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Smartphones, tablets, and multi-screen media experiences have changed customers buying behaviour forever. The fluidity of how consumers jump between devices have left many brands playing catch up to the expectations of an ever demanding customer – but perhaps gamification strategies can keep them engaged for longer?
Not just your typical games
Gamification is one of the most effective strategies that brands can apply to keep customers engaged and it has been proven to be highly effective across a wide variety of industries. From education and training to product development, employee relations and customer engagement – gamification has worked well for many businesses over the years.
Gamification is the process of using game mechanics to encourage gaming behaviour within a non-gaming environment. The goal of using gamification in marketing is to motivate existing or potential customers to remain engaged with the brand and hopefully buy more. Gamification encourages positive changes in the buying behaviour of customers. Since it taps into the competitive and fun nature of a person.
Some of the most common concepts that can be applied from games into a wider gamification strategy are:
- Competition – Encourage individuals to perform better by ranking them against one another. A good example is how the running app Nike+ encourages competition across it’s entire user base. By keeping track of users running activities and displaying a user’s individual progress in a leaderboard. The leaderboard can then be seen by other users nearby which encourages them to run more and achieve greater milestones.
- Achievement – Whenever an achievement is unlocked prizes are exchanged. It can vary from points to tangible prizes. An example is how most airlines reward their frequent flyers with free travel after a certain number of flights or miles travelled.
- Recognition – Encourages individuals to collect tokens or badges to show their participation. The most common example is how Facebook gives out “Top Fan” badges.
- Social Collaboration – Share your achievements, provide recommendations and reviews. For example, Facebook allows users to share reviews and recommendations for brands.
When gamification is applied and implemented, it can provide some of the best results for marketers operating with brands in low engagement categories but any gamification strategy needs to support the wider marketing goals of an organisation. Nothing is worse than applying a new innovative strategy to a brand for the sake of it… the results will be disappointing unless it’s based on a business or customer based objective.
Brands that use gamification
There are hundreds of brands that leverage gamification to drive customer acquisition and engagement initiatives. Here are a few examples:
eBay is one of the best examples of using gamification as its main business strategy. The process of auctioning and bidding has made the e-commerce giant a fun and competitive place to buy items. It increases the fun of purchasing an item when buyers feel the rush of competing to place higher bids. The seller is also rewarded with badges when they achieve certain sales and feedback milestones.
Nike+ direct consumer participation
Nike+ has used gamification to encourage better customer relationship. Consumers who enjoy exercising can set goals, get motivated, receive feedback, share results and compare their performance with other runners. They can also enjoy achievement rewards. Nike+ is considered the number 1 running app in the United States and Europe. The user base achieves a staggering 50 million miles of running per month.
Nike+ also extended extended it’s self by allowing non-nike customers to use the app and it’s users do not only access the app on their mobiles- users can also track activities like basketball or indoor exercises through their Xbox.
Important considerations for gamification success
Businesses should consider the following questions when considering the use of gamification:
- What are the goals of your business? Why are you adding gamification elements into your organisation’s design?
- What is in it for the customer? How will it benefit them and what are the actions that you expect them to take? Which segment of the market is most likely to adapt gamification and how valuable are they?
- What measurables and KPIS are in place to help you understand the benefits of gamification? What metrics will define its success or failure?
- How can gamification be applied to customer loyalty and the wider customer relationship strategy?
Social or transaction-based loyalty initiatives?
One of the most common ways to improve purchase behaviour is by applying transaction-based loyalty. It is so successful that almost every business in every country applies transaction-based loyalty rewards. It allows them to get customer insight and encourage customers to buy more. Even though there are some suggestions that this approach is getting outdated, the value of knowing who the VIP customers are can ensure that those who are the most profitable are always looked after and retained for longer.
Brands should always be ready to adapt what they offer to meet their customers changing needs. Gamification is an amazing concept that can be applied to improve customer engagement. It provides several benefits like flexible rewards, recognition and instant gratification.
The best areas where brands can drive customer loyalty
As customers spend more time online and have the ability to switch brands at the click of a button, brands are increasingly under pressure to find ways to encourage customer engagement and loyalty. The engagement data from a gamified customer loyalty programme can really help businesses get a detailed understanding of their consumer’s behaviour.
One of the crucial elements of a gamificatoin strategy are establishing the customer behaviour which gets rewarded. It goes without saying that everything should be measurable so the marketing team can optimise their gamification programme on an ongoing basis.
Gamification allows brands to open up a completely different relationship with their customers and understand how they behave, what motivates them and the incentives that will keep them loyal.