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From our Depsters April 14, 2020

Gamification: The Secret to Increasing Engagement

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Walking around the Digital City Expo, it was clear some stands were more popular than others. Whilst most companies are doing their best to reel patrons in with freebies and sales pitches, others have a queue of people waiting to get in. Could these companies have a more interesting offering, or be giving out better merchandise? With well over 100 exhibitors on display, ranging from popular retailers to media outlets, banks, agencies and everything in between, why did only a handful pique such interest? After some exploring and surveying, it was easy to conclude that games were the secret to capturing the crowd.

The human brain releases the feel-good chemical dopamine when playing a game. People crave interactive experiences and we’re hardwired to compete. The popularity of the expo stands and the booming video game industry prove this ideology applies on and offline. When the concept of gamification is applied to marketing, customer engagement rises; Ford Motors sold +$8million vehicles and Domino’s Pizza increased revenues by 30% after introducing gaming.

Here are 5 tips to introduce play to amplify digital marketing:

1. Consider users first and foremost

People react to games in different ways. Before assuming which games will be the most effective towards meeting marketing plan objectives, it’s recommended to conduct user research and create audience personas. Gamers can be vastly different. For example, an achiever personality will be fuelled by reaching preset goals quickly and attaining status, whereas, free-spirit types will thrive on quick wins and prefer exploration. Creating multiple versions of games and segmenting users is also recommended to best engage specific demographics

2. Don’t reinvent the wheel

In a marketing context, it’s best to use games that are already designed to work. This rule applies regardless of your target demographic’s difficulty threshold. Adapt common concepts of Tetris, Bejewelled, Candy Crush, Super Mario or shooting games since these types of games are ingrained in people’s memory. When there is virtually no learning curve, brands are much more likely to benefit from a high initial intake. 

3. Gamification is a strategic tactic

Games are best integrated into marketing plans to supplement what you’re already doing and shouldn’t be relied on as an end-all solution. Prior to launching a game define key messaging and objectives, as well as collate supporting content and creative assets. Promote the game with an omnichannel campaign through appropriate channels which may include social media, digital advertising, email marketing, media partnerships, OOH displays and so on. For retailers and FMCG brands, the in-store to online approach with games has proven to be effective. In this case, it may be worthwhile adding a pop-up booth or event to your promotional plan. 

4. Introduce a gamified approach

Adding an element of play is a fantastic way to engage users throughout the marketing cycle and gather results in real-time. Developing a game is one way to leverage this concept but it’s not the only way. In today’s digital age, asking a user to fill out a form is asking too much of their time and trust. They need to be incentivised with a fun and interactive experience; people are much more likely to respond positively to the action marketers are asking them to do. And with this data, brands are able to create personalised experiences that build customer loyalty. By gamifying light touchpoints with scratch cards, comparison games, topical quizzes, sliding puzzles and social polls, users are happy to get involved and are more inclined to share more data.

5. Make the value exchange fair

Let your users engage as much as they want to and don’t restrict play by making it compulsory for players to opt-in. UX trumps marketing in game-related tactics, although they intertwine to create the best results. If people are able to interact first, they’ll be much more likely to supply their details as well as respond to subsequent touchpoints. A common workaround is to incentivise players to give their details in exchange for unlocking additional features or functionality. The prize doesn’t always have to monetary. Personalised social media quizzes are among the most popular games on the internet that get played over and over again, just so the user can be named their favourite Harry Potter character.  

Games are a great addition to any marketing plan. Playful animations and user journeys are transforming how data is being captured and enhancing user’s expectations for how brands interact with them. Games are not only crowd-pleasers at tradeshows, but they’re also now being used in a wide variety of contexts during seasonal or launch campaigns and throughout the year in both B2C and B2B contexts but games aren’t just for marketing. More businesses are using games internally to engage their staff and manage performance, as well as fulfill inventory and interact with trade suppliers. Whichever way you’re planning to introduce gamification, remember to continuously measure and learn from engagement levels to improve the offering.

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