App Gamification Strategies: How to Increase Engagement and Retention? -

App Gamification Strategies: How to Increase Engagement and Retention?


The use of gamification in mobile apps is on the rise, with many companies using it as a way to increase user engagement and retention. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to successfully implement app gamification strategies to increase user engagement and retention.

Introduction to Gamification

Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics to non-game activities. It’s recently become a very highly sought after strategy to improve participation and has been used in practically every industry, from education to marketing. In recent years, it has become increasingly common in mobile apps as a way to increase user engagement. An example of gamification is to set goals for users to complete certain tasks in order to receive a form of an in-app reward.

Here are some strategies you can use to implement gamification into your app to increase your app engagement and retention.

Implementing game-like challenges and quests

Another effective way to use gamification in apps is to incorporate game-like challenges and quests. These can be used to motivate users and help them stay engaged with the app. Challenges can range from completing specific tasks to reaching certain milestones, and quests can involve collecting items or unlocking levels. One of the most popular ways to use gamification in apps is by adding points, badges, and leaderboards to them.

Adding points, badges, and leaderboards


Points are a great way to reward users for completing tasks; a recent study has gone on to show that users are more likely to complete tasks when they resemble challenges more than menial chores. By adding the incentive of receiving points upon challenge completion, you are more likely to get your users to engage with your app.


Upon completing the aforementioned tasks to receive in-app points, you can offer your users a badge for their efforts. Badges can be used to recognize their accomplishments and also allow them to share their achievements with each other within your app community, it can help spread the interest in the processes of your app that you have gamified. This leads us to your next point.


Leaderboards can be used to add a competitive element and encourage users to continue engaging with your app. Badges do not need to be your end game, let your users engage in some healthy competition with one another; consequently, the element of competition via leaderboards can improve the level of engagement and retention that your app will receive.

Incorporating gamification elements into the app’s design

It’s also important to consider how the gamification elements are incorporated into the app’s design. The goal is to make the app more engaging and enjoyable, so the gamification elements should be well-integrated. The interface should be easy to use and the rewards should be motivating. These elements trigger the human innate desire for empowerment and the need for achievement and recognition.

Progress Bars

Progress bars are visual elements that notify users of their total progression toward completing a gamified task. It maintains psychological elements of persuasion as users try to fill up progress bars by completing all their tasks. 

Level Up Screens

Similar to progress bars, level-up screens are like interstitials that are especially useful in notifying users of having achieved a certain progress rate. It is a great quality-of-life implementation in your user interface that will improve your app’s UX design.

Measuring and analyzing the effectiveness of gamification strategies

While gamification can be an effective strategy for motivating users to engage, it is important to understand how effective it is and how it can be improved. This will in turn help app marketers gain insights into how their respective users are responding to their gamification efforts. There are several key metrics that can be used to measure the success of a gamification strategy, namely user engagement, completion rates, and user retention.

User Engagement

User engagement consists of the most important value metrics for measuring the effectiveness of gamification strategies. Examples of user engagement metrics include unique, new and returning users, session times, and event conversion rates (in this case, gamified events). It is important to track how many users are participating in your gamified process, how often they engage with it, and how long they engage. 

Completion Rates

Completion rates are also important for measuring the success of a gamification strategy. Completion rate is a quantitative metric that refers to how many users are completing the tasks or goals set out by the game. This information can help you as an app owner to understand how successful your gamification strategy is at convincing users to complete tasks or reach goals.

User Retention

User retention is another important metric for measuring the success of a gamification strategy. This metric refers to how many users are continuing to play the game over time. Measuring user retention can help businesses and organizations understand how successful their gamification strategy is at keeping users interested and engaged.

Once a business or organization has gathered data on the effectiveness of its gamification strategy, it can use this information to make changes and improvements. This includes making changes to the game design, such as adding new elements or features or changing the rewards system. Additionally, businesses and organizations can use the data to better understand their users and tailor their gamification strategy to better meet their needs and interests.

Gamification Success Story: Nike Run Club

In 2020, Nike Run Club adopted a gamification strategy to achieve user attention, and improve user engagement and retention. The app achieved a growth rate of 45% compared to the average global growth rate of 10%.

What did Nike Do?

Nike Run Club tracked its users running with extra data such as exercise duration as well as the wear/tear of your running shoes. Depending on your geolocation and running habits, the app would offer related articles for users to interact with. The app featured gamification features including milestone unlocks, reward systems and leaderboards that promoted app use.

  • The app was able to communicate its benefits and usefulness to its users
  • It featured an intuitive user interface that was easy to use
  • It kept its app’s user experience playful, exciting and interesting

Gamification in Nike Run Club

Community building

The app managed to promote interpersonal relationships between users through integrating social features; Nike Run Club stated that recognition from family and friends was the main factor affecting engagement.

Timed Challenges

When timed, challenges are great at triggering the need for achievement in users as well as the sense of urgency in completing the tasks before time runs out. Studies have shown that adding deadlines to gamified tasks significantly increase the rate of engagement that users have with them.

Celebrating Progress

As aforementioned, the need for empowerment is a strong factor that can promote user engagement and retention. By simply adding digital celebration elements like ‘level up’ interstitials, Nike Run Club was able to provide its users with a feeling of achievement upon completing their in-app tasks, without the need for monetary incentives.

Promoting Competition

Nike Run Club was successful in getting its users to compete with one another through featuring leaderboards for them to follow, as well as share with their social circles. Competing is a surefire way of promoting interaction amongst app users; in Nike Run Club’s case, the app community was able to motivate itself in terms of the intention to go running, increasing overall confidence.


In conclusion, app gamification strategies can be an effective way to increase user engagement and retention. By adding points, badges, and leaderboards, implementing game-like challenges and quests, and incorporating gamification elements into the app’s design, apps can become more engaging and enjoyable. Measuring and analyzing the effectiveness of gamification strategies is also important to ensure they are working as intended.


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