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Audible | Case Study

Techniques Involved: Badges, Streaks

Audible. They’re growing at a rapid rate!

The subscription service that many people use to keep up with their reading when they don’t have time to pick up a real book (or prefer to listen).

Audible publishes twice as many audiobooks per year as the rest of the industry.

In 2021, Audible’s net revenue increased by 14% compared to the previous year, reaching $2.6 billion.

They really are continuing to grow fast and audiobooks in general are seeing a growth spurt as people of different ages accept the concept and the technology.

I’m personally a huge Audible user. I listen to audiobooks while I’m cleaning the house, having a bath, going for a walk and more. In fact, thanks to Audible I’m able to consume a much larger number of books each year than I ever could if I were to stick with paperbacks.

Not so long ago I stumbled upon their badges page. It seems that I had accidentally earned quite a few audible badges simply by using the app.

Badges are a gamification tool that can be helpful in motivating people to take action.

When I discovered the metrics section I also found my stats. Now, I don’t know about you but I love a stat! Particularly if it’s about me… 😉 but from a gamification perspective this is also important! Helping people to track progress is a big part of successful gamification…

and thus, the topic of this blog – how Audible is using gamification to motivate and retain users came to pass.

A brief look ...

Let’s start with how Audible describes these two features:

What are stats and badges?

Stats and Badges are a fun way of tracking your audiobook listening information, including your listening time, listening level, and total number of audiobooks in your library. You can find them in the Audible for iOS and Android app by tapping the Profile button in the bottom right corner, and then tapping Badge Collection.

How can I find out what each badge means?

Unlock badges by or for completing tasks in the Audible mobile apps. Listening during parts of the day, over long periods of time, finishing multiple audiobooks over short amounts of time, or even listening to multiple audiobooks at one time can unlock new badges! After unlocking a new badge, you can then unlock the mystery of what you did to earn that badge and even share what you’ve earned with your friends and family on social media. Keep listening and you’ll earn all the badges in no time!

Let’s start with stats. Metrics and measurements of progression of any sort are a great motivator. If your goal is to read more, and you see in your stats that you’ve spent less time listening to books this month than last month you might make a bit more time to read this month to maintain your progress.

There are also ‘levels’ of reading you can achieve on Audible by spending more time listening to books;

The different types of Learning Levels that can be achieved on Audible

Once you’ve achieved that first level you might be motivated to read more because you want to reach the next level.

This seems to be working as there are posts online where Audible users share how many minutes, hours, days, weeks and months of listening they’ve accumulated and what level they’ve achieved as a result. They then ask others to share their stats and level too. These users want to work together to solve the question of how much listening you have to do to reach that next stage. I think this shows that they are invested!

On to badges; Audible gives some hints in the above description about what actions you can attempt to earn a badge but they want to keep the mystery close to their chest.

Audible wants you to try things in the app. They are hoping that you’ll try lots of different things in an attempt to achieve badges.

As you can see below; some of the badges are more clear about their mission than others. (7-day stretch is a bit more transparent than Collector, for example.) 

An example of a badge collection and what can be achieved at Audible

Why have they done these things? What is the purpose?

Gamification is best used to solve a business problem. 

The idea behind using statistics, levels and badges is to encourage customers to listen to more books. If they listen to more books then they are paying for more books, or keeping their subscription for longer.

Adding gamification in these ways helps with revenue and customer retention; two BIG issues for any company.

Is it a perfect example of gamification? I can think of lots of ways that it could be improved. However, if it is getting people to use the system at the start of their audible journey enough to get a liking for it and stick around… then it is doing its job.

Audible are using gamification to get better results from their membership model.

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