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Games are in our DNA – we can’t help being playful! As kids or adults we rely on our competitive spirit to win at life. In this article, we will review how gamification can be used to reinvigorate relationships, enrich customer experiences, create more engaged customers and build deeper, more enriched customer data.
What is Gamification?
Nick Pelling coined the term Gamification in 2002. Gamification is the application of game mechanics into previously non game-centric platforms to enrich engagement. It can be applied to websites, applications and can form the centrepiece of a brand’s customer loyalty and customer engagement strategy. The process of gamification aims to improve participation, enrich engagement, and deepen loyalty from customers.
Gamification can be applied in different fields like brand building, education and e-commerce. In the world of marketing, we see some of the most common use and adoption of gamification in customer relationship and customer loyalty programmes.
Gamification uses the desires and motivations which naturally exists in all of us. This is what makes it so powerful – it taps into our innate competitive spirit and our human desire – to achieve and win.
Some of the most common elements used in gamification are:
- Leader boards
- Game design and architecture
- Virtual currency
- Points – awards, redeeming, gifting, trading
- Achievement levels
- Achievement badges
- Character development and interaction
- Visual progress bars
These gaming terms can potentially have a role in the development, management, and delivery of customer relationship and if applied well can enrich customer experiences and data by gaining a better understanding of how they interact with game elements.
Is gamification a new concept?
Most likely not. Customer loyalty is a big game especially in the competitive loyalty programmes offered by airlines and hotels, where customers work hard to enjoy elevated status and benefits by flying more or staying more. Just check the frequent traveller forums and you will see customers proudly displaying their elite traveller status.
One of the most common gaming elements is the objective of unlocking new levels as the player progresses through goals. This fun approach is being used in many customer loyalty programmes where rewards and benefits can be “unlocked” as loyal customers reach certain spending goals. This strategy allows a fresh, smart, and dynamic approach to encourage customers to work a little bit harder and enriches the customer’s experience. With the prevalent adoption of Candy Crush, customers are usually already familiar with this concept!
Gamification improves customer engagement
Customer loyalty programmes usually offer their customers tangible rewards like electrical gadgets, free flights and cash vouchers. While these types of rewards are amazing, it can cost money and most customers will take too long to save up their points. Over time, this may lead to disengagement. With gamification, the loyalty programme becomes more fun, engaging and rewarding – delivering an uplift in loyalty programme participation and customer retention whilst also deepening and enriching customer data.
In the case of Aero Mexico, they offer a unique game platform where customers have the chance to wager their existing miles for additional rewards. Whilst gambling is not for every jurisdiction or culture, it does keep consumers wanting to engage with the airline because it has obvious potential financial benefits.
How can you start applying gamification into your business?
Gamification opens up a whole new dimension of how customer relationships and customer loyalty programmes can run. Here are a few key considerations when developing your gamification strategy:
- Apply principles but do not copy – Don’t just copy well known games. To successfully apply gamification into your business, make sure to understand the principles and techniques of the game. For example, adding a simple progress bar to your website will show your customers their progress.
- Test out – Make sure to research and try out new ideas. There are hundreds of digital tools that can help you measure your performance. Check out tools like KPI FIre which helps companies and their team measure and manage growth and Scientrix which provides solutions and tools for strategy execution and management.
- Start small – You do not need to build complex gamification platforms that will take your customers months to complete. Instead, start small and apply it strategically throughout the customer experience so that you progressively improve customer engagement.
- Be customer-specific – With customer loyalty and customer relationship management programmes often having the same look and feel, stand out and be different! make sure to give your customers a completely new experience by reflecting your brand and your understanding of what your customers need in your gamification strategy.
- Use games to educate – Gamification is a great way to keep customers engaged in product demonstrations and can be used to walk them through information and educate them about your products.
- Make it social – Multiplayer games are so popular because players get to interact and help each other. Introducing a social element into gamification can heighten engagement. Using leaderboards to ignite competitive spirit is a good example of this.
- Learn local ethics and laws – Make sure to review your local promotion laws as some areas are strict with the promotion of gambling, providing an incentive to children or promotion of controlled products like tobacco or alcohol.
- Consider virtual rewards – If you cannot afford real-world rewards, you can also develop virtual rewards which will keep your customers motivated and engaged.
Gamification can be used to reinvigorate a loyalty programme, educate customers, enrich the customer experience, build deeper and richer customer data, drive referrals and advocacy. It’s a powerful strategy well worth considering.