Gamification Marketing For Dummies
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Gamification marketing campaigns can be extremely rewarding for both your audience and your company. However, that also means there is a lot of room to get things wrong. When they do go wrong, your campaign can completely fail to engage.

Every campaign makes mistakes. As with any mistake, it’s important to learn from your errors and prevent them from happening again.

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Offering an unengaging user experience

Your gamification marketing campaign should aim to offer a legendary user experience. User experience is defined by your audience’s interactions and ability to engage with your campaign’s objectives and goals.

But you need to account for many types of experiences.

Here are some tips:
  • Make sure that your game’s visual experience is consistent across all devices, including mobile phones, tablets, and computers.
  • Don’t force your user to register before offering your game. Your audience came to your campaign to experience your game, and they’ll be turned off if they come up against a request to sign up to a mailing list or some other form.
  • Try to offer your audience a user experience that is interesting and worthy enough for them to naturally want to keep engaging with the campaign. In other words, make the value and engagement so pleasant that asking them to register will feel like a natural action and not something that feels forced.
  • Don’t force your audience to learn new game mechanics unless you have some serious reason for it. Otherwise, you risk your audience exiting your campaign. When you use time-tested designs and gameplays, your audience will engage immediately.
  • Whenever possible avoid overcomplicating your campaign. Try to keep your gamification model simple. Your designers may fall into the trap of overdesigning or overengineering the gameplay. If they do, this will make your campaign more complicated and unengaging.

Leaving your audience screaming, “Help!”

The whole point of launching a gamification model for your marketing is to offer something new and disruptive for your audience. However, there is a danger that the campaign will leave your audience confused and frustrated. So, make sure that you give feedback on every action your audience makes. For example:

  • Clearly give the audience some kind of confirmation that they’ve completed a particular task. Offering more feedback confirmations is better than offering less — feedback confirmation will remove doubt in all actions performed by the audience.
  • Give simple visual cues to show your audience their actions are right or wrong, or that something is happening in the background.
  • Add small tooltips throughout the game instead of providing one large help page. Small tooltips show text when the user hovers or clicks the help icons. This ensures your audience gets the help they need right away, without having to navigate away from the game.
  • Offer short videos that play seamlessly on a top layer above your game. Similar to the tooltips, each video should be relevant to the audience’s stage of the game.

Having a flawed game structure

Your campaign should be designed and engineered around your business or product, but it still needs to appeal as a gamification model. Every game option has its own standardized controls and structure. All you have to do is apply these standard design patterns, which will make it easier for your audience to understand how your campaign works.

Don’t try to come up with new creative solutions for your game mechanics. Use popular options, layouts, and icons that everyone will recognize and intuitively know how to use. Place all game elements where your audience expects them to be.

Never underestimate the importance of getting your game designs and mechanics checked by someone who is not on your team. The more you work on your campaign, the less capable you’ll be of clearly and objectively reviewing the game. This essentially is getting your game mechanics and designs beta-tested by an external tester at an earlier stage than normal.

Leaving the user waiting

Years ago, people would wait for a couple of minutes for a service, but today’s audience lives in an age of rapid technology. This means your servers need to deliver your campaign immediately, every time. If your audience has to wait for the campaign to load, half of them may just give up.

One of the most effective ways to ensure that your campaign stays online, even when you’re dealing with viral levels of traffic, is to use a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN helps to ensure that everyone who comes to your campaign will quickly receive your landing page.

The problem may continue without proper website optimization. If you fail to optimize, the campaign could start to lose traffic along with its overall engagement. Your campaign optimization strategy could include the following:

  • Optimizing the size of images on your website
  • Reducing the number of third-party plugins and application programming interfaces (APIs)
  • Minimizing the use of JavaScript files, the number of CSS files, and the number of web fonts required
  • Using website caching
  • Optimizing your database

Scoring pointless goals

Gamification marketing campaigns can be a powerful way to engage with audiences, but there is a delicate balance between engagement and frustration. Instead of focusing on developing interest in your audience, you can easily get caught up in the novelty of gaming, which means that you lose sight of the true purpose of the campaign. This results in an experience that offers a plethora of goals and game elements like badges but overlooks the core game mechanics. By doing this, your campaign’s experience can feel trivial and pointless.

