Beyond Badges: The Power of Customer Engagement Through Quests

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Carrie Peters
Carrie Peters

Online quests have proven to be tremendously popular. The trick is: how do you harness that level of engagement for something that's not a game?

Some websites do this by applying quests to different types of activities. Chore Wars turns household chores into an adventure. Players can earn 20 experience points and 10 gold pieces just by emptying the dishwasher. The Extraordinaries, an iPhone app, has quests for mapping neighborhood playgrounds or locating defibrillators for the First Aid Corps.

Recently, companies have tried increasing customer engagement by adding game mechanics to their website like badges, points and leaderboards. Quests take it a step further by allowing businesses to guide visitors through a custom series of high-value actions — also rewarding users for their engagement.

Rewarding for time and attention

Quests are about rewarding people for spending time on your website, and more importantly — paying attention. Time and attention are getting increasingly hard to capture, so why not reward for it? Assuming you have quality content on your site, what else can you do to keep people around? What if there was an extra stickiness layer to engage visitors? That's where quests come into play. It's not just about the rewards; it's about the journey that your visitors embark on.

Encouraging active participation

Surfing the web is a fairly passive activity. People type in search terms, click, read and watch; but it takes a little push to get them to share, comment or register on your site. You can hope they will engage at that level, or you can use quests to guide and reward active participation.  

Seeing it all the way through

It's human nature to want to complete something before moving on. The mainstream media likes to take advantage of this human quirk. Many websites are already using this to encourage completion of tasks that were left undone. The percentage complete bar above your LinkedIn profile is one example. Seeing a 65% complete can be quite unnerving. If there's an easy way to move from 65% to 100%, you'll probably do it.

Giving constant feedback

Well-designed quests are good at providing consistent feedback to the user. There's usually a progress bar to tell how far along you are (example below). Encouraging words and accolades can also help visitors stick with it.

Keep them coming back

Visitors that engage with quests are up to three times more likely to revisit a website. Why? For one thing, they enjoy the gratification of winning, and they would like to repeat it. These visitors might have also gained points or virtual currency that they can use towards a reward. The airline industry uses this method in the form of frequent flyer miles. In a competitive industry, it's a staple for gaining customer loyalty.

If your quests are entertaining and well executed, visitors are more likely to return. It can be about the experience and not as much about gaining points. Be warned, however, that it's imperative to refresh your quest content. If someone has completed 50% of your quests, but the others aren't of interest, they may decide to go elsewhere.

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