Between the complete saturation of marketing that consumers deal with on a day-to-day basis, and the overflow of local business competing against your marketing efforts; is it any wonder that most business fall into a stream of mediocrity and forgetful marketing?
If your brand is to have any chance at holding the interest of potential customers, creating unique and engagement-worthy content is a good start. One way brands are driving engagement and cutting through the noise is with gamification marketing, this helps you to promote your brand while creating a fun experience for customers.
McDonald’s annual Monopoly campaign is a great case of gamification being applied to a marketing effort. What was meant to be a one-off campaign was so successful that it is now an ongoing campaign every year.
Gamification taps into competitive human nature. Winning makes people feel good, and they’re more likely to engage with a brand if they have a chance of winning something.
If you’ve never created a Gamification campaign before, or you’ve tried and felt like you were in over your head, it can seem like it isn’t worth the hassle of putting too much work into the game process; but if you’re serious about getting returns and new business, you need to think your marketing strategy all the way through before commissioning a game.
Before we get into our list of practical implementation steps, we should start by disclaiming that each marketing campaign is unique and so with that in mind, not all points listed may be necessary for a campaign to be successful. With all that being said the following steps have been regularly linked to campaigns that have higher success rates.
5 Practical Steps when Implementing Gamification into a Marketing Initiative
1. Know Your Audience
Whether your marketing campaign succeeds or fails will depend on how strongly you target your audience. If you’re not creating information for the people who will eventually buy your products or services, you can’t expect to get new business. To attract new leads and bring them to your website, create content specific to them.
Do not make the mistake of getting caught up in an idea before you’ve truly analysed your customer base. Take time to research your audience; those that already purchase from you or those that you would like to become new clients. What are they looking for online and how can you provide it for them? Getting to know who your audience is and what they need means your marketing strategy will appeal directly to the people you’re trying to attract. Do not let a “fun” idea become a runaway train from what your customers truly need from you.
Age, gender, interests & location all matter when choosing a game. Some games have a user percentage that can be 85% male, while others are 70% female. Knowing who your audience is, allows for you to allocate the right kind of game in order to reach that demographic.
User experience is the foundation of effective marketing, however some brands get so caught up in their own message that they forget to tap into who their audience is and where their interests lie. Once you can identify your target audience it becomes inherently easier to build a campaign around that information.
2. Set Goals Beforehand
There are multiple ways your brand can take advantage of Gamification Marketing, but you don’t want to move forward without a strategy.
Is your Gamified Marketing campaign designed for the purpose of educating clients on a new product or service? Creating hype around the brand? Selling more units of a product or simply creating awareness? Having one clear priority helps give a campaign direction.
You would be surprised how often brands feel the need to launch a marketing campaign, yet never take the time to identify what it is they hope to achieve. Simply making noise in the hopes of staying at the front of a consumers mind is not a long-term, conscious goal.
While the main goal of your marketing strategy may be to sell more products, it usually isn’t that simple. You can’t have one marketing strategy designed to attract customers, help them find the right product AND purchase any item that fits their needs. Instead, you need to create marketing campaigns that have one main purpose.
Having an understanding of what you’re trying to convey and achieve within a game can really help shape the decisions made for both the content and elements within the game. These developments can ensure the success is accurately measured against your objectives.
Gamify’s eBook gives our take on the 8 core drives behind Gamification, first seen within the Octalysis framework which was created by Yu-Kai Chou. Reading this eBook can help you to better understand the human-focused design behind Gamification.
When you can incentivise your audience to engage with a game campaign, in order to help you achieve your marketing goals, you have tapped into the motivational science behind Gamification. An example of this would be in appealing to the competitive nature in people, offering leaderboards and incentives to share their score on social sites, in-turn encouraging replays, data collection and expanded engagement numbers.
If you start with a goal in mind, you can work backward and create games, quizzes, and contests that work toward that goal instead of creating a game and hope it benefits your organisation.
3. Campaign Duration and Long-Term Sales Efforts
When it comes to campaign timing; the length of a campaign and when it is launched are two extremely important factors.
Gamify’s recommended timeframe for most campaigns sits around the 6 week mark, allowing enough time to promote a following but not enough time for the campaign to grow stale.
You want your users to feel a sense of urgency when participating in the campaign. If they feel that they have all the time in the world to engage with the competition, they may be put off and lose their opportunity all together.
You might be tempted to throw out a social media contest in the name of engagement, but you need to make sure this process helps your sales goals as well. For example, your social media contest could be used to grow your email list and collect customer data.
While engagement is an essential part of the marketing process, the long-game should lead to increased sales and revenue for your brand.
4. Keep It Simple
Since the primary purpose of Gamification is to achieve desired outcomes through a designated pathway, game mechanics should be simple and straightforward. You don’t want to complicate matters with point systems that are hard to comprehend or leaderboards that involve a complex set of rules and criteria.
Look for easy ways to add Gamification to your content and slowly roll out small prizes. Customers run mental risk/reward comparisons when faced with challenges, so if your contest or game requires too much thought to figure out or work to submit an entry, then most people will move on, leaving your contest untouched and engagement levels low.
Keep it as basic as possible so that users know how to earn the rewards and why they’re important. Gamification doesn’t need to be complicated in order for it to work, in fact, Gamification experts have advocated for the simplicity of Gamification.
This is particularly important for retailers just starting out with Gamification Marketing. You will be learning the ropes along with your customers. The harder you make it for them, the harder you make it for you.
