«Fun is a very valuable tool that can transform a business by using it to tackle serious business pursuits like marketing, sustainability, human resources, human engagement, and so on.»
Kevin Werbach, Dan Hunter
«For the Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business»
If you want to nurture employee motivation and attract new customers with the help of gamification in marketing, then this article is for you. Take 10 minutes of your time to read this article and learn more about how game thinking can make your business more productive.
Gamification: What it is and Why it is for Brands
Modern market realities are such that marketing faces more and more new challenges in the struggle for consumer attention. Sophisticated marketing and digital communication channels objectively confirm the need to find advanced, practical ways and methods to increase sales, create a positive image, and win consumer loyalty. Gamification, which is widely used in the practice of world leaders in the B2C market, can become such a tool.
What is Gamification
To begin with, we propose to understand what gamification in marketing is. The term gamification itself, a process involving game thinking and its technologies to attract audiences and solve problems, appeared in 2008 due to the active growth of digital media. Today, it means using elements of the game and the mechanics of creating games in the non-playing field, which has acquired new shades and sound from the position of marketing. Marketing considers gamification as the introduction of gaming technologies for decision-making in the business and the struggle for consumers’ attention (both real and potential). Then, of course, we can talk about the practicality of implementing gaming methods offline in a company. But, of course, no one canceled team building and the “Best Employee of the Month” competition to motivate employees. The question is, what is the return on such events, and how it will affect the achievement of marketing goals.
Today, gamification is, in most cases, identified with the digital realm. Hence, the question arises, what is gamification in digital marketing? Is this a trend or a necessity?
First, this is an effective tool that focuses on the elements and methods of creating game tasks with their subsequent transfer to the marketing sphere.
Gamification in digital marketing relies on behavioral psychology. “Motivation – the opportunity to participate – the impulse” – these are the three pillars of the game model:
- motivation as a principle of gamification in marketing encourages potential customers to participate in the process. An experienced marketer knows users’ needs and promises to satisfy them; for this, they only need to complete simple tasks. So he motivates them to play;
- the opportunity to participate should be as accessible and straightforward as possible. According to the lightweight scenario, the minimum entry barriers to the game correspond to the banal human desire to simplify one’s life.
- impulse is a push that a motivated lead should feel indirectly through a call to action, a hint, a reminder, and the like, and lead him to conversion.
It is necessary to use all three elements simultaneously; otherwise, potential participants will lose interest in the interactive itself and, therefore, in the company or brand.
Gamification in digital marketing aims to build a well-functioning effective system of marketing communications and interactions, resulting in lead generation, conversion increase, formation, and growth of consumer loyalty.
Key Elements of Gamification
Launching a gamified model is simply impossible without effective gamification elements – statuses, ratings, scores, awards, levels, success digests, avatars, scores, leaderboards, and more. Below are perhaps the most common types: points, badges, and ratings (PBL).
- points (P) – the total reward received by a player or team for the phased completion of tasks. This is the easiest way to use quantifiable scales for scoring and interpreting results. For example, a participant earned points for simple iterations on the site – reading an article (10 points), subscribing to a channel (50 points), retweeting (100 points), and the like. Thus, he has reached a new level based on the accumulated points for the month and can move on to a new round of the loyalty program;
- badges (B) as rewards for certain successes are given to participants and can vary in denomination, status, importance, and so on. This is the most sophisticated gamification element in digital marketing because, against the general background, it stands out with its visual design and can please the client’s pride. After all, for example, it’s nice to get a badge that confirms the status of a VIP client upon reaching the limit amount of their purchases, a percentage of the profits of which were transferred to a charity project;
- leaderboard rating (L) shows the subscriber’s place in the internal system of the game hierarchy and can be based on the two previous elements. The more achievements a player has, the higher he is on the steps of the hierarchical ladder. The leaderboard is the driving element of competition among the participants and motivates them to new achievements, which will bring profit to your company.
It is important to remember that no matter what the internal currency, points, icon color, or leaderboard hierarchy is, building a gamified system requires a thoughtful and balanced approach to its structure.
Varieties of Gamification
The vivid examples of gamification in marketing speak of its wide varieties. In simple terms, we will discuss game mechanics designed for the target audience and the brand’s capabilities. Thus, a clear vision of the loyalty program and the availability of a mobile application with the sufficient investment will make it more accessible by implementing various mechanics. According to experts, the most common and in demand today are the following:
- counting items – involves determining the number of items in an online task and the presence of buttons with answer options. The correct answer leads to the brand’s website. Can be timed to an event or used by itself;
- crossword is a gamified process to find or guess keywords related to a brand. Used independently as an element or integrated with another task to pass the intermediate stage of the quest;
- puzzle – drawing up a thematic picture, divided into several parts (usually for a while). A correctly formed puzzle allows the player to receive a promotional code or other bonuses;
- find differences – the participant looks for differences between graphic objects, and the correct answer is posted on the company’s website;
- quiz (test) – uses the “question-answer” format and contains a small number of tasks related to the brand’s products. For correct answers, the user receives a bonus or other reward;
- labyrinth – the user moves through the maze, at the end of which there is a specific offer or reward;
- search for objects – the game takes place in locations associated with the brand and provides for finding hidden objects in the allotted time. Reward – gift, promo code, discount;
- arcades – moving around the playing field, picking up items, and avoiding obstacles for a limited number of lives. While moving, the subscriber accumulates points or receives damage, which is converted into points at the end of the game and corresponds to the discount amount and prize;
- prize drum (roulette) – the user can spin the drum a limited number of times (usually three times). On the drum sectors, bonus offers from the brand or neutral positions are applied. A win is a discount coupon or prize that can be received within a certain period of time.
