gamification

What Is Gamification And Why It Matters In Business

Gamification borrows key concepts from the gaming industry to encourages user engagement and experience. Some of those concepts include competitiveness, mastery, sociability, achievement, and status. The application of game principles to the business context, companies can design products that are more enjoyable to users and customers.

Why gamification matters in business

At its core, gamification involves taking a mundane task and making it more enjoyable. It does this by borrowing key concepts from the gaming industry that encourages user engagement. These concepts include competitiveness, mastery, sociability, achievement, and status, to name a few.

This increased user engagement is largely driven by rewards. In the context of gamification, rewards are in turn driven by game mechanics such as badges, points, levels, and any other factors which give performance feedback to the user and increase a sense of accomplishment. 

By tapping into basic human emotions and desires, businesses can use game mechanics to educate, entertain, and inspire employees and consumers alike.

Breaking down gamification

  • Gamification attempts to bridge the gap between a potential client and an actual client by making mundane tasks more enjoyable.
  • Gamification encourages consumer interaction with a brand through point and status-based loyal programs.
  • Gamification is subject to the same risks that all games possess. Namely, that consumers can become addicted and exploit the game at the expense of others.

Applications of gamification

Perhaps one of the most well-understood application of gamification is in the frequent-flyer schemes offered by most airlines.

The aviation industry harnesses well-known game mechanics in their schemes with frequent-flyer points, membership levels, and their associated privileges.

Though few will associate travel with playing a game, it is hard to deny that game mechanics are a significant reason for the success of frequent flyer programs worldwide. 

Gamification is also used in marketing to driver consumer engagement in much the same way as it is in aviation.

Here, gamification is used primarily to build brand loyalty through competitions, ranking lists, and loyalty programs that utilize point systems.

The goal, as in any game, is to keep the user playing. In this sense, the gamification of marketing strategies is very well suited as it increases the odds a consumer will be motivated long enough to buy.

The incentivized reward program used by Starbucks is a classic example of following up with customers through gamification.

Loyal customers receive stars with each purchase which are redeemable for free food and drinks. Loyalty program members also receive gifts on their birthday and can achieve certain levels according to how much they purchase. 

Gamification can also involve contests to drive sales. In McDonald’s Monopoly Time, the fast-food giant offered cash prizes in the millions for customers who held the relevant game pieces.

The only catch was that the consumer had to dine-in at one of their many restaurants to collect them.

Drawbacks of gamification

While gamification seeks to emulate the positive emotions associated with game playing, there cannot be winners without losers. In other words, some consumers will inevitably associate the game with a negative experience.

Businesses that use gamification in their marketing strategies must also strike a careful balance. Games must be effective in that they should direct consumers to take a specific course of action.

They should also encourage positive associations with a brand and be designed in such a way that consumers cannot exploit loopholes and win at the expense of others.

Games must also be non-addictive – particularly those involving products or services that are considered high-risk such as gambling and eating.

The hook model

hook-model
The Hook Model is a framework designed by Nir Eyal, author of the book “Hooked” which consists of four elements: trigger, action, reward, and investment. This is a process of gamification that helps startups create habit-forming products. 

An example of Gamification and the priciples of the gaming industry applied to business is the hook model, by Nir Eyal. This is a process and methodology which creates habit-forming products.

To prevent from creating products that are ethically wrong, Nir Eyal proposes the Manipulation Matrix:

In the Manipulation Matrix, in order to know whether a product can be gamified you want to be in the Facilitator box, where it both improves the users’ lives and the maker also uses it.

The worst case scenario, and a no no in terms of using gamification in designing your products, is if you build products that make users’ lives worse, and the maker does not use the product.

Of course, the most difficult part here is defining in which way the product might improve the user’s life.

More gamification examples

Let’s conclude by taking a look at some more examples of gamification from a few well-known companies. 

Nike Run Club

As part of the experience that extends beyond purchasing Nike products and services, the Nike Run Club app enables athletes to join a running community where they can measure their efforts according to a personalized training program.

