Gamification and How it Can Help Your Brand


Gamification is a brand-new marketing strategy that involves the use of gaming

Gamification Ethics (by Kes Sampanthar)

Gamification Ethics (by Kes Sampanthar) (Photo credit: Adam Crowe)

applications to increase customer awareness, spread the news about a new brand, product, or service, or guide customers through a sales funnel. Instead of relying on traditional mass-market advertisement strategies, businesses encourage customers to interact with each other and with a brand by playing engaging games via social media or mobile phone applications.

Stuart Dredge of The Guardian, an online UK newspaper, recently commented on the Gartner report about the trend toward low-quality gamification and its effect on business marketing strategies. According to the report, most businesses are using gamification in the wrong way. You can check out the full Gartner report on harmful gamification strategies to see where businesses are going wrong.

Gamification Doesn’t Help if You Do it Wrong

Gamification is a marketing process that can dramatically help your brand further its image and perfect its reputation in the mind of the consumer. However, it can also be a strategy with severe backlash if not done correctly. When businesses rush into producing low-quality games that are poorly designed, boring, or confusing, the customer likely won’t play the game. It can be worse than that, though. Businesses that notoriously create gamification strategies that employ these subpar games may be eventually disregarded by customers as out of touch or irrelevant. Gamification must be treated with finesse. The gaming industry is one of the largest art forms in the world, and gamers are very critical when it comes to game design and game play. If you are going to “gamify” your brand, it’s important to follow a few simple steps.

Hire a Game Builder

The biggest mistake that businesses make when attempting to use a gamification strategy for marketing is trying to create a game themselves. Consumers are not impressed by basic games that are poorly designed. Yes, the activity and game play of your marketing strategy is important, but the design of the game can make or break its effectiveness. If you really want to make gamification an effective brand building method, it is crucial to hire a professional game designer to create your application.

Envision Your Conversion Funnel

Your gamification strategy needs to exist as a funnel. Consumers enter the funnel by downloading the game application and beginning to play. During playtime, advertisements, competitions, achievement badges, and special promotions must guide this customer through the funnel and out the other end. The tightest point of the funnel is the moment of conversion: where a lead turns into a paying customer.

Offer Rewards and Competitions

The modern customer is a highly competitive individual. For this reason, an effective gaming strategy needs to involve some sort of achievement, reward, or competition. A game that has no point will not hold a customer’s attention very long. It will also not encourage that customer to share the game with social network friends and contacts. When you create exciting competitions between players, however, your customers will be encouraged to share your game marketing strategy because they want to see if they can “beat” their friends.

Offering rewards is another great gamification strategy. By offering meaningful and valuable rewards, such as promotions and sales, you will encourage other consumers to get in on the action.

Encourage Social Activity with Points

The best way to make your gamification strategy work to your advantage is to encourage consumers to share game activity via social networking. You can create badges and accomplishments that involve social media posting. So, if a consumer likes, shares, or retweets game activity, that consumer will receive a badge that lists this accomplishment. In order to make the achievement of a badge worthwhile, however, you need to offer your consumer something in return. Consider social sharing a task for which you will pay your customers. You don’t have to pay them with money; customers can receive access to new game content, sales, or promotions when they achieve new badges after social sharing.

Update Regularly

One of the biggest problems that marketers face when they attempt to implement gamification strategies in their marketing plan is the gradual lack of interest on the part of the consumer. When new games hit the social media platforms, consumers will initially be very interested. They may share the game with all their Facebook friends, play for hours at a time each day, and obsess over getting as many points, badges, widgets, or other virtual accomplishments as possible. Over time, however, that obsession starts to wane. There are always new games hitting the marketplace, and consumers are notorious for drifting toward the new and improved.

Take one of the most popular Facebook app games, DrawSomething. When DrawSomething was first created, it immediately exploded in population. Advertisers were submitting words to the game app that consumers would hopefully draw. The app was considered one of the greatest marketing strategies available for Apple and Android products. However, the hype quickly faded, and DrawSomething is now a background app on most consumers’ mobile devices. Conversely, Angry Birds continues to be a popular game application because of its constant updates, continued marketing, and new content.

If you are going to make a gamification marketing strategy effective, and if you truly want to make gamification build your brand image, you have to constantly update your game application. You can add new content, host new prizes and competitions, and use new marketing strategies to promote your game. The more channels of communication you are using to direct your customers to the gamification funnel, the more likely consumers are to log constant play-time hours in your game app.

Gamification is a unique and amazing marketing strategy because consumers don’t even realize they are being marketed to. When customers play games, they are able to have fun and get competitive while simultaneously being inundated with your brand’s image as well as products and services you are selling. If done correctly, gamification can be one of the best brand imaging strategies on the web.