Healthcare Marketing
Gamification Mechanics

Gamification Mechanics

Gamification… The Dental Marketing Solution for Generating Quality New Patient Traffic

When you consider the fact that our economy has returned to the Jimmy Carter era and that it has become harder than ever to find a consistent and reliable source of quality new patients it’s easy to understand why a majority of Dentists in 2014 would happily part with a few (of their own) teeth in exchange for a reliable solution to their new patient woes.

Gamification is the new patient solution that Dentists have been hoping for… but believed would never come. Gamification mechanics have been implemented by businesses around the country (with great results) to the tune of half-a-Billion-dollars invested (to-date) in 2014. The overwhelming success businesses have realized as a result of adopting gamification has experts projecting an annual spend on this strategy in excess of $10 Billion per year by the end of 2016… with no end to growth in sight.

To understand how gamification mechanics (aka – “gamification”) has consistently delivered amazing results for businesses using it, and how it can do the same for Dentists (and companies the sell and/or provide services to Dentists) we need to touch on the phenomenon of gaming for just a moment.

In terms of potential reach, gaming has now exceeded television as an entertainment medium. Yet, according to Forrester, 84% of marketers have no plans to use games in their marketing efforts.

Eighty-four percent of US interactive marketers have no plans to use games in their 2014 marketing strategies, making social gaming a large, untapped opportunity for marketers. Marketers should start to take note from the marketers who are investing and reaping rewards as social games offer a diverse audience whose now exceeds that of network TV audiences.”

Is this a giant missed opportunity just waiting to be seized? Or is the notion of “gamification” just one more chance for Dentists and dental companies to fall prey to Shiny Object Syndrome?

As with most shiny objects, the answer is “it depends.” Let’s examine the opportunities Dentists and Dental companies have to gamify experiences.

Who Are Gamers?

I guarantee that your answer is WRONG… so you can throw your stereotype about “gamers” out the window. According to Forrester, just about everyone is playing games in 2014… especially college educated business men (and women) who are banking $100K+/year.

If I didn’t know this from experience I would have never guessed (as you probably haven’t) that gamers are also spread evenly across generations, especially social gamers — 23% of whom are Boomers between ages 45 and 65. Gamers by nature are also more motivated than non-gamers to be connected to others, and they display a higher than average propensity to interact with brands on social networks (Do I have your attention yet? Pay attention because your life is moments away from being transformed… for the better.)

The What and Why of Gamification

Of course, Dental marketers are not playing games. They’ve got to focus on generating new patient traffic, to create referral programs, websites and landing pages to design and ROI to measure. Why consider gamification? What kinds of behaviors can you expect to drive anyway?

Gamification drives adoption, engagement, loyalty, sharing, generates (a lot) MORE new patient appointments for starters. Before deciding if you should gamify your dental marketing or referral program, it’s important to understand some vocabulary. These terms tend to be inconsistent in the literature, but it’s important to understand the underlying concepts these terms represent.

First and foremost, gamification is not equal to games. Gamification is the application of gaming concepts to non-game experiences in order to drive desired behavior from an audience.

The Wheels That Drive Gamification – Game Mechanics

The amazing results gamification can deliver to your practice is built upon 10 primary game mechanics, proven to motivate and engage users. Every Dentist has different goals and objectives they want to achieve and as a result there isn’t a cookie-cutter application of all ten gamification mechanics. In fact, any combination of these techniques can be used to accomplish your goals – from improving dental marketing to improving employee engagement and performance.

Gamification Mechanics1 Rapid Feedback: Fast (or instant) feedback or response to actions
(Intrinsic motivation: Mastery, progress)

If you want to keep users engaged in excited then you have to include the use of onscreen notifications, text messages or emails – delivering immediate feedback so they know “how am I doing?” Congratulate users for reaching an objective and/or goal…encourage the next step to a milestone or promote a new reward.

Gamification Mechanics2 Total Transparency: Let users know where they (and everyone else) stands
(Intrinsic Motivators: Progress & Social Interaction)

Gamification Mechanics3 It’s important to show users exactly where they stand (as well as everyone else) on the metrics that matter to you and (this is important) – to your audience. Individual and team profiles show progress in real-time and historically. Leaderboards show who’s on top, who’s nipping at their heels and who’s lagging behind. You can also provide overall ranking on any number of metrics.

Goals and Objectives: Short and long-term achievements
(Intrinsic Motivators: Purpose, Progress, Social Interaction)

Gamification Mechanics4 Create challenges and/or missions that give users a purpose for interaction. It’s also important to educate users about what skill sets, achievements and/or behaviors are valued and possible within the platform.

