Gamification - a word that the marketing services world will become more familiar with as its popularity continues to rise. Steve Manser, senior account director of integrated agency, Space discusses exactly what it is and why it's becoming a new buzz word.
Gamification is set to take centre stage in the customer loyalty arena with Gartner predicting that 70% of global organisations will have at least one gamified service for marketing and customer retention. Loyalty used to be largely about collecting and awarding points but now it's not so much about points, but the interaction between consumer and the brand. It's about turning entertainment into brand engagement and profit.
The commonly accepted definition of gamification is “... to apply game dynamics and game thinking to non-game environments to increase engagement, loyalty and fun”. Of course, anyone born post 1970 who has lived side-by-side with video games and interactive technology, won’t find the concept of gamification that much of a hard sell.
No, the real job for gamification is to become a measurable and serious consideration for brands as part of any promotional or marketing mix – and not just something to include because everyone else is doing it. Luckily, given that the majority of gamification activities will utilise digital elements, there are many ways to demonstrate ROI and engagement, which can then be channelled into wider campaign areas and media – offering a complete user experience.
Progress is the key
As a society, we all interact with more people, more brands and more platforms than ever before both on and offline – often with different motivations. It might be for social or entertainment purposes; it could be to benefit from promotions and special offers, gain recognition or kudos amongst peer groups, increase knowledge, or simply to make life easier. But the common denominator across all these aspects is the desire for an element of progression.
The idea of players progressing is hard wired (and importantly, expected) in the wider world of gaming, whether its playing cards, family board games or the latest Call of Duty. It would therefore seem essential that any gamification-led activities incorporate some form of progress or reward – rather than offering something that falls between the stools of gaming and digital distraction. Leader boards, high scores, getting peer recognition, earning rewards or badges of distinction, discoveries and rarities/collecting elements are all present across gaming approaches – so they should be considered within gamification activities too.
For those brands successfully adopting gamification elements into their promotions, the advantages are numerous. They can help promotions to be more inclusive for more consumers, increase brand loyalty and the length of time spent engaging with the campaign, gain higher conversion rates, more viral appeal, and perhaps most importantly, offer a solid platform to encourage user generated content (UGC) and brand engagement.
More than just an add on
A word of caution though. As with all emerging and popular CRM tactics, gamification needs to be considered as part of an integrated strategy with holistic objectives in order to succeed. There’s no point in gamifying part of a campaign or promotion for the sake of it; there needs to be a defined purpose, clear routes to engagement and most importantly, an understanding of the motivations of the intended users. Why would they get involved, does it help them connect with the brand, what are their motivations and is there a suitable reward or sense of progress at the end?
Get all of those things right, and brands can start to see the benefits of gamification at first hand.