Gamification Marketing For Dummies
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Using gaming elements in your marketing campaign may sound strange at first. But gamification is a highly effective marketing strategy, no matter which industry a brand is in. When you gamify your campaign, your audience will have fun interacting with your brand, which means your company will increase its overall engagement. It’s a win-win situation!

The ultimate goal for gamification is to drive your marketing objective to collect big data. You can analyze big data to glean insights that can lead to better decisions and strategic business moves for your company. So, it’s not just about giving your audience a fun experience — it’s about gathering data about your audience while they’re having fun.

In the following sections, I explain what exactly gamification is, tell you how you can gamify your marketing, and share some examples of successful gamification marketing campaigns.

What is gamification?

Gamification is simply the process of applying techniques and concepts usually found in games to something outside of games — in this case, your marketing campaign. Chances are, even if you’ve never heard of gamification marketing before, you’ve experienced a gamification marketing campaign, whether you realized it or not.

Gamification can be as simple as incorporating badges or achievement elements. On the other end of the spectrum, you can develop a fully integrated gamification campaign, as when McDonald’s and Hasbro teamed up to create the McDonald’s Monopoly game.

Adding gamification elements even to a negative situation can make things a little better. For instance, when Google’s Chrome web browser can’t load a page for some reason, it presents the user with a simple yet highly engaging minigame, as shown.

gamification minigame Google added a T. rex side-scrolling minigame to its Chrome web browser.

Gamify your marketing

Gamification elements can be based off a number of game types that have their own gamification elements, such as trophies, badges, or rewards.

In my experience, when marketing content incorporates gamification elements, audience engagement increases. This increase in engagement means that your audience will not only remember your campaign, but also share it with their friends and family on social media. This means you have a bigger potential to increase your brand’s awareness to a far larger audience.

When you expose a gamification marketing campaign to your audience, they’ll start to think more about your brand, which can lead to a huge increase in newsletter subscriptions and can even lead to purchases of one or more products or services related to the campaign.

The most effective result of gamification marketing is that your conversion rates will spike as audiences become motivated to complete tasks for rewards.

Some examples of gamification

Here are some examples of gamification from brands you’ve probably heard of:
  • Verizon Wireless: Verizon enjoyed a 30 percent increase in login rates due to its gamification campaign. The company did this by adding leaderboards, badges, and social media integration, among other gamification elements, to its website. With this campaign, Verizon managed to engage with its customers on a much closer level.

More than 50 percent of the site’s users participated in the new gamification features. And users who took advantage of the social integration spent 30 percent more time on the site and generated 15 percent more page views than users who used the traditional login method.

  • Volkswagen Group: Volkswagen invited its consumers in China, one of its largest and most important markets, to help the company develop new versions of the “people’s car.” Participants were given gamification tools to help them easily design their new vehicle, and they were able to post their designs online. The designs were then open for others to view and rate.

The results were tracked on leaderboards so that contestants and the general public could see how the competing designs were faring. Within ten weeks, the online crowd-sourcing campaign had received more than 50,000 ideas! By the end of the campaign’s first year, at least 33 million people had visited the site, and the general public had chosen three winning concepts.

This campaign owes its success to the fact that Volkswagen recognized that participation in a popular business initiative needs to be not only enticing and rewarding but also engaging and fun. Because Volkswagen’s marketing team using gamification, the campaign went viral in China.

How gamification differs from other online marketing tactics

When I first started consulting on gamification marketing, traditional marketers viewed gamification as just a temporary fad that wouldn’t last. Today, gamification is one of the most profitable forms of marketing worldwide, with engagement from millions of audience members.

Gamification marketing can be very profitable and lucrative for your company. Over the years, I’ve helped and witnessed companies from all industries successfully implement gamification elements into their campaigns.

In the following sections, I walk you through the advantages of gamification and show you how you can take your user experience to the next level.

Looking at the advantages of gamification

Gamification provides the answer to problems inherent in traditional marketing. Gamification taps into the basic instinct humans have of wanting to play and compete. It also provides a way for all marketing campaigns to provide real value to their audience and a positive digital experience.

When you use gamification techniques, you’ll build brand awareness, drive engagement to your brand, and develop a long-lasting loyalty program.

Here are some of the advantages gamification has over traditional marketing:

  • It enables you to put some fun into your brand or message. Gamification incorporates elements of fun and competition in any marketing strategy. This is good news for your brand, because your gamification marketing campaign will actively draw people who want to participate, follow, and share your brand’s message.
  • It enables you to get better and more meaningful feedback. Sadly, we’re all inundated with requests for feedback from websites these days. Because of this, generating meaningful customer feedback for a traditional marketing campaign is rare. If you rely on traditional marketing techniques, you’ll likely have no clear picture of how your audience feels about your company, brand, and campaign.

Gamification helps make the process simple by offering a more engaging and fun campaign that increases response rates. It generates an emotional and immediate response from your audience because they respond without thinking about their answer. So, as your audience is being bombarded with requests for feedback, gamification helps your campaign stand out by making the process simple, seamless, and fun.

  • It generates loyalty. Your audience is inundated with all forms of noise — special deals, offers, and advertising messages everywhere they look. In order for your marketing campaign to be successful, it needs to engage customers, retain their interest, and develop loyalty. With so many options aggressively competing for your audience’s attention, this task is becoming more and more difficult.

