Membership Site & Online Course Gamification Techniques Working Right Now

Podcast Interview with Kyle Newton - Memberium Certified Agency Partner

In this video, you’ll hear from Kyle Newton, a Memberium Certified Agency Partner and the founder of TribePUB, about how he is using and implementing gamification systems for both small and large clients.

You’ll walk away with new ideas you likely never considered when it comes to gamifying your membership site or online course.

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When it comes to membership sites, Kyle knows what he is talking about. As discussed in earlier interviews, he got his start in the network marketing arena where he was involved in developing breakthrough technology at the time. A lot of the tracking and referral systems we take for granted now had to be custom coded back in the day.

Kyle has always been on the bleeding edge when it comes to adopting new technology that actually makes a difference. Not only technology but innovative ways to use said technology.

In this video, you’ll hear some of those strategies. Particularly around using team based gamification for your membership site which many have probably never considered.

If you want Kyle and his team at TribePUB to help you implement these gamification techniques on your membership site or online course, contact him through his Memberium Certified Agency Partner listing right here and make sure to watch the FULL video above.

We’ve done our best to cover the highlights and important ideas, but there was such an overwhelming amount of value we had trouble condensing it down. I can guarantee your membership site will be changed for the better if you implement the gamification ideas Kyle shares.

Important Lessons & Highlights Shared In This Video

1:30 – The Basics of Gamification for Membership Sites and Online Courses

Kyle and Micah (CEO and Co-Founder of Memberium, interviewing Kyle), start the discussion by going over the basics of gamification. In short, you are using a system to track activity in the attempt to incentivize members to complete more actions.

Later in the video Kyle shares a unique formula for incentivizing behavior, but to keep things as simple as possible, most online course creators or membership site owners use a point or badge system. When you complete a lesson or quiz, you earn points or badges.

Sometimes those points and badges unlock rewards or extra content. It’ll all up to you but that’s the basic idea of gamification.


2:20 – How Kyle (and you) can see a 10x increase in engagement…

Kyle goes on to explain that he was working for a client that was wanting to get people to actually progress. Not just through the course content itself but actually make changes to their life.

In particular, this site was helping people change their diet. But this strategy works in almost every niche.

Kyle developed a scorecard system where each day members would log in and update their scorecard. Either checking off the things they did or entering calories/weight values.

Implementing this system by itself yielded a 10x increase in engagement and success with the program. Because not only were members consuming the course content, they were actually taking action.


4:10 – The Breakthrough Strategy that Led to a 100X Spike in Engagement

Knowing that implementing gamification led to huge gains in engagement, Kyle continued to test different approaches and uncovered what he refers to as a breakthrough…

Team Based Gamification

When I first heard of this, I thought it would be people who knew each other competing against each other. That alone would probably work but it’s not exactly what Kyle shares.

Instead, he shares that the site and all of its members are split up into teams. These are people who don’t necessarily know each other. And there is a friendly but fierce competition between the teams.

After seeing a 100x spike in engagement and progress, Kyle interviewed these members to ask them what changed. The conclusion is that people are more motivated and willing to do the work in order to not let down their team than they are willing to do just for themselves.

Having the team and the accountability factor resulted in more growth and progress than anything else.

In the full video, Kyle explains how to set this up for your membership site in terms of assigning the teams and how to make it work smoothly.


9:00 – How to setup a reward & incentive structure that leads to lasting results

Micah asks Kyle a great question that many people get hung up on: what can members actually do with these points once they earn or win them?

Kyle shares that in his experience he has seen and tested it all but that if you want true lasting behavior it has to come down to 4 different categories of reward. Most people immediately jump to monetary rewards, but as Kyle explains, once the money stops coming, the actions and behavior also stop.

That’s why if you want lasting change for your members, you have to give them something more.

You’ll have to watch the FULL video above to hear Kyle explain this slide and what it means. The idea is that these are the 4 drivers of lasting engagement and results. Use these to incentivize members.


17:35 – Should YOU be using gamification on your membership site or course right now?

