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Architaa Pandey
Architaa Pandey October 20, 2022

Have you ever wondered what keeps you moving forward by overcoming the inertia to take action, like completing an assignment on time or returning to an app again and again to maintain a streak?

The answer to these questions is motivation amplified through the use of gamification. Motivation moves the needle, but it’s tricky. Sometimes it happens intrinsically when we do something because “we want to,” and sometimes, extrinsically when we take action because “we need to.”

In this article, find out how motivation drives gamification design and the fine balance between adding intrinsic and extrinsic motivation to your product.

The Effect Of Gamification On Motivation

Gamification is the application of game elements in a non-game context to boost customer engagement, loyalty, retention, and satisfaction. It continues to be a topic of interest in user experience(UX) design. 

You want your users to have maximum engagement with your product, so you add gamification elements that motivate users to keep engaging. But before designing a successful gamification strategy, you must understand and consider intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. 

Gamification plays a massive role in shaping user behavior and can be explained by theories of human motivation. The motivational theory is intuitive, especially for product designers, marketing executives, and strategists. 

The idea is to design products, brands, and experiences to match the consumer’s innate desires. To understand and design intrinsically motivating and meaningful features, you must first understand intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and how it ties in with gamification.

What is Intrinsic Motivation? How does it Work?

As the name suggests, intrinsic motivation comes from within one’s self. When you are motivated intrinsically, you perform an action because it is fun or challenging to you rather than under any external circumstances. You do something for its own sake. These tasks could be reading a book because you like the plot, exercising because you want to get fit, or revamping your home because you like the aesthetics.

The Self Determination Theory explains the psychology behind intrinsic motivation. Rewards of intrinsic motivation are not explicitly stated but result from secret joys or quick delights. Therefore customers that get intrinsically motivated are enchanted (positive engagement) rather than retained (negative engagement).

Product designers use intrinsically motivating gamification elements to create long-term customers who don’t need any external incentive to reuse the product or service offered. Some of the gamification elements used to make long-term behavioral changes are:

  • Mastery: The impulse to get better at something that matters.
  • Competition: The urge to be the best or be better at something than others.
  • Autonomy: The yearning to be self-directed and in control of a journey.
  • Purpose: The desire to do something that has meaning and is significant.

Also Read: How intrinsic motivation helps to boost eCommerce purchases

Real-world examples of Intrinsic Motivation

1. Quora

Quora is a question-and-answer platform with a huge monthly user base of over 300 million. Quora understands that people come to their site because they want to answer questions and share their knowledge with others in the community. 

Example of Intrinsic Motivation

So instead of trying to build a new habit among the users through extrinsic rewards, the platform used gamification to reward users with credits when they participated in the community. These points could then be used to upvote a question or ask questions to field experts.

2. Toggl

Toggl is an Estonian company that makes handy time-tracking products. It used intrinsic motivation paired with gamification to give its employees a sense of autonomy in their work life. Measurable results were targeted and monitored instead of traditional work hours or leaves. After the approach was implemented, a substantial increase in employee productivity and morale was seen.

What is Extrinsic Motivation? How does it Work?

External rewards drive extrinsic motivation. The rewards can be tangible, like grades, points, or money, or intangible, such as praise, recognition, or fame. Gamification using extrinsic motivation makes people do a task even if it’s not pleasurable or fun.

Extrinsic motivation is based on Operant conditioning, which says that someone can be conditioned to behave in a certain way or do a task by dangling a reward carrot in front of them. Examples could be completing homework to get a good grade, shopping with a loyalty card to gain more credit points, or even performing tasks at work for the month-end paycheck.

Extrinsic motivation is extremely effective and is a valuable tool to keep users motivated and on track to meet their goals. It comes into play when people want motivation to complete a complex or uninteresting task, such as a tedious work-related assignment or boring homework.

Real-world examples of Extrinsic Motivation 

1. My Starbucks Rewards

Starbucks cracked the code to build a loyal customer base by introducing the Starbucks Rewards Program. The program builds loyalty by extrinsically motivating customers. Users are rewarded with free beverages after they complete a specific number of orders which can be tracked using the gamified mobile app.

2. Nike Fuel

NikeFuel, Nike’s fitness app, rewards its users by giving them an intangible reward of social media validation. Nike understood that users’ have tendencies to compete with others and share their fitness achievements on social media daily for validation. The brand built the platform around this concept of extrinsic motivation and gamification. 

Example of Extrinsic Motivation
Source: Nike fuel

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation: What’s the difference?

At first, doesn’t intrinsic motivation sound better to you than extrinsic motivation? After all, who wouldn’t want their customers to feel motivated to return to the service or product offered without needing any external motivating factors? 

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation in Gamification
Source: Verywell

Sadly, this motivation utopia doesn’t exist. Being extrinsically motivated doesn’t mean anything wrong, as it is the nature of human beings to be attracted to rewards. 

If you have to complete a project at work, you might be extrinsically motivated to do it because of an upcoming promotion or appraisal. But you might also enjoy working on the project. Similarly, you might be motivated to learn a new skill because you like it and because it could help you better your resume.

The crux of the matter is that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is good. The way to make it work is to learn how and when to use each type in your product to get the maximum benefit of gamification.

While adding gamification to any product or experience, intrinsic motivation should be considered when the focus is on increasing long-term customer engagement. These loyal customers won’t need external motivation from your brand to engage with your product and will willingly participate in word-of-mouth publicity for it. 

Meanwhile, extrinsic motivation should be employed to help your product users develop new habits, like learning something new. It is also highly efficient in encouraging users to complete tasks or perform actions they are not interested in or are too complicated. Rewards of gamified products are an excellent way of letting people know that their performance and efforts are worthy of recognition.

Conclusion

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are linked and are key to securing long-lasting user engagement and retention that will increase a business’s ROI and contribute to its success. A well-designed gamification product understands and aligns an organization’s objectives with the things that play a role in motivating its users. Intrinsically satisfying design and extrinsic rewards together help the user move towards mastery and march the organization to its success. 

The Upshot.ai Advantage

Upshot.ai is an omnichannel, user engagement, and gamification platform that helps digital product owners and marketers improve product adoption and conversions.

With Upshot.ai, banks, Insurance, and FinTech firms can enhance their digital experiences with pre-built gamification features. It can provide personalized insights, actionable recommendations, and contextual nudges designed to deepen its relationship with its users. 

Book a demo of the most comprehensive user engagement and gamification platform to achieve your digital product goals. Join our communities for more insights, guides, and best practices that keep you updated with proven strategies and tips to supercharge your campaigns.

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