You’ve most likely heard or even uttered the latest ‘it’ term out there for marketers: Gamification. But what does it truly mean? Is it a fad or is it here to stay?
Defined as the “process of using game concepts and mechanics to engage users and change behavior,” gamification is, at its core, a simple concept with huge potential for business.
In fact according to Gartner, 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application by 2014.
Why is gamification such a powerful marketing approach? Because it allows brands to combine business interests with consumer interests by making content entertaining and fun.
It may be a new word, but gamification is an old concept. It turns out we can learn a lot from classic board games like Pictionary and Monopoly by understanding who plays which games, and why.
By understanding how the psychology behind some of our favorite board games still applies to what motivates consumers, marketers can tap into gamification.
Here are four categories of game mechanics that marketers can take advantage of to drive customer engagement and brand awareness.
1. Express yourself
This first example is games that motivate people, which fall into the expressive category. Games like Pictionary fall into this artistic, demonstrative category, because they give consumers a stage and allow them to tap into their creative side.
What can marketers learn? Use an expressive campaign to capture or remarket authentic content, create a platform for your brand advocates, or a program that is incredibly viral.
Consider McDonald’s ‘Perfect Pair Contest,’ an engagement campaign geared toward driving awareness of a new Frozen Strawberry Lemonade, creating buzz around consumer generated content and getting people excited about the McDonald’s brand.
The Twitter contest asked consumers to nominate themselves and their significant other as the ‘McDonald’s Perfect Pair,’ and incorporated a video gallery, photos and a real-time leaderboard that consumers .
After judges selected the top ten Tweets, and finalists submitted videos explaining why they should win, all the content went live for public voting.
This helped the campaign go viral by giving brand advocates a platform to express themselves, which resulted in a wealth of authentic user generated content for McDonald’s too.
2. Fortune Teller
By fortune teller – think games like the Magic 8 Ball. These games are simple interactions and a fun way for consumers to learn about themselves. Marketers can leverage the same motivators to gain consumer insight, educate and attract new consumers, and better recommend the right product or solution based on consumer responses.
Madewell’s “Are You Madewell?” Facebook app and microsite applied a fortune teller type game to gamification marketing. The retailer tapped into people’s desire to learn about themselves via multiple choice questions about their lifestyle and preferences to find their fashion personality.
Madewell drove “Likes” of the brand on Facebook, increased its email database and increased awareness of the new ecommerce site. Fortune teller games and personality quizzes result in great data and analytics for brands.
3. Earning points & keeping score
Just as games like Monopoly entice us to play by offering competition, status recognition and even different payout levels, marketers can use programs that allow consumers to earn points based on complexity or value and track their progress.
Brands can further motivate ongoing engagement across a variety of activities and place variable payouts on different actions by using badges (as recognition symbols) and real time leaderboards (as status updates).
HBO’s ‘Win the Throne Sweepstakes’ used a similar gamification marketing strategy to acquire new HBO subscriptions, while retaining current subscriptions. HBO engaged consumers in a fun, branded experience by having them register and answer a few questions to categorize them into one of five families.
Participants could leave that family at any time and collect sweepstakes entries or points for activities like playing games, being in the top rated family, winning a bow and arrow shooting challenge, etc. The program motivated strong engagement across HBO’s Game of Thrones channels.
4. Skill-based games
Operation and Memory are classic examples of skill-based games. These games are mentally or physically challenging, or both. They motivate players to try over and over again, in an attempt to improve their performance.
In marketing, brands can use this psychology to drive high frequency and create a memorable educational experience. Brands can also encourage participants to share scores and challenge friends, making for a huge viral opportunity.
Arby’s “Fresh Catch” promotion increased brand awareness of a new sandwich by leveraging this sort of gamification. The instant win fishing advergame allowed participants to play over and over again in order to better their performance, or in this case, catch more fish.
The campaign went viral based on a wide range of consumers sharing scores, and participants came back over and over again to better their previous performance.
New word, old concept
Marketers can learn a lot from the board games we played on rainy days as kids. Gamification allows us to combine traditional marketing strategies with more innovative digital campaigns.
Everyone loves to play games, whether it is something more intellectual like Trivial Pursuit or more on the collaborative side, like Charades. This affinity to be challenged and to win, translates perfectly into marketing and turning consumers into brand advocates by offering them engaging games and interesting content.
Once a brand decides on the overall promotion goal, it is simple to build a targeted gamification program to support that. Can you think of any other gamification ties to old school games?