Kyle says that if you have a membership site where people are creating accounts, interacting with content, being trained, mentored, or coached on your site then you should be using gamification.

The level of gamification you implement on your membership site can depend on what you and your members need. But any membership site offering training or online courses can benefit from implementing gamification.


Full Video Transcript

[00:00:00] Micah Mitchell: Hey everybody, it’s Micah with Memberium and I’ve got Kyle Newton here and we were just talking about some stuff and I kind of said to Kyle, man, I should have hit record on that whole conversation, people need to hear this kind of stream of consciousness. So we’re making an impromptu podcast and um, so we’ll probably jump around here, but Kyle. Uh, let’s talk about gamification for membership sites and courses. And specifically what you were talking about that I found so interesting is you were talking about how, uh, teams, how you can basically organize, you know, your people into teams. And at first I thought Kyle was talking about serving the membership site to a team of people, like to a business team or to a sports team. Mm-hmm. . But he’s actually, uh, you know, I’ll, I’ll go ahead and let you explain it, Kyle. Yeah. But yeah, talk to us about gamification and teams and all.

[00:00:50] Kyle Newton: Absolutely. You know, I’ve been doing gamification was one of the early adopters in that arena. As early as back as formally gamification in 2008, 2009. Uh, gamification was starting to kind of get its roots formally, you know, in the tech space, in the web 2.0 space around that timeframe now, because I had kind of cut my teeth early on and started with the network marketing direct sales arena. You know, we already had points, levels, badges, rubies, diamonds, all that kind of stuff in the network marketing, direct sales arena but by 2005 six, I had really bridged over to serving a lot of other different organizations. And so with that in mind, I was constantly using gamification points, levels, badges, leaderboards friendly competition, things like that to actually change behavior. And if you’re gonna do gamification that way, you gotta have a tracking system. You’ve gotta have something where you can actually collect those points, display those badges, achievements in ranks. And of course, that’s all on platform or on the website. So as we moved from a custom piece of software into the WordPress ecosystem, Memberium was what we were using actually to control those tags on platform to display points, levels, badges, and all of that. Now, we would use Gammy Press sometimes, and other times we would use just our own methodologies and use Memberium and the tags to actually display the content. One of the most successful strategies that we found, and this isn’t just obviously network marketing back in the day, this is today, we’re doing, we’re working with a lot of education companies. We’re working with, um, neural Gym. We’re working with a lot of different clients that actually are into behavior modification. You know, back in the day I was working with like Beachbody, think P90X and Tony Horton, people getting exercising. I was working with the. One of the larger teams there. We were working with Isogenix, one of the top nutraceutical billion dollar nutraceutical company shakes, you know, uh, um, vitamins, you know, all these different types of, uh, nutritional program. And what those tribe leaders or what those organizations were wanting to do is, is get people to change their behavior and health and wellness. And these were offline behaviors. These were behaviors that people were doing in their physical exercising or in their diet. And so what we would do is we would give them a prescribed, you know, exercise routine, a prescribed eating routine, and health routine. And then they would come back to the platform on a daily basis, and we created a scorecard. They would literally check off, I took my vitamins today, I ran my mile today, I did this and this and this, you know, and they’re usually be anywhere from 10 to 20 actions they would do on daily basis to change their behavior. And we would just measure results because what I, back in the day, I had a TriCaster and a virtual studio and I would bring in these people who were, you know, going through these gamification processes and interview them. And then we would measure the data. And we found that by doing gamification versus doing these diet and exercise programs alone by themselves, individuals is off by themselves. We could 10 x the engagement with those offline behaviors, meaning they could put produce 10 times, results would stay 10 times longer in the process, you know, on a 30 day challenge or 60 day challenge, or a 90 day challenge simply by gamify it as the individual, but then Micah, what you were referring to, we kind of had a breakthrough. We said we started putting them into teams, meaning we would have them join a team. Uh, a team of three could compete with a team of a hundred because we would just average their scores. So they would be ticking off these same little boxes of exercises or things that we do and there would be some things on platform too that we could do automatically. Did they watch a video? Did they go through a course? Did they friend somebody? You know, we could track that automatically inside the. , but the rest of it was just a scorecard. And when we put them in a team and we created friendly competition and then we created a team-based leaderboard, the metrics and the engagement literally went a hundred x. And the reason was, and the little behavioral psychology, behavioral thing that we determined through interviewing them after seeing this traumatic spike in engagement data was that people will do more to not let other people down, to not let their team down than they’ll do for themselves, right? And so just adding that team leaderboard element, uh, was really the breakthrough for us. And it created a phenomenal breakthrough in all different types, learning, uh, you know, exercise, health and diet, any type of behavior that you want to change in your audience, gamification is the way to do it. And it, and we could talk about gamification all day. It’s not all points, levels, badges, and leaderboards, but that is a really, really important aspect of what we.

