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What is Gamified Marketing?

The term refers to utilizing strategies and components from games within marketing campaigns and instruments. This process seeks to play on fundamental human impulses that seek challenge, accomplishment and rewards, in order to capitalize their attention, interest and hopefully, their purchasing power.

As early as 1896, S&H Green Stamps  sold stamps to retailers who used them to reward loyal customers.The method has stood the test of time, and is probably one of the most effective ways to communicate creatively with potential customers. Unsurprisingly, marketers across industries are ever eager to use gamification-driven techniques to supercharge their campaigns and get the most out of their investments. 

Benefits of Gamified Marketing

Why does Gamified Marketing work? It’s easy to answer this question once you look at the many advantages provided by this phenomenon.

·  Makes things fun: The entire point of a game is to be fun. No game, in all of human history, was played just because it was informative or educational. We come to games for fun.

Gamified Marketing zeroes in on exactly this intent. Human brains are wired to seek out pleasure, fun and rewards – fundamental components of every game. Gamified Marketing makes marketers think of people as purveyors of games, and thus designs campaigns to be as enjoyable as possible.

Above all else, fun is marketable. By making a campaign enjoyable, it has a much higher likelihood of actually cutting through the noise and being seen and heard.

·  Fosters engagement: Given that users actually have to participate with games, they require a level of engagement that cannot be matched by text or video. Furthermore, a game cannot just barge into a user’s feed and try to get their attention. Users actually have to actively play the game, which means that their engagement will be proactive and intentional.

When you gamify marketing campaigns, you interact with people who are focused and looking forward to the next stage in the game. Brands and businesses can display their messages throughout the game to already interested users. They don’t have to worry about people looking away, as they do during TV commercials or skipping intrusive ads before Youtube videos.

Gamification offers people a few moments of stimulating activity, an escape from an otherwise mundane day. By associating a brand with this good feeling, marketers can create positive product and brand awareness – the first step towards inciting an eventual purchase.

·  Wide, multi-generational appeal: The mobile gaming industry alone made 77.2 billion U.S. dollars in revenue for 2020. There’s been no sign of any slowdown in 2021.

Additionally, 35.4% of gamers in the US are in their late 20s and early 30s. The 18-24 age group counts for 24.9% and the 35-44 age group counts for 23%. About 80% of smartphone users play games on their phone. 50% of them play for about 1-2 hours each day.  That means people in key spending groups are deeply invested in games, which makes their attention highly desirable for marketing campaigns.

As mentioned before, when playing games, people are engaged in a way they are not when watching video or reading something. They have to constantly participate to progress, which means they are not zoning out. Consequently, brand messaging in games is more likely to be perceived positively and with more attention. This also stands true when you actually gamify the campaign itself.

·  More effective data collection: In the digital realm, data is gold. The more marketers know about their target audience, the more they can appeal to their preferences in order to sell a product.

However, collecting data that actually matters can be difficult if users are not actually interested or engaged with whatever digital avenue they are handling. Therefore, by generating interest through gamification, marketers can inspire users to engage. By building positive brand association through gamification (ideally through some kind of reward), users are more likely to give accurate and useful data, which helps with better understanding them.

·  Increased conversion rates: As users continue to interact with gamified elements of a brand, there is a much higher chance of clicking on or responding to a CTA. Traditional banner ads and other common marketing methods are known for being notoriously ignored. However, creative and interactive gamification strategies give users a real reason to take action. Needless to say, this will improve conversion rates.

Imagine that you are offering a 20% discount on a brand-new product if users take a quick 2-minute quiz about themselves. Users are far likelier to answer those questions, grab that discount and actually use it. So, not only will marketers get information about them, but will also end up making a sale.

To gamify campaigns is to empower them in unique ways. By using techniques that make games endlessly fun and addictively engaging, gamified marketing has the ability to supercharge it’s impact and gain results unimaginable by traditional marketing tactics. 


