Although you may not have heard the term “gamification” before, it’s likely you’ve participated in the concept to some degree. Gamification is a way in which a business introduces game design-related thinking to an element of marketing in order to encourage people’s natural desire to achieve or win. One of the most popular and successful examples of gamification is Foursquare, an app that lets you check in at public locations such as restaurants and potentially gain rewards from doing so. You can even become “mayor” of a location after enough check-ins.
Foursquare is the epitome of what gamification can do for a business—their business basically is gamification—but the concept can be implemented in many, many different ways, no matter the size of a company.
The idea behind gamification is retention. Keep your customers hooked by making them active and engaged with your business. Larger corporations use gamification in mobile apps and other large-scale ways, but small businesses can implement the strategy in smaller, simpler ways that don’t require tons of time and money, but can result in a payoff.
Does this marketing strategy sound like something that might work for your Beaverton or Portland business? Here are a few basic ideas that shouldn’t take up too much of your time or budget:
- Giveaways or contests are classic gamification techniques. Semi-frequent giveaways for small items (such as a medium soda or a branded pen) can keep your customers paying attention to what you have to say, and keeps them playing as well.
- Introduce gamification to your website. Have a list of activities your viewers can do, such as signing up for your newsletter or liking your business’s Facebook page. When they complete all or most of the activities, reward them with a coupon or something similar. The reward could even be a non-monetary prize, such as a badge for each completed activity. Allow your fans to level up, so they come back more than once.
- Tell a story incrementally. Whether this happens through your blog, on Facebook, your mobile app, or by other means, this story should be engaging. Now, when I say story, this could mean anything. Perhaps a fun, weekly update on your business’s new innovative product. Maybe collected stories from customers about their weekend/holiday plans. The list goes on. Anything that’s interesting enough to your customers and has no definite end date does the job.
Let me make clear that gamification is a marketing strategy. It’s not intended to be only used on gamers, or even to be fun. It’s not necessarily about playing, but more about a rewards system and mental engagement. The end result, if fortunate, should be more business. If it does not result in more business, your strategy should be changed or rethought. Gamification is just another method of keeping customers engaged. Give your marketing team a fun job; see how far they can stretch their minds and come up with some interesting ways to integrate gamification into your business.