[00:05:24] Micah Mitchell: So you, you mentioned like one thing. It was kind of the, the nugget in there is that people will do more for their team than for themselves but if I understood you correctly, these teams are kind of randomly selected in a way. They’re just on a team, but the people can see their name and they have some sort of accountability. Were you saying they were on calls?

[00:05:43] Kyle Newton: Yes. What we would do, the teams were sometimes randomly selected. Uh, there were multiple ways we would do a team. We there would be a leader who, because this was a social community that we had developed, people could connect through social. Some of them had also personal relationships. They would actually reach out through their social media and say, Hey, I’m about to start a challenge to lose weight, to learn more, read more, do whatever, become financially accountable. We’ve done ’em across every area of life. , you know, created these challenges. They would either reach out inside of the community we built, or even reach outside of our community into their social networks and invite people in to engage in these challenges with, with the people. , right? And so then what would happen is we had multiple ways of organizing those teams. A, a team leader could do the interface, spin up a team, create a team, send out invites. People would get an email, they’d click, they’d come, they’d join the platform, right? They’d come into the platform, become a member, and automatically be connected to that leader in that team. And then there was a start. Three days, seven days, 30 days later, where everything officially started, then their scorecard would become available and they would also see their leaderboard. And then we would, uh, depending on when people started, every team that came in then would be a cohort of teams. It’d be two teams, 10 teams, a hundred teams, all competing against each other, you know, in different levels. And now we’ve made it even more sophisticated where. We use buddy boss groups often. Anybody who can just join a group, that group becomes a cohort. Anybody has a, a tag through Infusionsoft or active campaign through Memberium automatically becomes a team. And then of course we have that same way that we did it before where it’s kind of manual and opt-in and people kind of build the team themselves.

[00:07:24] Micah Mitchell: So it’s really cool because it sounds like you’re combining, uh, several elements and, and that, that you were doing this back in the day in a different medium and carrying it over. Mm-hmm. , I think it’s also intriguing. Mm-hmm. , but yeah, combining the, the whole idea of gamification, then this idea of like peer to peer kind of accountability, social, um, I don’t know what you’d call it, uh, prestige, what are the teams competing for?