In essence, the Nike Run Club motivates customers to establish running as a regular exercise routine.

Athletes can set weekly or monthly challenges, compete with friends, and even give back to the community.

To make the prospect of exercise more appealing, the app tracks metrics such as pace, location, distance, heart rate, mile splits, and elevation.

KFC Shrimp Attack

KFC Shrimp Attack is a video game that incorporates advertising – otherwise known as an advergame.

The mobile-based game, which was created in collaboration with KFC Japan and Gamify, encouraged customers to try KFC’s new line of shrimp-themed menu items.

Players were required to swat at shrimp falling from the sky to protect KFC headquarters.

While KFC Shrimp Attack is one of the most basic advergames, it attracted over 800,000 players and 600 hours of playtime.

Such was the success of the campaign that KFC had to shut the game down mid-campaign since it had run out of shrimp.

Under Armour Trivia App

Sports apparel brand Under Armour partnered with NBA legend Steph Curry to launch a surprise trivia game during the NBA playoffs.

After Curry’s first three-pointer in each regular-season appearance, a trivia game called Steph IQ would launch.

The elimination-style trivia app asks questions related to Curry himself in some way.

Prizes were offered to those who could answer all eight multiple-choice questions correctly, with a few entered into an exclusive raffle where they could win Under Armour apparel, playoff tickets, or a pair of shoes signed by Curry.

The campaign boosted Under Armour’s sales and increased viewer numbers of NBA games.

Duolingo

Language platform Duolingo realized that learning a new language was a daunting task many people simply did not stick with.

To increase the amount of time users spent on its platform, it introduced gamification across the entire learning experience.

To build momentum and foster a sense of achievement, the company introduced learning streaks, various social functions, experience points, awards, and user badges.

Engagement is further increased by Duolingo lowering a user’s experience levels over time if they have not practiced for a while.

As a way to solidify the process of learning a new language, however, the platform allows users to revisit modules they’ve already completed.

When a module is completed, the user is awarded a certain amount of gold “lingots” which can be redeemed in a virtual store.

These can be used to reward other users for their accomplishments or spent on game-enhancing features such as bonus courses or the ability to skip a level.

Key takeaways

Used properly, gamification can be an affective business tool, that helps companies connect the core problems customers experience, built into the product’s dynamics, to enhance the experience and value of the product for users and customers. This in turn, helps to build a more sustainable business model.

It is important to use gamification ethically, to build valuable products that improve users’ lives.

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Visual Marketing Glossary

Account-Based Marketing

account-based-marketing
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy where the marketing and sales departments come together to create personalized buying experiences for high-value accounts. Account-based marketing is a business-to-business (B2B) approach in which marketing and sales teams work together to target high-value accounts and turn them into customers.

Ad-Ops

ad-ops
Ad Ops – also known as Digital Ad Operations – refers to systems and processes that support digital advertisements’ delivery and management. The concept describes any process that helps a marketing team manage, run, or optimize ad campaigns, making them an integrating part of the business operations.

AARRR Funnel

pirate-metrics
Venture capitalist, Dave McClure, coined the acronym AARRR which is a simplified model that enables to understand what metrics and channels to look at, at each stage for the users’ path toward becoming customers and referrers of a brand.

Affinity Marketing

affinity-marketing
Affinity marketing involves a partnership between two or more businesses to sell more products. Note that this is a mutually beneficial arrangement where one brand can extend its reach and enhance its credibility in association with the other.

Ambush Marketing

ambush-marketing
As the name suggests, ambush marketing raises awareness for brands at events in a covert and unexpected fashion. Ambush marketing takes many forms, one common element, the brand advertising their products or services has not paid for the right to do so. Thus, the business doing the ambushing attempts to capitalize on the efforts made by the business sponsoring the event.

Affiliate Marketing

affiliate-marketing
Affiliate marketing describes the process whereby an affiliate earns a commission for selling the products of another person or company. Here, the affiliate is simply an individual who is motivated to promote a particular product through incentivization. The business whose product is being promoted will gain in terms of sales and marketing from affiliates.

