Advocacy Coach’s Corner: Simplify Badges, Levels To Increase Customer Engagement

Keep your customer advocates engaged with the right framework of badges and levels.

Badges and levels are an incredibly effective way to encourage your advocates and increase customer engagement because they’re like a group of shiny gold stars shouting “Good job!” at the top of their lungs.

Yes, they’re extrinsic motivators, but they tap into that intrinsic need for recognition that pushes advocates to keep moving forward to unlock new levels and earn the most prestigious badges.

They key is to make sure those badges are attainable and that the level structure is simple. If your advocate marketing program doesn’t have many people at the top levels, it’s probably because your framework is too complex and your advocates are getting discouraged.

I took a look at some of the best badges and levels frameworks that our customers have created, and it turns out the most engaging, fun and successful frameworks share three characteristics:

  • Simplicity
  • Consistency
  • Availability

Let’s give each of these characteristics a closer look:

Simplicity

You want your fans to take one look at the badges and levels in your program and understand what they need to do to progress. Be careful not to  overload them with dozens of badge options or possible combinations to earn, as it can be intimidating and overwhelming.

Instead, try giving them ONE badge per level that is attainable for all advocates. For example, points badges (e.g., Level 1 – 1,000 points; Level 2 – 2,500 points; Level 3 – 5,000 points, etc.) are useful because they give advocates choices around what challenges they’d rather do to earn those points, so that an advocate who prefers social challenges to referrals isn’t left in Level 2 purgatory forever.

Key takeaway: Make the road from A to B simple, and don’t add unexpected turns.

Consistency

All four levels should look the same, with a linear progression that is attainable but challenging. If they know all levels require a Point Badge, they’ll spend less time worrying about what the next step will look like, and more time getting excited about what new challenges and rewards lay ahead.

Key takeaway: Once your advocates are in the game, you want them to keep looking forward, not constantly stopping to check for directions.

Availability

Once you have your advocates’ attention, you need to keep it. You don’t want an advocate idling at a low level because she’s part of a group that doesn’t get a lot of referral challenges and can’t get the referral badge she needs to progress. That will just frustrate her and lower the level of customer engagement.

Your program should have enough challenges available to advocates so they can hit their targets, and you should be putting out new challenges regularly to give your advocates lots of options. They’ll be more excited to take them on if they can pick some they enjoy and are good at.

One of the best badge/level frameworks I came across in my research stores tons of invisible badges in the “No Level” stage but has only one Point Badge on each of the four progression levels. To progress from one stage to the next, all the advocate has to do is get that one ‘gold shiny star’.

It looks something like this:

Badges-and-Level

Advocates can look at each level, pick the challenges they like best to get points, and those points will go toward the amount needed to progress from their current level. It’s simple and straightforward, with no room for confusion.

Key takeaway:With this kind of framework, we’ve seen engagement as high as 100% per cent at the top level! The badges in the No Level section, which aren’t visible to the advocates, simply act as bonus rewards they can earn along the way without complicating the model.

We’re still working on finding ways to have extra rewards for the advocates at the top, kind of like how Foursquare lets you see random badges that aren’t related to progression, or maybe make some more badges available for your rock stars.

Our platform is always evolving, so coming up with new ways to keep advocates happy is part of the fun. Stay tuned!

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