If you think that gamification is just another short-lived “term of the month”, then think again: according to predictions by Gartner, in 2015, gamification services will be just as important for consumer marketing and retention as the likes of eBay, Amazon and Facebook.
But just what is gamification? In this gamification guide we examine the concept in detail: including gamification examples.
What is gamification?
The concept of gamification is actually quite simple: it sees the ideas and techniques of gaming applied to consumers, employees and users. The idea is that these techniques can help keep them motivated; engaged; and loyal to a product. They focus on our natural desires for competition, achievement, altruism, status and community collaboration. They can be used by businesses to drive consumers towards behaviours that will ultimately benefit the brand.
It’s an idea that has been around for years: we’re just now placing a label on it. For example, think of frequent flyer programmes. Typically, a passenger would accumulate air miles based on the distance they had travelled: which could then be redeemed for rewards. This is just the same as the gamification concept of rewarding players with badges and trophies.
The mechanics of gamification
There are 10 key game mechanics that those who support the gamification theory believe can motivate and engage our behaviour. These are:
- Feedback: By encouraging consumers/employees/users to reach a goal, and then congratulating and rewarding them for doing so, people stay engaged. Fast feedback is vital, keeping people focused on the next level.
- Transparency: Showing consumers where they stand is important: just like a game leader-board which shows them who they are above and who they are behind, as well as overall rankings.
- Goals: Challenges and missions are needed to provide a purpose for the interaction as well as to show what is achievable.
- Recognition: Just as a game will give out a badge for achieving a certain level; businesses can offer some reward to indicate some expertise or skill has been achieved.
- Level up: Boosting your status within a community while unlocking new rewards and missions will keep employees and consumers focused.
- Community: Sharing achievements is important to put those accolades in context.
- Competition: Similar to community, it’s vital to be able to compare yourself to others to create a sense of competition and further motivation.
- Collaboration: Helping people to work with others is another great concept for engagement as nobody wants to let their team down.
- Onboarding: Typically, video games offer training on how to play a game as you are playing. This can be applied to businesses too: helping employees become engaged by mastering basic tasks before they are overloaded with more detail.
- Points: It is perhaps the simplest and most tangible way of staying engaged: offer a points system that gives clear goals and creates an easy way to compare your efforts to those of others.
The theory of gamification sounds good: but what benefits does it produce for your business? Here are some of the possible advantages:
- Engagement: Above all, gamification is about keeping consumers and users engaged in your business. This might mean that they spend more time on your website; increase the number of visits; purchase your product exclusively or regularly. By creating these gamification processes, conversions should be higher.
- Influence: Building incentives gives you influence over consumers: pushing them to complete tasks. This can even be applied to education if you think of a pupil being influenced to complete his homework.
- Loyalty: Constantly turning to your brand instead of others: there is arguably no greater reward from gamification.
- UGC: If your gamification strategy involves user generated content, then this can have great benefits for your company’s website: lifting its rankings and boosting its Google positioning.
- Virality: People should spend more time talking about your product on social networks, etc: pushing more people to become involved.
So is the concept of gamification actually working in the real world? The short answer is “yes”. From education to social interaction, gamification can be applied in numerous sectors. Just look at these examples of gamification in marketing:
- Loyalty programmes: My Starbucks Rewards is an app that gives points and badges to people who visit the store regularly. Many other loyalty programmes recognise VIPs with exclusive offers and deals.
- Communities: Back in 2010, Marketo launched the Marketo Community as a place where consumers could connect with each other and share their expertise about certain products. The result was a surge in community engagement.
- Software: Autodesk introduced Undiscovered Territory for trial users of its 3DS Max product. Data later showed that users were twice as likely to purchase a product after using the software.
In addition, gamification has been used with great success by enterprises too. For example, when Deloitte struggled to get employees to use its Leadership Academy software, where they could increase their corporate training, it implemented gamification. The result was that employees completed courses 50 per cent faster: and some even described it as “addictive” as it inspired friendly competition.
So whatever sector you are focused on – from health to education; from marketing to enterprises; and from government to communities; think carefully about how gamification could be applied and the rewards for your business may be endless.