Gamification is designed to increase engagement and desired results, if your game mechanics are getting in the way and hindering the outcome, you may need to look at how you can simplify the process.
5. Promotion Across Relevant Mediums and Creating Relevant Content
Gamification marketing isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. What works to drive engagement on social media channels might stall on your website or in-store efforts. As you launch your Gamification campaign, you should be mindful of where your target audience will be and what kind of content they will respond to.
Facebook, having a search engine like structure is still the leading social media titan. Most businesses, having both a Facebook account and page, makes the platform a great space to reach out to followers and inform them of a live campaign.
Due to Facebook’s ownership, the same goes for Instagram. Businesses are tapping in to reaching customers through their love of visual-based bite-sized content.
Twitter, while still having its own market, is unfortunately the lowest of these platforms. Although it has the ability to format its promotional posts to look like either Facebook or Instagram posts, it simply just does not have the same numbers as the previous two.
That being said, the target market can change up which social platforms you wish to utilise, for example, Gamify has had previous campaigns based in Japan where Twitter was by far the superior form of promotional reach.
Creating a game is all good and fine, but if you haven’t considered the most suitable media channel/s to use for promoting and playing your game campaign in order to attract and capture your audience, you could be shortchanging yourself. This may seem like a minor detail but an oversight in this area means you could be missing out on tapping into the most effective channel to gather data from.
Examples of differing media channels include:
Note: The channel/s you choose will be different depending on your business, target audience and goals.
6. Having a Content Calendar
With your channel/s mapped out and ready to go, you will find that when you begin sharing promotional content on various platforms, it can be difficult to maintain and stay on track. If you fall behind, miss a post or forget about a platform completely, it could ruin your entire campaign. Trying to remember what content to post and when can be a major stress. Sporadic posts and inconsistent messages may make your customers think you don’t really care about your online presence or campaign at all.
A lot of former clients tend to not have any plans towards promotional content around a game campaign let alone planning out a content calendar. Simply having a game existing out in the ether, means nothing. The old “if a tree falls in a woods…” saying comes to mind, except in this case, if a game exists on a website and no one is being provided game promotions, does it get played?
A content calendar can help you stay organised and ensure your posting the right information at the right time. Instead of needing to remember what day you should post something, you can view your content calendar each morning to see what should be scheduled for that day.
Furthermore, a content calendar allows you to see the big picture of your marketing process. You’ll know how each piece of content fits together to create the entire campaign.
7. Offer In-Store Gamification
Not all of your marketing efforts should target customers before they reach your brick-and-mortar location. Location-based marketing promotes your brand to customers while they are in your building and actively engaging with your brand.
When it comes to building atmosphere, some stores just want to have people present (think about how much more enticing a place looks when people are inside as opposed to an empty store). That is why certain chains and independent cafes/restaurants have adopted in-store competition as a means of keeping butts in seats.
Gamification is a fun way to get customers to engage with your business, pass the time, and form deep brand loyalty. It comes with the added bonus of allowing you to collect valuable customer data which will help you learn about and connect with shoppers and clients.
These games can be played on customer phones or in-store mounted tablets/kiosks positioned in line. Having in-store leaderboards seems to only further stimulate the competition amongst customers. These games are an immediate way to incorporate a social element to a customer’s visit to a store location, and improve that all-important first impression of the property.
Challenge your customers with games when they’re at your business using interactive touchscreens, digital signage, and free customer Wi-Fi. In-store leaderboards are another example of encouraging your customer base to get involved.
In-store Gamification is also an effective way to distribute coupons to customers that they’re more likely to redeem (ever noticed how many handouts go into the nearest bin?).
8. Know What Success Looks Like Through Setting KPIs
Do you have set KPIs? Is it to get 5,000+ plays or 1 million? Is it to get social shares and go “viral” and if so how many? Having a target to aim for helps focus all efforts on attaining those numbers.
KPIs or Key Performance Indicators are exactly what they sound like, by setting KPIs in place before your Gamification Campaign goes live, you have created parameters and a direction for the campaign to move in. The only way to know whether your campaign is working is to set KPIs and measure your results.
Measuring your results can come in handy when it’s time to create your next marketing campaign. The data you collect during this campaign can help you create an even stronger campaign the next time around. The information you gather should identify what kind of content your audience likes, what ads were the strongest and whether you’re reaching your target audience.
Without KPIs, how do you get an accurate read on whether or not the campaign was a success? Fortunately when it comes to Gamify’s marketing campaigns, our software system has been built to capture data and record all audience related analytics, on your end it is a simple case of identifying what success would look like from the outset of the campaign, so that you have a target to measure from.
Consider carefully where a game fits into your wider marketing plan, who’s it for and what would they like to play? What do you want to get out of your game in relation to your strategy and how much do you have to invest? These are all important points to think about and can be easily be overlooked in the excitement of commissioning a new game.
Whether you create a strong gamification campaign or not depends entirely on how well you know your audience and how much you prepare. If you simply create a campaign however you please, you won’t attract the right attention. But, if you take the time to think through what your target audience is doing, what they’re looking for and how you can help them, you’ll have a gamification campaign that grabs your user’s attention and consistently brings in new clients.
"I love Gamify. As a marketer, I’m seeing shifts in clients wanting to engage with their favourite brands and games are the ones fulfilling this need."Klara KuekmannMarketing Coordinator, Derwent Executive | Sydney, Australia