[00:07:48] Kyle Newton: You know, the incentive strategies would be different for each individual company, right? Some people did cash prizes, some people did, had zero prizes. It was just to win and get that, uh, get that element. Matter of fact, I’ll share an incentive strategy that we use. I’ll share a slide here real quick. Uh, that will share. Uh, we basically use four intrinsic drivers status, access, influence, and leverage. Right? Status is I’m competing to get status in the community. I’m top of the leaderboard. I am got more points than everybody. I have more badges than everybody, right? And so by using Memberium, by being able to display those badges right when they earn them right. Anywhere we want in the user interface, either on their profile, on a trophy page, on a on the leaderboard itself. We can display those badges. We would give people status inside the community, and you would be amazed at how many people will do things to get status inside of a community that they enjoy. Now, these are intrinsic drivers, things that are important, what Daniel Pink taught me, okay, and this is slide deck here, but what Daniel? Pink taught me and his book drive is that, and I say me like I didn’t specifically talk to Daniel. What, what his book taught me was there is a surprising truth about what motivates cognitive behavior, behavior that comes from within inside of us. He said, if you wanna pay someone to dig fast, if you want someone to dig faster or work harder physically, you can pay them more. But money becomes a disincentive for cognitive behaviors and behavior change in the area of education or in in the area of personal develop. Or physical commitments like exercise and diet like we were talking about, that is more of a cognitive behavior than a business behavior. So we had to really go to intrinsic incentives that stimulated a cognitive reward and not actually use money because money often, disincentivizes, matter of fact, Daniel’s rule is simply this. If you can’t reward enough people with money to take money off the table, meaning they can do this as a full-time job. And bonuses and financial bonuses here and there actually don’t work. And actually long-term stop behavior. People start doing things for the money and when they lose the money, they stop the behavior. And that’s not what we want. We want people to take on these internal behaviors of personal development and self-improvement and let it be internal. So we would use intrinsic driver status being one of them. Access would be another. And this is a beautiful concept with Memberium. We can content restrict access on the platform to groups, to, uh, specific content specific learning. Specific masterminds where those are being facilitated on the platform, and that is the second highest intrinsic driver. People will do phenomenal things to actually get access to an exclusive group, right? An exclusive offer. And so we use Memberium content restriction to restrict access that gets unlocked as they level up in points, levels and badges. And we just make that access. When you reach this level or you get this badge or you get this many points, only you and only you and the group of people who did all of those things get access to X. Whatever the X may be. Then comes Influence. That means not only do you have this status in the community, you’re, you’re the highest ranked. You have the most points. You now can have influence. You become a moderator. You can actually post blogs. You’re labeled as a coach. You actually begin to have a role in the organization or community that you can only earn through leveling up. That gives you influence, voice, actual authority. You join a mastermind group that’s directing the overall course of the organization and certain people are stimulated by that. And then finally, Leverage. Now leverage, we wouldn’t use money, but leverage means all of this stuff then can change my real world. Meaning if I’m learning financial behavior well, Ultimately I can leverage those financial skills into making more money offline. If I am wanting, I’m wanting to lose weight and be more healthy, that’s gonna leverage me offline to actually find a spouse, you know, or whatever it may be or I’m learning and I’m going through this certification program that’s going to qualify me for a raise or a better job. So we found that using intrinsic drivers like that, were way more powerful than monetary incentives, because monetary incentives also often disincentivize the types of behaviors we’re trying to create.

[00:12:23] Micah Mitchell: So there’s so much in there. I, I’m sure, you know, you picked it up over a long period of time and tested this stuff out. Um, but for somebody who’s, who’s building a site in an audience and wants to engage with them better, that they can take from what you’re saying, Talk maybe a little bit more, if you would, about why you mentioned if you incentivize with money and the money stops and they, they stop doing things, what do these companies, I guess, give us a scenario? What are they trying to create? They’re trying to create a customer who stays on for five years at the same level , are they looking for customers to, you know, you’ve got the shakes now, get the blender, and now get the personal training, now get the equipment. What are some of those, like either retention or ascension objectives ?