Bullseye Framework

bullseye-framework
The bullseye framework is a simple method that enables you to prioritize the marketing channels that will make your company gain traction. The main logic of the bullseye framework is to find the marketing channels that work and prioritize them.

Brand Building

brand-building
Brand building is the set of activities that help companies to build an identity that can be recognized by its audience. Thus, it works as a mechanism of identification through core values that signal trust and that help build long-term relationships between the brand and its key stakeholders.

Brand Dilution

brand-dilution
According to inbound marketing platform HubSpot, brand dilution occurs “when a company’s brand equity diminishes due to an unsuccessful brand extension, which is a new product the company develops in an industry that they don’t have any market share in.” Brand dilution, therefore, occurs when a brand decreases in value after the company releases a product that does not align with its vision, mission, or skillset. 

Brand Essence Wheel

brand-essence-wheel
The brand essence wheel is a templated approach businesses can use to better understand their brand. The brand essence wheel has obvious implications for external brand strategy. However, it is equally important in simplifying brand strategy for employees without a strong marketing background. Although many variations of the brand essence wheel exist, a comprehensive wheel incorporates information from five categories: attributes, benefits, values, personality, brand essence.

Brand Equity

what-is-brand-equity
The brand equity is the premium that a customer is willing to pay for a product that has all the objective characteristics of existing alternatives, thus, making it different in terms of perception. The premium on seemingly equal products and quality is attributable to its brand equity.

Brand Positioning

brand-positioning
Brand positioning is about creating a mental real estate in the mind of the target market. If successful, brand positioning allows a business to gain a competitive advantage. And it also works as a switching cost in favor of the brand. Consumers recognizing a brand might be less prone to switch to another brand.

Business Storytelling

business-storytelling
Business storytelling is a critical part of developing a business model. Indeed, the way you frame the story of your organization will influence its brand in the long-term. That’s because your brand story is tied to your brand identity, and it enables people to identify with a company.

Content Marketing

content-marketing
Content marketing is one of the most powerful commercial activities which focuses on leveraging content production (text, audio, video, or other formats) to attract a targeted audience. Content marketing focuses on building a strong brand, but also to convert part of that targeted audience into potential customers.

Customer Lifetime Value

customer-lifetime-value
One of the first mentions of customer lifetime value was in the 1988 book Database Marketing: Strategy and Implementation written by Robert Shaw and Merlin Stone. Customer lifetime value (CLV) represents the value of a customer to a company over a period of time. It represents a critical business metric, especially for SaaS or recurring revenue-based businesses.

Customer Segmentation

customer-segmentation
Customer segmentation is a marketing method that divides the customers in sub-groups, that share similar characteristics. Thus, product, marketing and engineering teams can center the strategy from go-to-market to product development and communication around each sub-group. Customer segments can be broken down is several ways, such as demographics, geography, psychographics and more.

Developer Marketing

developer-marketing
Developer marketing encompasses tactics designed to grow awareness and adopt software tools, solutions, and SaaS platforms. Developer marketing has become the standard among software companies with a platform component, where developers can build applications on top of the core software or open software. Therefore, engaging developer communities has become a key element of marketing for many digital businesses.

Digital Marketing Channels

digital-marketing-channels
A digital channel is a marketing channel, part of a distribution strategy, helping an organization to reach its potential customers via electronic means. There are several digital marketing channels, usually divided into organic and paid channels. Some organic channels are SEO, SMO, email marketing. And some paid channels comprise SEM, SMM, and display advertising.

Field Marketing

field-marketing
Field marketing is a general term that encompasses face-to-face marketing activities carried out in the field. These activities may include street promotions, conferences, sales, and various forms of experiential marketing. Field marketing, therefore, refers to any marketing activity that is performed in the field.

