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While gamification in marketing and business has become a buzzword over the past couple of years, the practice of using game mechanics has been around for a long time. An airline loyalty program or a happy hour at a local bar are just some of the examples.
What is gamification?
It is a process of integrating game mechanics into daily activities, interaction with customers and other activities, which in itself can sometimes be too monotonous and boring.
Gamification for business shows how games and game mechanics (game design) can be used to effectively solve enterprise problems and increase organizational efficiency.
How does it work?
It works by encouraging desired behavior, showing the way to mastery, and taking advantage of people's psychological predisposition to play.
Research by J. Fogg
In his Behavior Change Model, the professor emphasized that three elements must converge at the same moment for behavior to change (that is, some behavioral act to occur): motivation, ability, and trigger. The most important aspect is that all three factors must converge at the same time.
Thus, gamified systems should:
- motivate to action (emotional investment of the user, promise of reward) - this can be a desire to look beautiful, recognition of others, competition and competition for resources;
- the ability to perform an action and the simplicity of its execution, which does not require any complex skills and abilities;
- trigger (signal to perform an action) - it can be a reminder, letter, notification, contest end time.
In this structure, everything depends on time - if all the components do not work at the same time, the player will lose interest or get upset.
What is it for?
Marketers use it to increase consumer engagement and influence consumer behavior. To do this, consumers are rewarded with virtual items (such as points) for certain behaviors (buying something, registering, using a product, completing a profile), and these virtual items should open access to exclusive privileges and rewards (levels and prizes).
Gamification in business is used in the conduct of medium and large businesses in order to attract the target audience of consumers, involvement in the brand, brand products and company services. For example, office simulator.
Large companies usually gamify their workflow. With this system they:
- train and adapt new employees;
- upgrade the skills of existing staff;
- establish communication between employees;
- motivate and discipline the company's specialists;
- track the performance and diligence of employees;
- introduce a system of rewarding the most effective and diligent specialists.
This system is actively used by such large-scale companies as Goobles and L'Oreal. The latter, in a game format, offers beginners to test their knowledge and find the best place for themselves in the company, while the former uses the system to train new employees. A good example is also Medical VR Operations Simulator.
In this case, it represents a simple yet effective way for business owners to create a more productive, innovative and engaged workforce.
The program addresses a wide range of issues, from saving time and resources on costly employee training programs to creating a corporate culture that embraces and encourages a peer-to-peer learning environment. As such, it is a tool that employers cannot afford to miss out on.
When people participate in a company's initiative to implement this program, they learn how best to interact with products, services, and the brand.
Interaction with game mechanics provides valuable data that can help influence marketing campaigns, platform usage, goals, company performance. Each interaction with an employee or client gives a better idea of where the participant spends their time and what activities of the company are of interest.
In addition, such programs are actively used in the field of education not only for adults, but also for children. For example, Knowledge.
Why does it work?
It works because the program gives people control over what they are doing, as well as giving them clear markers of their progress for the current day, a map to guide them in future activities, and prizes to clearly show when they have demonstrated correct behaviour. If you add here the element of competition that is used in most of these programs, it is easy to understand why it is advertised as an effective business tool.
If you delve into its principles, then their essence lies in the psychology and behavior of a person.
As social beings, all people are in search of satisfaction, respect, communication, connection with each other and with something greater than themselves. People want to be challenged and rewarded. Moreover, one day they want to say that they have achieved something in their lives or in a certain company.
Based on the above, there are a few basic principles of strategy that can be successfully implemented in your business:
A reward is a positive reinforcement of certain actions in the form of points, points, moving to a new level, receiving exclusive services and gifts.
- Loss aversion.
Most people are rather inert and strongly prefer to avoid losses. One way to achieve this is to immediately give people something they can lose (if they don't keep playing). As is often the case in farm games, if the user does not visit the farm and take care of the crops, they will wither and die.
- Status, competition and reputation.
Most people naturally want higher status, not just to keep up, but to beat and outperform the competition. That's why leaderboards are a good idea. In addition, achievement social security encourages people to constantly be on top and stay motivated to achieve clear goals.
Feedback tells users that their actions are being recorded, and the results of those actions are being recorded. An effective program should include monitoring the accumulation of points as actions are taken and, going back to the first point, having a clear and instant reward system. Which indicates to the user that he is approaching his goal. The constant pursuit of small goals to achieve larger ones often makes games exciting.
- Communication with other users, messaging, collaboration.
Effective game mechanics
Effective and commonly used game mechanics include:
- Status - the rank or level of the player. Players are often motivated by trying to reach a higher level or status.
- Virtual items - digital prizes, rewards, items found or taken during the game. Players strive to keep and increase them.
- Collective engagement is the idea that people like each other more after playing games, have higher levels of trust and are more willing to work together.
- Checking progress dynamics - success is detailed and measured in the process of completing detailed tasks.
- Feeling of ownership, possession of the object, joy and pride in achievement.
