We’ve all been there. Sitting on the edge of our seat, palms sweaty, eyes glued to the screen. In the background the baby is crying, your fire alarm raging, ex-lover pounding at the door. Yet, something compels you to keep going — ‘just one more level’ you tell yourself. That’s the power of games. There’s something about them that just pulls us in. Maybe it’s an appeal to our deep-rooted competitive nature? Maybe it’s the satisfying feedback loop of goal, challenge, and reward? But what we do know is, games are damn fun.
If only you could capture that level of excitement and engagement in your marketing efforts, with your customers fixated on inching their way to the bottom of your funnel and constantly coming back for more. Thankfully, there is. It’s called ‘gamification’ and as always, the expert marketers at GenM are here to show you how you can start leveling up your gamified marketing efforts today.
So why gamify in the first place? Engagement is a tough metric to improve on. Not only does it require attracting the right kind of audience, but it also takes a lot of time (and oftentimes, money) to create content that said audience will engage in. Gamification can go a long way in terms of increasing engagement by tapping into the reward center of your customers’ brains. So much so that Ford Motors increased sales by more than $8 million and boosted Facebook likes by 600% by gamifying their content in the form of interactive video advertising.
As any seasoned marketer knows, before you dive head first into gamified marketing there are a couple of things you need to think about first. Namely, your goal, target audience, and the incentives you’re going to offer.
Define a Goal
Before you can begin, you need to figure out why you’re doing it in the first place. Because you can gamify just about everything from your product itself to your office fitness program, you’re going to have to get specific with what you want to achieve to inform your marketing channels and gamification strategy.
Do you want to increase the LTV of your customers? A loyalty program could work well for that. Create more engagement with your social content? Maybe it’s time to gamify your social creative. Define a goal and keep it in mind through all stages of the process.
Pick Your Target Audience
From the middle-aged lady spending way too much on Candy Crush microtransactions during her commute to work to the middle schooler playing Fortnite way past their bedtime, it’s clear that regardless of demographic, people like games. Just because there’s a way to gamify your marketing efforts to appeal to just about any target audience, that doesn’t mean that every strategy is going to be the same for everyone.
Creating a ‘choose your own adventure’ video series on TikTok is going to get completely missed by the working class dad in his late 30s. Similarly, high school students wouldn’t give a damn about personalized sharables on LinkedIn. Getting a clear idea of who you’re trying to reach will ultimately decide the channels and incentives that you use.
Here’s where things can get a little tricky. Incentives have to balance having enough value to your audience to get them engaged without hurting your bottom line. Be mindful of what you are able to giveaway and keep a close eye on your ROI before scaling any experiments.
The possibilities for gamifying your marketing strategy are near endless and heavily rely on what your product and current marketing channels are. There’s no one size fits all solution but here are some examples for inspiration:
Social Media Marketing
I’m sure you’ve seen them before. Those algebra games that come up on Facebook once in a while that “ONLY 0.05% OF PEOPLE CAN SOLVE”. Well, there’s a reason you’re seeing it in the first place — high engagement rates. Those people bickering in the comments section about which answer is right are actually causing your content to get in front of more eyes, longer.
Take M&M USA’s Facebook page for example. They tried running a gamified social content campaign for their new line of Pretzel M&Ms where users were tasked with finding the pretzel amongst a sea of M&Ms in the image they posted. What seems like a simple enough post ended up garnering 25,000 new likes on the brand’s Facebook page as well as 6,000 shares and 10,000 comments — entirely organically.
Referral programs are a great way to tap into the competitive nature of your users. Rather than just a flat reward for generating a referral, you can make your incentives a tiered system where the more people that a person refers, the greater the reward they receive is. This is how we do things with our referral program at GenM. Users can go from a discount on their next membership payment, to extra labor contracts, and eventually get free lifetime access on the platform after 9 referrals.
To take it a step further, try creating a leaderboard where users can compete to get on top and reward referrers with badges to adorn their profile based on their current level and standing in the leaderboard.
Want to turn a one-off customer into a life-long customer? Try creating a tiered loyalty program. Similar to the tiered referral program, you can offer incentives and discounts based on their ‘level’ of loyalty. Clear visual indicators of progress and incentives based on purchasing habits can really increase adoption of your program.
For a great example of this, check out the Starbucks loyalty app. The user-friendly design, appealing incentives, and dynamic opportunities for point generation helped make it one of the most adopted loyalty apps, with 48% of Starbucks regulars downloading the app. Clear visual indicators of progress, as well as limited time bounties where extra points can be earned based off seasonal purchases, keep customers coming back for more — to the tune of 39% of sales coming from customers who use the loyalty program
Remember that time you booted up incognito mode and Googled ‘free iq test online’, only to spend an hour filling out results before you’re hit with an email field to get your results? This is a great strategy for generating email leads. With dozens of free quiz builders online, try giving it a shot yourself. Just remember to keep in mind your target audience when designing the quiz to make sure the content will appeal to them.
At this point, you’re probably thinking to yourself, ‘but Ryan, where are the REAL games?’ Well if you want to take a softer approach, lots of companies have found success in creating actual games based on their brand. Canadian grocery chain No Frills recently started a series of campaigns to reach a younger demographic that included a mobile and browser game ‘Aisles of Glory’ (in addition to an un-ironically cool streetwear brand.) If you have the resources and the technical know-how, this can be a great way to keep your brand in the minds of consumers by giving them something that they not only love to play and keep coming back to but also keeps your brand and messaging front and center.
Gamified content works. It creates a level of engagement that just can’t be matched by other marketing strategies. Although you can use it in just about every area of your business, you have to be clear about your goals, audience, and incentives if you want to be successful.