Guest Post: Game Theory Marketing
What exactly is gamification? Though it is a wide concept, small businesses may use it as a way to attract and engage more customers through entertainment and gaming methods. Time flies when you're having fun, right? Gamification works to engage, retain, motivate and promote participation among customers.
Gamification has proven effective for retail, IT, trade, technology, entertainment, media, education and healthcare industries. However, each business can find something special to implement.
Apart from the self-educational benefits, customers can also generate unique content for your company’s website – it can be both statistics on site attendance, audience or suggestions in feedback. Customers are more enthusiastic when they can implement ideas for the products they like. That works great for engagement.
GelaSkins has an impressive gallery of artists whose work can easily appear on your MP3 player or cellphone. However, the creativity of the company’s customers is not limited – you can also become the artist with a comfortable customization platform for both individual consumers and businesses.
The competitive element is one of the main triggers of engagement through gamification, as many of us have a highly competitive nature.
Here is an example from Opower which is a sustainability website. The numbers changing constantly motivate users to try the company’s energy-saving products and solutions.
Games’ results are frequently shared online with the reference to the app or website where the gamification experience was acquired.
Panera Bread encourages its Facebook fans to participate in social donation for low-income citizens. A special focus is on social sharing by areas, groups or lists.
Customers are excited to participate when any rewards are engaged – even the minor ones. Though it may seem trivial to you, your customers may find little badges and personified banners cute. Moreover, your website content can be enriched by leaderboards, and big prizes motivate people even more. It all leads to growing engagement.
iVillage offers a branching network of rewards that offer recognition, unique content, new experience and points just to show off in the community. Believe me, the latter one is still quite valuable!
Customers want to learn more about the products or services they would like to purchase, and they would love to do it in an entertaining way. Boring walls of text don’t always work. You may need to engage experts, add tracking devices or use maps to make customer’s experience more engaging and useful.
Apart from a short interactive survey, Recyclebank shows you results at once and gives you advice on how to save energy heating up leftovers. It is one more way to prove the company is an expert in sustainability.
How You Can Get Started
Your task now is to make sure your gamification elements are attractive and worth intoducing. So how can you implement gamification on your website?
Define your goals. What do you want to achieve with your website? Adjust your gamification plan to fit your overall strategy.
Put yourself in the shoes of your target user. What would you like to experience online as a customer of this particular product or service?
Do some brainstorming. Try to analyze your experience using other websites. Is there anything you would like to be more visual, educating or competitive?
Be both a trend follower and a trend setter. As the latter is quite difficult, don't be afraid to take after other people's practices if you find them appealing. Develop your unique fun elements but don't give up on the classics.
Think about the design for your rewards, leaderboards and gameplay options. How can your website become an engaging source for customers? How can you make it as flexible and entertaining as possible? You can use customer feedback here.
Integrate your brand with the chosen storyline but don't be pushy about it. Your task is to engage, not disgust.
Combine attractive design and compelling game mechanics. Check the website yourself now and make sure the loading times aren't too long.
Always recognize your individual customers. Small distinctions are not costly but they give customers the irreplaceable sense of self-importance. So why be stingy with that little badge or reward?
Do some measuring every week. Are people actually playing your game? Remember that gamification is not all fun and games – you need to get results and measure them with the appropriate metrics.
Have you tried gamification for your website? What are your ideas for your particular industry? Make yourself heard! We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Helen Nesterenko is the founder of Writtent.com. She enjoys helping businesses create content their customers and prospects will love.