higher access levels or prizes and punch cards at booths can help increase traffic to different set ups during sessions.

Build an ongoing engagement system.

Take the language learning app Duolingo, for example. They use small quizzes, mapped out stages, badges, milestones of achievement and points throughout their courses. Each of these aspects of gamification can trigger a release of dopamine in the brain. According to UPMC HealthBeat, dopamine “helps motivate you to work towards achieving a reward.” Having multiple layers of gamification creates constant stimuli which keeps your members coming back. 

Keep in mind:

  • Humans are competitive by nature.
  • A sense of achievement can go a long way.
  • Humanity values teamwork and collaboration.

Don’t overwhelm your members.

Gamification is supposed to be a fun and easy way to receive benefits. While multiple facets of gamification can seem intriguing and important, too much too quickly can be an additional stressor on members. 

  • Starting small gives members a chance to grow familiar with the concept of gamification.
  • Complexity can be confusing. Start simple and grow your program from there.
  • Having one large goal can seem unachievable to members just starting out. Incorporating achievable short-term goals reinforces that feeling of accomplishment and influences members to keep coming back.

Don’t become stale. 

Once established, it can be tempting to continue with the same programs your organization started with. Over time, completing the same tasks or having too simple of a program can become redundant, leading to potentially losing your members’ interest.  

  • Prepare future additions or upgrades six to nine months in advance when launching gamification aspects. 
  • Supply new targets, achievements and rewards frequently. 
  • Be open to feedback and apply suggestions when necessary.

Positive Reinforcement. 

Not only does the feeling of accomplishment keep members coming back, positive reinforcement is a large factor in triggering a dopamine delivery system. Rewards, recognition and even career growth are all ways to reinforce the use of your association’s gamification aspects.

  • Rewarding members with merchandise, special privileges and even monetary-based prizes are great ways to increase traffic on course content.
  • Social and peer recognition through the use of leaderboards can tap into our basic need for competition, influencing members to work harder and smarter to raise their ranking.
  • Through the process of interacting with your gamification aspects, members are learning and moving forward in their career.

Think of new ways that you can implement gamification in your conferences, meetings and even employee projects. Not only will your members be inspired to engage with your content, they may influence your organization for the better.

Ashley Neal
Post by Ashley Neal
May 6, 2020
Ashley is a marketing and communications professional with expertise in sales conversion, copywriting, and social media.