NHS Blood Donation Inside Scoop.

Welcome to the second edition of the Gamification Insider Inside Scoop!

What is the Inside Scoop?

A monthly deep-dive into an organisation, product or service and how they are using gamification in their business.

We’ll talk about the specific gamification techniques used, explain what they are, why we think that business is using them and give you some ideas as to how those tools can be used by small businesses.

This issue of the Inside Scoop will be discussed in more detail at our monthly Codebreaker Club, available to Codebreaker level members and higher at 1pm on 11th October 2023. 

NHS Blood Donation Service.

October’s Inside Scoop is all about the NHS Blood Donation service in England. A vital healthcare organisation responsible for managing blood and plasma donations from the public to save lives. The Blood Donation service is part of the wider National Health Service (NHS) and plays a crucial role in ensuring a safe and sustainable supply of blood and plasma for patients in need. Why am I focusing on England? Because that’s where I live and donate. This means I have access to their services to assess how they use gamification!

It’s illegal to pay blood and plasma donors in the UK, which means that the Blood Donation service are highly reliant on volunteers. In fact, across the UK every day there is a need for 5,000 donations to meet the needs of patients. There is always a need for new donors and since not everyone can donate, I am going to take this opportunity to encourage you to do so, wherever you are in the world, if you are able.

Since there is such a high demand for blood donors, and not all of their registered donors donate frequently, the NHS Blood Donation service in England decided to use gamification to encourage existing donors to donate more.

Let’s look at some of the techniques they’re using!

Milestones | Gamification technique 1.

The Cambridge Dictionary Definition: Noun, a stone or post at the side of the road that shows the distance to various places, especially to the nearest large town. Milestones is a gamification technique that involves setting specific, measurable goals to motivate someone to achieve something. Milestones serve as markers of progress, helping individuals track their advancement. Achieving each milestone provides a sense of accomplishment and acts as motivation to reach the next one. It creates a positive cycle where each success fuels the desire to achieve even more. The milestone definition above uses road markers on a journey and you can see how motivating that is! If you’ve ever done a distance sport, for example, a half-marathon, each mile marker can feel like it’s pushing you on to want to reach the next. They can be extremely powerful motivators.

Where do you see milestones in the game world?

In a video game, a milestone could be completing the next level or working your way towards unlocking new characters or weapons. In board games, it could be getting a certain distance around a course which allows you to pick up a card or the milestone could be completing a quest.

They aren’t always clearly defined, but you might feel a sense of achievement when you reach them!

How does the English NHS Blood service use milestones and why?

Here is a screenshot from theNHS Blood Donation website, which clearly outlines milestones for donors.

They even call them milestones! Notice how they start off fairly frequently, 1st, 5th and 10th donations and then they become less and less frequent.

I imagine by the time you’ve donated 25 times you’re hooked and in it for life. 92% of donations in England come from repeat donations, with studies showing the importance of getting people back to donate, as once you’ve donated twice, the likelihood of regular donations increases with each donation (a person in Singapore has donated 334 times!

This is a screenshot from my personal blood donation app. It shows how many times I’ve donated, and what my next big milestone is to work towards. It’s a simple metric for motivation!

Could you apply milestones to your business?

You could start by applying it to your business’s financial goals. Let’s say you want to earn £100,000 per year in your business. If you’re currently earning £500 per month that goal of £100,000 is not going to feel very achievable (perhaps it even feels overwhelming), so try breaking it down into milestones.

£100,000 per year = £8,333.34 per month (ish)

Starting at £500 per month you could create milestones that look like this:

  • My first £750 month
  • Consistent £750 or above months
  • My first £1,000 month
  • Consistent £1,000 or above months
  • My first £1,500 month
  • Consistent £1,500 or above months
  • My first £2,000 month
  • Consistent £2,000 or above months
  • My first £5,000 month
  • Consistent £5,000 or above months
  • My first £10,000 month
  • My first £100,000 year!

You could also add in extra milestones for novelty (See previous Inside Scoop for more on this technique) like:

  • £50,000 total earned in my business
  • £80,000 total earned in my business.
  • £100,000 total earned in my business.

And exactly how the NHS does; you could create a way to monitor against those milestones. You could do this in a spreadsheet, or an app, or keep it simple with pen and paper.

You could use milestones to help you achieve so many things in your business. Pretty much anything you can track could have milestones. What are your goals in business currently? To build your Facebook group to 1,000 members, or 100 downloads of your lead magnet, perhaps to engage with potential clients on social media every day this year. Each of these can easily be broken down into achievable milestones that you can celebrate.

How can you use milestones with your customers or audience? Again, think of something they want to achieve (and ideally you do too) and you can use milestones to help motivate them and to help them celebrate.

Let’s say you have a 10-week course. You could add milestones to help them celebrate when they have watched 10%, 25%, 50% 75% and 100% of the videos, or to track how many live videos they’ve shown up to or to help them to monitor and celebrate their own results.

The possibilities are vast with milestones and they can make some big, arduous goals feel a bit more fun and achievable! 

Senses | Gamification technique 2.

