Gamification: Important Digital Marketing Trend or Hype?
Gamification has become quite popular since it first appeared about ten years ago. In that time, many gamification tools for digital marketing have come to the market.
These tools aren't all effective. Some are better than others, and if you want to use this marketing strategy successfully, you have to find the right gamification tool.
This post looks at gamification as a digital marketing strategy. We will look at what it is and why it works, factors to take into account when you are gamifying a website and some common applications of gamification.
If you read till the end of the post you'll find out some of the best gamification tools that are available for digital marketers today.
What is Gamification?
In broad terms, gamification is defined as “the application of game playing to other areas of activity”.
Wikipedia defines it as “the use of game elements and game design techniques in non-game contexts.”
This sounds pretty complicated and may discourage you from exploring gamification further but it shouldn't. In simple terms it means the application of gaming to increase user engagement, website appeal and customer retention.
Gamification is easy to implement – the best gamification tools just need to be plugged into a website and they do the rest. There are many different types of gamification for digital marketing, so it's easy to find one that meshes well with your content.
Everyone loves games. They have existed since the beginning of time. They encourage competition, they make us feel engaged and stimulated and they are a great way to pass the time.
Gamification is everywhere you look. According to Statista.com, Google Play Store had more than 340,000 gaming apps by the third quarter of 2019. The App Store had more than 900,000 gaming apps in the same period.
Furthermore, more than 75% of all households in America own gaming devices.
Gaming is no longer confined to younger generations. A recent research study by Statista.com shows that 40% of gamers are aged between 18 and 35 years, and 21% are 50 years or older.
In the US alone, 11.6% of survey participants play video games for more than 20 hours each week, while 11.4% spend between 12 and 20 hours a week playing games.
What does this mean for digital marketing?
It means that there is huge potential for digital marketers who can figure out interesting ways of incorporating games into their websites. A huge number of gamers are 18 years or older, which means that they have buying power.
If you can figure out a way to engage the 40% of gamers who are aged between 18 and 35, it would boost your website engagement levels a huge deal, and you would see a big increase in sales. If you can find games that can engage the other age groups, you'll do even better.
Why Does Gamification Work?
Odds are you have more than a few games on your phone and you play at least one or two every day. Why do you keep going back?
Typically, video and computer games require you to repeat the same activity over and over each time. For most other things, this would prove to be extremely boring and most people would opt out unless they had to do it.
But we log into our games each day, several hours at a time and we stay engaged throughout. Why?
Psychologists have studied this issue, and they have discovered several reasons why gaming is such a powerful experience:
Users Feel They Have Control
In a typical game users have several options, and they can choose whatever they want to arrive at the desired destination. This makes them feel like they are in control.
Human beings don't like to feel like they are being forced to do things. When they feel they are the masters of their destiny they are much more engaged and they feel like they are having lots of fun.
This works very well for digital marketing. Instead of making a customer feel like you are leading them towards a potential goal, gamification lets them feel like they got their all by themselves, which makes them more likely to be engaged. Conversion becomes easier.
Games Come With Maps
Human beings have relied on maps for as long centuries. Maps tell us where we are going, and that provides psychological comfort. We know what route we should take to a destination, and at any point along the way we can see how far we have gone and how far we have left to go.
Most games come with a map. You have a map that shows users where they are supposed to go and how much progress they have made and that gives them a strong sense of control.
This is a powerful thing on any website; users feel that they have control over their journey to through the sales funnel.
One of the most appealing things about gaming is immediate rewards. If you do the right thing you will immediately get a prize for it, and we all love to get prizes.
In a typical game every time you complete a level you are rewarded with something. It may be a new character, points, a power-up, or whatever else, depending on how the game is designed.
This is why we keep going back to our games every day. The psychological boost that we get from rewards is powerful and makes us want to go back again and again. Gamified websites have the same effect.
Human beings like to set goals, achieve them and then set even higher ones. Gamification accomplishes this quite easily. Each level is more difficult than the previous one, and the higher you go, the higher you want to go.
