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Could gamification be the way forward for modern marketers?

By Shn Juay

January 27, 2022 | 5 min read

As consumers evolve, gamification is one of the emerging critical elements of marketing that can be deployed to engage an attention-deprived consumer. Gamification, when done well, offers many benefits for brands and allows them to achieve their campaign objectives in a fun and engaging manner, according to Shn Juay, vice president of product and marketing, Storms, a Singapore-based gaming start-up.

Gamification is the future

Rules of the game

Modern marketers are no strangers to gamification. Since its inception, elements of gamification have appeared everywhere - from performance marketing campaigns’ playable ads, social marketing campaigns, to e-commerce strategies. By leveraging the fun and engaging elements found in games into real-world activities, marketers have tried to sell stories anchored in their products and services that consumers will want to engage with.

In the modern landscape of marketing, incorporating gamification in the form of instant games has become a popular medium of choice for marketers to create a framework for continual engagement and loyalty building. By incorporating easily accessible games into digital campaigns, it allows marketers to play with the codes of advertising. Instead of simply ‘pushing’ content to target audiences, gamification brings an additional layer of interactivity which allows users a certain degree of freedom and creativity.

As players engage with the gamified elements provided through the brand’s digital ecosystem, they are more likely to respond to the brand’s CTA, as compared to any other traditional marketing methods to win the rewards attached to the interactive experience. This is crucial for creating memorable moments which in turn generates proactive user engagements and improves conversion rates. Brands that gamify to raise engagement, for instance, McDonald’s Malaysia found that games also tend to boost customer satisfaction which ultimately drives sales.

Here are the key elements of the gamification playbook

Driving campaign awareness

As the industry matures, brands are beginning to realize the engagement which branded games could drive is beyond what promotions can typically achieve. This is because users are alert and active during gameplay.

Imagine that you are working on a campaign strategy plan for a beauty brand that is about to launch a new skincare line targeting the Gen Zs. You might be thinking about placing advertisements on social media, engaging influencers, or sending out press releases to generate awareness of the new product offering. The million-dollar question is, how do you make sure your brand stands out of the 6,000-10,000 ads thrown at them daily?

Gamification when paired with attractive rewards can serve as a creative strategy to effectively communicate with the target audience. Gamifying the promotions with quick interactive quizzes for example could be the game-changer to communicate the products’ unique selling points in a fun and engaging way.

Social: the key and the glue holding it together

The reason why gamification works so well in marketing is that it augments the creative, with elements of playfulness, community building, and social interaction. With social interactions happening at the ease of a tap, it is no secret that to achieve success with a reward-branded mini-game campaign, one must include educational elements in tandem with viral elements.

However, to make it work effectively, it’s pivotal for marketers to acquire an in-depth understanding of what their target audiences will appreciate and be able to relate to. For example, quirky games might work for younger audiences, but they might not be appreciated by audiences of different age groups.

It is worth noting that gamification isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. What is consistent across the board is that inclusion of a social element is crucial to the further expansion of reach. Gamification through social media channels can be one of the best tie-ins for brands because it allows for the fostering of social interactions with target audiences through authentic gaming experiences that users seek to connect with their network.

Glimpsing into the future, social games will be adding in a plethora of geo-based elements, mobile and cross-platform capabilities with unique brand tie-ins as demonstrated by McDonald’s Japan partnership with Pokémon Go to transform its outlets into PokéStops or Gyms.

Doing it with the right cultural context

There is no doubt that social interaction is a powerful tool for games. However, as modern-day consumers grow to be more inclusive and aware of culture, equality, environmental, and inconsistencies, it is essential for brands to evolve with the times to remain culturally relevant.

The biggest misstep a lot of marketers make when incorporating gamification is simply putting together an interactive experience. Hence why having a certain level of cultural literacy is key for brands to sustain, and this is no exception for their campaign gamification.

Ultimately, gamification offers many benefits for brands and allows them to achieve their campaign objectives in a fun and engaging manner. And most importantly, by striving to provide a great moment for users, brands can increase the chances of attaining loyal customers.

Shn Juay is the vice president of product and marketing, Storms, a Singapore-based gaming startup.

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