A quest is a traditional game mechanic that has proven extremely popular. Take, for example, World of Warcraft, a game built around quests with more then 11 million subscribers. By nature, gamification draws tactics from traditional and social gaming mechanics. With the rise in popularity of gamification, many online publishers are starting to incorporate quests into their implementations.
The website Chore Wars turns household chores into an adventure. Players can earn 20 experience points and 10 gold pieces just by emptying the dishwasher.
Quest can often be more effective than simple points, badges and leaderboards. But why are they more effective? Yes, they reward people with badges and points, but it’s more than that. It’s about rewarding people for spending some time on your site, and more importantly—following a series of desired actions. Over 80% of people today log on to the Internet daily but they are not loyal to any particular site. According to Compete, users visit the top 15,000 U.S. websites less than two times each month and users are spending less than eight minutes viewing only seven pages per site. It’s obvious that both time and attention are becoming increasingly harder to capture. One way to engage those fans, keep them coming back for more, and keep them on the site longer, is to build in a dynamic quest program.
Quests take gamification one step further by helping people finish what they started. It’s human nature to want to complete something before moving on. With a quest, you can guide someone through a series of actions and reward them along the way. It’s not just about the rewards; it’s about the journey.
Surfing the web is a fairly passive activity. People type in search terms, click, read, and watch; but it takes a little extra push to get them to share, comment, or register on your site. You can hope they will take it upon themselves to engage at that level, or you can use quests to reward them for taking the actions that you want them to take.
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. Encouraging words and accolades also help you stick with it. LinkedIn is a great example of a popular site that engages behavior with quests. The percentage complete bar above your LinkedIn profile is one example. Seeing a 65% complete can be quite unnerving. It’s like receiving a low test score. If there’s an easy way to move from 65% to 100%, you’ll probably do it.
Visitors that engage with quests are up to three times more likely to come back than those who don’t. So, what makes them want to come back? For one thing, they remember that feeling of winning and wish to repeat it. It’s like the feeling of winning the three-legged race at the company picnic. You’re more likely to return next year so you can repeat that experience.
Another incentive to return is if a user has gained some points or virtual currency that they can redeem. The airline industry, which is brutally competitive, uses this method in the form of frequent flyer miles. It’s still one of the best ways to gain customer loyalty.
If your quests are fun and well-executed, people will come back to your site just because they enjoy viewing your content. It can be about the experience and not as much about gaining points. For this to work, it’s important to keep updating your quests and rewards. If someone has completed 50% of your quests and the other quests don’t interest them, they may decide to go elsewhere.
Carrie Peters is the Vice President of Marketing for BigDoor. BigDoor is building the technology to power social engagement and loyalty through the use of game mechanics. You can follow BigDoor on Twitter @bigdoor and Carrie @carriepeters.