By Andrew Hewitt, director of propositions, Global Dawn
Gamification was recently included at the peak of the Gartner Hype Cycle, and the word itself is being bandied around by marketers looking for innovative ways to engage with consumers. Like or loath the term, implementing game-centric design techniques into a marketing campaign does work. What may not be obvious is how it can be incorporated successfully.
At a basic level, gamification is the use of gaming techniques to encourage people to engage with a specific brand or business. This is done via the distribution of rewards such as status, features, points and levels, which allow brands to engage with users deeply within a platform – building trust and participation. Recent research from KN Dimestore and SocialVibe supports the case for game techniques, with 91% of people citing that brand engagement grew as a result of incentivised advertising. Proof that receiving something in return for participation encourages the customer to connect with the brand.
However, gamification is not simply about distributing rewards – it is focused on the experience and relevance of what the brand can offer the consumer to improve their relationship. This is a mistake made all-too often among businesses today. In order to successfully harness gaming techniques, there are some rules that must be adhered to before reaching gaming glory.
Match the brand identity to the technique
To begin with, brands need to examine their business objectives and audience as well as the type of techniques that they want to use as there is no one-size-fits-all approach. By analysing the commonalities between their target user and aim, businesses can begin to create a brand consistent, fun and relevant platform using gaming techniques. Game-centric design needs to be subtle and well-suited to the product. Effective gamification is about creating an experience with seamless and transitory consistency of the brand.
Use data to understand your user
Gaming techniques allow businesses to gather large amounts of data about their audience, gained from user’s preferences and the decisions that they make. The data allows brands to follow, measure and understand how their content is being consumed and what impact it has had on a person. By linking a platform with Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook, word about a great platform spreads quickly – so targeting the right consumer to tell their likeminded friends is essential.
Fun content and experiences are crucial
With so many brands fighting for eyeballs, a spark is needed to excite interest. By sharing content that is entertaining, a reciprocal relationship with customers can be built, from which they benefit from a deep sense of engagement and consequently, a high-level of brand awareness.
An all-too common mistake however is replicating content. Often brands will try to imitate techniques used by other companies – which is not only repetitive, but may not suit that particular business. Content and experiences should be fun and consistent with the brand but it must also be fresh and original. Gaming engages people because it is fun; the old technique needs a new twist to keep it relevant.
Build customer rapport
Gamification creates a rapport with a customer that cannot be achieved via advertising alone. With information overload prominent in the marketing sphere, it is important that any interaction with a potential customer is useful, engaging and most importantly, relevant. Gamification will enable you to build a loyal brand following but it takes constant regeneration of the gaming techniques to keep the consumer interested.
Marketing is becoming more and more about interaction, activity and creating conversation; gamification is the perfect way to attract and hold the attention of a potential customer but it must be done in an appropriate, interesting and relevant way. It’s a specialist marketing topic which, when done by experts, works extremely well. Whilst games might appear to be fun and frivolous, they deliver results and provide the added bonus of access to data, which informs the marketer further about their consumer.
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