November 21, 2012

Dropbox and the power of Gamification

Dropbox has just hit 100 million users. That’s an impressive number. And so it got me thinking about what factors could have contributed to such a success. 

Of course there are the obvious ones, such as a service that “just works” or the fact that it is free for the basic storage plan. But there is another aspect of the service that stands out. 

The site is actually fun to use.

The layout is sleek and simple, illustrated by sketches of stickmen, dinosaurs and space shuttles, sure. But the real smart move was the implementation of Gamification: 

"Gamification: the use of game mechanics and game design techniques in non-game contexts. Typically gamification applies to non-game applications and processes, in order to encourage people to adopt them, or to influence how they are used" - Wikipedia 

When a user signs up, Dropbox immediately offers free storage in exchange for various simple tasks that promote the service. These include:
  • learning about the service via a tutorial (building user awareness),
  • sharing on Facebook and Twitter (user advertising),
  • using specific features such as Photo Uploads (driving space consume space leading users to upgrade to a pay plan)
  • referring friends and family (expansion through recommendation).
  • following the official Dropbox Twitter account (connecting with users)

Additionally, Dropbox regularly gets users involved in specific contests that promote the service such as the recent Space Race (student referrals) or the 100M User Promotion (getting users to talk positively about the service). 

All in all, Dropbox has a very impressive way of subtly engaging users. In fact, without having tested the service, it is hard to believe how addictive earning more free space through various actions can be. 

Dropbox has demonstrated its ability to provide both a great service, but also a fun user experience - which proves to be a true marketing differentiator! 

Note: I am only a happy, paying user of Dropbox and in no way affiliated with the company or its partners.

[img credit :]