by Mark Hayes
April 25, 2016

Gamification is an effort to advance business objectives by harnessing natural desires for interaction and reward.

As an applied form of game theory, it can be an efficient and cost effective means of enhancing brand loyalty and furthering profit generation.

However, care must be taken to apply gamification sensibly to avoid alienating the same customers it means to attract.

Marketing Made Fun

Though gamification can take many forms, the principle is similar in all its manifestations: customers interacting with a product through some form of tiered, stimulating reward structure.

Achievements, badges and virtual currency often play substantial roles in the process, just as in video games, and customers are encouraged to advance upward in the game’s hierarchy through increasing engagement with the product.

The particulars can differ from one implementation to another. Companies may use narrative to enhance a customer’s interest or provide education about how a product should be used.

Similarly, lightly competitive elements can be introduced to increase retention, though this should only be done in a way that doesn’t excessively disadvantage someone ­– and, more importantly, incentivizes them to try again in the near future.

How Can Gamification Help?

  • It makes your audience feel engaged. Games are fun for a reason; they create a series of escalating challenges that stimulate the mind and provide consistent rewards. Making your brand entertaining keeps customers coming back for more.
  • It increases customer loyalty. Indeed, some companies have leveraged tiered reward structures in order to foster long-term retention. Customers who perceive themselves as receiving more with each use or visit are more likely to recommend your brand to their friends as well.
  • It’s a great way to give instructions. Few things will drive someone away faster than dry, boring user instructions. Taking the time to turn instructional material into a game can make the content easier to digest and can ensure that your product will be used to its full potential.

Further Considerations

While gamification is certainly a worthwhile marketing strategy, it should be pursued as part of a multi-pronged approach.

The more advanced a given product is, the more benefit there is in exploring digital marketing avenues in social media and mobile technology, both of which present ideal mediums for gamification.

When it comes to turning marketing into a game, it’s more important to encourage collaboration and mutual progression for your customers than actual competition. This is an important distinction from games explicitly made to be competitive.

If the challenges are too great and the rewards too distant, customers can easily lose their motivation to continue. Gamification that’s stimulating, memorable and has attainable rewards is the winning strategy to pursue.

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