reward categories money, priviledge, recognition

The Big Three: Reward Categories you need to include in your Course Gamification!

There are many different ways to gamify your course and each strategy targets a specific action you want your learners to take to move them towards getting better results and driving them towards your business objective. Whether that's encouraging them to move further though your course so they learn more, or engage in your course support group or community by sharing their results and inspiring others to do the same, if you want your gamification efforts to be successful you must offer rewards that mean something based on your business objective or an objective you have set for your learners. 

Let me take you back to the 2p machine at the arcade, why was it so rewarding to see those shiny (and not-so-shiny!) 2p’s drop down into the collection tray? Because it meant you had more chances at winning, by putting them back in the machine the fun continued and the anticipation mounted as getting that sticky excuse for a lolly that was conveniently and strategically placed just in reach, were higher. If 5p’s had been your reward they would have been useless, the game ended and to top it lolly!

If one of your business objectives is to get your customers to buy more coffee from you there’s no point rewarding them with a voucher for a Greggs sausage roll…as nice as that is, it’s not incentivising them to stay in your world and buy more coffee, in fact you run the risk of them realising that Greggs sells coffee too, and they never return to your shop! 

Likewise, If you are a yoga teacher and want to make sure your learners are actually learning what you are teaching, when they get to the end of your lesson and hit that COMPLETE button, you wouldn’t offer them a surprise HITT module, you’d perhaps give them a fun quiz to do to test their knowledge and then if they pass the quiz send them a virtual badge to show their level of Yoga practice.

Making the reward relevant to the action is super important!  

Generally rewards are split into three categories:

  • Recognition
  • Privileges
  • Money

Recognition centres around reputation and status or social influence.
To keep working towards success we need a sense of value and purpose. We want to feel included and status recognises community members among their peers. Humans have an internal drive to make progress, develop skills and overcome challenges so understanding the level people are at and recognising it will transform their experience because people want to be recognised, it makes them feel proud to be involved and it makes them feel great about their accomplishment. We all want increased status. We want to move upwards. It's the tool that has the greatest impact when you're thinking about your gamification strategy.

Here are some examples of some things that offer status and recognition. Remember these don’t necessarily have to be public recognition, quite often what we want is to be seen or acknowledged so receiving something like a certificate or a badge is recognition enough.

If you do offer a  points system A leaderboard showcasing your most active and successful learners is a great public way to show status and can help motivate others to achieve the same ie. If I complete one more module/section I can creep ahead one position.

If we think about a monopoly board, if you’ve got Mayfair and Park Lane you’re status is elevated, you’re deemed a more successful player because you’ve got the property that can earn you the big bucks when it comes to paying rent, as opposed to Old Kent Road say, which is deemed as a much lower status value.

  • Offer choice that provides an impact on their overall end result (ie whether to complete a 10 or 20 point task) encourages challenging themselves with the added bonus of potentially being higher up the leaderboard.
  • Creating milestones empowers participants to feel accomplished and reached a certain level of status
  • Given an award for a specific action
  • The opportunity to collect badges
  • Be recognised in a case study
  • Asked for their contribution to something or feedback on a product
  • Public acknowledgement on social platforms
  • Status points
  • Certificates
  • Progress bars

Privileges and empowerment as rewards
Reward your high achievers with exclusive opportunities that they wouldn't otherwise have access to. Members want access to things that are exclusive and when they receive it it makes them feel good. People want those once in a lifetime experiences.

Think about how you can empower members of your community. What levels of authority can you give people that will make them feel special?  It's a wonderful feeling to be that person who’s in the know and is able to help others.

