Gamification is a process that integrates game mechanics into something that already exists. This could be your website, your social media channel, even your day-to-day operations. Its purpose in marketing is to boost customer engagement and loyalty.
It has also been used in other arenas, such as education, where it is used to improve learning.
Basically, gamification adds the elements of a game to something that is not a game. It adds motivational elements to something you were already doing anyway, in order to make that something more interesting. For instance, when you offer your customers a discount for bringing in the post card they received from you in your direct-mail campaign, you’re using gamification.
When people think about marketing gamification, they commonly think about loyalty programs. However, it has moved far beyond simple loyalty programs. Now, it is creeping more and more into other marketing strategies and even product development.
Gamification is coming of age with today’s mobile-driven consumers. Gaming concepts are being used to encourage user engagement, attract new customers, and build brand loyalty.
The process is customer-oriented and personalized. This appeals to consumers, so much so that they quietly acquiesce and allow businesses to collect vital customer data to be used in the future.
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There are many unsuccessful gamification methods, and it is important to be aware of what these are and to avoid them. However, there are also many methods that have been shown to be successful, including:
You might not have even realized this, but companies that offer rewards if their users share their system are using gamification. By providing rewards, the company is capitalizing on people’s competitive nature. For example, Dropbox offers extra storage if you refer a colleague, and Uber offers a free ride if you share the Uber app with a friend.
Some sites offer rewards for engagement. That is, users who engage with the site receive badges or points. However, in order to collect the points, users must register with the site. This increases participation and draws potential customers further into a marketing funnel.
For instance, Code Academy allows users to engage and use its code-learning system by completing assignments without having to sign up. However, users can only collect their badges after they have registered.
Countdowns added to a website can be time counters that tick down until a special price expires. Or they might be a counter which displays the number of units left until an item sells out.
Timers and countdowns create a sense of urgency among users. Site visitors therefore take action faster, fearing they’re going to miss out. A sense of scarcity results in more conversions, which is always great for marketing. Ebay’s bidding process is good example of a countdown.
Leaderboards capitalize on human beings’ drive to compete. Users can accumulate points for all sorts of actions, including dollars spent, Facebook shares, reviews written, or surveys answered.
When users see others with more points than they have, they are inspired to play harder and more often. Points are often redeemable for discounts on purchases.
Businesses both online and offline use loyalty programs in their marketing strategies.
Casinos, particularly online casinos, have mastered the art of loyalty programs by offering multiple levels, thereby adding in an element of competition as well. Users begin participating by downloading their mobile gambling applications or playing the games that are available on their sites. Players accumulate points which they can redeem for casino cash, encouraging them to stay longer and spend more money.
Then, too, people love their coffee. Coffee houses such as Starbucks reward customers with stars for every purchase. Customers earn free food or drinks once they have collected enough stars. This is an excellent way to gain return customers and build brand loyalty.
Interactive games used as a marketing strategy can increase customer awareness about a product. When M&Ms launched their flavored pretzel product, for example, they launched a game on their Facebook page that had customers looking for the “pretzel guy” among the M&Ms. Tens of thousands of people played, shared, and liked this game, a simple and inexpensive—and effective—marketing strategy.
More and more businesses across the spectrum, both large and small, are starting to catch onto and use the power of gamification. Gamification subtly encourages interaction and input, and it works across verticals and product types.
Are you leveraging gamification in your marketing strategy? If not, it’s time to level up.
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