What is gamification?
Before we start our small trip into realizing the power of gamification, let’s start with the basics and stop feeling like amateurs!
Gamification is the process of applying and implementing gaming principles and processes into non-gaming activities. It’s not just about giving badges and “awards”, but about driving engagement and motivation, through entertaining, fun and exciting elements of gaming!
Gamification can be detected in small things, like collecting coupons to get a free meal in a restaurant, or major concepts, like the famous McDonald’s Monopoly project!
However, applying gaming techniques in marketing is not that simple. To be honest, it is like thinking how to create a landing page; you need a good way to get someone on your landing page and then making it as simple and elegant as possible for someone to be engaged and motivated!
Advantages of Gamification
So now that we are slowly becoming intermediate knowers of gamification, let’s talk about the pros and cons.
1) Greater Audience and Reach
Applying gaming techniques into your marketing campaigns will surely increase your audience and reach! As gaming is widely popular for the younger generations (millennials and generation z), it will boost your rankings in this age group!
2) Customer Behavior and Brand Experience
Letting your customers engage in your marketing games will surely influence their behaviour. Interacting with your game, they interact with your brand, giving them a true, original and authentic experience of what you offer!
This interactive experience will create a more customized and personalized brand experiences for your customers! So, they’ll feel more related and attached to your company!
3) Customer Retention and Data Analysis
This could be your competition’s K.O.!
By engaging customers (and possible customers) with your gamification techniques, you can collect all data needed for your business development strategy!
You’ll be able to analyze, report and use retention and loyalty statistics, qualify new leads and research on what audience your brand can gain next!
Disadvantages of Gamification
But of course, it’s not all win and no loss with gamification (but we can always hope)!
1) High-Risk Investment
Gamification is surely fun, exciting and engaging for a lot of people! But, creating the proper gamification scheme for your (possible) customers might need a lot of time, budget and human resources!
Well, that’s ok if it returns the investment (ROI)! However, there is a high risk of being too much or too little and repulse customers! Or, it might disrupt already existing customer loyalty programs!
So, think carefully and plan accordingly!
2) Long-Term Value
When starting to engage customers in your gaming, you should have a long plan of keeping them motivated and evolving your game!
If you just use gaming for attracting customers in a very short time, most likely they’ll get disappointed as easily as they got excited.
As such, if you feel like not being able to cater to your gamers’ needs, you might need to think of alternative marketing plans!
3) Secure and Hack-Free
As we stated before, gaming might require the submission of personal data and information by possible customers!
So, you need to make sure that your game is secure and no one can breach its security settings to gain access to all the information you have gathered!
Also, as people tend to get a bit more competitive than expected, you should expect some hacking attempts by “born winners”.
Successful Gamification Marketing Campaigns
So, to become experts on gamification marketing, let’s check together some successful, and some...not so successful gamification projects.
1) Magnum Pleasure Hunt
The company wanted to engage their customers! And they did!
Customers had to “hunt” hints of pleasure in different websites! But not just any websites!
The avatar was running through different websites of high-tech products, luxurious destinations, haute-couture clothes to gather Magnum products! Which is just in line with the brand identity of Magnum; pleasure and luxury!
The company even created a mobile version of the popular game!
2) Fun Theory Website
Volkswagen used the fun theory to connect its brand with beneficial social causes! The results were AMAZING!
People were telling other people about the “piano stairs”, the “slide”, the “speed camera” and the “bottle bank”.
For example, when the “bottle bank” was installed, about 100 people “donated” in one day and also the conventional bottle bin got used twice as much!
It was just something exciting, new and fun for people to do something good, while boosting lead generation for the brand!
3) Contrex Contrexperience
This one is probably my favourite one! Why? Because it’s fun, ground-breaking and requires team work!
So, the brand identity is highly connected with fitness and diet! But, before this campaign, its rates were declining!
They installed 10 bikes on a square and connected them with electricity, music and lights! People would realise that as soon as they started biking and the audiovisual panorama would commence!
The results? 9 million € worth of earned media, 4% increase on sales after 26 years of decline!
Unsuccessful Gamification Marketing Campaigns
1) Marriott Hotel Game
It’s heartbreaking just to write about this one!
Marriott decided to utilize gaming to recruit people that knew what running a hotel is like!
It created a Farmville-like game on Facebook, which started with you helping in the cuisine!
And you had to purchase lettuce and overview the overall quality of the food served!
It is as fun and exciting as it seems; not at all!
The game was supposed to be developed and integrate other procedures and units of the hotel management process, but probably, the company decided to invest the budget somewhere else!
2) Adobe Photoshop Game
Adobe Systems gamified the trial period of its brand product Photoshop! To do that, it cooperated with Bunchball to create the “Level Up For Photoshop”.
It was meant to engage the customers and convert leads into permanent users of the product!
However, it didn’t work out as it was expected!
Even though people enjoyed the game, it didn’t manage to convert them! Because it failed to provide them the motivation to engage more and on a regular basis!
3) Google News Badges
Oh, this one! Probably, the hardest to explain in terms of the creative idea behind it! Especially considering that it is Google that came up with the idea!
So, Google News rewarded people reading the news with certain badges, based on the number of news pieces and the related topic!
And that was it! I mean it’s fun to see a badge, but...
Nothing to gain, nothing to expect, nothing to motivate you!
So, are we masters of gamification now?
Well, being a master means a lot of things, but surely we are way closer to realizing gamification!
Gamification is not a technique to be used generally and vaguely!
It needs to be target-oriented, precise and exciting! It needs to create motivation, engagement and the need to go further, level up and be unpredictable!
It is a general framework of thinking, analyzing, creating and implementing new marketing strategies with one or more elements of gamification and its basic principles!
What’s your favourite gamification strategy? Could you think of any other successful or not so successful gamification projects?
Let me know what you think!
Till the next time, Game Over!
About the Author:
Christoforos Zafeiris works as the SEO Copywriter for the email marketing software company Moosend. He has always been eager to change the narrative and influence trends with his words; thus, copywriting is the only natural choice for him. Besides that, he has been an enthusiast of human communication, long walks and emotional storytelling.