Badges: Evidence of accomplishment
(Intrinsic Motivators: Mastery, Purpose, Progress, Social Interaction)

Badges are a necessary and important indicator of accomplishment or mastery of a skill and are especially meaningful within a community that understands its value. Badges are typically used to identify skills, expertise and/or accomplishments within a group.

Gamification Mechanics5 Leveling Up: Status within my community
(Intrinsic Motivators: Mastery, Purpose, Progress, Social Interaction)

As with gaming, levels indicate long-term or sustained achievement. Awarding users access to higher levels helps to identify status within a community and to unlock new missions, badges, activities, and rewards. This gamification mechanic is especially important for team training within the dental practice and also within the organization that sells/services Dentists.

Gamification Mechanics6 Onboarding: An engaging and compelling way to learn
(Intrinsic Motivators: Mastery)

Rare is the game that drops you in with no instruction on how to play. And it’s never “read the manual” instruction— games have mastered the process of onboarding users, teaching them how to play from within the game itself. Video games train you how to play as you play – users learn by doing. Creating simple missions and/or tasks within the gamification platform helps new users become engaged immediately allowing them to master basic tasks quickly, rather than being stumped by an unfamiliar interface or a detailed manual.

Gamification Mechanics7 Competition: How I’m doing compared to other users
(Intrinsic Motivators: Mastery, Social Interaction)

Raise the stakes for accomplishing a goal and/or learning a new skill set by showing users how they compare to others, as individuals or in teams. Encourage individual and team competition with time-based, team and individualized leaderboards. Where do I rank? How can I overtake my closest competitor? This serves as a phenomenal motivational tool for dental practice employees.

Gamification Mechanics8 Collaboration: Accomplish a goal working with others
(Intrinsic Motivators: Mastery, Social Interaction)

Create unity and encourage performance by creating teams of users who work to accomplish larger tasks, to drive competition, and to encourage knowledge sharing. Team members can see how they (and every team member) are contributing to the group’s success. This gamification mechanic is also very effective as no one wants to let down their team members or be seen as a slacker.

Gamification Mechanics9 Community: A context for achievement and success
(Intrinsic Motivators: Social Interaction)

Creating and establishing a “community atmosphere” into your practice gives meaning to goals, badges, competitions, and other mechanics. Team members who get to share in achievements are infused with greater levels of energy, passion and commitment in your work environment by making people aware of what others are doing. They learn about goals, badges, and rewards that they may want to pursue.

Gamification Mechanics10 Points: Tangible, measurable evidence of my accomplishments
(Intrinsic Motivators: Progress, Social Interaction)

Points are used to keep score and establish status or can accumulated to purchase virtual or real goods. This is gamification mechanic is effective and improving your referral program’s results as well as employee performance. Users earn points through activities (referring ‘qualified’ new patients, etc.), sharing, contributing, or by creating something useful to others.

The Promising Future for Dentists Who Employ Gamification Mechanics

Gamification is transforming models for dental marketing, patient retention, patient referral, employee engagement/performance and more. It works because it leverages the motivations and desires that exist in all of us for community, feedback, achievement and reward.

When combined with the latest research on motivation and persuasion and the big data generated by user interactions, gamification empowers Dentists and companies that sell and/or provide services to Dentists the ability to create true loyalty.

If you want to discover how Gamification can improve your Dental Marketing (employee training and referral programs too) – click this link. If you want to learn more about how Growth Hacking can improve your production, profits and help transform your practice I invite you to download the Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking Your Dental Practice Marketing – here.

What have you read about Gamification Mechanics that peaks your interest? Any areas within your practice, your website and/or your employee performance that you want to know if gamification mechanics can improve? If you do, you can contact the team at Growth Hacker Central – click here, and/or read about Dr. Ken Newhouse – click here. Dr. Newhouse is the ‘OFFICIAL’ Growth Hacker for the Dental Profession Worldwide™ and leading provider of Gamification services to Dentists and Organizations serving Dentists.

You can read more of Dr. Newhouse’s articles on blog posts by visiting his dedicated section in Dentistry IQ (Growth Hacking Your Dental Practice) – here. Dr. Newhouse is also a frequent contributor to Dentaltown and currently has over 55,000+ views on his posts – which you can access here.

You’ll find great content you can monetize on the Growth Hacker Central Blog and Awesome Dental Marketing and Team Training/Hiring Guides (FREE) – here.

Ken Newhouse

As the ‘OFFICIAL’ Growth Hacker for the Dental Profession Worldwide™ my goal is to help Dentists and Dental Marketing Assistants understand how to use Growth Hacking, Dental Marketing, Dental Web Marketing, and Social Media Marketing initiatives— as well as blogging and Dentist SEO (search engine optimization) — to generate more quality new patient appointments, increase case acceptance corporately, increase production and profits and improve their professional reputation.

Ken Newhouse

Ken Newhouse

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