5 examples of gamification that make Duolingo the best at user retention
Duolingo’s product manager Zan Gilani himself says the app’s key to success is how it leverages gamification to keep people motivated and engaged. Its badging system has come to define the app. However, Duolingo goes way beyond just badges. They created a fun learning environment that keeps users engaged and conclusively boosts its user retention metrics.
In this article, we’ll tear down exactly how they do it:
- 3 challenges at the heart of the Duolingo mission
- How gamification helped Duolingo become the #1 language learning app
- 5 gamification examples from Duolingo and how it boosts user retention
3 challenges at the heart of the Duolingo mission
However, a mobile app differs a lot from the classroom. Given this, Duolingo’s mission faced 3 existential challenges. Today, they have overcome them all!
#1 The low user retention rate affecting all education apps
Clearly, obstacles this big are a problem. You can’t learn a language in 1 day, so how will Duolingo spread the word about their app when their users don’t stick around for long enough to actually learn a language?
Today, it is clear that Duolingo beat the odds. Their next-day user retention is now 55%!
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#2 Creating long-lasting customer motivation
By finding the right balance, Duolingo can keep users engaged with short-term wins, while increasing the inherent motivation through genuine progress and skill development. It’s a proven theory! In fact, a study from 2021 found that 80% of language students enjoyed using Duolingo because of its gamification!
#3 Demonstrating genuine progress and improvement in language learning.
You see this in most games as well, the first levels are easy and get you hooked on the overall game. As you progress the difficulty increases, but so does your skill level and motivation!
To conclude, all these gamification examples helped Duolingo become the app it is today.
What is gamification and how does it increase user motivation?
How gamification helped Duolingo become the #1 language learning app
Gamification is great at making your app ‘sticky’, meaning that users are glued to it. Duolingo is proof of that!
Gamification examples in the app range from the obvious, such as the badge reward system, to the barely noticeable. For example, think of that little red dot over the app icon that indicates a new item, or something unresolved. Just that small feature boosted daily active users by 1.6%. While that doesn’t sound like a huge number, they add up when you have millions of users!
By boosting their daily active users bit by bit, Duolingo tackled the problem of user retention. At one point, this was a particular issue.
Initially, the onboarding process was focused on sign-ups, in order to generate email addresses. However, more often than not, these users would ignore their notifications. Remember that 12% next-day user retention rate? Well, the product manager decided to push the sign-up page until after a test lesson. This little change alone led to a huge 20% jump in next-day user retention!
5 gamification examples from Duolingo and how they boost user retention
#1 A character makes push notifications more personal
#2 Badge rewards lift referrals & lead generation
It is key to point out that referrals are an invaluable resource for product managers. They are the most effective form of lead generation! It requires no financial investment and brings in customers more likely to stick around.
#3 Instant feedback gives users control and room for growth
What’s more, the pleasing “ping” sound you hear when you answer correctly provides even more positive reinforcement. Studies show that positive reinforcement makes people more motivated to learn!
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#4 Leaderboards encourage competition and social interaction
#5 Streaks give users a reason to come back.
Combined with the ‘weekend amulet’, where users can take a weekend off without losing their streak, you get a winning formula for user retention. In fact, users offered a streak wager see a 14% boost in day 14 user retention!
Do you want to gamify your app into success? You’ll need a bespoke gamification strategy. To start off your journey, get in touch with our gamification experts and book a free consultation to learn more about how we can help your product reach its full potential.
Let’s see how they did it:
3 challenges at the heart of the Duolingo mission
- Educational apps face chronic user churn. Edtech has one of the lowest user retention rates out of all kinds of mobile apps.
- Language learning requires long-term customer motivation. The app needs to exploit both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators to be fun and motivating.
- Giving users a chance to see their improvement. Because language learning takes so long, users need to see their growth fast, or they will quit!
Gamification is the answer
Studies show that gamification has a hugely positive effect on Duolingo’s brand equity and user retention. Small features such as a red dot over a course indicate new content boosted daily active users by 1.6%. These numbers all add up!
5 gamification examples and why they boost user retention
- Adding a character to push notifications makes it more personal. Duo’s friendly appearance in push notifications led to a 5% rise in daily active users.
- Badges boost user referrals and lead generation. The introduction of badges saw a 116% jump in referrals. Badges fulfill the basic need for self-worth, and you can show them off to the friends you refer! Referrals are one of the best forms of lead generation.
- Instant feedback gives users control and room for growth. Immediate correction gives users a sense of control and supports their improvement with both tips and positive reinforcement. Studies show that positive reinforcement works in learning!
- Leaderboards encourage competition and social interaction. This feature fulfills the need to win, as well as the need to show off social status. It motivates you as you don’t want to fall behind!
- Streaks give users a reason to come back. A streak incentivizes and gamifies persistence, keeping users glued to the app. Users offered a streak wager see a 14% boost in day 14 user retention!