The best gamification tools allow users to see their “Personal Best”, “Previous Record” and other statistics that make them want to go on gaming.
Compete With Others
Some gamification tools allow users the option to compete against others, which takes things to a whole new level. Not only does it get competitive juices flowing, users feel like there is more at stake because they don't want to lose.
In digital marketing, this is a perfect way to get new leads. Users who want to compete will invite others, and each new invitee is a new lead that you can convert.
Exclusivity is Everything
People love to feel like they belong to an exclusive club. It gives them status among their peers. The best gamification tools allow users to gain certain advantages when they reach certain levels.
This makes them feel special and better than their peers. It encourages them to keep playing. This is perfect for digital marketing; it is an easy way to increase user engagement.
Benefits of Gamification in Digital Marketing
- It helps increase customer engagement
- Customers spend more time on your site and conversion rates are higher
- You gather incisive data to help improve the sales cycle
- It helps increase brand awareness
- Providing rewards helps increase customer loyalty
Gamification Techniques That Work
Most gamification tools provide quizzes. Quizzes work because they pander to our need to find out who we are and what we know.
The best gamification quizzes are those that can be shared with others. Each person who does the quiz is a potential lead that can be converted into a sale.
According to one study by Buzzsumo, the average quiz is shared about 1,900 times. If you come up with a really good quiz for your website you can expect it to be shared even more.
There are different types of quizzes, and some work better than others. The most effective for digital marketing are called Outcome Quizzes. These are quizzes that give you an insight into yourself.
They are all over social media (they are very widely shared). The most shared quizzes of 2019 included “What career should you actually have?” “What city should you live in?” “This word test will reveal whether you're an introvert or an extrovert” and so on.
You can tailor a quiz for your website along these lines. The thing to keep in mind is that it should reveal something to the user about themselves, it shouldn't be very obvious and it should be interesting.
If you have a food-related website, for example, you can create a quiz around food choices. For a travel blog, you can have a quiz that requires users to identify cities around the world for badges.
The ideas are endless. So long as you choose the right gamification tool you can create a quiz that has the potential to be shared numerous times.
Badges are one of the most elemental forms of rewards. When you did well in school as a child, your teacher gave you a badge that said that you were a cut above the rest of the class.
Badges are issued in many areas of life. Think the military, exhibitions, fairs and so on. Badges work because they make the winner stand out.
For website gamification users are usually rewarded virtual badges that give them a sense of legitimacy. Everyone who visits the site can see that they have achieved something and are a cut above the rest.
There are many ways to use badges on your site. You can incorporate them around content so that if a user uploads a certain number of responses on a website they get a badge.
One of the best examples of using badges for gamification is Quora. Users who are active, helpful, respected or famous have a tick-mark on their profile photo. Some sites assign their most active users stars or even virtual badges that are displayed along with their profiles.
If you have a blog you can implement a similar strategy to increase user engagement.
Everyone loves a challenge. Challenges help us measure how much we know so that we can push ourselves even further. The reason why challenges work is that people keep coming back. They want to be better and better at whatever the challenge is.
You can incorporate a challenge into your site along with a progress bar that shows users how far they have come. At the end of each level, there should a prize so that they are motivated to keep playing.
Progress bars are in themselves a good gamification technique. They work because most people cannot stand to leave tasks uncompleted. They will keep coming back until they can complete whatever challenge you have set up for them.
Leveling works because it makes people want to keep going so that they can get to the next level. You can design a game with 5 or 10 different levels depending on what you hope to achieve.
A good example of the use of leveling for gamification is on credit score sites. Some, like Credit Karma, encourage users to clean up their credit scores by advancing them through different levels. As they complete each level they open up new possibilities.
If, for example, they achieve a certain score, they move up a level and can apply for new loans, get new credit cards, transfer balances between cards and so on. The level is displayed on the user account so that they can get motivated to work harder and go even higher.
