Game On! Use Game Play To Solve Your Business Objectives

As human beings, we are fundamentally competitive. Maybe you were your high school’s gym class hero or perhaps you spend too many hours decoding the Sunday paper’s crossword. We like engaging in a challenge and we have exceptionally positive associations with winning. We even love watching other people compete for things (i.e., political debates, The Price is Right, March Madness, etc.). And generally speaking, as marketers we are always on the lookout to harness natural behaviors, so that we can come up with ideas deeply rooted in human insight. This is where gamification marketing comes into play.

Through clever gamification marketing – which means that it includes elements such as winning rewards for certain behaviors, scoring points, competitions with others, etc. – brands can be a part of these positive associations, increase engagement with their consumers and find the right place in their shopping carts.



Before we can pursue the gamification route, though, it’s important to answer questions that clearly define your objective. Do you want to increase engagement with your brand? Drive transactions towards a specific retailer? Build loyalty? Improve your social following? Or maybe you need to get data on consumers. Once you clearly define your objective you can build your strategy and campaign around that.

Objective: Drive brand and product engagement

Gamification Method:Imagine a mom forgets a toy for her young child and instead can put your product in her cart to keep her child occupied as she shops the rest of the store. Game-changer! With the help of augmented reality app Blippar, users can change what’s being captured on a camera and translate it into a game (think Snapchat filters for products and brands). For example, if you “blipp” a Cadbury candy bar, Blippar’s technology turns it into a free game. This is an incredible opportunity to engage shoppers in-store, and reward them with promotions or loyalty points. It could also be a way to keep consumers engaged in long checkout lines or allow them to build affinity with the brand at home. 

Objective: Build loyalty

Gamification Method: Building loyalty, like frequent flier points and retailer rewards cards, is the most widely used method for gamification. A popular example of this application is the Starbucks app. In addition to being useful with payments and repeat orders, Starbucks has successfully turned earning rewards into an involved game for their customers. Their game has three levels that users can unlock by engaging in certain behaviors such as visiting a specific Starbucks store. The best features of this are the direct tie into sales, and the levels that keep consumers involved and competitive. It’s a truly omnichannel integration that ties in to their website as well as pushes incentives through email. You could also use your loyalty platform to push interesting and relevant content to your consumers which will help build a longer lasting meaningful relationship with them, beyond the immediate tie-in to sales.

Objective: Increase social media engagement and awareness

Gamification Method: User contests and games are a great way to accomplish building social engagement and awareness. When M&M launched the Pretzel M&M product, as part of a larger campaign, they created an inexpensive “I-Spy” game online, which boosted user engagement with the brand and brought in thousands of likes, shares and comments. Furthermore, having leaderboards on social media challenges usually encourages sharing and engagement. Dagne Dover, a new startup handbag brand occasionally has Facebook photo challenges, where the photos with the highest number of likes snags you a bag. Trading likes, shares and comments for rewards is a great way for a brand to leverage a consumer’s existing social currency. 

Objective: Collect data and insights about existing customers

Gamification Method:Engaging people digitally can give you abundant access to data and insights into their behavior.Consumers measurably rode the San Francisco BART train more frequently after BART partnered with FourSquare to launch a campaign where riders could unlock BART-themed badges as they checked in to stations. They were then entered into a lottery to win BART tickets and received recommendations from Foursquare. With this campaign, BART gained invaluable insight into their audience and their other interests. Audience insights are so valuable because the knowledge can be applied to advertising partnerships and relevant precision marketing tactics going forward to further engage with target consumers. 

No matter what, make your game mechanics engaging, creative, competitive, shareable and most importantly, achievable, and you will find your brand affinity growing against your competitors. Game on!

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