Some methods of gamification were used in marketing even before the creation of the term “gamification.” The most vivid and successful example was McDonald’s Monopoly back in 1987. The client, when buying certain goods, received a ticket of some color. Each ticket was part of the game board. The purpose of the monopoly was to collect all the pieces of the same color and get rewarded. In 2010, McDonald’s admitted this promotion was a key driving force for sales, and in 2013, CBS News reported that the Monopoly marketing strategy had a positive impact on its annual profit.
The term itself was coined in 2002 by Nick Pelling, a British programmer. No one seriously engaged in real product development with the help of gamification before 2010. But 2010 is already so far. And, of course, technology is not static. Now we can see how practically all the most advanced companies are trying to use gamification in their activity. It is necessary to find and implement such methods that will keep the customer’s attention longer, not only on a particular product but even just on a brand.
Why is Gamification Vital for Your Business?
Steady brand loyalty is stimulated more complicated in our time. The main reason for this is an extreme information overload that doesn’t allow focusing on just one thing. It became difficult to stand out among other similar offers on the market. And at this stage, many companies go into hard sales to somehow stand out. But aggressive marketing is not the best way to achieve long-term goals. Some people may be so offended by bold sales actions that they immediately hang up or leave the store. For long-lasting and productive customer-brand relationships, it’s better to choose soft sales. Now people favor conscious choice, which they make themselves. The client should feel that the brand values him/her. That each offer is personalized. At this moment, the company has an incredible opportunity to hold the attention of the client and prove that it cares and appreciates every customer. How exactly? That each and everyone enjoys. Of course, it is praise. Gratitude for choosing this particular company or brand, and it should be attractive.
A striking example of the successful application of gamification is the creation of an application for the Family of restaurants by Dmitry Borisov, the most famous restaurateur in Ukraine. The essence of the application is to reward the client with points for some actions in any restaurant of this Family, which are equivalent to certain dishes. The name of this application is Gastrofamily.
For example, when you download the application of some cafe, you will have 10 scores on your account, equal to the free dessert. That is, just for downloading the application, the client receives a dessert for free. Everyone understands that nothing prevents a person from deleting this application after his second visit. The company has already won because the person made +1 visit. And, most likely, he will leave this application somewhere in a distant folder on the last desktop of a smartphone because of realizing that cafe made a present for him for such simple action. Suddenly something else will be presented. And here’s another, but an already bigger, victory for the company. You get a place for free advertising and a direct marketing strike right into the mind of the buyer.
It was one of the simplest examples of the introduction of gamification in the marketing strategy. Now let’s consider in greater detail the causes of what is happening. Why and how gamification works, and will it work in the future?
The Quintessence of a Broad Concept of Gamification
So, gamification is the use of game elements in a non-gaming context to drive user engagement, loyalty, and motivation. Games are one of the most effective behaviouristic stimuli, and anyone can enjoy games if the company gives a worthy reason to do so. Send a dull message that a customer has won is an outdated marketing ploy. There must be some kind of benefit. It can be short-term or long-term, can be mixed, cumulative, and many other variations. It depends on the specialists’ imagination and the company’s capabilities.
For marketers, gamification is a way to stand out and use that emotional high of winning in order to close the deal on selling a product or service or just a good idea to keep your brand interesting. And here we come the answer to the question of why. The main reason is emotions. In the era of cold technology and distant information, people lack emotions. And, of course, the particularly positive. The feeling of victory, the feeling of community, and maximum attention are precisely for the single client. World famous techno-humanist researcher in game studies, Professor Frans Mäyrä, has argued that because we live in a ludic society where play has become a common practice, playfulness as an attitude and playful designs have an increasing role in our everyday reality.
We should add Gabe Zichermann’s words, entrepreneur, author, and best-known public speaker in the Gamification field: “Could it be because it’s 75% psychology and 25% technology”. It is this statement that needs to be deeply realized before thinking about the introduction of gamification methods. Most of all, gamification is about understanding that “if you can make something more fun and include notions of play, you can get people to do things they otherwise might not want to do.” If you feel a slight discomfort about the fact that this is a manipulation, you are partly right. Many researchers and even Gabe Zichermann point out the possible “dark side” of this technology. But let’s focus on the incredible positive possibilities of gamification, which are significantly more.