[00:13:06] Kyle Newton: You know, you nailed it. It’s retention and ascension and it, it depends on what they want to do. I, I’m usually working with organizations that really care about what they’re teaching and what they’re trying to accomplish through their training, their coaching, their mentoring, whatever that may be and of course, every membership site owner wants retention, right? They don’t want people to come in on a monthly subscription or a quarterly or an annually subscription and turn out at the end. obviously engagement closes and really, uh, uh, makes that back door hard to go through, right? Because a person has created, when you create this status inside of a community and you create access, and now you’re a person of influence in the community, and this community has allowed you to create leverage. This community now is your source of intrinsic fulfillment, right? And so am I gonna quit that? Like I would just normally just quit something I don’t have a connection to. I mean, it’s very easy for me to quit a, a, a community that yeah, I might receive their learning, I might receive their drip campaigns, I might receive certain things. But I’m not knit with the community. What these games do and what these types of engagement patterns do is not only knit the person to the tribe leader, the brand, and I, just to get my terminology, the, the influencer, the coach, the mentor, the trainer, the author, the organization leader, the face of the organization is typically the tribe leader, they typically have a cohort of leaders around them that help them administer , the membership portal, whether it’s other trainers, coaches, mentors, authors, whatever that may be. That’s the tribe and the tribe assistants, right? The assistant tribe leaders and then all of the members, I call them tribe members right now. I got that from Seth. God, right? Seth God is just a phenomenal writer in the, in the space. He wrote the book Tribes. Thus, I called my company Tribe Pub. I changed it just cuz I bought into the concept of tribes. And so we’re trying to create a tribe. A tribe is a related group of people. These aren’t just customer. These aren’t just members, but for tribe members to coordinate and interact with each other, you have to give them something to interact with your website, with your platform, with your messaging, with your material, that it engages them. Otherwise, who needs another social platform who needs another membership and thing to do, right? Unless it’s really creating community for me, it’s really helping me achieve my goals and I can feel it and measure it, and I get connected to these types of people. Churn just really dramatically decreases. As a matter of fact, one of the case studies that you and I are gonna be doing soon is with one of the organizations I work with and churn. We’ve already benchmarked the past two years of churn. We’re right in the process of implementing a lot of advanced gamification and we’re, part of my retainer is to decrease that churn number, right? And so we’ll do a case study here soon about what we just did, and then we’ll do another case study in a year from now. While I’ll either have pie on my face or we’ll see that these churn numbers actually, , actually worked. And then of course, ascension, right? Status, access, influence, and leverage. The beautiful thing is it’s not a pushed sale. People are actually reaching for the next rung on the ascension ladder because they’re not just paying for it. They’re getting status, access and influence and leverage. going up that next realm so it changes the meaning and the relationship to the ascension ladder and to the retention model and makes it extremely personal to the individual person.

[00:16:35] Micah Mitchell: Yeah, this, this stuff is fascinating because even, let’s say an email that I engage with that I’m thinking of where I don’t open a lot of emails from companies, I’m paying but I, there’s one email that I open because it’s, it comes with quotes in it and stuff like that. And I’m thinking this, this is kind of like you’re saying where it’s the little emotional payoff almost that I’m getting by engaging with it. Mm-hmm. that you are creating by designing it that way, where there’s a social aspect rather than, um, more mechanical or logical engagement and result and so on. Uh, very, very cool stuff. you mentioned, uh, one of your clients, neuro gym. Mm-hmm. , and I think we’ve talked about them before on here. And you were, I think before we hit record, talking about some other kind of mm-hmm. , uh, you know, health benefits companies and all this type of stuff. Is there an ideal type of client for this type of stuff? I mean, does it work for everybody and it just needs a twist, or are there some that are better than others?