5 Ways to Drive Engagement with Gamification

A recent study by Microsoft concluded that the human attention span has dropped to eight seconds – shrinking nearly 25% in just a few years. Keeping users engaged with any content has become quite a difficult task, especially when it comes to digital content. With smartphones or laptops in hand, people have so many options for entertainment or education, that they often switch between them in a matter of seconds. 

To retain user attention, an increasing number of digital avenues (both apps and websites) have resorted to gamification.

In 1998, British professor Matthias Koepp studied how games influence the human brain. He found that as the players progressed through the game and encountered more difficult challenges, their brains released more dopamine

Gamification leverages this instinct in the digital realm. By incorporating elements of online games to an app, developers stand a greater chance of keeping users interested and invested in the app at hand. 

However, gamification must be implemented with a strategic approach. This article will discuss five game mechanisms that should be included into any gamification blueprint in order to improve engagement: 

Gamification and user engagement
Gamification and user engagement

·  Drive action: Motivate users to undertake some kind of action on a regular basis. If individuals actually have to take an action, they are more likely to pay attention to the content of an app. An effective example of driving action would be Facebook’s notifications on memories – older posts from the same dates in past years. By asking users to share older posts, the platform doesn’t just cause them to take action, but also formulate an emotional connection on the basis of nostalgia.
Another example would be how the language learning app Memrise notified users that they are on a rampage for a certain number of days (if they complete daily lessons for those days), and that they shouldn’t stop. This generates a sense of personal accomplishment, and motivates users to keep going back and making progress.

·  Offer rewards with an element of uncertainty: The brain’s reward system is closely linked to dopamine. Neuroscientific studies suggest that a variable rewards system triggers dopamine secretion. Essentially, people’s attention and motivation is commanded not so much by the actual moment of reward/pleasure, but rather the expectation and anticipation of reward.
When you gamify an app, there are multiple ways to leverage this instinct. It could be something as simple as showing the number of unread messages waiting for a user. It could even be displaying how many people viewed a profile (people love to feel seen and heard).
Think of how headlines work these days. Successful articles, like the ones on BuzzFeed, offer a gist of the article with eye-catching, usually long headlines that capture attention and build anticipation. Some examples – This Girl Matched On Tinder With An Olympic Athlete And Here’s What Happened Nextor 19 Things Only Women Who Lift Weights Will Understand. It doesn’t give away the story, but it creates curiosity, and leads people to click and engage.
Essentially, don’t start with offering obvious rewards (badges, points, actual money/products). Try to tease and interest them first. Make them want it.

·  Incentivize user participation: Coding app SoloLearn encourages users to participate by giving them points/XP for every lesson they complete and every exercise they correctly solve. These points can be used to unlock more practice exercises (important for complete beginners). Users can also participate in coding projects/contests where they can display their work, communicate with other coders, and get their names on a leaderboard based on their performance.These elements improve engagement by incentivizing users to keep crossing hurdles and progressing. It gives them a sense of accomplishment, which keeps them coming back to the app to get more of the same feeling.

·  Use visual and sonic appeal: The Duolingo app uses cute animated pictures, videos, gifs and upbeat sounds to help users learn. When you gamify an app, literally make it a game. Engage the eyes, ears and curiosity of your user.
Above all, make it fun. With a million distractions at hand, no one will bother to interact with your content.

·  Utilize existing trends: The Pink Nation app asks shoppers to pick products and decide if they “want” or “need” the clothes in each day’s showcase. Users have to swipe right or left, Tinder-style, to indicate their interest or lack thereof.
In this case, to gamify is to tap into an already popular user action. By now, swiping is a common occurrence in most people’s lives. Incorporating it into a new app brings familiarity and ease to the user journey. Much like Tinder, Pink Nation is easy and fun – essential elements of gamification.

The role of gamification to improve engagement is beyond question at this point. Utilise the ideas here to give your app a greater likelihood of keeping users hooked, interested and fascinated with what you have to offer. 

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