Let's Add Some Fun! Three Proven Gamification Strategies for Your Partner Ecosystem

Brad McEvoy
Co-founder and CTO of Kademi

10/5/2024 Loyalty Incentives How-to Channel management

Ready to inject some excitement into your partner relationships and take things beyond purely transactional interactions? Then it's time to explore the power of gamification for creating engaging, motivating experiences for your partners! 

When it’s done right, gamification drives engagement like nothing else.

By incorporating fun and interactive elements into your partner/channel strategy, you can drive your partners to take actions that benefit your business—even when there is no direct financial incentive for them.

As one partner manager (Alex at Gratifi) puts it, “gamification is about getting rational people to do irrational things”. And of course those irrational things are hopefully things that benefit you.

Now, this is business of course, and no one wants silly gimmicks to get in the way of their success, or to feel as if their time is being wasted, so the key to success is striking that perfect balance—creating a feeling of fun, while still being professional and respectful of your partners’ time.

So, let's dive in. Here are three tried-and-tested strategies that we’ve seen used many times, which are a hit on almost every partner programme!

1. Points-Based Auctions: The Ultimate Engagement Booster

Think of points-based auctions as the ‘cheat code’ in your arsenal - they are the easiest, fastest and most direct way to generate engagement with your programme!

The concept is simple: just reward your partners with points for completing certain desirable activities, then run regular auctions (say, monthly or quarterly) where they can use their points to bid on items.

Auctions are a fast, fun and effective way to generate enthusiasm and participation across your partner network.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Assign Points: Begin by allocating points to various activities within your partner programme. For instance, partners could earn points for completing training modules, referring new clients, participating in webinars, or achieving sales targets.

  • Run Auction Events: Organise auction events monthly or quarterly. During these events, partners can use their accumulated points to bid on items or experiences they’re interested in.

  • Create a Compelling Incentive Structure: If you’re already running a channel loyalty or commission programme, an auction should complement, not replace, your cash payout rewards. Our recommendation is to keep those attractive cash incentives in place and create an auction as a separate incentive. A good way to manage this might be to introduce a dedicated points system, perhaps called ‘engagement points’ or ‘credits’, specifically for partners to earn and use in auctions. 

  • Ensure Variety and Balance: Ensure a varied selection of auction items to cater to diverse interests, and to maintain fairness, implement a rule where partners can only win one auction per event.

  • Enjoy Cost Control: One of the great things about an auction as an incentive is that you can very tightly control your spend. It doesn't matter how many points are issued, it's only the value of the auctioned items (determined by you) that contributes to the cost. This makes it very scaleable, and useful across both very large and very small programmes.


2. Spin and Win: Creating Excitement

Spin and winTo replicate the thrill of auctions—sans the competitive element—consider introducing a ‘Spin and Win’ promotion, where partners spend their earned points to spin a wheel of fortune and win random prizes.

These will typically be used in a points programme, and as with auctions, you can choose to either use them with the main loyalty programme, or to have a secondary points bucket. Either way, the result is that your partners spend points to spin a wheel, and then they win a prize at random.

It’s a good idea to offer a range of higher and lower-value prizes here, and remember: lower-value prizes present an excellent opportunity to showcase your branded merchandise, such as stylish hats or comfy hoodies. We’ve even heard that festive Christmas-themed socks are a big hit!

The element of surprise adds to the fun, keeping partners eagerly awaiting their next spin and creating a buzz within your partner community.

 

3. Levels, Badges, and the Psychology of Completion

A basic element of human psychology is that people have a desire to finish things they have started, to reach new levels of achievement and to be awarded tokens of recognition for their effort, even when there is no specific financial incentive or reward for doing so.

This psychological principle is prevalent in popular games like Pokemon Go and educational platforms like Duolingo, where levels and badges motivate users to continue their journey.

So tap into these fundamental desires! 

Here’s how:

Onboarding and progress tracking: Give your partners a number of tasks to complete which are needed for them to succeed in your programme. Then simply show these on the dashboard with a figure such as ‘Profile 60% complete’ and watch as your partners magically try to get them all done. 

Suggested onboarding tasks might include:

  • Uploading an avatar image

  • Completing profile data such as birth date (a great data point to help you understand your partner demographics)

  • Completing a survey 

  • Making a referral

  • Registering a first sale

  • Making a redemption

  • Completing initial training

Introduce levels and badges as partners advance through the programme, providing constant rewards as new tasks are completed. Gradually reveal new tasks as they progress through levels to maintain a sense of momentum and achievement (good approach when the tasks you want them to complete might be too overwhelming if revealed all at once).


Summing Up

Fundamentally, gamification is about creating a community of engaged, invested partners who feel connected to your brand and are motivated to take actions that are beneficial to everyone’s success.

By infusing your partner/channel strategy with a layer of fun and excitement, what might otherwise be a purely business-focused (and boring) partnership, can become an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Simply put, embrace gamification and you might just find yourself with a vibrant, highly motivated partner ecosystem!

 

Now, let the fun begin!

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