How Gamification can help boost profits and potential
When you think “games” the first things that comes to mind is “fun”, right? Without a doubt the idea of making mundane tasks more fun and engaging is a great way to improve participation, but it also can increase overall comprehension. However, it’s generally not enough to simply give people amusement without any perceived gains; this is where Gamification and the idea of instituting various types of “rewards” come into play.
Gamification is basically a slightly more sophisticated approach that can be used by those seeking to sell products and/or services to consumer audiences. In your typical approach, the idea is to create your own “brand currency” in some respects; like experience points or some form of incremental rewards program. This allows consumers to build or perceive value on many different fronts. For example, there’s the enjoyment of the gaming aspect itself, plus a clear initiative to keep returning for more (perhaps accumulating experience points). This allows for both the “building of a brand” as well as facilitates the creation of a more extensive social network around certain products or services.
Arguably, building a social network around a product or service is one of the hardest things to do correctly. This is why you must apply Gamification in the proper way if you want to get results. First off, it’s important to create Gamification elements that have a broad enough appeal so as to interest a fairly large number of people. Don’t choose some obscure concept or try to implement something extremely esoteric, people will just click away. A classic approach is to latch onto current trends, particularly in gaming. For example, when the PC / 360 / PS3 game,” Skyrim” was released, it made sense for those implementing Gamification in other areas to present games with similar themes, artwork or tasks (because of the wide appeal of the title and it’s incredible popularity). Try to think of it as “giving the people what they want”. Likewise, if your control schemes and /or objectives are too obscure, you’ll simply alienate your audience. Additionally, any and all rewards (systems of merit) should be clearly understandable and easily conveyed in a sentence or two.
Perhaps the biggest way that Gamification helps to boost profits and potential is in creating a memorable experience for consumers and site visitors. The average person is bombarded by so much information and graphic ads on a daily basis that it’s very important as a retailer to find new ways to engage them directly. Through Gamification, you can not only build a more captive consumer audience, you can also gain greater insight into what they’re looking for. Since most approaches to Gamification are deployed through social media outlets, those participating often freely offer their thoughts and opinions. Given that Facebook is a big outlet for just this type of approach, retailers should keep a close eye on popular users that are following / participating in their Gamification program(s) as they can often gain greater insight into what the public actually wants. This approach more than any other will often lead to the creation of better customer programs and service/product improvements (it’s also been called “getting the information straight from the horse’s mouth”).
Gamification also helps to capture certain sectors of the consumer base that aren’t easily swayed by traditional advertising. People in certain age groups don’t respond very well to traditional advertising; for those participating in many communities across the web, this is well understood. These types of individuals are often attracted to the social aspects of a product or service more so than the actual item in question (although it’s vitally important that your product have some intrinsic value, that should be a given). However, once a retailer is able to capture a significant number of people falling into this category, they tend to greatly increase the effectiveness of one’s advertising campaign.
In terms of the overall approach to Gamification, the idea is to introduce consumers into short-term gains programs with the goal being to initiate them into longer-term membership programs. Between increasing through / returning traffic and having consumers enrolled in some form of rewards program, you should be able to entice a larger number of sales and provide enough incentive to keep them coming back for more.