A novel way to increase user engagement for your site is to apply some of the strategies used by video games.
By taking steps to gamify your WordPress site, such as awarding points and rewards when readers complete certain actions, you can give your visitors an incentive to keep coming back to your website on a regular basis.
Gamification plugins for WordPress can award users points, badges, titles and ranks. These rewards can be earned by completing a specific action such as leaving a comment, sharing a post, logging in or regularity of visits to the site.
This is the most popular free gamification plugin for WordPress and it’s available for download from the WordPress.org plugin repository.
Described as a points management system for WordPress, CubePoints awards your readers virtual credits for carrying out a number of actions on your site. These include posting comments, creating posts and logging in each day.
Once you’ve installed the plugin you can decide what your readers can do with the points they earn. This could include access to premium content or the ability to download certain files. The idea here is similar to that offered by content locker plugins for WordPress that are used to encourage social sharing.
The plugin itself is easy to setup. You can manage the points each user has and manually adjust their balance. By default points are use the $ symbol for a prefix. However, you can change this, or add a custom suffix, or have no symbol at all.
When it comes to setting the rewards for actions, out of the box, there aren’t many options to choose from. However, attributing points to an action is as simple as filling in a text field. More ways for your visitors to earn points can be activated from the ‘Modules’ section of the plugin. These modules for CubePoints include:
- Set custom points for commenting on a particular post
- Give readers points for visiting your site at regular intervals
- Allow readers to donate points to each other
- Deduct points from users in exchange for access to content
- Allow users to buy points using PayPal
- Give authors points when people comment on their posts
- Award points for users who watch YouTube videos
When it comes to displaying the CubePoints details for your users, the plugin creates a number of widgets for your sidebars (or displaying in posts if your site has this functionality). These include displaying the points for a user that is logged in and a widget which displays the CubePoints top users by number of points.
Overall, this is a simple plugin, but it does what it offers well, and is very easy to use. Being able to create your own modules gives it lots of room for expansion.
Achievements for WordPress
This is another popular free option for WordPress that brings video game-style rewards systems to your blog. By earning points, or karma, your readers and users are awarded achievements.
You can create your own achievements easily by using the WordPress user interface, making it easy to customise the plugin for the theme or topic of your site. There are two types available, one which can be earned and the other, which can be manually awarded by the site admin. Popular achievements can include access to protected content, or giving your users a rank.
This is a pretty flexible plugin with some good options for creating user engagement with your site.
This is the plugin for the free/premium Captain Up user engagement platform. Once installed, users of your site will be able to connect using Facebook and Twitter.
Captain Up looks really cool and it’s got the best presentation on offer out of the plugins we’ve covered so far. It comes with a number of badges which can be awarded and you also have the option of creating your own.
Most of the features of the plugin can be applied to your site using widgets, although it is possible to insert them into posts and pages using shortcodes. These include the activity widget, the leader board and the sign up link.
There is a wealth of options and features available with Captain Up and it really should be explored for anyone wishing to gamify their site.
Other Notable Mentions
CubePoints and Achievements are free options that provide enough functionality to gamify your site, although in the limited way you’d expect from a free plugin. Captain Up takes gamification to the next level, literally, and comes with a free plan that should allow most sites to try the service out before handing over any money.
Other WordPress user engagement plugins include:
- Incrwd: free plugin for the user engagement service that has lots of options and connects with the popular social networks
- PunchTab: another free plugin for a premium service (with a free plan) that allows you to manage giveaways and much more
- Simple Badges: basic free option that currently allows the manual awarding of badges to users
While you might not want to go down the gamification route offered by some of these plugins, displaying a list of the top 10 commenters on your blog, or top visitors, according to how many points, or what rank they are, is a nice way to incentivise interactions on your site without going overboard.
Your site doesn’t have to be about gaming to successfully make use of these tactics to increase user engagement. Most internet users should be familiar with the rewards and incentives systems in place on other websites like eBay and in real life, with store rewards cards and loyalty programmes. This should make it easier to convince them to get on board, as they will already be familiar with the concept.
If you get a decent amount of traffic to your site, then using one of these plugins to create a sense of community while also rewarding your readers, could be a good idea.