Gamification & Marketing: How to Get Your Head in the Game
Are you ready to get in the game? Not any old game but game-based marketing for your business. Gabe Zichermann and Joselin Linder, authors of Game-Based Marketing: Inspire Customer Loyalty Through Rewards, Challenges and Contests, believe that games and funware present exciting opportunities for marketers that shouldn’t be ignored.
In this post we’ll introduce the concepts of gamification and funware, the relationship to marketing, examples of gamification, and an exclusive Q & A with Gabe Zichermann, author and gamification thought leader, to help gain more insights into this important new trend and how to assess whether it’s right for your business.
First Things First: Gamification & Funware Defined
Gamification typically involves “applying game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. Gamification has been called one of the most important trends in technology by several industry experts. Gamification can potentially be applied to any industry and almost anything to create fun and engaging experiences, converting users into players.”
Gabe Zichermann has been credited with coining the complimentary term, funware, defined as “employing game mechanics such as points, leaderboards, badges, challenges and levels.”
The Relationship between Gamification, Funware and Marketing
Zichermann and Linder say that Funware helps marketing by combining play with some less playful—or more purpose-driven activities.
“…businesses that incorporate Funware into their marketing will find they get something that is greater than expected…Many have discovered that their traditional marketing campaigns suddenly have additional leverage…game-based marketing doesn’t merely increase a marketing campaign’s value by a few percentage points; it can have a lasting, exponential effect on customer attraction, retention and satisfaction…Through the diligent application of points, badges, levels, reward and challenges, any brand can deliver extraordinary engagement.”
Examples of Gamification
Looking for examples of how brands have used games and funware? Here are a number:
Tom Edwards provides 15 brand examples of gamification and how brands are capitalizing on the trend.
Joe Pulizzi provides 4 examples.
Playgen provides case studies and 7 examples of gamification.
Building Your Brand with Games
Bunchball offers this advice for businesses looking to build their brand with games: “Using gamification, marketers can help increase brand awareness, affinity, and purchase intent by driving their audience to spend more time on a website or related social media property and come back more often. The more users interact with a site, the more valuable and loyal they become and the less incentive they have to click away to another source.”
Q & A with Gabe Zichermann
Are there specific industries and types of businesses that you think lend themselves better to game-based marketing than others?
GZ: The techniques of gamification work excellently for almost all contexts—and we’re seeing huge adoption among retail, health, education, travel and large enterprise companies. In general, we think of gamification as facing either employees or customers, but the concepts and techniques used are mostly the same.
Social media marketing has always had to overcome the ROI factor, what do you say to businesses who may be cautious about utilizing game-based marketing? Are there facts and figures that can help make the case?
GZ: Gamification is a metrics and outcomes-oriented discipline. The design process always begins with assessing customer needs, building appropriate metrics, and driving behaviors that can deliver that in the funnel. While there are no global ROI metrics available today, one of the major pieces of anecdotal feedback we hear is a consistent 20% or greater increase in engagement by using some of the core techniques.
In your recent post, “Competition or Cooperation?” you write “collaboration and competition are not mutually exclusive.” Are you suggesting that businesses should allow both to occur?
GZ: Absolutely! Some employees and customers are incredibly competitive, others are collaborative. Being able to design a gamified experience that talks to a broad swath of the target population requires that you think about the different motivations and motivators of your audience. One of the most famous systems for analyzing motivation is Bartle’s Player types – where the research identified four kinds of player motivations (Achiever, Explorer, Socializer, Killer). Knowing what drives your audience—and how to tailor your experience—will help create the ideal gamified system.
I’m curious to know what you think about an aspect of game mechanics and design; should the details around leaderboards and how users are able to move-up ranks be spelled out for participants?
Great question. Some of the most interesting debates in gamified design center around the balance between obvious paths and surprise/delight. Some sites/apps, like Foursquare, really keep you in the dark about potential achievements. Others, like Nike+, are much more self-evident. Ultimately, a balance of both is likely to produce the optimal result for an audience. Regardless, when you like the system and are really engaged, it can be fun just to conjecture about how to progress, can’t it? That’s gamification at work.
What are your predictions for game-based marketing in 2012?
GZ: The biggest trends I think we’ll see are:
- A move away from game metaphors to behavioral metaphors (meaning: gamified systems will look less like games).
- A dramatic increase in the use of gamification inside companies and facing employees.
- Big advances in gamification of health and education built around the surprising and awesome early results we’ve seen.
Thank you, Gabe for taking the time to speak with us.
Assessing Whether Gamification Will Be Effective For Your Business Today
Tracy DiMarino suggests 10 questions to ask yourself to determine if gamification fits in with your larger marketing strategy:
- What are your organizations’ goals? For instance, are you looking to increase customer loyalty, drive purchases or build brand awareness?
- What audiences are you trying to reach? What are their interests, and where do they interact? Are they likely to play a game?
- What actions do you want these people to take?
- Can gamification help you reach those goals and audiences?
- How does the game tie in with your company’s brand, product and/or service? For example, if you sell lawn care products, maybe your game teaches individuals how to garden.
- How will gamification fit within your larger strategy and ongoing marketing tactics?
- How will the game be built? Will the game experience take place within an existing platform, such as Facebook, Foursquare or Twitter, or will it be a truly custom-built solution?
- What will make people want to play or participate? What incentive is there for them?
- How will the game be promoted to target audiences?
- How will success be measured? What activities can you track to determine ROI?
How to Gamify
Adam Kleinberg writes, “Don’t reinvent the wheel. Not every gamified experience requires a ton of back-end engineering. A number of companies like BunchBall, Badgeville, and Gamify have made implementing game mechanics as easy as customizing a WordPress site.”
Game-based marketing can offer a fresh take on marketing and engagement. It may be the exciting alternative you’ve been looking for to spice-up your content marketing efforts this year. We believe that game-based marketing will become even bigger in 2012 and that marketers who take the time to assess and consider it for their businesses sooner than later may gain a real competitive advantage, and ultimately, be ahead of the game!
Fun is the Future: Mastering Gamification (Video)
Gabe Zichermann’s Google Tech Talk on YouTube
Gamification 101: An Introduction to the Use of Game Dynamics to Influence Behavior
Whitepaper by Bunchball
How To: Gamify Your Marketing
post by Adam Kleinberg
Gamification goes mainstream (infographic)
by Big Door