How to Drive Online Engagement with Gamification

Virtual events aren’t a new concept but they have stepped into the limelight because of COVID, and it’s clear they’re here to stay. Grand View Research projects the virtual events market will increase 10-fold over the next decade, to be valued at $774 billion US.

The most innovative event planners are already adapting and working to perfect this medium. Their goal, of course, is to ensure attendees are engaged and satisfied, especially from home.

The Challenges of Going Virtual
Online events risk having ‘ghost attendees’ — people who register but rarely participate (or don’t show up at all). Those who do attend often try to multitask while taking part in the virtual event. This can certainly take its toll on session engagement.

Gamification is a great way to motivate specific actions that will have a direct impact on an event’s key performance indicators. By focusing on the activities that define success, you can leverage the power of incentives to elicit positive engagement.

Award Points for Desired Actions
Like virtual events, gamification is not new; however, it can be problematic. It often translates to a leaderboard of attendees, with a select few who try to cheat the system and focus all their time at the event on winning first prize. Often, only the ‘top slots’ get prizes, leaving most attendees feeling like they’re playing the lottery. (And when was the last time you won that?)

A clever solution to this gamification problem is to use a points-to-rewards system.

How does this work?

Attendees earn points for taking desired actions. Once they reach a certain threshold, they can redeem them for desirable digital gifts. This provides an entertaining way to ensure higher audience engagement as well as satisfaction. It’s also a great opportunity to motivate attendees to take the specific actions that will directly correlate with your event’s metrics.

When everyone feels like they can win you’ll see increased participation. People are more likely to enter a competition or draw if they believe they have a good chance of being successful, according to research for Marketing Week. So, instead of offering a grand prize to ‘number one’ on the leaderboard, provide points-to-rewards to motivate all attendees to try and earn a prize. Their effort will be equivalent to their reward, with nothing left to chance. That’s how you keep attendees motivated to engage throughout your entire event.

Here are seven ways to get the most out of your event’s points-to-rewards program.

1. Award points to people who register early. Lots of early registrations reduce the risk of not securing enough revenue and builds momentum around the event. Plus, it enables you to advertise registrations and leverage that number in conversations with potential sponsors.

2. Award points for attending a keynote and breakout sessions. This will encourage attendees to fully engage with the curated content and ensure your speakers are getting great exposure.

3. Award points for visiting and engaging with sponsors and exhibitors. Sponsors and exhibitors are looking to get as many qualified leads as possible. Their continued event participation depends largely on their ability to realize a high return on investment and that starts with having meaningful conversations with attendees. Incentivize participants to make the first move and learn what your sponsors and exhibitors have to offer. You can even take advantage of this opportunity in your sponsorship. Assign more points to high-value sponsors and exhibitors.

4. Award points to the first 100 attendees. This strategy creates anticipation and makes people inclined to jump right into the event. Awarding points right away also builds goodwill and makes attendees eager to earn more.

5. Tie your points notifications to an e-mail that goes directly to attendees. This builds excitement around points that attendees have already collected and encourages them to earn more so they can redeem a reward. Points notifications can be a great way to keep your event top of mind for attendees without overwhelming them.

6. Award points for entering a chat session with another attendee or taking part in a social networking event. It’s not as easy to encourage networking when it’s all happening over video. You can help by offering a reason for attendees to start chatting. By incentivizing networking, you motivate guests to get the most out of your event.

7. Offer digital rewards that are relevant to current times and enable sponsorship of larger rewards. The points redemption process should be seamless and the rewards compelling. If attendees are worried about social distancing, a movie theatre gift card likely won’t entice them but a DoorDash one likely would. Also, enable sponsorship of larger rewards to maximize marketing opportunities and your partnerships.

Rida Khan is the marketing manager at Rybbon, a digital rewards management platform that helps marketers use digital rewards and incentives to boost their marketing campaigns. Rybbon features an extensive catalogue of rewards, including e-gift cards from top brands like Amazon, prepaid Visa and Mastercard rewards, and e-donations. Rybbon integrates with leading platforms like Marketo, HubSpot, Qualtrics, and SurveyMonkey to make rewarding easy and automatic.


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