By definition, Gamification is the incorporation of game mechanics into non-game applications. The real question, though, is not ‘What is Gamification?’, but why is it useful to you and how can you use it to benefit your own company?
The logic behind introducing game mechanics into your products or services is actually very simple.
The gaming industry is huge, and has a found a way to keep its users engaged for hours, days or even weeks at a time. People enjoy playing games, find them engaging, non-intimidating and most of all, FUN.
The same probably can’t be said, however, for creating a new bank account, booking flights, buying a car or taking an e-learning course.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
So what if you could turn an otherwise laborious or off-putting task into a fun and enjoyable one? Well, while we might not always be able to turn activities like these on their heads to such a degree, we can at the very least make them less laborious and off-putting than they might otherwise be, significantly improving any number of the following:
- Engagement (Brand Loyalty)
- Influence (Brand Loyalty)
- Virality (SEO)
- User Generated Content (SEO)
All of these things contribute towards ROI.
The best way to demonstrate the true potential of gamification is to look at some real life examples.
Perhaps one of the earliest examples of gamification is the frequent flyer program, or loyalty cards. What better way to keep your customers coming back than to offer them a discount in return for the more money they spend with you? This practice is now being used to great effect by some of the smartest brands on the web. In particular, this article will focus on the subtle use of gamification techniques used by sports nutrition brand My Protein.
What is great about MyProtein’s method is that they offer both Loyalty points AND Referral points. Referral points allow a retailer to let their most loyal customers do the marketing for them. This is where the viral and UGC benefits come into play.
In MyProtein’s case, if a customer refers a friend to the retailer, they earn 5% off their next order. The important thing to note here is that the term ‘friend’ is very loosely interpreted. As a result these customers wear their referral codes like badges, brandishing them across fitness forums and blogs in the hope that someone will take the bait. And why wouldn’t they? If they use the referral code they too will receive 5% off their first order. Both parties win.
MyProtein also have a couple of other nice tools which, broadly speaking, come under the umbrella of gamification.
One of these is the Price Beater, which allows users to go on the hunt for other websites that are offering the same products for less.
If you find one, MP will not just match their price, they’ll go out of their way to beat it. The real fun, however, is not in the discount you receive, but the enjoyment of feeling that you’ve got “one up” on MyProtein.
In reality, though, the winner is MyProtein; each time the website’s Price Beater functionality is employed, it signifies that they’ve successfully retained a customer.
This brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘panic buying’. If it wasn’t enough that they offer reward points, bulk discounts or price matches, MyProtein won’t rest until a purchase has been processed.
They’ve even gone to the length of adding a countdown clock across the site to encourage users to get their orders in before 2pm to guarantee next day delivery.
It might not seem to fit within the definition of gamification, but product reviews and ratings do help to drive participation. Participation in turn drives loyalty and stickiness to your brand. Being a brand that sells flavoured nutrition products, MyProtein makes excellent use of product reviews by allowing other customers to share their experiences on taste, texture and other ratings for the products they’ve purchased.
Leveling is a very simple but very effective gamification method which can make otherwise daunting data collection processes seem like a breeze.
MyProtein does a great job of reducing drop-off rates during the payment process by showing users just how many steps they have left before they’re done (typically between 3-5).
This technique allows them to break down this payment process into smaller, easily digested chunks.
In addition, the payment process is further improved by identifying savings for users and encouraging them to make additional purchases from within the checkout interface.
Gamification isn’t just some fad – it’s here to stay. It’s always been here; only now it has a name.
Next time you’re signing up for something online, making a purchase or just simply browsing your Facebook News Feed, keep your eye out for those little nuggets, whether visual or functional, that make your tasks that little bit more enjoyable. Whatever they may be, that’s gamification.