Editor's Notes: Games: The New Loyalty Marketing?
Would you like to play a game? Most people would.
The psychological buttons games push, similar to those involved with love or drug addiction, are universal. That makes gamification a powerful tool in direct marketing.
Games are an excellent way to teach customers to do the things you want them to do, says Rajat Paharia, founder and chief product officer of Bunchball, who spoke at Direct Marketing Day @ Your Desk on Mar. 14.
Playing most games involves taking 100 little steps dictated by the game—you could call them microconversions—that are tracked and rewarded by the game/game creator. Those playful aspects get their hooks into deep psychological niches in the human brain.
"Gamification is serious," Paharia explained. "It's not a game; it's about motivating people through data."
A recent post on "The Psychology of Video Games" examined how people are known to remember unfinished tasks better than finished tasks, and how many games use that affect through ongoing "quest" activities to keep players engaged over the long term. (The site is worth a visit from any marketer looking for new psychological marketing levers.) That simple trick keeps your brand on the minds of your audience members, and the actions you want them to take on top of it.
Those may sound like consumer-focused tactics, but they're not. Paharia's session was about B-to-B loyalty marketing, and other members of the panel were doing similar things. Marisa Edmund, our 2012 Direct Marketer of the Year and the executive vice president of marketing and communications at Edmund Optics, spoke on the panel, as well. She discussed the game-like tactics Edmund is using to reach out to industrial optics customers.
This month's cover story shows the interplay of brand and direct marketing in United's loyalty program. Flyers love frequent flyer rewards. But I wonder, could they be made more excited if it were a little more playful?