From the time we come into this world, and even before we’re ready to walk, there’s only one thing that we do – Play! Nothing cuts across race, gender, creed, religion, or even age for that matter then our natural love for playing games. An innate desire, games enable all of us to engage with this entertaining activity as we discover and learn new things. Although the universal love for games is an age-old phenomenon, the concept of gamification is relatively new.
So, what does gamification actually mean?
Gamification means applying the mechanics of games that make them fun to a non-gaming context to accelerate engagement. The concept of gamification makes use of psychological triggers such as incentives, rewards, and positive/negative reinforcement to drive a desired behavior in the user experience.
A powerful concept, gamification, if applied well, have the means to alter human behavior and deliver tangible results.
Why does gamification work?
- It’s motivating – Leveraging the competitive spirit, one of the most fundamental aspects of human nature, gamification is an incredibly powerful motivating tool. Introducing gamification into the environment through something as simple as a public leaderboard can instantly motivate the audience into participation.
- It’s rewarding – Humans, much like most of the natural world, are always looking for a reward. Getting rewarded for something is basically an encouragement to do it again, and this understanding can be leveraged to drive the desired output.
- It forms a relationship – When you have fun doing something, it leaves a lasting impact on you. It creates a memory that you cherish, and you tell your friends about it because it matters to you. Gamification pulls you in and creates an experience which, when done right, can lead to a long-lasting relationship.
- It’s fun – Games by definition turn mundane activities into meaningful pursuits that people want to partake in.
Opening up a world of possibilities, it isn’t surprising that brands and marketers across the world have tried their hand at applying the principles of gamification to grow their brand or business. According to a study by marketsandmarkets.com, the gamification market size is projected to grow from USD 9.1 billion in 2020 to USD 30.7 billion by 2025, at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 27.4% during the forecasted period**.
That’s a pretty impressive growth trajectory, to say the least. Across industries and verticals, businesses of all shapes and sizes have attempted to apply the principles of gamification to attract and retain customers.
How does Gamification help brands in marketing?
The goal of marketing is to create and nurture relationships with customers. Gamification provides a unique way to do just that. By infusing elements of gamification into their marketing, communications and sales strategy, they create an opportunity to engage the potential customer much more at every touchpoint in the buyer’s journey.
According to a case study by Nike, they employed gamified feedback to drive more than 5,000,000 customers to surpass their personal fitness goals daily. By using gamification, Nike was able to motivate its customers and track their physical activity in order to market directly to them in the future for the Nike Fuelband.
Here’s a quick look at why marketers love the idea of gamification:
- It increases engagement – Imagine you’re browsing the web looking for a deal on your next purchase of T-Shirts. You come across an ad that shows a person balling up a T-shirt and inviting you to try and launch it into a laundry bag kept in the distance, in just 3 tries. Are the chances of you clicking on that ad higher than an ad showing just the T-shirt? We think yes, very much indeed.
- It leads to loyalty – When a potential customer has enjoyed interacting with your brand in unexpected and delightful ways, they tend to remember that experience. The next time they are in the market for your product or service, they will think of you first since they had a blast when they met you last.
- It increases sales – With a more engaged and loyal customer base, the chances of your sales skyrocketing are higher. Gamification can be applied successfully at every stage of the sales funnel from creating more awareness all the way down to influencing the final purchase decision.
- It provides big data – With more points of interaction and more conversation opportunities that gamification creates, there is an increase in useful data generated. Brands can use these new data sets to carve out new insights about their target customers and apply them to grow their business.
So, Is gamification dead?
Far from it. Gamification as a concept was coined about a decade ago and much like every popular new idea, the potential it harbored captured the popular imagination. There was a flurry of activity as brands and businesses raced to apply the principles of gamification to their strategies and tactics. This mad rush meant most were sloppy executions without much thought into why they were doing what they were doing. Gamification is a powerful concept, but if applied impulsively, can lead to tarnishing the brand image and causing consumer fatigue.
Today, the consumers’ expectations are high, and the attention spans are low. The challenge is to apply the concept of gamification thoughtfully in ways that are meaningful, rather than annoying. Gamification will exist and hold value for as long as games are around, you can bet on it. All that remains is to find the right ways to apply the principles to your specific business environment and watch the magic unfold.