Such a list is universal but far from being limited by the possibilities of gamification in marketing. A 100% cool and effective game can only be created using complex game mechanics with the involvement of professional developers and marketers.
How Gamification is used in Email Marketing
Gamification in email marketing is another common way to implement gaming technologies in business. At the same time, email newsletters should have an element of motivation for future subscribers, be tied to a specific event, and have a precise target setting. The effectiveness of gamification through email can be judged by the open and click-through rates (CTR).
Having received an e-mail, the addressee should be interested in the process of the game itself and then move on to the category of active leads. Tests, polls, arcades, lotteries, and other mechanics will help. Then, just add some gamification to your emails. To do this, we recommend using the services of professional digital agencies. They will select the best tariff plan for you and create personalized gaming tools for your target audience. In addition, free packages containing ready-made email templates, an email scheduler, and minimal analytics allow a brand to send bulk emails for free.
The Power of Gamification in Digital Marketing
The participant’s behavior or his action must be precisely and objectively evaluated. At the same time, players will strive to squeeze the maximum result from your game at a minimum cost. Therefore, the overall effectiveness of marketing efforts in this area depends on the correct choice of gamification elements.
In addition, brand compliance with simple conditions will increase the number of interactions with the client and cause positive emotions from such interactions. Therefore, we present to your attention a checklist of basic rules for ensuring the effectiveness of gamification in digital marketing:
- Come up with a reward (emotional or conditionally material) to encourage users to participate in the project. It should be understandable and valuable to your target audience.
- Add an extra reward – it’s always nice. It can be allocated both randomly (using a randomizer) and for certain activities.
- Make a free entry, which will increase interest in the game and provide one of the aspects of motivation.
- Outline the deadline for entering the game or joining it for free. You can limit not only time, but also the actions of participants.
- Set simple custom rules and a system of penalties for non-compliance. Over time, a dosed addition of new rules will not be so painful for clients, and the complication of functional tasks will not drive them into a dead end, forcing them to leave the project.
- Let participants compete fairly with each other as they move up the leaderboard. It is a powerful marketing gamification tool. Organize their communications within the framework of such a project.
- Make the user believe in their victory. The transparency of the formation of leaderboards will provide an equal opportunity to enter the TOP for all users.
- Virus marketing gamified content with social media. Word of mouth and the opportunity to share the result will help the company expand the reach of the target audience and attract new leads.
- Introduce elements of gamification intelligently, without throwing away raffles and contests. Control the brand’s attitude towards loyal customers.
- Implement gamification at different stages of your sales funnel and use analytics tools to maximize your marketing efforts. KPIs to help you.
Examples of Gamification in Marketing
Let’s turn to examples of gamification in marketing. Here are just a few of them that fully utilize the benefits of gamification in marketing.
- Duolingo has developed a gamification strategy based on the interaction of its students in its mobile app. Duolingo allows the user to independently break down daily tasks into mini-goals to achieve active subscribers. The achievement results can be shared on social networks and used for comparison with other students. External triggers are used to bring back former users.
- Another great example of gamification is the Nike Run Club app, which allows users to personalize their training program based on their current level. The Nike Run Club evokes a competitive spirit and wins trophies and pins in the style of the Nike brand. The application’s subscriber community is dynamic and based on the realization of the general idea of running as an integral part of life.
- The Coca-Cola Company has become a member of an affiliate program for Hong Kong teenagers based on a gamification marketing strategy. The result of the program was integrating the brand into a mobile application that allows you to launch the Coca-Cola Shake It game function. Fans were asked to launch an app and shake their phones at specific times to win discounts and prizes from McDonald’s. The players were motivated by the effect of unpredictability, curiosity, and surprise from receiving a gift. As a result, young people interacted with the brand with enthusiasm, which is fully consistent with the mission of Coca-Cola.
If you still have questions about why use gamification in marketing, here are the arguments in its favor. The use of game mechanics to solve business problems helps to: study the target audience and its needs; attract new customers and retain existing ones; give positive emotions from interaction; increase the number of interactions with content; increase the average check of the client; strengthen user loyalty; provide the necessary associative links; increase sales volumes; create a favorable brand image and much more.
Author Tetiana Dedilova, PhD (Economics) (KhNAHU)
Checked by marketer Victoria