[00:17:37] Kyle Newton: That’s a really great question. Um, my opinion, it, it works for everyone and everyone should use it. If you have a membership site, obviously if you have a one to many site, no membership, no engagement, well then you’re just doing normal drip marking, whatnot. But if you have a membership site, which if you are watching this and you’re using Memberium, you probably have a membership site. If you have a Memberium membership site where people are creating account, They’re interacting with content and they’re interacting, I always call it training, mentoring, and coaching. Right? You’re, you’re training when you’re doing 90% of the work and whoever your training is doing 10% of the work, meaning you’re just. They’re watching videos like you did all the work to create the video. They’re just listening to the video. They’re doing about 10% of the work, right? They might be answering a learned dash or lifter l m s quiz or whatever they may be doing. Right? But that’s, that’s minimal. That’s training. A lot of my clients move into mentoring, right? Where it’s 50% me, 50% you meaning, We’re actually engaging in some kind of way. We’re now on a Zoom webinar. We now have activities. You’re now journaling in the platform. You’re actually ticking off these boxes of engagement saying that you inners energized. In John Ossoff’s example, for example, we made it where you track your inners. He’s trying to train people to change their brains. Right? And you don’t do that just by listening to John teach you how to do it. You then have to. And meditate, and you have to meditate specific, a specific number of days in a row. This is John’s teaching to really create a breakthrough. And we measure that because you tick off every single day, seven days a week. Did you spend 30 minutes listening to this inner size audio to train your brain? And if you do well, now you get a special badge and you get a special recognition, and you get to level up, right? That’s mentoring where now we’re both doing work in this and then ultimately coaching becomes where I’m doing 10% and the person’s doing 90%, and I’m just looking at a dashboard on a member and tweaking. Now this member’s on up the ascension ladder, they’re paying a high, high level, a higher level of membership for me to coach them. But we automate that coaching because we have dashboards that show the coach exactly where to tweak that person, you know, as they’re going through an attention ladder. Having a gamification sees, a lot of people get really confused and they only think points, levels, and badges with gamification. It literally can be as simple as just journaling. It can be as simple as just ticking those boxes In the example with neural gym where you don’t even have to do points, levels and badges. They’re just interacting. But the more you put that social recognition, that status, access, influence and leverage to what they’re doing, as we’ve talked about, it creates a higher degree of engagement with those activities and to your point, there are organ. So I would say that any organization that’s doing learning material or any trying to tr coach, mentor, train to any type of behavior change should use gamification. And this isn’t just me. I mean, education has adopted this. Con University was one of the first online training universities are really used gamification. I homeschooled my kids or let me say my wife homeschooled my kids while I was building my IT business. And this really hit me. I was living in Dallas Horse Worth at the time, on like Wednesdays. We’d always go out to eat as a family and I called back to my son who hated math, like hated math, holy hated it. Like, like you. He would cry if he had to do his math. Blake we’re getting ready to go fuzzies like a great Mexican restaurant. Blake we’re heading the fuzzies. He loved fuzzies. Wait a minute, dad, I’m on a streak. I’ll be there in about five minutes. He was on a gamification streak of doing math problems and didn’t want to quit cuz he would lose his streak. And that’s when I’m like, wow, this, you know, this is not only working for my clients, this is working at home, behavior change, learning modification, behavior modification. If you’re into that, you’re definitely gonna want to use some form of gamification. And there’s multiple types of organizations that do that.

[00:21:29] Micah Mitchell: Gotcha. So anybody listening, I’m sure they can reach out to you to talk more about this. Uh, I would ask if they’re just getting started. So we’re saying like, anybody can use this and, and we’re talking about, oh, there’s some of these complex models. If somebody’s just getting started, what’s maybe a piece of low hanging fruit that they should do? Is it the, is it the streak? Is it just given random points so they get totals of points? What’s, what’s the, the easiest, simplest thing for somebody who’s kind of short on time and budget and so on?

[00:21:59] Kyle Newton: Well, soon they’ll be able to go to my web. We’re ramping up our gamify brand, which is what I’ve used over the years. I moved all of our platform into the WordPress ecosystem. Now I’m moving our gamification into WordPress ecosystem and soon we’ll have a lot of trainings ourselves. But I would recommend right now just go to, go to YouTube man and type gamification and start educating yourself on what that is. And then if you’re struggling with, you know, implementing gamification and understanding how to use the plugins like Gamy Press or, you know, just using Memberium itself, literally you can do everything with, uh, a couple little tools in Memberium ,um, you know, get started. You know, just start testing it. Think about some of the concepts I’ve said and just start implementing it. And then if you get stuck, we, and I’m sure a lot of the other partners out here on Memberium would be more than happy to help you set up, you know, some phenomenal gamification strategies for your, for your tribe.

[00:22:50] Micah Mitchell: Well, Kyle, you are amazing. I’m gonna, I’m gonna keep this one short and sweet, especially since it was impromptu, but I believe it’s full of nuggets for any membership site owner. It’s exciting and fun too, to talk about this stuff. It’s not the same old, same old. Mm-hmm. , thank you so much for sharing. How do people get in touch with you? What’s the best way?

[00:23:08] Kyle Newton: Well, we’re right there on the Men Certified Partner page, or they can visit me at Tribe Pub, T R I B E, pub Platform Unified business, P u, tribe

[00:23:19] Micah Mitchell: Awesome. Thanks so much, Kyle.

[00:23:21] Kyle Newton: Thank you.

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