The video game industry is worth more than $100bn worldwide, so it's no surprise that businesses are using gamification to try to boost sales.
The idea is that by adding gaming elements to the sales process, such as small challenges and rewards, you can increase customer loyalty and advocacy.
As in every game or competition, the participants have to be motivated by a worthwhile reward. It’s also true that the greater the reward, the more you can ask people to do to earn the reward.
Last year Gamification CEO Gabe Zichermann said that the reward customers most valued was status above their peers. His justification was people are already used to being rewarded with additional titles and status while playing video games.
Obviously gamification isn’t necessarily suited to every company, as it could end up undermining the brand values.
But it can also reap huge rewards. So here are six examples of brands using gamification in ecommerce...
US florist Teleflora gamifies its entire store using PowerReview's social loyalty scheme, offering points for actions including user reviews, comments, answering other customer queries and posting on Facebook.
There are additional points on offer if you are the first person to review a product or answer a question in the user Q&A section.
As customers clock up more points they are rewarded with higher levels of badges that identify them as a key influencer. There is even a leaderboard showing the top performers.
As a result of its social program, referral traffic from Facebook increased by 105% and there was a 10-fold increase in the number of pictures and videos being uploaded. Most importantly though, Teleflora’s conversion rate improved by 92%.
This is a neat example of gamification in ecommerce, but I think there are ways that it could be improved.
For example, very few of the people on the leader board have profile images, which reduces the social impact of the process. Teleflora could easily overcome this by offering customers points for completing their profile.
Similarly, though badges are awarded you can’t actually see them on screen. It would be an additional incentive if shoppers could unlock virtual flower badges for completing different tasks (e.g. for reviewing five products or answering 10 questions) and display them on their profile.
Cloud storage supplier Dropbox has included an element of gamification in its platform by offering additional storage space if users complete certain tasks.
A free account gives you access to 2GB of storage, but you can earn an extra 250MB just by taking a tour of Dropbox’s services.
There’s also 125MB up for grabs for connecting your account to either Twitter or Facebook, following Dropbox on Twitter or leaving feedback.
But the biggest rewards are reserved for referring friends – 500MB for each referral up to a maximum of 16GB.
For LinkedIn, its product is only as good as the quality of the data that its members upload.
So to encourage users to maintain accurate profiles it gives you a different status based on the amount of data you’ve included. Personally I’m an All-Star, but there’s still room for improvement.
This is obviously only a small feature, but it’s one that could be implemented on ecommerce sites to encourage customers to part with more personal data.
Children’s retailer Step2 uses the same platform as Teleflora, however I think the implementation is more effective.
Instead of a straightforward leader board it has a ‘BuzzBoard’ where members are rewarded for the amount of buzz they create.
Points are allocated for uploading photos and videos, sharing to Facebook or writing a review. However Step2 awards 15 points for a Facebook share, while Teleflora gives you one point for the same action.
One of the key benefits of gamification is getting customers to talk about your brand, so it makes sense to give big rewards for social shares.
As customers clock up points they are rewarded with new badges that start at ‘New-bee’ and go up to ‘Queen bee’.
Step2’s customers also appear to be more engaged with the gaming element of the site and tend to have completed a broader range of tasks. However that could be down to the type of products it sells.
As a result of the program the retailer saw a 135% increase in referral traffic from Facebook and a 600% increase in the number of videos and images uploaded to the site.
Fitness guru Jillian Michaels gamifies her workout plans by awarding badges to users who stay on track and complete their goals.
As we all know, fitness plans tend to start with gusto and peter out within a couple of weeks, which is bad news for a business that relies on people staying the course.
So as physical fitness in itself generally isn’t motivation enough, it makes sense to add an element of gamification to encourage loyalty among customers.
New badges are added periodically to keep the challenges fresh, with previous rewards including ‘Buddy Up’ which could be won by helping a family member reach their fitness goal, and ‘Jill Scouts’ which encouraged members to form ‘troops’ for an eight-week regime and earn badges while competing for weekly and grand prizes.
Back in 2011 Nike created an online game in which players had to help athletes stay warm while they trained outside in the cold.
A leaderboard tracked the highest scores in the ‘Winter’s Angry’ campaign as entrants competed for a trip to meet one of the athletes.
But it obviously wasn’t just for fun – the website also allowed users to buy the new Nike winter clothing worn by each of the athletes.
This is a fairly typical competition, but is a decent example of how a brand can use an online game to drive awareness of its new product range.
What other examples of gamification have you seen? Do let us know in the comments below...