Let’s face it: it can be all too easy for your brand to get lost in the constant stream of chatter on the Internet. Many companies rely heavily on their customer base to act as a digital megaphone: sharing, liking, and otherwise evangelizing for the brand in order to elevate brand awareness and prospect activity naturally. The key to effectively promoting word of mouth marketing without making customers feel used eluded modern marketers for many years – that is, until marketers began to look for insight outside their own industry and standard tactics.
Inspiration came in the form of the gaming industry. In October 2013, Gartner predicted the gaming industry would reach $111 billion by 2015 – a nearly $33 billion increase from 2012. Interest (and spending) in gaming has steadily increased with no signs of slowing down in the foreseeable future; savvy marketers have taken advantage of the gaming trend by extracting the basic tenets and principles from games and extrapolating to word of mouth marketing techniques. Their out of the box thinking paid off according to Gartner industry analyst Brian Burke: “By 2015, 40 percent of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations.”
So how exactly will features from Monopoly lead to real-life marketing revenue? Here are three companies who are already nailing the concept:
Game Theory: Woot.com
Many strategy games are based on giving players scarce resources in order to encourage strategic decision-making: should I continue saving up to build a city in Settlers of Catan, or should I build a road just in case someone rolls a 7 (and I lose half of my cards)? Many people are risk-averse and would prefer to be safe rather than sorry – a mindset Woot.com (a daily deal website) caters to in their business model.
The main premise behind Woot.com’s gamification strategy is to create risk in order to drive sales. The company releases one new product each day at midnight; consumers don’t know what the product will be beforehand, but they do know that there’s a high risk that the stock will run out before afternoon each day. The combined elements of risk, scarcity, and surprise all give players a sense of value and achievement when they purchase an item before it has sold out. Woot.com has actually turned making an online purchase into an achievement!
Play Time: Home Shopping Network
Fans of Farmville can attest to the fact that people love to have something to do while they’re performing another activity; in their case, they’re watering digital farms while browsing Facebook. As with any other business, The Home Shopping Network (an retail-television-channel-turned-ecommerce-mogul) wants to increase both customer engagement and time spent on their website – so they took a cue from Farmville and released more than two dozen mini-games on their website!
Over time, the decision to gamify The Home Shopping Network proved to be an excellent one. The users who participated in gameplay spent twice as long on HSN’s website and visited twice as often as users who opted not to play games. Achievement: unlocked.
There’s an innate sense of reward when one follows a direction and is recognized for their action. Just take Simon Says, for example—“Simon” says hop on one foot, spin in a circle, and wave your arms in the air. Players do it just because they want to be the best at doing what “Simon” says to do. Teleflora (an online flower delivery company) set their gamification strategy to operate on this very premise: their users participate in challenges like sharing posts, answering questions, and providing product reviews just to earn public, digital points.
Doubt that earning & posting digital points on an e-commerce website drives conversions? Tell that to Teleflora’s 92% increase in conversion rates after implementing their leaderboard!
Putting the Puzzle Together
So how can you follow the above companies’ lead into gamification? Try these tips to get started:
- Check out where your audience is. Women are the most active social gamers, while both men and women aged 25-34 enjoy mobile gaming. Match your strategy to your users!
- Evaluate your strengths and how they can play into a gamification strategy. Do you have a solid team of developers? Perhaps building out a mini-arcade a la Home Shopping Network should be your strategy!
- Research a variety of gamification and customer advocacy platforms. Services like Influitive can easily simplify and automate the process.