I am a big cinephile, but I wasn’t always good at watching films back to back.
I used to see 10-20 films a year, and that would be it.
And it seriously bothered me since it gave me kind of an imposter syndrome in cinema discussions with people.
Then, I started using Letterboxd.
It was cool because I could log every movie I had seen on the app, and it would be my tiny achievement on my Letterboxd profile.
It kept track of all my film activities and even showed me how many films I’ve seen this year:
Before long, my hobby was aligned with this app, I started seeing more films, and now I am actively using Letterboxd daily!
Similar to Letterboxd, your SaaS product’s success (and your customers’) might depend on a little bit of gamification.
So, today, let’s talk about:
Let’s get started right away:
What is Gamification in SaaS?
SaaS gamification, at its core, is a user engagement method that encourages users to complete daily tasks by drawing their attention to app elements through the help of a gamified user experience. What gamification simply does is turn simple and mundane tasks into a game to increase users’ engagement level and sense of accomplishment, enabling companies to take a step closer to their business goals.
One thing to keep in mind about gamification in general and SaaS gamification as well is that its one true aim is to get users to include your product in their daily routine.
In fact, this aim is beyond the SaaS industry.
What we fail to see is that gamified experiences have been a part of business for a long, long time.
For example, loyalty stamp cards and customer loyalty programs have long been utilized for reaching certain milestones and rewarding users.
Gamification for SaaS originates from the same goal.
To get users coming back, some sort of visualization of success and consistency is a must.
Then, one important question arises in all our minds:
“Why should I care for gamification in SaaS?”
Why does SaaS gamification matter?
You might be thinking, “okay, cool, but if it’s so good, why doesn’t everyone do it?”
It’s because, as we’ve already discussed, some digital products just aren’t fit for it.
Be it the user base or their approach to customer success; some tools and especially super serious, powerful tools, would rather not try and get users to stick around using gamification methods.
And to be honest, it can be noise in an otherwise highly functional tool.
But if your product:
✅ Has a relatively laid-back user base with daily tasks,
✅ Is used by a team, or people that can compete with each other,
✅ Can benefit from some more fun during the onboarding process
You must start gamifying your SaaS product. Then, we can start talking about the “why?”
And if you ask me, there are 3 main reasons any product covering the criteria above must start gamifying:
1- Gamification boosts engagement among customers
First of all, above anything else, it’s safe to say that gamification in SaaS increases user engagement.
This implementation of fun elements into non-game environments attracts new users and helps keep existing ones by keeping them active inside the product.
2- Gamification motivates the users
By offering rewards, keeping score tables, and sending messages that say ‘Congrats!’, gamification motivates users and encourages them to try harder to see what comes next.
With this sense of curiosity, progress, and purpose, gamification creates room for positive reinforcement.
3- Gamification creates competition
Here’s something you probably already know:
People tend to work more productively when there’s healthy competition involved.
The reason behind this is the creativity and attention that comes up while a person is competing with others to win an interactive game.
Gaming elements such as leaderboards, high score tracking, streaks, updating messages, etc., are the key motivators that enable users to achieve more through a game-like experience that manages to create engagement.
Now, these UX elements of gamification might just sound like a big pile of words and you might be confused about where to start.
There is a variety of SaaS gamification that you can apply in degrees.
Let’s take a look.
How to gamify SaaS products?
SaaS gamification can be undertaken in many different ways, from the way you construct the entire app and customer journey to the simplest, smallest piece of copy.
What it essentially boils down to is your product’s capacity to be gamified and your willingness to create engagement loops.
Some gamification techniques are mildly close to the concept while others might make your app experience turn into a video game.
So, it is important to know your limitations too.
In any case, here are some UX elements of gamification for introducing more interactive experiences and gamification to your product UI and onboarding process:
1- Gamification for beginners: progress bars
Progress bars are the gateway UX element into gamifying SaaS tools.
It not only eases the users’ experience by giving them a time indicator but it also reinforces a sense of achievement and pushes people to continue.
As I discussed above, gamification aims to make a product become a daily task.
And progress bars are your first step to it.
Here’s a cool progress bar example from Evernote’s mobile application:
2- Amp it up: checklists
Checklists are still mild examples of gamification for the overall UX, as they are mostly one-time experiences. They are simply insufferable on a larger scale.
Can you imagine a checklist you are trying to fill up every day, and each day you’re barely there at all?
I could never.
So, most of the time, a good checklist is an excellent UX element for the very start of the customer journey.
A simple checklist with a progress bar and a few steps can make all the difference in activation rates as well as acquisition and customer retention.
Here’s a look at Calendly’s cool checklist for their gamified onboarding experience:
Of course, it can be even more engaging with more elements of gamification like a big percentage icon, higher interactivity, and the option to share your progress.
But remember: more often than not, it comes down to the product and its limitations.
It’s not a matter of putting lots of gamification in your product; it’s a matter of whether it would deliver value to your customers, users, and you.
