10 successful examples of gamification in onboarding (and why they work!)

Today, 77% of people uninstall new apps within just 24 hours. Given this, it’s easy to see why onboarding is the most important part of your customer journey! To successfully activate new users, many of the world’s top apps today use gamification in onboarding. How does it work? Check out these 10 successful onboarding gamification examples!

10 successful examples of gamification in onboarding (and why they work!)

What is gamification?

Gamification uses game-like elements to motivate users in non-game contexts. Features like points and levels tap into our common human psychology to unlock a powerful sense of motivation. In turn, this makes the app experience more enjoyable, which increases user satisfaction and retention!

Given that gamification ideas are based on shared behavioral psychology, any app can enjoy the benefits of a gamified user experience. Of course, the design plan differs depending on the industry, but learning what works best in your niche can yield incredible results!

Starting your onboarding gamification journey? Discover all you need to know with StriveCloud!

What is gamification for onboarding?

Gamification in onboarding is a great way to engage users at the most important part of the customer journey. Given that poor onboarding is the leading cause of user churn, it is crucial to build an engaging experience. And with onboarding gamification features like progress bars and checklists, you can make installing a new app fun, rather than a slog!

Why does gamification for onboarding work?

Your onboarding is judged based on 3 simple measures:

  1. Usefulness – Do users get value from the experience?
  2. Ease of use – Can users get to the value intuitively?
  3. Fun – Are users satisfied and enjoying the app?

And this is where onboarding gamification can help!


Research shows that gamification increases perceived usefulness, which is the biggest indicator of engagement intention! This is true for a variety of reasons. For instance, goal-setting features are a popular gamification onboarding feature. And for good reason, asking users to set their goals is both interactive and personalized – and nearly 60% of people prefer companies that get to know them and their behavior!

Ease of use

Gamification in onboarding simplifies the customer journey. For example, progress bars show how far a user has until onboarding finishes. In scientific terms, they call this “reducing the cognitive load”. Essentially, this means that engaging requires less mental effort! That’s because gamification is based on easy-to-understand principles. You perform a task, you’re rewarded for it. To be sure, it doesn’t get clearer than that!


People love games – it’s that simple. The image of computer gamers playing alone at home is totally false. In reality, nearly 82% of the world’s internet users are gamers! That’s because games are enjoyable and we instinctively seek out fun experiences.

“This study found perceived enjoyment to significantly influence brand attitude… In particular, the intention to engage with a gamified brand is likely to lead to positive attitudes towards that brand.” – Computers in Human Behavior

statistics data world gamers

3 key benefits of onboarding gamification

Faster time to value

Basically, gamification in onboarding helps you get to the AHA moment and activate your users faster. So, instead of a boring process where users just fill in their details, your app can start delivering straight away with rewards and engaging features. As a result, you shorten the “time to value”, which gives users a reason to stick around!

Higher retention

In short, when you use gamification in onboarding with features like badges and progress bars, you make the process more fun. Not to mention, easier to understand. All in all, this makes it harder to quit! You can see this in the superior retention rates for the top Android apps. Today, 70% of the world’s top 2000 companies use gamification!

onboarding user retention statistics data

Interactive experiences are more memorable

Gamification in onboarding is all about making the process more interactive. In essence, gamification asks users to put in a little bit of effort to get something back in return. And this interactivity helps us remember! Behavioral psychologist Edgar Dale demonstrated this with the “cone of experience”, which notes that people are better at recalling and learning from direct and purposeful experiences.

10 gamification ideas for onboarding

Badge rewards

#1 BrewDog

As a part of the brewery’s loyalty program, Brewdog rewards customers for “killing carbon” by shopping at their carbon-negative business. To incentivize users, the company offers a spate of different badges. That includes during onboarding, where BrewDog offers badges for registration, first purchases, and other activities.

Why does this work? Simply put, because people love to earn badges! Receiving a badge is positive reinforcement, and having a stack of badges can proudly display your growth. This makes badges a form of “status feedback”, which papers show positively influences user retention.

Here are the amazing results of BrewDog’s gamified loyalty program:

  • 100% rise in average order value
  • 400% higher purchasing frequency
  • 136% increase in email click-through rate!
ecommerce gamified uxdesign loyalty program


#2 Navexa

Navexa is an investment portfolio tracker. To entice users to onboard (and pay for the product), the fintech app uses a clever checklist. Essentially, Navexa extends the free trial to users who complete certain activities on the checklist, like adding their data.

To be sure, this is way more effective than simply giving users for free a longer trial in the first place. Dozens of behavioral studies have shown that the higher the price, the more humans value the item! Of course, with gamification in onboarding, users don’t pay with their money, but with time and effort. And when users are rewarded for that time and effort, they’re more than happy to take part!

gamification onboarding fintech examples

#3 Quora

Quora is a social Q&A website that also uses gamification in onboarding. With just a checklist, Quora elicits the ‘endowed progress effect’. Put simply, this principle says that people are more likely to finish something if they think they’re close to completing it.

To unlock this effect, the checklist includes ‘dummy’ tasks like registering and visiting your feed. In practice, you can double down on this by including a balanced mix of easy and harder tasks. Usually, people finish the easy tasks first, and then they will be compelled to complete the rest!

SaaS web app gamification in onboarding


#4 Headspace

Some apps have a longer onboarding period than others. For wellness app Headspace, they have eight screens with dozens of decisions to make. That’s why when new Headspace users complete onboarding, they’re greeted with this cheery sentence:

“Congrats! You’re now a member of Headspace.”