Leaderboards encourage competition. Each user who comes on your site and joins the game can compete. They work because humans are innately competitive. We all want to be the best at something. When we beat everyone else it gives us a feeling of status.
Leaderboards are very common in video games. Players can come together to compete and their scores are on a board that they can all see. Each player aims to be at the top, which makes them keep coming back.
You can use leaderboards in all sorts of ways, not just to get users to compete.
How to Choose the Best Gamification Tools
With so many gamification tools, picking an effective one isn't very easy especially if you are a first-timer. Use the following tips to guide you:
- A clear reward system – each user who opts in should be able to see what they need to do to gain rewards.
- Customization – each website is different, and the best gamification tools are those that you can customize to fit in with existing content and elements within your website.
- CRM integration – the best gamification tools integrate easily with common CRM software, allowing you to collect data that you can use to improve the customer experience.
- A results dashboard – users are motivated by results, so whatever gamification tool you use should have a clear and attractive dashboard that displays user status clearly.
- Social media integration – what makes gamification a powerful marketing tool is that it encourages sharing, and there is no better or faster way to share than on social media. The best gaming tools have sharing capabilities across multiple social media platforms.
- A reporting module – choose gaming software that can provide reports on demand for each user. They should be able to log in and see their performance history.
- Insightful analytics – analytics help the website owner to measure the impact of gamification on the website.
- A survey feature – this tells you what users think of the gamification on your site and whether there are areas for improvement.
Additional Features for Choosing Gamification Software
The above factors are important when choosing gamification software, but there are a couple of additional things to keep in mind if you want the best gamification tools.
The first is price. Come up with a budget and stick to it. If you choose expensive software long-term use becomes tricky especially if you have to scale.
The other thing to keep in mind is scalability. What happens if your user base grows? How many users can the gaming software handle? Also, how much do you need to pay to accommodate more users?
Lastly, find out if there is gamification software that's designed especially for your niche. It's easier to implement and customize.
Some Leading Gamification Tools to Consider
Convertful is a powerful on-site lead conversion tool that provides a host of gamification options. They include:
- Spin-to-win gamification
- Quiz funnels
- Welcome giveaway contests
- Targeted content upgrades
- Content lockings
- Deadline funnels
Convertful is easy to use and integrates with lots of CRM software. You can use the advanced targeting rules to make sure you reach the right audience. The A/B testing module allows you to test game effectiveness before you launch.
Influitive uses gamification to increase customer engagement. It works by improving the customer journey. The gamification process allows customers to take action whenever their scores flounder and you can develop personalized onboarding to increase engagement.
Users can mature through the gamification process – at each level of the game they can unlock content that's relevant to their skills and objectives.
You can use the gamification module in Influitive to provide incentives during training and certification, and there are surveys that provide necessary feedback to improve your gamification strategy.
Gametize provides a wide variety of templates that you can gamefy for different audiences. For customer engagement, you have advocacy and loyalty plan templates, retail product templates, and for the health niche there are fitness center and health gamification templates.
Ksubaka will help you turn your website or retail business into a gamified experience for higher customer engagement. They work with major retailers, but you can get in touch with them for a custom solution for your small business.
Important Gamification Tips to Get You Started
- Understand and clearly define your goals. Exactly what do you want to achieve using gamification?
- Ensure that your gamification strategy aligns with your brand.
- Whatever challenges you choose for your site should allow users to win but also be challenging. If users feel that the challenges are too hard they will opt out.
- Make sure rewards come early in the challenge, and often enough to keep users motivated.
- Keep the challenges simple so that you can engage everyone.
- Personalize each challenge – if it speaks to the user, they are more likely to stay engaged.
- Use progressive difficulty. Allowing users to advance through to more difficult levels will keep them coming back.
- Ensure a reward for every level, no matter how low.
Gamification has been a part of human existence for thousands of years which is proof that it works. It appeals to the intrinsic traits of human nature to get people to engage.
If you can find the right way to incorporate it into your website using the right gamification tools and strategy you'll see increased levels of engagement, which leads to higher sales.