Attempting to gamify a campaign without careful thought leads to visual noise that clutters the interface and distracts your audience from the main marketing objectives you were hoping to achieve.

To avoid this mistake, use gamification to help and engage your audience as they move through your campaign, instead of simply entertaining them for the sake of entertainment.

Not establishing clear big data goals

Big data is a technique used to help your team create more efficient and engaging campaigns in the future. This is done by following these four steps:
  1. Identify the reason for you and your team to work on this campaign.
  2. Set the goals you want to achieve in the campaign.
  3. Collect your campaign data.
  4. Apply data analysis when the campaign has ended.
If you don’t set all your big data goals during the start (in Step 1 or 2), it’ll be too late by Step 3. Having a clear data strategy is absolutely vital when you consider the sheer volume of data that is available for you to collect.

Too many campaigns get caught up trying to collect as much data as possible, without really considering what the end goal will be. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the options available.

Instead of starting with the data itself, every campaign should start with the data strategy. Don’t be overly concerned with what data is out there; instead, concentrate on what your gamification marketing campaign wants to achieve and how the data collected can help the campaign get there.

To avoid drowning in data and missing your big data goals, you need to develop a smart strategy that focuses on addressing specific business needs that will help your marketing team reach their strategic goals. This will result in real value for your company.

I still notice a widespread perception among businesses that data and analytics are for their IT teams to focus on. Unfortunately, all this will do is create big data strategies that focus on data storage rather than the company’s long-term strategic goals. Your campaign’s big data strategy should be planned, led, and executed by the marketing team.

Looking great on the desktop, but not so much on mobile

Your gamification marketing campaign likely will be played just as much on mobile devices as it will on desktops or laptops. Actually, in my experience, there is a pretty good chance that the percentage of mobile users will be considerable higher than the percentage of desktop or laptop users.

For your mobile device audience, you want to prevent the frustration and difficulties that result from navigating a poorly designed mobile version of your campaign. Unfortunately, this means that you’ll need to support as wide a range of mobile devices as possible, each of which has its own frustrating display resolutions.

Your priority should be to create the best possible experience for your audience, no matter where they view your campaign. This could be on a mobile device, desktop, laptop, tablet, or even a smart TV. Your audience’s journey can be on any of these devices, and a poor experience will turn them away from your campaign instantly.

Search engines such as Google reward mobile-friendly sites and punish ones that are not. This means that your search engine optimization (SEO) rankings will suffer.

Your audience will most likely move between multiple devices, so making a consistent experience is important. Most campaigns are designed for a desktop view, and after that’s approved, it’s refined to work on mobile views. Here are some issues you need to look out for when preparing your campaign for mobile devices:
  • Make sure your campaign doesn’t load slower on mobile devices.
  • Make sure the navigation isn’t unfriendly and unusable when viewed on a mobile device.
  • Optimize your calls to action (CTAs) for mobile devices.
  • Look out for any clickable elements within the gameplay that rely on mouse movements and are, thus, not optimized for touch.
  • Make sure that all your images have been optimized for mobile devices. For example, it’s important to be aware that a Retina display (used by most Apple devices) will make any low-resolution images you use in your campaign look fuzzy and pixelated.
  • Check that all text, especially text that appears in small modal windows within the gameplay, are still readable on mobile devices.
  • Design for a browser-based view that supports many different screen resolutions and adjusts for landscape and portrait orientations.
  • Keep in mind that web-based code for a desktop browser won’t always work for a mobile browser without importing another API or tweaking your code in some way.
  • Check that you aren’t using excessively large media files for your gameplay.

