The Power of Play: Gamification Changes Customer Engagement
What is it about games that engage and delight us? The competitive drive? The sheer entertainment? From our first game of “I Spy” or tic-tac-toe, we loved the challenge and rewards of gaming. Tapping this nearly universal human competitiveness and our addiction to fun can drive high levels of marketing engagement, especially when games are informed by marketing data and combined with helpful purpose that will increase loyalty and sales.
Marketing has long been about arresting attention by creating a fun distraction. One way to grab attention, empower social sharing and help people have fun is to "gamify" your marketing.
Gamification — the practice of applying game mechanics to non-game environments to motivate people and change behavior — has been tested seriously by marketers since 2011, and is now mainstream. "Gamification aims to inspire deeper, more engaged relationships and to change behavior, but it needs to be implemented thoughtfully," says Brian Burke, research VP at Gartner in this press release. "Successful and sustainable gamification can convert customers into fans, turn work into fun, or make learning a joy."
Gartner and other vendors emphasize the need to motivate, engage and reward audiences to play. In the course of that play — be it customers or employee teams — people will discover new products, learn about their own interests and skills, and become ambassadors for the game (and hopefully, the brand that makes it happen).
The folks at M2 Research found that effective gamification can increase marketing exposure and engagement by 100 to 150 percent. They recommend elements of a great game include: Strategy (The Play Proposition), Creativity (The Mechanics of Play), Communication, Reward, and Virality (Share-ability).
An early decision that marketers must make for a true game is the player relationship — competitive or collaborative. Or, if your brand allows it, perhaps neither — as demonstrated by this great “Pizza Hero” mobile app feature from Domino's Pizza. It's inspired by gaming, but not forced into a construct. It's simple and useful: Stuck for ideas on the best flavor combo? The pizza slot machine feature allows you to just shake your smartphone and the app will pick the toppings.