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Retention, Engagement and Referrals Can All Be Cheered on by Gamification

I just played the WSJ Jigsaw Puzzle! First it asks you to choose your difficulty level. My sister-in-law is a jigsaw addict, so I was semi-confident and chose medium. The puzzle consists of about nine pieces that you move around like a Ouija board until they click into place. The completed image is of WSJ columnist John D. Stoll (pictured above). “Read his latest columns here,” it says.

It’s all very cool—you can even create your own portrait. When WSJ introduced puzzles as part of their onboarding journey, they knew that there was a distinct correlation between gamification and retention. Although less than 1% of their audience had ever played a puzzle on their platform, they felt that this was a missed opportunity, according to an article in Twipe.

They also were aware how important the first week experience is in subscriber retention. Their onboarding “included an email that encourages readers to play puzzles after one week of their subscription.” Not only did retention rates soar, but the new marketing push saw engagement rates grow across the whole site. That brought more puzzles including the jigsaws.

Here are six more examples of what gamification can accomplish:

Get people to participate.
LabX, a division of the National Academy of Sciences, has a monthly show they call Wrong Answers Only. They describe it as “an interactive show featuring celebrity guests who play games and quizzes while learning about exciting research with the help of a scientific expert.” On May 13 at 8:30 pm that expert will be Chiara Mingarelli, a gravitational-wave astrophysicist based at the University of Connecticut.

Encourage referrals.
The Morning Brew provides a real-time counter that tracks how many referrals someone has, along with some encouragement: “You’re only X referrals away from receiving Y!” A previous progress bar was shuttled for the numeric counter.

Engage and promote other offerings.
MedLearn Media’s popular Compliance Question of the Week marches on. They have six questions this week! Here’s their Respiratory question: “Is there a code to report when a respiratory therapist provides instruction on how to use incentive spirometry in a physician’s office?” After giving the answer, they write (with a link): “This question was answered in our annual Respiratory Therapy Reimbursement & Compliance Update webcast. For more hot topics relating to respiratory services, please visit our store or call us…”

Engage and be relevant.
The Financial Times is still doing an FT Weekend Quiz. Last weekend’s was headlined, “Filet-o-Fish, The Beatles and sixdegrees.org.” “Our ‘Round on the Links’ quiz tests your ability to draw connections. Thinking caps on!” There are 10 questions such as, “In 2018, Steven Payne became the first person to cross the Alps on which children’s toy?” When you click on the answers—“space hopper“—you see: “Get alerts on Life & Arts when a new story is published.” But remember, people take these seriously. One comment: “I love this quiz and usually do OK. This week was hopeless. I think the setter misjudged what is generally acceptable knowledge on the link subject.”

Bring in new subscribers.
The New York Times Crossword app benefits from over 500,000 paying subscribers, according to Twipe. “Over 50% of users of this crossword app do not have a subscription to the digital or print versions of the newspaper. This gives the Times access to an already loyal paying audience whom they can expose to different types of content. The app also drives high engagement with these subscribers through various ‘streak features’ encouraging readers to play every day.”

Encourage webinar sign-ups.
Lastly, I always hark back to a quiz that OPIS (Oil Price Information Service) did. The questions were very tough, so that when you got one wrong, the answer led you to the registration for an upcoming webinar where the correct answers would be discussed. The email with this quiz drew the most sign-ups for that webinar.