Do you know how gamification can help you find and engage customers online? Most small business owners have never heard the term, but it is an emerging online customer engagement tool that you should consider adding to your marketing mix.
What is gamification? At its heart, gamification applies the mechanics of gaming to non-game type activities to change a person’s behavior. When used in the context of marketing, gamification is the process of integrating game mechanics into a website, online community, social network, content portal or marketing campaign to drive participation and customer engagement.
It combines gaming with social media to peak a customer’s interest and make a fun game out of normally mundane tasks like taking online surveys. Earning reward points, answering questions to unlock badges that lead to prizes and completing online missions are popular gamification techniques that can be used to make interacting with your brand more exciting.
Gamification can be used to drive almost any kind of customer engagement activity. Everything from taking quizzes, reading articles and opting into an e-newsletter to making a purchase can be made more engaging through the use of gamification.
Gamification campaigns thrive on rewards, which include points, levels, leaderboards and challenges.
Points: Earning points is an excellent way to drive customer engagement. Points motivate people to complete a task to earn a reward. Studies conducted at IBM Research and the University of Chicago showed that people love points. Customers use the points earned to unlock badges, complete challenges and to purchase virtual goods.
Levels: These are essentially point thresholds. Users can achieve certain levels based on how much they participate in a gamification activity. Frequent flyer programs are an example of how levels are used today.
Challenges: Give customers missions to accomplish and then reward them for completing them successfully. Challenges give people goals and reward them for reaching them with trophies and badges.
Trophies and badges offer visible recognition that new levels have been reached and challenges have been completed. If patrons show off their trophies and badges, it further promotes customer engagement.
Leaderboards: A successful technique used for most gamification campaigns is a creating a leaderboard of high-scoring participants. In gamification, leaderboards are used to track and recognize desired behavior, using competition to drive participation.
Major brands like Starbucks and event public agencies like Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in San Francisco use gamification to increase brand awareness and boost levels of customer engagement.
Starbucks, for example, offers a rewards program that gives benefits to customers each time they make a purchase or check-in at a location. BART used Foursquare to create a gamification program that encouraged riders to unlock badges when they checked in at a BART station. Each check-in offered the rider a chance to enter a contest to win free promotional tickets.
So how can you use gamification to increase your customer engagement? Here are four free tools to help you get started.
BigDoor: Create games in which customers unlock badges. BigDoor can also be integrated with Facebook and Twitter; www.bigdoor.com
Foursquare: Integrate check-ins into your marketing efforts. Develop rewards for customers each time they check-in at your place of business; www.foursquare.com
PunchTab: This instant loyalty platform gives brands the opportunity to create a social and mobile-enabled program for free in minutes; www.punchtab.com
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