People love games. In fact, 59 percent of Americans regularly play video games. Take the success of social game Farmville. At the height of its popularity, it had 32 million daily users. Not only were millions of people willingly to spend hours tending to their farm in their free time, but they were also willing to pay for additional extras to “pimp their farm,” in a game, that, on its face, is repetitive.
By including rewards, competition and social status elements, that repetitive experience was able to keep users engaged for hours on end. The power of gamification lies in its ability to motivate users and keep their attention while enabling brands to direct users towards tasks which will further their business objectives, which makes it a perfect fit for brand marketing.
Elements of Good Game
The gamification industry is growing rapidly and rose to $2 billion in 2015. Consequently “Gamification” has become a popular buzzword for marketing professionals to use. However, as any gamer knows, not all games are created equally. In order for gamified marketing to work it needs to some key elements, including the following:
1. Clear Goals and Objectives
There must be a clear goal for the game. This could be prizes or ascending to higher levels. Having something that the user has to aspire to will motivate them to keep playing. These goals work best when they are part of a higher mission. You will note that in many of the most popular video games the protagonist is charged with saving the planet, rescuing the princess or a likewise lofty task. If you can give your games this same sense of gravitas it can really help to increase engagement. One excellent example of this is the World Bank’s Evoke educational game, which encourages players to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems including poverty and world hunger.
2. Reward Users for Frequent Play
Badges, rewards and points are great methods to encourage users to continue playing. This is something that Starbucks has done very effectively with their “My Rewards” program. When participants make purchases, they are rewarded with stars. As customers visit Starbucks stores more frequently they ascend up the levels. Rewards for participating include birthday gifts and customized offers. The program is so successful that in 2012 it accounted for $3 billion in sales.
3. Creating a Deeply Engaging Experience
One of the key challenges faced by marketers is getting customers to try out products with which they are unfamiliar. Unless prospects are able to experience the product, they may not be able to understand its full benefits. Conversely, customers that understand and appreciate a new product features are not only more likely to buy, they are also more likely to become evangelists for that product. An excellent example is Autodesk, which used gamification to market their new 3D Max product by transforming it into a gaming experience that rewarded users with badges for completing missions. The end result was that the trial version was downloaded 10 percent more and trial uses increased by 40 percent.
Obtaining accurate information about your customers can be challenging. Privacy concerns mean that people are increasingly reluctant to freely provide information about themselves. Asking users to register using their social media profiles can give you a window into your customer’s motivations and demographic information. It’s just one more reason why all businesses should seriously consider the impact that gamification can make to their marketing strategy.
At MRI, we are experts in integrating gamification into marketing programs to maximize their effectiveness.