We all know what senses are. Typically we might think of the five senses; touch, smell, hearing, taste and sight.

What are senses in a gamification context? Exactly that, seeing how you can incorporate senses into your project to enhance user experience, engagement or motivation!

Put simply, how can we make this better and more motivating by adding more senses to the experience? 

Where do you see senses in the game world?

In video games, you might think the only senses included are vision and hearing, but consider how some game controllers vibrate to give feedback too; meaning that the senses used in these games include touch.

Board games are tactile and include visuals, by interacting with others you also include sound. It’s fair to say many games are multi-sensory.

How does the NHS Blood Service use the technique of senses and why?

An example of a bronze donor card. You receive this when you donate five times.

Apart from the obvious; sight is used to book appointments using the website or the app. The NHS Blood Donation service also incorporates touch. When you first donate you get sent a donor keyring and donor card with your blood type on it. The donor card is designed to look like a credit card and I presume most people store theirs with their other cards. These are physical items to remind you to donate, every time you reach for your keys or to pay for something. Both of these things most people do regularly and thus this is quite a smart way of using touch as a donation reminder!

As you move through the milestones you get certificates which you might choose to put up on your wall (another reminder). You then move on to your bronze donor card which might replace the one you currently have in your purse/wallet. This is adding novelty (referred to in a previous Inside Scoop).

Why is novelty useful here? Most people can only donate every 12 weeks or 16 weeks depending on your gender in England. Let’s say you don’t have any holidays, illnesses or other reasons that prevent you from donating exactly every 12 weeks, that’s still 48 weeks between your first donation and your fifth. This is nearly a year since your initial donor card has been in your purse/wallet and you probably don’t even notice it any more! But a brand new bronze one is likely to stick out and remind you about donating every time you see it.

The NHS Blood Donation service continues to send you different donor cards and certificates for different milestones. Lots of reminders through sight and touch to keep you donating. Clever! 

Is the technique of senses something you could apply to your business?

There are so many things you can do with the senses, here are some ideas. We’ll discuss more in this month’s Codebreaker Club.

To motivate yourself, you could buy a candle with your favourite scent but reserve it to only be used when you do that task you hate. This is going to work in two ways; firstly you’ll feel like you get a little reward for your hard work and secondly, you’ll start to mentally associate that smell with working on that project. It’ll help you to get into a state of focus. So many wins from this!

To motivate others you could pinch the idea from the NHS Blood Donation service and send physical items through the post to your customers, students or members as a reward for achieving certain objectives. Each time they use those items they’ll be reminded of your course, membership, or your business.

Rewards | Gamification technique 3

Rewards are incentives or prizes which can be used to motivate or increase engagement.

Rewards can be very expensive or cost nothing but time. Different people will find different types of rewards motivating and something that motivates one person might be de-motivating to others.

It’s important to celebrate success as part of gamification and rewards go hand in hand with milestones!

An example of where I have personally used milestones and rewards in combination to motivate myself was when I completed the London To Brighton charity bike ride. For context; I hate cycling, I find it difficult and honestly quite painful. I’m not designed for it. There were gale-force winds, there were hail stones and torrential rain. I didn’t want to be there at all. To top it all off, all of my friends had dropped out, so I was doing it alone with thousands of strangers.

Once the weather turned, I was freezing cold and my shoes were completely full of water I had to find ways to convince my brain to keep going. To motivate myself I simply focused on the next milestone (which might have been a break stop or lunch, for example) and promised myself that if I reached that milestone I could have a hot chocolate and then make a decision about whether or not to continue. The hot chocolate was free, it didn’t cost me anything. I used milestones and free rewards to help me to complete the race.

Rewards are incentives or prizes which can be used to motivate or increase engagement.

Rewards can be very expensive or cost nothing but time. Different people will find different types of rewards motivating and something that motivates one person might be de-motivating to others.

It’s important to celebrate success as part of gamification and rewards go hand in hand with milestones!

Where do you see rewards in the game world?

Rewards are hugely prevalent in the game world. Many video games feature Experience Points (XP) as a reward for completing tasks, defeating enemies or reaching goals. Sometimes they can be exchanged for items, or skills or can be used to level up. In board games, you may find that when you achieve something you gain resources, special abilities, cards or tokens as a reward, which usually help you to progress in the game.

In sports rewards for actions are usually points on the board, which lead to winning or losing. 

How does the NHS Blood Donation Service use rewards and why?

We’ve already discussed that in exchange for donating a certain number of times, donors receive certificates, donor cards and more. These have been matched with milestones to create extrinsic motivators for donors. What now?

Let’s talk about Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivations.

Extrinsic motivation is a fancy way of saying that you are motivated to do something because of some external reward or punishment. In this example, some people might be motivated to donate because they want a certificate; an extrinsic motivator.

However, I imagine that most people who are donating are doing it because they are intrinsically motivated.

Intrinsic motivation is a fancy way of saying things that you find naturally motivating, so you might read a fiction novel because you enjoy it or might do your emails before the rest of your work because you enjoy talking to people. In this case, many people donate because it makes them feel like a good person or gives them a ‘warm glow’. In fact, there’s a study about it that we’ll link to at the end if you want to read it.