For one, this acts as a positive signal that the onboarding is over. In turn, this milestone breaks the experience into smaller, more doable parts. Also, the screen’s positive reinforcement rewards the user and celebrates their effort, which is intrinsically motivating. In effect, that means users are enticed to keep using the platform!

headspace wellness app ideas uxdesign

#5 Lime

Onboarding gamification doesn’t stop once the customer signs up! Indeed, shared mobility app Lime offers a great example of how to successfully onboard. When customers finish their first ride on one of Lime’s e-scooters, they get a milestone that celebrates the occasion! For one, this acts as a marker and visualizes the customer’s progress. Ultimately, this personalized feedback builds trust and motivates riders to book another journey!

shared mobility app gamification ideas

#6 Nike Training Club

Fitness apps and habit formation go hand in hand. And gamification in onboarding can help create habits right from the start! When Nike Training Club onboards new users, they reward users who trial the workouts by unlocking milestones that come with an encouraging message. In short, this displays the user’s progress and reinforces the idea that the workout has meaning!

What’s more, users can see all of the future milestones, but they’re grayed out. This psychological phenomenon is called ‘constraint’. Basically, it’s a technique commonly used in gamification where you can’t access certain areas of the experience. As a result, you can’t help but feel that you are missing out – and losing out is extremely motivating!

mHealth apps Nike gamified user experience

Progress bars

#7 LinkedIn

Progress bars are so simple, yet so powerful! As a progress bar fills up, users receive both instant feedback and an indication of how long is left. This helps avoid user frustration and boredom, as progress bars have been found to reduce the ‘cognitive load’ of onboarding. That’s good because a perceived longer onboarding means higher churn!

In short, that’s why professional social network LinkedIn uses a progress bar. Due to the fact that users must input a lot of data, the app’s onboarding can be quite long. So to combat churn, LinkedIn’s progress bar also features subtle reminders of a user’s incomplete tasks. This plays on a psychological principle called the ‘Zeigarnik effect’.

Kendra Cherry, Psychologist – “When you start working on something but do not finish it, thoughts of the unfinished work continue to pop into your mind even when you’ve moved on to other things”.

By using the progress bar and additional questions to emphasize missing details, LinkedIn boosted profile completion by 55%!

LinkedIn web gamification onboarding

#8 Shine

Fintech onboarding can be a hassle. For instance, there are a lot of legal requirements. That’s why, according to a study by Experian, just 15% of people finish onboarding and end up opening a bank account. However, adding gamification in onboarding can achieve real results! This is how French fintech Shine earned a completion rate of 80%.

Throughout each onboarding screen, Shine features a multiple dot style progress bar. This instantly lets users know how long is left, and makes the onboarding flow naturally!

fintech onboarding gamification ideas


#9 Duolingo

Duolingo is the top language-learning app on the planet and for good reason! They are famous for their use of game elements to motivate. This includes gamification in onboarding. For example, new users who open Duolingo are first asked to pick their target language. Next, they play a quick interactive demo lesson. And once they complete it, they earn points, or “gems”. These gems serve multiple purposes:

  • Can purchase perks like extra lives, harder lessons, and streak freezes
  • Celebrates the user’s achievement, spurring more engagement
  • Fast and instant reward, which leads to positive feelings
  • Tracks personal growth, important for Edtech apps!

Only after rewarding those gems does Duolingo ask users to create a profile! This shortens the time to value considerably. And given that Duolingo is known to studiously run A/B testing to improve their metrics by 1% every week, you can be sure that their onboarding gamification is the best! In fact, Duolingo’s day 1 retention at launch was just 13%. But today that figure is an impressive 55%!

Luis Von Ahn, CEO @Duolingo – “Learning a language is really hard work, and the hardest part is staying motivated. Gamification is the key to getting learners to stick with it.”

duolingo edtech onboarding process uxdesign

#10 Tweet Hunter

Tweet Hunter is a growth tool for the social media network Twitter. And they have a unique financial reward attached to their points system! During onboarding, users have a checklist they need to complete. With each item they finish, they earn points, which they call tokens. In fact, users are rewarded with tokens every day that they use the app. And what do these tokens do? They represent a share of the company! If Tweet Hunter gets acquired, your tokens determine how much you’ll get. Sounds lucrative, right?

This feature is so effective because it is essentially a win-win scenario. The company gets your engagement, and you get the potential of a cash prize! This is an example of reciprocity, which builds brand trust and ultimately keeps users engaged for longer.

points gamification in onboarding apps

Try out gamification with StriveCloud!

Because onboarding is such a crucial step in the process, it’s important to get your onboarding gamification right. That’s why we recommend using a gamification tool like StriveCloud. And when you use our software, you get more than just a control panel with over 20 interactive features – you also get the advice and assistance of our expert team!

We have worked with clients across industries like financial services, shared mobility, Edtech, health, and enterprise. Through this experience, we have developed 3 simple steps to gamification success:

  1. Workshop. Let’s build a plan together with your unique goals & target audience in mind.
  2. Set-up. We’ll integrate your new features and get you up and running!
  3. Onboarding. Finally, we train your team to use our control panel, so you can make live changes whenever you want! Of course, we will be there if you need us.

Make implementing gamification simpler! Discover how our expert team and software can help you achieve your goals.


Gamification uses game-like elements to motivate users in non-game contexts. Implementing features like points and levels taps into human psychology to unlock a powerful sense of motivation. In turn, this makes the app experience more enjoyable, which increases user satisfaction and retention!

Onboarding gamification boosts 3 important metrics: the usefulness of the process, its ease of use, and how much fun it is. In short, gamified onboarding can simplify the sign-up and tutorial, which decreases time to value and activates the user faster!

Gamification in onboarding can be highly effective. For instance, fintech app Shine uses progress bars to give users a rewarding dopamine hit when they finish! With this, Shine boasts an amazing 80% sign-up rate, compared to the industry average of just 15%.

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