Gamification is one of the new techniques now being used by businesses to attract audiences to their websites and engage them.

While a relatively new industry, the growth and value of gamification is already substantial. By 2016, the industry will be worth approximately $2.6 billion and by 2018 it will be worth $5.5 billion.

That is an outstanding 50% increase year-on-year but it is not surprising, according to some surveys, more than 50% of all large corporations will use gamification in their marketing strategy and business processes by the end of 2015.

 

What Is Gamification?

Gamification refers to the application of gaming elements to non-gaming processes. There are many reasons to do this, but one of the strongest and most successful applications is within marketing to interest and engage an audience.

Often, when a target audience interacts with gamified content, they feel an adrenaline rush, a sense of competition and the desire for victory.

Including elements from the gaming industry into your business strategy will result in a mixture of fun and business. This makes mundane tasks more attractive and can significantly impact your business’ marketing return (and employee performance).

 

What Is The Success Rate Of Gamification?

The success rate of gamification is rather dependent on the implementation like with any other strategy. Unfortunately, with gamification being so new, there are few organisations who understand how to properly use it to the best effects. For instance, many marketers believe it is all about winning prizes or virtual awards. While these are elements, they do not describe gamification entirely.

 

Defining Game Mechanics And Game Dynamics

For gamification to work you need to have a solid understanding of two crucial terms: game mechanics and game dynamics. Game mechanics is the fundamental actions, processes and control mechanisms which turn a normal event into something more ‘game-like’. Examples of game mechanics include:

  • Points
  • Challenges
  • Leader boards
  • Levels
  • Virtual goods, prizes and awards
  • Gifts and charity.

Game dynamics are what make the game challenging so the user feels the emotions that the designers intended. Game Dynamics include:

  • Rewards
  • Achievement
  • Competition
  • Status
  • Self-expression
  • Unselfishness

If you understand the above definitions and are able to implement them within your campaigns, you’ll create a more engaging campaign.

 

Learning From The Oldest Gamification Programs

While gamification as an industry is relatively new, gamification has been around for a considerable amount of time in many forms. The best of these campaigns have often been found to be very popular with customers and have entered cultural status.

From these early adopters of gamification, you can learn a lot about how to run your campaigns. So what were these early programs and what lessons can you implement in your own campaign?

 

Frequent Flyer Programs

120 million airline customers are collecting frequent flyer points on a regular basis. The success of the frequent flyer programs is so high that it has reached legendary cultural standing. Very often within a television program a character will mention about collecting their frequent flyer points on trips.

The frequent flyer program looks relatively simple. The consumer collects the points when they make a trip with a certain airline. However, in reality it is a lot more complex. There are different levels of consumer (i.e. Bronze, Silver and Gold) giving the customer satisfaction when they have moved from one level to the next. Then there are the bonus rounds, such as giving the customer bonus points for flying on certain days or within a certain amount of days.

All of these tactics means that customers often stay loyal to a certain airline, even if they are dissatisfied with the level of customer service. At the same time, customers often go out of their way to accumulate points to get to the next level or receive the next award.

 

Starbucks

The coffee chain has many different tactics for rewarding customers for their loyalty. One of the main reward options they have is by giving every tenth coffee free.

Another is their virtual rewards system. This is where customers can collect virtual points, which have no monetary value, to collect virtual awards. Customers can use their phone to check into different Starbuck locations and announce they have arrived there. Then customers are given challenges (i.e. visit five different stores in one day) to achieve more points and better rewards.

While there is no actual physical gain by the customers, there is a significant feeling of satisfaction from customers as they enjoy the challenges.

 

iPad Games

Games such as Angry Birds and Candy Crush are an excellent example of modern day gamification. With many iPad and mobile device games there are free options to play; only they aren’t truly free. During the game, the player will be presented with several videos or adverts. The user can ignore these and continue playing or proceed to see what the advert is about. In some cases (namely sport management and strategy games), premium points, features or currency are provided when the player completes a transaction or an action through the system.

For instance, Trophy Manager, the largest online football manager game, has a premium feature known as Pro Days. The player gets special abilities during any period of time they have Pro days. They can also spend pro days for other advanced features. The user can buy pro days or accumulate them from accepting offers or watching videos. While the whole game cannot be counted as gamification, the reward of Pro days for completing actions is a good example.

 

Turning Your Hand To Gamification

With these examples it is easy to see how you can create a gamification experience for your customers. The gamification system can be as simple as a reward for being a loyal customer and making regular purchases or as complicated as rewarding customers who complete various brand related tasks (i.e. taking a photo of themselves with your product at a famous landmark).

With these ideas in mind, you should be able to create a gamification campaign and with it drive audiences to your brand and keep them engaged until they convert. Afterwards you can retain their loyalty by engaging them further with more cleverly executed gamification campaigns.

Jake Burdess

Director at Aflua
This post is by Jake Burdess, the founder of Aflua and HEROIC. Jake is an English designer who lives in New Zealand with his wife and three kids.

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