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Gamification: An Engagement Technique That’s Making Waves

Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems. Here are some examples of it in use.



By Rachel Dreyfus

First, what IS gamification? According to Wikipedia, Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in a non-game context in order to engage users and solve problems.

Made simple:  gamification experts provided examples of how they used the techniques at a very engaging Customer Experience Professionals (CXP) event in Manhattan recently. Corinne Sklar, CMO at Bluewolf and Kris Duggan at Badgeville spoke on the topic.

Engaging users, including customers and employees is about understanding and encouraging behaviors you want to reinforce, according to Kris, who woke us all up with his opening statement, “We face an engagement crisis.”  Gamification platforms/programs can provide a firm advantage among the noisy marketplace offerings via introducing fun and gratifying activities.

Earning points, achievement badges and leaderboards are early, well-used gamification techniques… Through introducing a points rewards system on their website, Badgeville helped Samsung turn one-time web shoppers into repeat visitors who posted reviews more often.

As these incentives show success, other creative techniques are emerging:

The Old Way:  Reward repeat sales with free product — Buy 9, get the 10th one free.

The New Way: Beyond sales, reward behaviors such as recommendation, visiting/using the website or other brand channels, and the like. AND, there are so many more ways to reward customers beyond free product — providing recognition or status (Silver, Gold, Platinum level customer labels), privileges such as accessing a sale 24 hours earlier than others, freebies such as extra content, games and the like.

For employee engagement, use visibility and recognition:

Bluewolf introduced a Rewards Store to encourage its employees to collaborate and share ideas and success stories in its internal social platform.  Lunch with the CEO was one of the most coveted awards.

Caution: Some company cultures aren’t ready for terms like “gamification” so you may want to choose a label that sounds more traditional, depending upon whether your executives have yet to reach the Silver, Gold, or Platinum level of visionary marketing strategies!

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2 responses to “Gamification: An Engagement Technique That’s Making Waves

  1. Great post to clarify the definition of gamification. It’s becoming more widely used across Market Research as well. We’ve actually had success using gamified elements in ideation. Using a gamified, points-based system that rewards individual contributions that inspire others results in more and better ideas and helps maintain respondent / employee engagement over an extended period of time.

  2. Our industry does many good things and is evolving in many useful ways, but naming things is not now or has ever been one of them. We name things to sell them ahead of our ability to deliver them.

    1) What WE call ethnography is venacular anthropology and by in large only NGO’s do real ethnography
    2) Quali-Quant ISN”T, find the quantification of previously qualitative (only) insight in our QQ methods – counting is not insight; the quantified relationships of emotional and psychological
    motivations to directly measurable rational ones is QQ (find it) and if if you think it is neuroscience check the recently released study for the University of Manchester that shows these studies are accurate 1 in 5 times (if you are lucky – which is less than chance and certainly not as good as old fashion intuition)
    3) a related marketing concept “one to one marketing” is truly the world’s oldest profession…it is called sales (both lawyers and hookers do it)

    Similarly we now have “gamification”. Game thinking and mechanics require the comparison of competing utilities to illuminate preference and most often explain otherwise apparently non-rational decisions. Nothing described in the discussion above is remotely related to GAMES.

    Like “one-to-one marketing” we have the relabeling of the familiar. What most often passes for gamification among us is socially evolving direct marketing. At its best our gamification is the increased involvement generated through the skills inherent in appreciative listening and the visualization of response formats (semiotics).

    Don’t you think we would evolve faster and more usefully as an industry if we actually call processes by their right name. A simple principle, instead of faking it and selling whatever we can repackage, why don’t we actually learn some new skills.

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