Everybody knows how important customer experience is. It can lead to brand visibility and positive reviews to offer a powerful advertising channel. Creating a good user experience is not that easy actually. It requires a deep thinking about what is at stake and what it implies. And rather than a one shot incentive, customer experience must be the highlight of a thorough thinking about a customer-centered strategy (in a holistic way).
Thus, marketing incentive like gamification cannot be deployed only for fun. It must be part of a global strategy.
After understanding what is at stake, let us consider gamification as a concept. According to Kevin Werbach, gamification stands for ‘the use of game elements and design techniques in a non-game context’. It seems clear that gamification is offering a new kind of experience to users, it is not always a true game but merely the creation of a positive gaming environment.
First gamification strategies were simple and nowadays, it’s very common. There were loyalty cards and points to obtain discounts or new services. For the record, transportation/airline companies were the first to embed this feature in their worldwide marketing strategies. However, the very first company to offer this service was Sperry & Hutchinson. When was it ? In 1896 ! Their « green stamps » system was known to be a true innovation at that time. Just like in Charlie and the Chocolate factory, this grocery chain used to give stamps to their customers to enjoy discount for their next visits. This might be funny to consider this incentive as a strategy but it used to be the embryo of gamification we see today.
We will not have the time to discuss every success story in this kind of marketing action but let us consider several examples that were acclaimed worldwide:
McDonald’s annual Monopoly game (this campaign is almost 35 years old !): Every time when this campaign takes place, their sales increase from 2% to 6% in their stores.
American Express and their Twitter program : Users need to tweet specific sentences or hastags with their own accounts to obtain special discounts
Chanel and their Coco Chanel Game : A true gaming experience that offers a nice moment to their customers. It reinforces the brand image as well as to increase the sales of their products (of course !)
Last but not least, it is also important to mention another type of example. Since gamification mostly rely on customer experience, some companies use this to boost their employee experience. Salesforce launched a very entertaining application called Salesforce Motivation in order to create an open game for sales staff to compete and to compare their achievements. Some prizes were of certainly at stake ! Smart, fun and it has indeed ensured a direct ROI !
What is interesting about these different examples is that they share some common criteria. It is impossible to have a silver bullet to build great gamification incentives. However, there are some crucial « game-changers » that make a good basis to start with.
The following is a list of 5 major pillars to offer to customers for a good gaming experience :
Coherence is one of the key. Just like for any marketing incentive, the coherence between the brand and the content is important for two reasons. Firstly, the content must be coherent with the brand strategy. If the marketing incentive does not resonate with the original global marketing strategy, it is 100% sure that it will not work. Secondly, the other thing to keep in mind is to ensure coherence between the content and the objective of the campaign in terms of quality (financial and human resources…) and quantity (ROI and expected feedback). When you create a game to approach your customers, your whole brand identity comes into play. Just like any other incentive, gamification is a way to show the meaning of your brand system, your storytelling and what your brand represents.
But beyond that, the experience must also be coherent in related to the target. Before any gaming experience, the brand should already plan whom they are going to target. Who before what is one of the key success in marketing.
Every gaming experience comes along with a community experience. Major console stations and PC editors have understood it all by creating online platforms and minimizing the number of solo games. In this particular case, gamification must be able to generate connections between people to create a community. Sharing, discussing and competing are all features that should be appeared in any gaming incentive, whatever the brand is.
Driven by results
Undoubtly, gamification is fun. But always take into consideration that gamification should play a role in a global strategy in order to be useful (and to some extent renewed !), the incentive must be results-driven. Results are not necessarily a direct ROI, however a feedback process should be deployed to qualify and quantify the impact of the solution on people’s mind and experience. Most of all, analytics must be available in the end of the gaming experience so as to build a true summary of the game performance. Marketing teams always have to find tools to show that their actions are measurable. Gamification is similiar on this matter !
Gamification must be an opportunity to engage the dialogue with the customer and it must target customer engagement at some point. Gamification is mostly about reinforcing brand identity and allowing the customer to enjoy the moment, it is also a point of changing people’s mindset. This can be the perfect time to make people think and change about their way of life in order to improve it. An informal message will always be more efficient than a formal one !
Do you want to embrace gamification ? Use our solution Pixlytics and Facelytics to offer something new to your customers and boost your visibility !
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