5 Essential Points to Create Gamification
When introducing gamification to marketing strategy, there are 5 things to remember. We represent you these substantial tips with the most prime examples of using gamification in a marketing strategy:
1. The first marketer commandment – know your audience. If you skip this step, all subsequent actions will not yield results under any circumstances. Analyze your audience. Think about what they might be interested in and what not. People of different ages, generations, genders, and geographical locations are interested in different things or a different presentation of these things, which is important. Do not try to chase the largest audience. Hope for the theory of probability that the chances of sales will be higher.
Also, remember that you will need to implement analytic tools. It is not necessary to introduce a huge number of analytical tools. It will be better to choose only the most necessary applications and focus on them. We present you with the most effective and convenient assistants: App Analytics, Singular, Adjust, Criteo, Branch.
Notably, they will help you to gather information to understand accurately the specifications of your type of customers. If you already have a finished product, or customers already use it, do not worry that you did not have time with gamification. Elements of gamification can be introduced into an already finished product. As easy as developing a completely new one.
2. You have already decided what type of game suits your business. And it does not matter if these are arcades, simulators, or the most common quizzes, maybe a strategy or even an action game. Now the main thing is not to overdo it and not to make instead of the system of game mechanisms – the whole game, which only an experienced gamer can figure out. Do not over-complicate your creation.
A good example of how not to make an application is Nimses. Its essence is to accumulate nims (points) that are given for the time spent in the application. The developers promise that it will be possible to use them as cryptocurrency and pay for real goods in the future. This application not only can not support the involvement of the client for a long time but there are problems with registration and first steps in the application. The application is so complicated with the help of extra philosophical ideas, and it is completely unclear how to use it. Experts recognize that the idea was excellent, but the execution just put an end to the whole product.
After all, the easier it is for the client, the better will be its attitude to the company. The less he spends effort and time sorting out the game – the more likely he will stay with the company longer. Remember about the precious attention of the client, which can dissipate when your game creates an impasse for him/her. All mechanisms should be developed according to the principle of the “golden mean.” A game must be simple but at the same time interesting and difficult to keep a client’s attention longer and not lose it.
3. The next step is to determine what benefits the customer will receive from interacting with the product. Here you must be sure that the company honestly provides these awards. Pledge and not fulfill the promise – not the best option for the development of a marketing strategy. It can be any type of your products, souvenirs, a new sample that has not entered the market yet, advanced ordering and delivery options, and even communication with a prominent company specialist. This list may be endless. It all depends on the capabilities of the company and the prowess of your marketers and UI/UX specialists. If you have doubts about them, then we will gladly provide ours, which will surprise you.
4. Gamification mechanisms should be so good that they can alleviate unpleasant tasks or the pressure of advertising on the client. Give the customer some fun, thanks to your brand. For example, not many people like to keep their budget. But if it looks visually pleasing and you are given a score for which you can drink lemonade for free in a cafe for successful budget management. This is a completely different thing. Do you know a person who loves to study boring information about corporate rules for whole days and watch uninteresting videos for work, and then take tests? But with a bright application that will show the rating table of all your colleagues and the top ten best-handed will be awarded a prize – a trip to the historic city – it really isn’t the same.
5. Last but not least. This is a visual thing. The graphics and gamification badge system should be top-notch. It gives your customers complete confidence that this is not a cheap marketing ploy but a well-thought-out qualitative strategy aimed at customer satisfaction. Here we simply cannot remain silent about the achievements of our UI/UX designers.
Just now, there will be no advice but a firm statement about the future development of gamification. Be at the heart of technology change. Do not go after the rest. Be the first user of the latest technologies in gamification. Your customers are worth getting the freshest emotions and experience. At the moment, it is an augmented reality that displays virtual information in a physical environment. This innovative tool conquers any audience. After all, what can be more personalized than the projection of your product right next to the person?
The Bottom Line
Compared to other, more traditional marketing tools, gamification can be an innovative platform for incorporating brand messages, promotions, and developing brand trust. It can work on almost any product or service and be adapted to any budget and at any time. Companies can play at practically any stage of customer interaction, including websites, loyalty programs, marketing campaigns, and the online brand community.
Like everything else, gamification can be done well or maybe worse. To avoid bad gamification, always approach this in strategically way. Softengi can show how your product may look good at once.