Gamification can power effective customer loyalty programs, creating a more valuable and sustaining customer relationship. When done well, gamification loyalty programs have an impressive impact.

  • It personalizes your audience’s experience of your brand. Gamification marketing can create a more personal experience for your audiences during the campaign. Segmentation and personalization are critical to driving conversion, developing trust, and building customer loyalty. The more you tailor your marketing to your target group, the more effective your campaigns will be.

You can create custom game experiences targeted to specific audience segments and then develop these game experiences to your brand values. By doing this, your marketing campaign will connect with your audience on a deeper level.

  • It gives you big data. Big data offers insights from all kinds of structured and unstructured data sources to help improve how companies operate and interact with consumers. Gamification, which allows you to connect with your audience in a more interactive and intimate way, gathers valuable data that can be turned into new insights to create detailed market segments for future campaigns.

Gamification creates a lot of data that your company can analyze, especially when users are asked to sign in via social networks where a lot of your audience’s public data can be captured. More interestingly, this data can be integrated to provide context with all the other gamification data you’re storing.

  • It enables you to influence customer behavior. Gamification has a major advantage over traditional marketing campaigns when it comes to influencing customer behavior. A gamification marketing campaign engages universal experiences, such as stimulation and motivation.
  • It drives engagement. If your marketing campaign is engaging, it’ll be worth sharing. Gamification can help drive engagement by getting your audience to share your campaign with their family and friends.

Gamification plays on the psychology that drives human engagement — the human desire to compete and improve, as well as wanting to get instantly rewarded. The technology is merely the means to put that psychology to work in the business sphere.

  • It appeals to a younger audience. By promising a fun and engaging experience, your campaign will grab a younger audience’s attention instantly. Younger audiences have been quick to adopt the newer digital and social technology revolutions. This makes gamification an even more important method of marketing if your campaign wants to appeal to young people. Gamification forces your marketing to practice creativity, which is bound to draw younger audiences.
  • It increases reach. No matter what kind of campaign you run, one of the main objectives will always be to gain new customers. It doesn’t matter what market segments you’re targeting or which sector your company works in, increasing your consumer reach will always be a fundamental part of your marketing.

The brilliance of gamification marketing campaigns, in which everyday situations are turned into games, is that they’re layered and multifunctional, naturally improving both audience engagement and brand reach.

  • It builds better brand awareness. By using gamification, you can attract new customers when they notice your branding as part of an innovative and fun campaign. Your audience, old and new, will experience your marketing campaign in a fun and interactive way — an experience that will leave your audience more aware of your company and branding.

By exploiting rewards, points, ranks, leaderboards, and competition, you can encourage your audience to follow, share, and like your brand on social media. This way, you can increase your reach and, ultimately, your brand awareness.

Taking your current user experience to the next level

A gamification marketing campaign will trigger emotions that are linked to positive user experience. These emotions can play a very important role in the way you engage with your audience overall.

Here are some ways using gamification elements can affect your audience:

  • Giving the user control: Leading your audience toward your desired marketing goals becomes part of the user journey. Nobody likes to be forced to a destination. Most people like to feel in control. This is the core of what gamification is all about. Your campaign will become more like a “choose your own adventure” campaign, which is what’ll make people engage with it.
  • Going on a journey: Gamification elements can help your audience navigate where they’re going in your campaign. People like to know where your campaign is heading and where they are in the process. Consider a simple gamification element like badges: You can see how badges can act as progress maps for your audience. They know where they are in the process and what the next steps are. In a way, these elements help break up the journey your audience is taking, which makes it more manageable and engaging — and more likely that they’ll keep going.
  • Giving a real sense of achievement: Achievement is one of the most powerful driving factors for your audience to remain in your campaign. Whatever they do in your campaign, they’ll want to feel like they’ve achieved something. If you can make them feel a sense of achievement, they’ll keep coming back to your campaign. By using gamification elements such as points or rewards, you can create this sense of achievement at regular intervals.
  • Setting competitive goals: Your audience will be competitive by nature. Most of them will want to push themselves further and harder. By applying elements such as leaderboards, you can convince your audience to come back and try again. Competition is the driving factor behind the popularity of the Nike+ app.
  • Exploring: When you give your audience the freedom to explore, it creates intrigue and excitement, which are two very powerful and positive emotions. Of course, the gamification element should be carefully structured so your audience is neither overwhelmed nor bored. With a combination of levels, strategy, and storyline elements, you can transform any campaign into one that allows your audience to feel like they have room to explore inside your campaign.
  • Giving rewards: People love rewards. Earlier, I explain the importance of creating a sense of achievement. But this sense of achievement should be supplemented with a tangible reward. Consider the Starbucks Rewards program, in which Starbucks offer rewards after a certain number of purchases. Create your rewards in a way that your audience will go out of their way to get their hands on them.
  • Offering exclusivity: Your audience will do just about anything for exclusive gamification elements, such as status levels. Exclusivity creates intrigue and curiosity. Your audience will work hard to achieve that status. This is akin to unlocking the secret level on a video game.
  • Creating collaboration: Another key driver is community and collaboration. Community elements allow audiences to collaborate in order to achieve bigger and better things than they could on their own. If you can make your audience feel like part of a team within the campaign, you’ll create loyalty and a positive user experience.

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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