Gamification: The Next Big Thing In Marketing?

If you haven’t paid much attention to the recent buzzword of ‘Gamification’, listen up!

Last week I went to Interactive Minds @ The Edge in Brisbane, and listened to three exceptional speakers talk about Gamification in marketing. I would have to say it was the best Interactive Minds session I have been to in the last 3 years.

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimension.” – O.W Holmes, Jr.  Tweet This

Listening to Kim Hopwood @kimhopwood, Adam Corney @Corney, and Dr Jason Fox @DrJasonFox, I had sparks going off in my head “why haven’t I looked at gaming like this before!”. The theory, the evidence, the concept…it all makes sense. Prior to this morning, I thought good Communication would change the world and now I am starting to see the real potential of using game thinking to change the world! Maybe Al Gore is onto something.

Rewards, motivation, competition. Gamification might be a new buzzword, but the principles and methodologies of game based thinking are ancient, and games are an integral part of all societies. Similarly in marketing, these principles have been popular for years and most commonly associated with loyalty programs. It is human nature to enjoy games, and companies are quickly learning that these mechanics are an effective way to create meaningful experiences with customers. With platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, there are more opportunities to really engage with your customers.

A buzzword is born… Gamification


*Google Trends: “Gamification” Screenshot taken 21/04/2013

So What is Gamification?

As Kim @KimHopwood explained, Gamification is the process of applying game thinking and mechanics to engage users (your customers). Gamification is a layer on top of your marketing that should aim to motivate, influence and engage customers by making non-game activities more entertaining.

Warning: Beware of using Gamification without using the right ‘strategy’ – a lot of marketing budget has been wasted creating ‘fun’ applications that seemingly engage customers, with ZERO marketing objectives actually being achieved in the process.

By 2014, 80% of Current Gamified Applications Will Fail to Meet Business Objectives Primarily Due to Poor Design Tweet This

Source: Gartner, Gamification Trends 2012

The exponential growth of Gamification can be aligned with the rise of the connected consumer. As consumers become more empowered through social technology and their expectations of companies increase, there is great potential for companies to proactively design positive experiences and push the boundaries of engagement.

The Gamification market is currently estimated around $100 million, and is expected to grow to more than $2.8 billion by 2016! Tweet This

Source: M2 Research, Gamification in 2012

The success statistics of Gamification aren’t great, but there is a real belief and strong evidence that these principles work. Goals, rules, feedback = results. It is a powerful tool to engage your customers, change behaviours, develop skills and drive innovation.

3 Reasons To Use Gamification in Marketing:

  1. Brand Promotion: Playing games is fun! While playing games you can develop positive attitudes, and positive brand associations. People have the desire to win, and we don’t mind telling people about it.
  2. Product Awareness: Make the product the hero. Nike+ have successfully developed a game (NikeFuel) around their product. You are motivated and inspired to use and engage with the product.
  3. To Change Behaviour: Reward positive behaviour and punish negative behaviour in a game environment. A great example of this “Quit Now: My Quit Buddy”, an App from the Australian Government that uses game mechanics to reward people for not smoking.

Gamification is not a short term strategy, it’s a long-term commitment. Like any marketing strategy, you need to test, learn, and optimise. Using these types of techniques as part of your marketing plan isn’t for all companies, and although the rewards can be huge, so are the risks. BUT, as our customers constantly evolve online it is important for us to start thinking outside the box to engage customers on a deeper level.

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