3- Let there be fun: celebrations and checkpoints
A very important and easily recognizable element of gamification is celebrations and checkpoints.
Especially in B2B SaaS, there is this misconception that celebrations aren’t as important as it is for B2C or for products with younger audiences.
Anyone appreciates a little celebration.
And if it is in a fun little easter egg kind of vibe, users even start looking for more celebrations and checkpoints around your app.
Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that most B2C apps and platforms are more open to these types of gamification thanks to their overall structure.
I wouldn’t really expect Intercom to send me a celebration message just because I started using a new feature from them.
But an app like Nike Training Club can easily do that.
Here’s NTC’s example of workout milestone with celebrating copy:
But that doesn’t mean celebrations are reserved for B2C.
Here’s Landbot’s celebration message in green and some confetti!
4- Make it social: leaderboards
Leaderboards are perfect if your product has a lot to do with social proof and has the potential to get people riled up through their friends.
Thans to social proof and FOMO (fear of missing out), leaderboards have done a perfect job engaging users in short terms and longer terms.
There’s a problem, though.
Let’s be honest, leaderboards truly don’t feel like they could be used in B2B SaaS while most B2C apps and platforms make great use of it.
For example, here’s Duolingo’s infamous leaderboard:
And to be honest, I, too, felt that they couldn’t work well in a B2B product.
But one B2B tool changed my mind.
Jump to the examples section now to get a sneak peek
5- Push for new experiences: badges and trophies
Famously used in Reddit and similar platforms, we are familiar with badges.
They are one of the most implicit signs of achievement for users and one other gamification element that does the same job is trophies.
A perfect example of this type of gamification is, of course, from a game-related app.
For example, the Playstation app shows you all the achievements you can achieve and have achieved, visualizes them as trophies, and even uses a progress bar for a holistic experience:
6- Everyone loves: rewards
Talking about sense of achievement, a real rewarding experience for users is of course:
Now, although not all tools and platforms are fit for this kind of gamification, some are just perfect for using gamified campaigns.
Take Vodafone’s gift wheel of fortune, for example:
It was first started years ago on their mobile app, and to this day, users are encouraged to spin the wheel every week.
Some even use data only from it 😅
7- Redefine experiences: personalization
SaaS gamification doesn’t necessarily have to be a specific element on the UI for customer engagement.
It can be more holistic experiences that affect customer behavior on a bigger scale.
For example, now that Spotify Wrapped has been popularized and became an important event each year, users use the Spotify app more towards the end of the year as modals to prompt behavior start to appear.
Like this one:
And Spotify isn’t the only one doing recaps anymore.
Here’s Reddit and Duolingo influencing a year-long gamification for loyal users:
Now you know what gamification on smaller and bigger scales can look like for SaaS platforms and any other product with long-term customer retention in mind.
But the examples were mostly B2C platforms, and some of them weren’t even SaaS, I know 😬
So, let’s take a look at some SaaS tools doing gamification:
8 Best Examples of SaaS Gamification
My main message throughout the articles was that SaaS tools can apply gamification in degrees.
Some do it slightly, some take it up a notch.
What matters is that we see how well the amount of gamification they apply compliments their solution.
I just might have some on the list that do it just right, starting with:
Freshdesk is a cloud-based customer support software. It’s super easy to use and has numerous features that help businesses provide excellent customer service.
With features like live chat, and multiple support channels, including email, phone, and social media, you’re able to help your users through the communication method that they choose.
But their cool features and functions might not have been so efficient without a little bit of gamification.
Here’s how they do it:
The Customer Support people using Freshdesk can:
✅ Earn points,
✅ Level up,
✅ Earn rewards, and
✅ Unlock numerous achievements, rewards, and new challenges
Furthermore, the tool offers ”Quests,” which are quick pop-up missions that these agents can complete to unlock badges and earn even more points.
The platform also utilizes leaderboards to give a sense of competition amongst the support agents, making them feel engaged and motivated to accomplish more.
I don2t know about you, but it gave me a sudden urge to switch to customer support 😁
Asana is a cloud-based project management tool that helps all sizes of sales teams track and examine every single detail of their projects. The tool is especially great for those interested in practising efficient planning and management.
Being one of the household names of project management tools, Asana manages to win hearts by offering a certain advantage -it’s adaptable in a way that fits in exactly with your needs – and several key features.
And, how does a tool as successful as Asana use gamification?
Asana uses a cool user onboarding checklist to get users to go through the app, customize it, and finish it successfully for a sense of achievement.
Afterwards, users get a celebration with tiny unicorns and animals flying across the screen
See it for yourself.
Asana offers a special setting with a number of animals that pop up on the screen after a user marks the checklist as complete.
The users can turn this feature on and off within the ‘Settings’ section, but you cannot argue that it’s a creative and unique way of making people feel good about completing those old and boring tasks.
I mean, unicorns. Who can resist them?
Keyhole is one of the most brilliant social media management tools out there in the game right now.
The tool assists marketers in measuring, enhancing, and reporting the impact they have on various social media channels.
