Gamification Offers Measureable Results For Marketing And Engagement

Many retailers utilize social media and mobile marketing tactics to build two-way communication with consumers, increase loyalty and optimize engagement. However, a recent webinar from Badgeville, titled “How Brands Drive Engagement With Game Mechanics,” revealed how retailers can get more bang for their marketing buck across mobile, social and online touch points via gamification.

Also during the presentation, Elizabeth Shaw, Analyst for Forrester Research, shared findings from the independent research firm’s “December 2010 US Interactive Marketing Online Executive Panel Survey.” Results revealed that 64% of marketers believe their companies achieve the deepest customer engagement from users via their primary web sites. These findings present a perfect opportunity for retailers to utilize game mechanics on their web sites to boost engagement.

Forrester Research defines gamification as “the insertion of game dynamics and mechanics into non-game activities to drive a desired behavior.”


“When we see gamification implemented correctly, it really makes customer touch points and the digital presence much more engaging,” Shaw said. “This results in higher interactions and increased user sentiment; it also gets users back to the site, which helps stretch marketing dollars much further.”

However, a successful gamification strategy extends beyond games such as FarmVille and others that offer random badges to any sort of action, or creating some arbitrary points system, Shaw reported. “Essentially, gamification is leveraging innate human motivations that have existed and been used for generations to keep people engaged.”

To understand consumer motivations and develop a winning gamification strategy, retailers can tap into what Shaw calls the “Engagement Loop,” which covers four key areas:

Motivations: The desire for status, access, power, and altruism;
Actions: The need to upload content, share status updates on Facebook, complete a survey, and/or watch an ad;
Rewards: Virtual goods, levels and advancements for completing actions; and
Achievements: Badges, trophies, exclusive content, name on a leader board and other “prizes.”

Once consumers receive a prize or achievement, they are motivated to interact further with a brand, allowing the cycle to start again, according to Shaw.

To make online properties such as web sites, social networking accounts and blogs more compelling via gamification, Shaw shared three questions that marketers first must answer:

1. What actions do you want consumers to complete?;
2. What motivates these users (i.e. reputation, saving money)?; and
3. What rewards can you offer to drive the motivation (i.e. content, virtual currency)?

Huggies, Samsung and Starbucks Spotlight Gamification Best Practices
Shaw also spotlighted retailers that have utilized game mechanics in their engagement strategies, such as Huggies, Samsung and Starbucks. Huggies utilizes points and lotteries to drive site interaction and participation. Samsung integrates a leader board, badges and levels to reward users for particular behaviors.

Starbucks taps levels and points in the form of stars to encourage people to make more purchases via its rewards program. Consumers acquire stars with every purchase they make: the more items consumers buy, the more stars they receive. Stars are redeemable for rewards, such as discounts off purchases and free Starbucks beverages.

Although there is a variety of rewards, incentives and calls-to-action retailers can utilize in their gaming strategy, it is important to determine what tools will best optimize the four I’s for specific audiences: involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence, according to Shaw.

“Companies need to think about gamification from a strategic approach,” Shaw said. “When you do this right, gamification really can boost measurable engagements.”

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