Not checking up on absentees

If your campaign allows your audience to register, make sure you have a strategy to check up on absentees. An absentee is any member of your audience who hasn’t come back to your campaign for a considerable time. How long this time is varies, but generally speaking, a week is enough time for you to classify someone as an absentee.

You should be able to contact all audience members via email through your admin portal system. However, go one step further and get your developers to build in automated trigger emails. For example, an email can be sent to all audience members who haven’t logged into the campaign for at least seven days.

There can be many reasons for absenteeism, and your emails need to try to capture the reasons. Some of these reasons could be the following:

  • The audience member didn’t understand your campaign. Send them some helpful tips along with a link to a short video that explains how to engage with your campaign.
  • The audience member got bored. This may happen, but it’s worth trying to understand why. Did they not manage to progress past the first level? Or did they not manage to obtain any goals? Send them some secret guides or insider tips to nudge their interest back to your campaign.
  • The audience member got busy and forgot about the campaign. Remind them of their personal progress and encourage them to get back to the campaign by letting them know how close they are to reaching their next goal.
  • The audience member didn’t have a positive experience. Give them an outlet to express their frustration and show them you care.
Using these techniques will result in a far higher success rate when your email reaches the absentees.

Missing out on social interaction

It is important to constantly interacting with your social channels.

Unfortunately, most of the interactions you see from your audience on your social channels will be to announce their grievances with your campaign. Here are a few tips to help you to deal with these complaints:

  • Never take it personally. Your audience is upset with your campaign, not with you as an individual, so don’t respond personally or negatively. If you do, you’re in danger of making the matter worse and encouraging them to respond far more aggressively.
  • Try to respond quickly. Even though you may not have the answers they need, as a starting point, try to reply right away with an acknowledgement. That way, they’ll realize that their issue has been seen and is being looked into.
  • Be consistent with your response times. Consistently provide this same level of response on social channels, even on weekends. Avoid creating a flurry of responses in the space of 1 hour to complaints made in the last 24 hours.
  • Take ownership. Instead of hiding your mistakes, own up to them. Apologize for any errors in your campaign, and do what you can to rectify them.
  • Try to take the conversation offline. By talking to the person offline, you remove it from the public eye. Quite often, when dealing with negative comments, other people can be triggered to join in. By taking it offline, you prevent the situation from escalating. Plus, it helps calm the customer, because you’re working with them one-on-one to help fix their issue.
  • After you’ve responded to their issue, don’t assume that you’ve fully resolved it. Within a few days, follow up to make sure you’ve met their needs.

Propose a hash tag for your audiences to adopt when discussing your campaign. Then keep an eye on your hashtag and respond to everyone who has used it. Keep your comments light and, if possible, humorous. At the same time, constantly drum up interest by using the hashtag yourself when providing information and news on your campaign.

Launching without marketing

A truly effective game launch for your campaign involves a number of different marketing channels and tactics. This means that you need to make sure you have all the right tools in place before you execute your campaign.

There are a number of effective ways to have a successful game launch. This includes the need to build interest for the game via a pre-launch marketing campaign.

Your pre-launch strategy should aim to include the following:

  • Optimizing your landing page for speed. Your audience won’t be patient enough for the site to load if it takes too long.
  • Setting up a separate Google Analytics for your landing page: Monitor these analytics independently from your main website stats.
  • Setting up tracking pixels on your landing page: This way, you can start gathering information on your traffic.
  • Testing your game repeatedly: Your audience typically won’t give the game a second chance so make sure it works.
  • Preparing a blog post for your launch: People love to see the personal side of game development, so talk about the people who brought the game to life.
  • Teasing your followers with posts that give them a preview of the game: Do this in a fun and entertaining way on social media.
  • Preparing a video demo of your game: Keep the demo short and fun.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Zarrar Chishti is a software and games development consultant who has developed and marketed more than 500 games for companies all across the globe. As CEO of Tentacle Solutions, he consults with teams around the world to develop gamification options.

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