While gamification isn’t new, it has grown massively in business in recent years. Companies are using gamification to improve user engagement, reward loyal customers, attract new ones, and increase brand awareness with great success.
What Is Gamification?
According to Wikipedia, “Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts….to improve user engagement, organisational productivity, flow, learning, employee recruitment and evaluation….” So there is a host of uses for gamification in business.
Increasing Customer Loyalty
On a basic level, businesses can use gamification to reward loyal customers with points, which are then accumulated to receive discounted goods and services. Similarly, customers may achieve higher discounts by increasing their spending. For every $100 spent, for example, they might earn 10 coins; and when they spend $200, they earn 25 coins and so forth. Once accumulated to a set amount, these coins might then be converted to ‘cash’ to pay for goods outright. Customers can also receive rewards for referring others so businesses can increase their customer base.
Improving Customer Experience
Gamification in business has become more sophisticated to match our online presence and expectations. It uses knowledge of our human psyche to develop games that encourage interaction and participation. Rather than customers acquiring extrinsic value by way of passively ‘earning’ token or monetary rewards, gamification offers intrinsic value – customers can experience the feel good factor as they climb the leaderboard, or surpass previous levels of accomplishment. – Or, feel disappointed and frustrated when they don’t!
In effect, gamification manipulates customers’ behaviours. That is; gamification appeals to people’s innate need to socialise, compete, learn, and to achieve, to encourage participation in the game. Providing meaningful incentives that provide intrinsic value will increase the likelihood of success; and if business owners have created customer personas, they will be more able to offer rewards that are relevant.
Greater Than Ever Brand Awareness
Customers can gain rewards for liking games on Facebook or sharing their experiences of products and services with others in the online community. Indeed, customers are encouraged to try and out-perform each other on their ‘tasks’ and climb further up the leader board. Additional awards can be gained for posting the most content and reviews across social media platforms and for incentivising more customers to join in. Using customer input online like this can create a real buzz about a company, and expand its reach enormously.
Example of ‘Big Style’ Gamification at Work
All sizes and types of businesses can use gamification. But this is an example of gamification at its best by the global giant, Virgin.
Virgin has launched a brand new app: – Virgin Red. Customers who download the app “can earn points, connect with other Virgin companies you’re a customer of, and unlock exclusive offers and competitions each month.” Prizes can vary from having a coffee with friends to getting cheaper travel costs.
During July, however, Virgin is offering its biggest ever treasure hunt in the UK – V Marks the Spot. Using clues on the app, customers have to solve the clues and answer questions to find virtual coins hidden around the UK. They could be on a website, in a store or on the app. Each coin is worth points, and existing customers get bonus points to get them started, while all participants can get bonus points for completing a variety of tasks along the way.
Players then use the points to unlock as many vaults as they can to win the trip and prize of a lifetime, including flying upper class to Necker Island to dig for treasure with Richard Branson while staying in luxurious, fully inclusive accommodation! The ultimate prize includes, ‘a year of Virgin Experience Days, return flights to New York with Virgin Atlantic, a year of wine from Virgin Wines and a year’s free rail travel with Virgin Trains!’
Now, that’s gamification! – Albeit on a much larger scale than small to medium-sized businesses could afford! It has everything. It rewards loyal customers, improves user engagement, and increases brand awareness while offering meaningful rewards and prizes. (Who wouldn’t want to visit Necker Island?) Smaller businesses can, of course, use scaled down versions of gamification to suit their needs.
Gamification, when designed and implemented correctly, creates a win-win situation. The customer wins by getting rewarded for their endeavours and the business wins by creating loyalty and extending reach.