Five Ways to Make Gamification Part of Your Marketing Plan
Have you ever become a mayor on Foursquare, tracked your fitness goals with Nike +, or filled out everything you could on LinkedIn (because you had reach that “100% complete” on your profile)? Yep, me too. Guess what? We’ve been gamified.
Simply put, gamification is the concept of using game design elements in non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. And it’s growing. M2 research predicts that the gamification market will reach 2.8 billion in direct spending by 2016.
Gamification works because it satisfies some of the most basic human desires—recognition and reward, status, achievement, competition and collaboration. People are hungry for these things both online and offline, and gamification taps directly into this.
Take Weight Watchers, for example. It’s best known for its points system, enabling people to keep track of what they eat in a very simplistic manner. Their mobile app is an example of gamification—I know because I’ve been using it for 6 weeks. Take it from a competitive person, it works. I track my points, get rewarded at certain thresholds and basically compete against myself…and am now writing to you 15 lbs less.
In order for gamification systems to work, here’s what they need to do:
1. Give users motivation to do something (emotional investment, promise reward, personal benefit).
2. Give them the ability to complete the action.
3. Give them a trigger or cue to complete the action.
These three things working together is an effective way to drive user behavior.
Are you considering gamification as part of your company’s marketing strategy? Here are five thoughts to get you started.
1) Define adoption. What behavior do you want your users to embrace? How do you want to engage them and then get them on board? You need to answer this question before you go any further. Gamification effectively encourages customer engagement, but if you don’t know how you want them to engage or what behavior you want to influence, you won’t know how to motivate them to do, well, anything.
2) “Begin with the end in mind.” This is a blatant tribute to the late Stephen Covey. It’s a brilliant way to design a story with a beginning, middle and an end. Gamifying is a lot like developing a storyline. Watch your kids on their Xbox next time—each level up gets harder, but the rewards increase as you move through the levels. You need to define what your end goal is or your gamification strategy will have no purpose.
3) Spell out what’s in it for them. As I move through my check-ins on Foursquare I often get to be mayor of a favorite spot. I’m not a title guy, but I’ll take “mayor,” that’s pretty cool. Of course, getting kicked off my mayoral mountaintop is no fun and is often enough motivation for me to try to regain the title. And when I get surprised with a nice discount at my local sushi hangout, yeeehaw—all the better. See what just happened there? I spelled out what’s in it for me. That’s exactly what your users will want to know before they engage.
4) Pick a gamification platform. There are tons of them out there—Bunchball, Badgeville, Gigya, Big Door Media, CrowdTwist or Kudos Badges to name a few. Not long ago gamification was the domain of a few mega-hits like Foursquare and Zynga. Now it can be plugged into your website or app via licensing a third-party engine, widgets and APIs without writing a single line of code.
5) Don’t forget to appreciate. Gamification is not about creating winners and losers—it’s about engagement. Give a simple thanks just for playing. People spend a lot of time building their points and values, going after rewards and goals, and in their minds, they’ve developed a relationship with your brand. Connecting with them with some true appreciation for their achievements will keep them loyal. And with that, you’ve won.
Key takeaway: Gamification is on the upswing and it’s an effective way to engage with your audience. Be sure you know the behavior you want to influence, the end goal you want to achieve, and then go for it and make it a part of your marketing strategy. All work and no play makes for bored customers, so get your game on and have some fun.