What Is Gamification?
Gamification, whether you realize it or not, has already had an impact on your everyday life. If you’ve ever checked-out in an online store that marked your progress, earned badges using Foursquare, or been a part of a customer loyalty or “frequent-flyer” program, then you’ve experienced Gamification first-hand.
So what’s it all about? Gamification is the practice of taking game-design elements and applying them to non-game contexts. The achievements, leaderboards, rewards, and progress bars in our examples represent elements we might find in a game, but are used when we shop or interact on social networks. While the technique has been around for a while, Gamification’s marketing uses have only begun to take hold.
Incentivizing Online Activities
The goal of every game is enjoyment from the user, and one way this has been accomplished online is by offering incentive for completing certain actions. “Sign up and get the first month free,” “Receive 10,000 Bonus Miles after your first year,” and other similar offers have compelled consumers to take action because it results in something of value, i.e., a prize, reward, or bonus. The marketing implication of this lies in the power of achievement and feeling a part of something exclusive. Your customers will be far more likely to sign up for a newsletter, answer a survey, or fill out a form if they feel as though their actions are worth something.
The web user experience is often one of the most important marketing materials, as it constitutes one of the first touch points a prospective customer will have with your business. To that point, there are many opportunities to “gamify” this experience, starting with your content. According to a theory known as “Cascading Information,” consumers respond better to information in small pieces, ensuring they fully comprehend everything before delving deeper. How can this apply? Take YouTube, for example. The average viewer will typically drop off after only a minute or so (and you can check the analytics to prove it). By creating shorter sections of this content, you build your audience up to greater levels of complexity. Throw in a call to action (or a reward) along the way, and they’ll come back in droves to see what comes next.
Interactivity & Engagement
As I’ve said, these techniques and mechanics have the central purpose of appealing to the user—making something that is boring or taxing enjoyable and worthwhile. From a marketing perspective, all these translate to better engagement with your target audience. The other great part about utilizing Gamification is that it can apply to all aspects of your Digital Marketing plan, including developing contests via social media, advertising limited-time promotional offers, motivating staff & employees, or combining incentives to create a “meta-game,” the possibilities really are boundless.
If you don’t think Gamification fits in with your industry, think again. Even if it’s not at the forefront of your marketing strategy, game elements can still work behind the scenes to help you define customer behaviors and lead them to your company to fulfill their needs. Let us know what your thoughts on Gamification are in the comments below (1,000 Bonus Points go to the first 5 who post!).