Funnel Marketing

funnel-marketing
interaction with a brand until they become a paid customer and beyond. Funnel marketing is modeled after the marketing funnel, a concept that tells the company how it should market to consumers based on their position in the funnel itself. The notion of a customer embarking on a journey when interacting with a brand was first proposed by Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. Funnel marketing typically considers three stages of a non-linear marketing funnel. These are top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU), and bottom of the funnel (BOFU). Particular marketing strategies at each stage are adapted to the level of familiarity the consumer has with a brand.

Go-To-Market Strategy

go-to-market-strategy
A go-to-market strategy represents how companies market their new products to reach target customers in a scalable and repeatable way. It starts with how new products/services get developed to how these organizations target potential customers (via sales and marketing models) to enable their value proposition to be delivered to create a competitive advantage.

Greenwashing

greenwashing
The term “greenwashing” was first coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986 at a time when most consumers received their news from television, radio, and print media. Some companies took advantage of limited public access to information by portraying themselves as environmental stewards – even when their actions proved otherwise. Greenwashing is a deceptive marketing practice where a company makes unsubstantiated claims about an environmentally-friendly product or service.

Grassroots Marketing

grassroots-marketing
Grassroots marketing involves a brand creating highly targeted content for a particular niche or audience. When an organization engages in grassroots marketing, it focuses on a small group of people with the hope that its marketing message is shared with a progressively larger audience.

Growth Marketing

growth-marketing
Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Guerrilla Marketing

guerrilla-marketing
Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that seeks to utilize low-cost and sometimes unconventional tactics that are high impact. First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same title, guerrilla marketing works best on existing customers who are familiar with a brand or product and its particular characteristics.

Hunger Marketing

hunger-marketing
Hunger marketing is a marketing strategy focused on manipulating consumer emotions. By bringing products to market with an attractive price point and restricted supply, consumers have a stronger desire to make a purchase.

Integrated Communication

integrated-marketing-communication
Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is an approach used by businesses to coordinate and brand their communication strategies. Integrated marketing communication takes separate marketing functions and combines them into one, interconnected approach with a core brand message that is consistent across various channels. These encompass owned, earned, and paid media. Integrated marketing communication has been used to great effect by companies such as Snapchat, Snickers, and Domino’s.

Inbound Marketing

inbound-marketing
Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.

Integrated Marketing

integrated-marketing
Integrated marketing describes the process of delivering consistent and relevant content to a target audience across all marketing channels. It is a cohesive, unified, and immersive marketing strategy that is cost-effective and relies on brand identity and storytelling to amplify the brand to a wider and wider audience.

Marketing Mix

marketing-mix
The marketing mix is a term to describe the multi-faceted approach to a complete and effective marketing plan. Traditionally, this plan included the four Ps of marketing: price, product, promotion, and place. But the exact makeup of a marketing mix has undergone various changes in response to new technologies and ways of thinking. Additions to the four Ps include physical evidence, people, process, and even politics.

Marketing Myopia

marketing-myopia
Marketing myopia is the nearsighted focus on selling goods and services at the expense of consumer needs. Marketing myopia was coined by Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt in 1960. Originally, Levitt described the concept in the context of organizations in high-growth industries that become complacent in their belief that such industries never fail.

Marketing Personas

marketing-personas
Marketing personas give businesses a general overview of key segments of their target audience and how these segments interact with their brand. Marketing personas are based on the data of an ideal, fictional customer whose characteristics, needs, and motivations are representative of a broader market segment.

Meme Marketing

meme-marketing
Meme marketing is any marketing strategy that uses memes to promote a brand. The term “meme” itself was popularized by author Richard Dawkins over 50 years later in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. In the book, Dawkins described how ideas evolved and were shared across different cultures. The internet has enabled this exchange to occur at an exponential rate, with the first modern memes emerging in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Microtargeting

microtargeting
Microtargeting is a marketing strategy that utilizes consumer demographic data to identify the interests of a very specific group of individuals. Like most marketing strategies, the goal of microtargeting is to positively influence consumer behavior.

Multi-Channel Marketing

multichannel-marketing
Multichannel marketing executes a marketing strategy across multiple platforms to reach as many consumers as possible. Here, a platform may refer to product packaging, word-of-mouth advertising, mobile apps, email, websites, or promotional events, and all the other channels that can help amplify the brand to reach as many consumers as possible.

