Engaging customers is key to a successful inbound marketing strategy, and gamification can be a great way to keep your audience involved and interested. But what exactly does gamification mean, and is it truly a good fit for your business?
The use of game mechanics in business is certainly getting a lot of press right now, as more and more companies are embracing the idea. As this article points out, simple gamification tactics like customer rewards and loyalty programs have been around for a while. But these types of programs that only reward customers when they make a purchase have become outdated. As the article puts it, “the modern gamification of a fully integrated loyalty and reputation program across a brand’s Web and mobile presence is the advanced evolution of these humble roots.”
According to this story from Entrepreneur, an estimated 70 percent of the top 2,000 public companies in the world will have at least one gamified application by 2014. But before you jump on the gamification bandwagon, Dustin DiTommaso, an experience designer, recommends you think seriously about whether game mechanics is a good fit for your business. Before investing your time, money, and energy into building a gamification platform, you should consider your motives, you audience and your goals. He suggests asking yourself these six questions:
- What is the reason for gamifying your product or service?
- How does it benefit users?
- Will they enjoy it?
- What are your business goals?
- How do you get users to fulfill those business goals?
- What actions do you want users to take?
If you can come up with solid answers to all of these questions, there’s a good chance you would benefit from incorporating game mechanics into your business plan. Keep in mind, though, that it will take some time and thought to do it right. The Entrepreneur article highlights three companies that have had great success with gamification — USA Network, Verizon and Samsung. The takeaway from these case studies: A gamified social experience can turn engaged fans into valuable brand ambassadors; the gaming experience should be personalized to make the users feel special; and the most effective strategy is to focus on engaged users who are already passionate about the brand.
Smart gamification involves much more than simply adding a few badges to your web site. To achieve a sustainable, long-term positive impact, you should create a sophisticated, deeply integrated program that spans the entire user experience.
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