- Microleader Assignment - The ranking of all individuals in the microset. Great for distributed gaming dynamics where there is a need to run multiple micro-competitions or build loyalty. Example: an offer to be the bar's top scorer this week and get a free snack.
- Epic meaning. Players are more motivated if they believe they are working towards something great, awe-inspiring, something bigger than themselves.
- The desire to have what others have. For this to be effective, it must be possible to view other people's attributes and achievements.
- Countdown. Players are only given a certain amount of time to do something.
- Theory of limited information - information should be published in the smallest possible fragments in order to obtain an appropriate level of understanding at each point in the game's narrative.
Examples of successful implementation of the strategy
Nike has launched a campaign called NikeFuel as part of its vast Nike+ community. In NikeFuel, users compete against each other in daily physical activity. The application on their smartphone will record all the actions performed by users and convert them into points.
After reaching a certain level, NikeFuel will unlock special trophies and rewards. All this creates great motivation for Nike customers to not only keep playing sports, but also to share their results on social networks and increase brand awareness.
Nike has made sure that its customers are engaged and motivated enough to repeat tasks with increasing enthusiasm. The campaign also encouraged specific behaviors such as posting app results on social media.
Starbucks is known for caring when it comes to customer and employee loyalty and engagement. My Starbucks Rewards is an example of this technique, where strategy serves to transform a traditional loyalty card program into something much more complex.
Once registered, customers receive stars for every purchase, which can later be redeemed for free drinks and food. The game has three levels that users can reach according to their degree of loyalty - the following levels are open to those who visit the Starbucks store. The game is simple and includes material rewards.
The service is used by more than 300,000,000 users. As a reward, the user earns lingots. Students can collect lingots after completing lessons or skills.
The service provides leaderboards that reflect the position of users in comparison with their friends. This awakens curiosity and motivation to return and continue learning.
The point and level system is based on points. The more experience points, the more progress. The more progress, the faster your level increases. The ability to regularly receive badges for completing certain tasks in the application. Participants who complete a series of tasks or improve their knowledge are guaranteed to receive recognition.
Autodesk is an established software vendor that relies on user trials. To make them more appealing, Autodesk decided to gamify the components of the Undiscovered Territory, a new experience created for trial users of Autodesk 3ds Max. The main goal was to increase the use of this software during the trial period and increase the likelihood of a purchase.
Users could access their profiles and view their completed missions, information about their rank on the program leaderboard, their scores, their badges, and other achievements. The gaming nature of the trial was very successful - 10% more users decided to download it, and the use of the trial version itself increased by 40%.
Corporate Strategy Case Study: Master Data Management
Managing master data is a tedious and often thankless task, but crucial to a company's long-term success. If a company like Amazon mislabeled their categories and showed movies when a user searches for books, they probably wouldn't be as big as they are now.
A team called Data Scrubbers came up with a modern approach based on this strategy for this essential work in the SAP Gamification Cup. As the underlying data continually deteriorates, the data scrubbers embark on "cleanup missions" where each player can score and level up based not only on how much data they are cleaning, but also on how complex the data is. What's more, players can see a progress bar that shows them their daily progress.
Why might it not work?
It may fail for the following main reasons:
- Poorly designed rules.
Many of the systems that companies implement do not have clear rules or detailed instructions. Boundaries need to be set from the start, and they need to be airtight. A bad set of rules (or lack thereof in general) can lead users to cheat the company in the game and defeat the purpose of the program. It is best to order gamification from experts.
- Unsatisfactory rewards.
All motivation to participate in the program must be rewarded. However, if the rewards offered to users are not engaging, their motivation will not last long. One company that made this mistake was Zappos, which is surprising given their strong marketing history. Zappos gave users the ability to earn badges, points, and jump levels, but there was no real reward other than their digital achievements. Users quickly became wary of the program, and most of them left.
- No structure.
Too often, companies create systems like this that lack a clear understanding of the structure, making it difficult for users to understand how to play. As simple as it sounds, this remains one of the most common mistakes among similar programs. One company that makes their game too confusing is Klout. Although the system is the basis of Klout, it doesn't explain well how points can be earned. Klout's score is considered a measure of their user influence on social media, but the company doesn't offer users an explanation on how to raise their scores.
- The game itself is bad.
The user wants to have fun, otherwise nothing else will matter. The inability to create an engaging and interactive program is one of the most common problems developers face. One way to make sure the program is engaging is to test it out with a focus group of people who are in the company's target audience. This is a much more economical and smarter way to test a product before simply releasing it to the public.
- This system is not universal.
As with most trends, there are people who want to use it just for the sake of it. The name is catchy, it sounds fun, and many experts praise its results. However, this system may simply not be suitable for a particular company. Before implementing it, you should consider why it might work for the organization. If it's hard to give a definitive answer, it might be better to go the other direction. Illiterate use of it is a good way to spend a lot of time, effort and money.