Multi-Level Marketing

multilevel-marketing
Multi-level marketing (MLM), otherwise known as network or referral marketing, is a strategy in which businesses sell their products through person-to-person sales. When consumers join MLM programs, they act as distributors. Distributors make money by selling the product directly to other consumers. They earn a small percentage of sales from those that they recruit to do the same – often referred to as their “downline”.

Net Promoter Score

net-promoter-score
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure of the ability of a product or service to attract word-of-mouth advertising. NPS is a crucial part of any marketing strategy since attracting and then retaining customers means they are more likely to recommend a business to others.

Neuromarketing

neuromarketing
Neuromarketing information is collected by measuring brain activity related to specific brain functions using sophisticated and expensive technology such as MRI machines. Some businesses also choose to make inferences of neurological responses by analyzing biometric and heart-rate data. Neuromarketing is the domain of large companies with similarly large budgets or subsidies. These include Frito-Lay, Google, and The Weather Channel.

Newsjacking

newsjacking
Newsjacking as a marketing strategy was popularised by David Meerman Scott in his book Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. Newsjacking describes the practice of aligning a brand with a current event to generate media attention and increase brand exposure.

Niche Marketing

microniche
A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.

Push vs. Pull Marketing

push-vs-pull-marketing
We can define pull and push marketing from the perspective of the target audience or customers. In push marketing, as the name suggests, you’re promoting a product so that consumers can see it. In a pull strategy, consumers might look for your product or service drawn by its brand.

Real-Time Marketing

real-time-marketing
Real-time marketing is as exactly as it sounds. It involves in-the-moment marketing to customers across any channel based on how that customer is interacting with the brand.

Relationship Marketing

relationship-marketing
Relationship marketing involves businesses and their brands forming long-term relationships with customers. The focus of relationship marketing is to increase customer loyalty and engagement through high-quality products and services. It differs from short-term processes focused solely on customer acquisition and individual sales.

Reverse Marketing

reverse-marketing
Reverse marketing describes any marketing strategy that encourages consumers to seek out a product or company on their own. This approach differs from a traditional marketing strategy where marketers seek out the consumer.

Remarketing

remarketing
Remarketing involves the creation of personalized and targeted ads for consumers who have already visited a company’s website. The process works in this way: as users visit a brand’s website, they are tagged with cookies that follow the users, and as they land on advertising platforms where retargeting is an option (like social media platforms) they get served ads based on their navigation.

Sensory Marketing

sensory-marketing
Sensory marketing describes any marketing campaign designed to appeal to the five human senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are enabling marketers to design fun, interactive, and immersive sensory marketing brand experiences. Long term, businesses must develop sensory marketing campaigns that are relevant and effective in eCommerce.

Services Marketing

services-marketing
Services marketing originated as a separate field of study during the 1980s. Researchers realized that the unique characteristics of services required different marketing strategies to those used in the promotion of physical goods. Services marketing is a specialized branch of marketing that promotes the intangible benefits delivered by a company to create customer value.

Sustainable Marketing

sustainable-marketing-green-marketing
Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

word-of-mouth-marketing
Word-of-mouth marketing is a marketing strategy skewed toward offering a great experience to existing customers and incentivizing them to share it with other potential customers. That is one of the most effective forms of marketing as it enables a company to gain traction based on existing customers’ referrals. When repeat customers become a key enabler for the brand this is one of the best organic and sustainable growth marketing strategies.

360 Marketing

360-marketing
360 marketing is a marketing campaign that utilizes all available mediums, channels, and consumer touchpoints. 360 marketing requires the business to maintain a consistent presence across multiple online and offline channels. This ensures it does not miss potentially lucrative customer segments. By its very nature, 360 marketing describes any number of different marketing strategies. However, a broad and holistic marketing strategy should incorporate a website, SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media, public relations, in-store relations, and traditional forms of advertising such as television.

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