For those people, these extrinsic rewards of certificates and cards are actually not important at all, but for the small number who do care about getting a gold donor card, it could be hugely motivating.

The extrinsic and intrinsic motivators in this case could also be linked as a donor can show off their rewards to others, adding to that warm glow feeling! 

Is the technique of rewards something you could apply to your business?

This is something that some people will find extremely motivating, but as we’ve just covered not everyone will!

If you find rewards motivating, I encourage you to think of something you’re avoiding doing in your business, if it’s a big goal you could create milestones and add rewards for each one in turn. 

They can be tiny rewards like; if I finish this blog post by midday then I can have a cup of tea and a biscuit. Or they can be huge rewards like if I hit my income goal for this month then I’ll be able to afford to upgrade my car, and everything in between. Rewards really are a very personal thing so make sure to tailor them.

Again, when it comes to rewarding your customers, students, members or audience think about things you would like them to take action on (ideally things they also want to take action on!) and consider how you can reward them for that.

Not all rewards have to be physical, you can give them virtual rewards; things like a shoutout on your page or group. “Well done Sophie for walking 100k steps this week!”.

Or you could reward them with discounts, or free access to things that are usually paid for. None of these things cost you anything but will feel great for the person receiving them.

Always consider what your audience likes and dislikes, and what might be motivating or off putting when it comes to rewards. While you might love the idea of a spa day as a prize, there might be people in your audience who hate that idea. In which case you’ll actually demotivate them from taking part.

Relatedness | Gamification technique 4.

Wait? Didn’t we cover this last time? Yep! There will sometimes be repeats in the Inside Scoop as organisations use the same techniques. It’s always a good thing to see more examples of how different businesses use the same technique, or how they use it differently. Here’s a refresher: 

Relatedness is the need to feel connected.

Humans are innately social creatures and for some, being connected to others can be highly motivating. Relatedness comes down to a feeling of belonging.

Where do you see relatedness in the game world?

Some games will ask you to work in teams, this is relatedness. You may have to help someone in order to get to the next level in some video games, again relatedness. In other games, you can gift items to other players, or request items all in the name of relatedness.  

How does the NHS Blood Donation Service use relatedness?

If you clicked the link above to where the NHS Blood Donation service shares their donor milestones and rewards then you will have seen this next to it:

Here the NHS Blood Donation service is encouraging donors to share their stories online and connect with them on social media for a few reasons:

  1. By sharing your donor story with others you get that warm glow mentioned above and you’re more likely to want to donate again.
  2. By sharing your donor story with the NHS Blood Donation service they might re-share it which makes you feel a part of something bigger (for that sense of belonging)
  3. For the NHS Blood Donation service, if their donors share their stories with them, it means they have user-generated content and one less marketing job to do for the day, they might even be able to repurpose the stories into blogs, videos and more.
  4. As well as this generating content for the NHS Blood Donation service it might encourage more people to donate. Either friends or followers of the donor who shared their story or people who’ve been following the NHS Blood Donation service on social media for a while but have never actually gotten around to donating. They might want to have that sense of belonging too and be encouraged by the story.

On that webpage, you might have also noticed this below the milestones: 

The NHS Blood Donation service shares virtual rewards with donors and even tells donors that the reason why they do it is so that they can “Inspire your friends and family to donate”. The NHS Blood Donation service is really focusing on the relatedness angle here as they are encouraging donors to bring their tribe on board for bonding.

You may also have noticed that in the image I shared from my app above (and again here) the NHS Blood Donation service makes the same request in the app. 

Is relatedness something you could apply to your business?

Consider adding the concept of relatedness to your business strategy building on the suggestions previously mentioned in last month’s Inside Scoop.

In today’s case study; The NHS Blood Donation service is using the same technique as Spotify but it using it differently! They encourage donors to bring individuals from their personal networks to donate, creating a sense of shared identity and purpose.

You can do this too with your users, members, students and audience. Consider why they might want to help you out, what’s in it for them? In this instance, the NHS Blood Donation service is tapping into the intrinsic motivation of feeling good and doing good, to inspire the donors’ friends and family to donate.

You might need to use rewards in combination with relatedness to encourage people to spread the word and help with your goal. Whether that is asking them to tell others about your Facebook page, to join your mailing list or your membership. What’s in it for them?

If you get this combination right, you could help your users to achieve something they want, while also achieving your goals. Win-Win! 

Time to wrap this up!

We’ve covered a lot in this issue. A deep-dive into the NHS Blood Donation service and how they use gamification to increase regular donations from existing members, generate user-generated content and encourage more people to donate; ultimately all leading to more lives saved.

We’ve covered four gamification techniques; Milestones, Senses, Rewards, and Relatedness.

We’ve also given you some ideas of how you could implement these in your business.

We will be discussing these techniques in more depth and workshopping how you could apply them in your business in the Codebreaker Club on 11th October.

In pursuit of truth,
Kimba 🔍 

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