Keep Score: Gamify your web marketing (with gamification examples)

By Andy Crestodina

I’ve loved games since I was a kid.  I grew up with 20-sided dice and Donkey Kong. I’m not the only one—people are hard-wired to enjoy games, which is why game concepts are popping up in places you wouldn’t expect.  Making things game-like drives behavior.  It’s called “gamification,” and you can use it to improve your web marketing.

Gamification is the use of game mechanics in non-game settings in order to encourage specific desired behaviors. By taking advantage of our psychological predisposition to playing games, gamification encourages people to perform tasks that they might ordinarily consider boring.

Watch the Scoreboard

If you start tracking how you’re doing, you’ll start doing better. And since it’s the web, everything is trackable.  There are scoreboards everywhere—some of them even have pretty charts. Pretty charts are powerful motivators.

Here are some example scoreboards and tips on how to use them to drive behavior and results…

Note: These are separate from all the measurements in Google Analytics. This isn’t about traffic. This is about tracking activity that drives traffic.

Social Media

This channel was born to gamify.  Twitter has been game-like from the beginning, with followers as the main score, as in “Wilmer Valderrama has 136,479 followers!” Foursquare, with its hundreds of badges to win, is basically a game. Foursquare isn’t “used,” it’s “played.”

  • Twitter Followers – (defunct)
    Follower growth is fun to track.  Twitter Counter is free. Sprout Social has super compelling charts.
  • Facebook Likes – Facebook Insights
    Lovely charts, easy to read.  The green (up) and red (down) arrows are good motivators.
  • Klout Score –
    This is a general score of social media influence. Great badges (250+ unique Retweets!) and nice charts. This one is almost too compelling. Beware obsession.

Ready to play? Tweet, post, have conversations, follow, retweet, comment, like, share, connect.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This game has the ultimate scoreboard: rankings.  But measurement of SEO activity lacks the simple tools with pretty charts. Important, but harder to “play.” Requires skill and determination.  For ages 12 and older.

  • Inbound Links – Open Site Explorer
    Go for volume.  Get lots of links from as many sites as possible, as long as they’re somewhat relevant to you.
  • Domain Authority – Open Site Explorer
    Now go for quality.  Try to get inbound links from other sites with high domain authority.  Promote your site with popular and important sites. Consider PR.
  • Google PageRank – Quirk SearchStatus
    Monitor Google’s 1 – 10 scale of authority with this browser plug-in.  But don’t expect it to change too often.  6 or 7 is the practical limit for many sites.

Ready to play? Write, submit, research, submit, update, submit.

Email Marketing

Adding subscribers gives a great feeling of progress, and watching the stats come in after clicking send is compulsive. …refresh! …refresh!  But be careful: this is a game with penalties. Getting a spam report is like a yellow flag on the field. It stings.

  • Subscribers – Your database or CRM
    Use a database that lets you easily opt-in subscribers. This is an important score but hard to watch. There isn’t a chart that shows it as it grows.
  • Open Rate – Your email provider or ESP
    Most email providers have nice charts that help you measure responses.  This one is affected by the timing of your email, your subject lines and the quality of your list.
  • Click Through Rate – Your email provider or ESP
    This is a more important score, since it’s actual traffic. Focus on providing as much value as possible.  Build up your credibility.  Stay on a consistent schedule.

Ready to play? Invite, write, post, send, measure, repeat.

But, Seriously…

Yes, games are fun, but the real measure is leads and sales. These are the “goals” setup in Google Analytics. These are the real results.

So start watching the scoreboards, if you think of it as a game and start playing, you might be able to trick yourself into getting busy. Pick a few metrics and check them daily. Make it fun and tap into that part of your brain that just loves to play.

Obsess as if it was fantasy football, a stock portfolio, or your daughter’s 4-years-and-under soccer team. You might suddenly become a dedicated web marketer and get those real results.

You can’t win if you don’t play!

Bonus Round

There are loads of other ways to check your scores.  Here are a few:

  • Hubspot Website Grader
  • Alexa Traffic Rank
  • YouTube Views
  • Reviews – number of stars on Yelp, Google, etc.
  • Comments on blog posts
  • Follower-to-Following Ratio

Got your own favorite score card we didn’t mention here?  Feel free to tell us by commenting below…

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