The platform achieves to provide this service with the help of social listening, influencer tracking, and numerous social media analytics products – all of which are also quite helpful when it comes to improving business social media strategies and sharing the results.
And, how did Keyhole use gamification UX elements?
They use a basic element called an onboarding checklist and that was it:
What difference did it make?
While in need of something that will skyrocket conversions with a few simple elements, Keyhole teams came across UserGuiding through our article on product adoption. After giving it a second thought, they thought that they finally found what was necessary.
With UserGuiding, Keyhole created a fully functional user onboarding checklist with a full set of interactive content in it, in just a few minutes.
Impressed with the result Keyhole got?
You just might like the rest of the capabilities of UserGuiding, including:
✅ Product tours, walkthroughs, interactive guides,
✅ User onboarding checklists,
✅ Hotspots, tooltips, in-app messages,
✅ Resource centers,
✅ NPS surveys, and more
With powerful analytics, high customization, user segmentation and targeting
Give it a try yourself!
HubSpot is one of the most used inbound marketing and sales platforms that offers all-in-one marketing solutions.
The platform has numerous advanced features that make it one of a kind; live chat, lead tracking, meeting, scheduling options for emails, in-depth analytics, and reports, custom emails, etc.
Apart from all these additional features, Hubspot cares about user engagement; it cares about it so much that it benefits from gamification
Users earn badges and certifications that display their inbound expertise whenever they complete certification programs.
This way, Hubspot encourages active users to download printable certificates, use them on their websites, share them with loved ones through social media, etc.
This whole process drives user engagement through rewards.
Users feel motivated to complete their training and earn badges and certifications that represent the effort, time, and energy they put into learning something new and how they feel proud of it.
Upviral is a referral system that integrates into funnel systems and tools. It’s a tool that assists businesses in drawing attention to their companies to achieve rapid growth.
Simply put, this tool helps your business get traffic, leads, and sales. It provides a quick way to grow your business online.
And how does it achieve this?
Upviral uses sweepstakes, rewards, and leaderboards to help your business with your marketing campaigns.
The audience interacting with the site gets a special referral link that can be shared on social media platforms. The system gives them points for every referral they make, and it ranks them on a leaderboard.
These prizes are usually awarded to those who’ve got the most points, making the whole process quite fun and competitive.
ProdPad is a product management platform that assists product managers in developing solid product strategies that lead to business growth and success.
Product managers love and use ProdPad since it allows them to gather and manage ideas, and track them in a clear and visual product roadmap that their teams can follow and understand.
They have also incorporated a number of gamification methods into their user journey. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Everybody loves free trials, right?
Do you ever wish you could prolong your free trial process when it’s about to end? Yeah, me too.
Here’s what Prodpad does about it.
One great example of gamification is their use of rewarding customers in return for their completion of in-app actions.
At first, the users start off with a free trial for a limited time, and ProdPad lets them increase the number of days in this free trial through certain actions such as inviting a friend, spreading the word to a colleague, adding a user persona, adding billing details, etc.
This way, ProdPad creates a win-win situation that comes in handy both for the user and its own working systems.
Kaizo is another great example of a customer support SaaS application that assists teams in transforming performance management for support agents.
The software does an outstanding job of encouraging and motivating teams through gamification with cool Ninjas!
Yes, you read that right.
Kaizo uses gamification and AI to enhance efficiency, productivity, and teamwork through engagement.
With the fun and engaging elements, Kaizo allows the teams to feel that sense of achievement through leveling up.
Furthermore, they have implemented appealing illustrations and a ”Dojo” class theme to provide an excellent journey for the customer support agents while enabling them to improve their skills and achieve goals on a weekly basis while not boring themselves to death.
Plecto is a business performance platform that uses various ways to improve employee motivation. And their main difference from the others on the list is that they are a gamification platform!
So, their main value proposition is gamification itself.
Take a look:
Using leaderboards, badges, scores and more, Plecto makes sure that users – your employees – have intrinsic motivators in their workflow and can get more productive on the short and long term.
To Wrap Up…
Everyone deserves a pinch of fun in their workflow.
Elements of fun aren’t hard to include in even the most serious, business-focused B2B SaaS platforms today, thanks to different types of gamification like checklists and leaderboards.
So, if you want higher user engagement, this is officially a sign to hold that meeting with your product team.
Start gamifying SaaS, let there be fun!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is gamification in SaaS?
SaaS gamification is a technique used to create more engaged users and to encourage daily use of the product. SaaS gamification often makes use of UX game elements like checklists, progress bars, and more as well as more specific elements of gamification like leaderboards and badges.
What is an example of gamification?
Possibly one of the best examples of gamification as a whole is Duolingo, as it turns the educational content of the app into a user and customer engagement opportunity with gamification. Good examples of this is their leaderboards, scores, badges, leagues, rewards, and more.
What is software gamification?
Software gamification is the gamification of software using game mechanics like leaderboards, badges, and scores to engage more users and coincidentally decrease customer churn and increase customer success.