Gamification: A Traditional Marketing Tool with a Hip, New Name

By: Cameron Joye

February 5, 2014

engagement tool
gamified applications
location marketing
mobile marketing

‘Gamification’ is a more complex name for “point collecting”. Actually, we have been doing it for quite some time before the term was ever coined. Something within our rewards and gratifications system loves and sometimes obsesses over competition. This aspect makes gamification such a successful engagement tool to create a unique, online user experience.

Will gamification ever be taken seriously among cynics who doubt its longevity in the marketing world? Will it become a highly integrated part of daily life, and what implications does this hold for the future?

Some people doubt the power and effectiveness of gamification. Their skepticism is perhaps a misplaced lack of understanding in regards to implementation. Research VP at Gartner, Brian Burke, says: “Poor game design is one of the key failings of many gamified applications today.” Nonetheless, brands that most successfully incorporate gamification tap into the needs of their community and understand how they want to interact with the brand.

Gamification Establishes an Invaluable ‘Brand Connection’

Gamification can instantly turn a dull and mundane experience into something fun and rewarding. It’s a great way to get people to perform valuable actions (e.g. filling in their contact details, doing a review, etc.) they might otherwise skip. By creating a positive mental connection in the mind of a consumer, it encourages them to return to your business.

The annual “McDonald’s Monopoly” game is a perfect example of how “gamified” rituals nurture a brand connection within a customer’s mind. Many people bashfully confess to frequenting McDonald’s far more often during the duration of the famous game. Why? It’s been around for so long it’s become almost a nostalgic tradition!

Our Daily Lives are Flooded with Gamification Interactions

Gamification has, more noticeably, made its way into our social networks and taken root in our hyper-connected daily interactions. Across numerous social platforms, gamification establishes itself as an engaging and effective strategy. For example, LinkedIn rewards users when they fill in their profile and perform certain actions by showing their progress as they “level up” and earn new achievement titles.

Another social network, Foursquare, motivates its users in two very effective ways. Firstly, badges are awarded to dedicated users for check-ins, which indicate achievements users unlock by completing determined objectives. Secondly, businesses can offer further incentives by giving special deals to customers who check-in with Foursquare.

What Does the Future Hold?

Will gamification continue to take hold and become a more integral part of how brands increase engagement amongst their audience? According to Gartner:

By this year, more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one “gamified” application.

The success and evolution of gamification rests in the hands of brands who can truly understand the needs of their customer community and design a gamification strategy accordingly.