  • Think about the different levels of status you can put in?
  • Think about the different levels of access that people can have that they wouldn’t normally get access to until they complete something? 
  • Exchangeable points - the more points you have the higher the reward you can access, showcasing your prize shows you’ve reached a certain level
  • Offer for them to be a moderator or judge a contest
  • Give VIP access, when I was at Kajabi Hero Live we had VIP access which meant a snazzy lunch in a private room with exclusive Q&A sessions with Keynote speakers, as well as photo opportunities so we could brag on social media which gave us a certain level of kudos and status, being seen with the ‘right’ people.
  • Offer the opportunity for them to mentor others
  • A backstage tour, a behind the scenes of something in your business that would help them succeed
  • A meet and greet or a photo opportunity with you
  • Exclusive training or access to you 121
  • A special mastermind program that you only offer to past students.
  • Give them a badge to display on their social channels or website for being an alumni or reaching a certain level within a membership
  • Offer lanyards at events that identify members of your community that can help others. 
  • Offer the opportunity for them to give feedback which will contribute to future course versions or membership content

Monetary rewards
Monetary rewards cover quite a broad spectrum from discounts to actually sending out physical products. Any monetary reward you want to offer should be considered carefully.

Here are a few words of caution and things to consider before putting them in place.

  • Monetary rewards increase the stakes and can cause stress for your members
  • Monetary Rewards can belittle the task ….well that wasn’t with a fiver…
  • Monetary rewards are an extrinsic motivator and are less motivating for the member
  • There is pressure on you for the monetary rewards to increase or have a larger value as the course goes on
  • Physical merch will actually cost you physical money (as opposed to time!) and will need to be distributed to the member so it has additional postage and packaging costs, the flip side is it does at least create brand awareness if the member actually uses it, like a t-shirt or baseball cap for example
  • Even if you use rewards from your JV partners there's still a payment to be made to them which directly impacts your profit or bottom line.

A Yale University Study uncovered.....

Interestingly Yale University conducted an experiment where they handed out $5 Starbucks cards to students. The conditions for receiving the card were that they could use the card for themselves or give it away to someone else, but, they had to come back and take a survey afterwards. The survey was going to measure their levels of happiness, how long that happiness lasted and how having the Starbucks card gifted to them made them feel. 

It turns out that everyone felt grateful to have received the card in the first place, I mean who doesn’t love a free coffee or frappuccino, but the surprising results came from the length of time the happiness lasted.

The students who spent the card on themselves said they felt happy to have received the card and that happiness continued while they consumed the item they bought. Of course, ...check me out with my free coffee, smugness level ten!

But for the students who chose to give the card to someone else the happiness factor lasted a whopping seven times longer… yep, that’s right, giving the card away to someone else not only gave them a boost of happiness when they gave it to the person but that person then thanked them again the next time they bumped into them creating happiness all over again AND there was a little boost of happiness when the student told the story of the lovely thing they had done and was praised for their kindness by the listener. 

It was literally a happiness gift that kept on giving! Why? Because intrinsic motivation is much more powerful than extrinsic.

How is this relevant? Whilst it’s always nice to receive a surprise thing in the post, the happiness value wears off quickly but when we are intrinsically motivated to do something we get a whole heap more out of it! The moral of this story is...use incentives that will intrinsically motivate your learners, they are far more likely to do 'the thing' you are asking them to do!

Redemptions- switching something like points for prizes!
A popular way to reward desired behaviours is to award points and then at predetermined intervals or at the end of the course to switch them for prizes. The higher the value of the thing the more points you need to redeem the prize. 

This happens in the world around us all the time, the most obvious one is airmiles that are collected every time you fly and when you have enough you can either discount a stay in a hotel or even get free flights. Another one in the UK is supermarket loyalty points which you collect depending on the amount of money you spend in store or online and you can switch them for money to spend in store or spend them with JV partners. The points have an expiry date so the collector can’t gather too many over time and then redeem them all at once. Remember if you’re using prizes through JV partners these do cost you money. 

Here are a few examples of redemption gamification strategies.

  • A coveted one to one strategy session with you - high points redemption for this one
  • Hours with your VA - lower points redemption but remember you will need to pay your VA so this will come off your profit
  • Prizes with JV partners - maybe a course they offer that compliments your own
  • A resit of the course if it’s not lifetime access

A combination of these gamification strategies will ensure you cater to all of your learner types too (if you want to know more about what the different types of learner are you can read my blog on the topic here). And remember, if you want your gamification efforts to be successful you must offer rewards that mean something based on your business objective or an objective you have set for your learners otherwise you’re spending your time and money implementing something that doesn’t really achieve anything for you or your business, and that seems a bit daft! 


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