Why Gamification is Back in Play for Brands

/ 12 October 2021

In this conversation, we’re talking with Karl Dixon, FRSA, Director at CVM People who recently authored a paper about the science behind gamification’s surge and success.

3radical: The Facebook and Google Ad world could be looking at a full-blown crisis with Apple’s announcement of stricter privacy policies. And with GDPR and CCPA, this trend will only continue. Gamification appears to be the most effective way to collect consumer data and remain compliant.

Karl: So first off, I’m a massive fan of computer games and have been since I was a child. I think that really helps. Gamification is one of those things where after the big sort of boom in excitement around it, perhaps eight or nine years ago, I suppose it’s one of those things that falls off the hype curve. Gartner stats, a few years ago, showed 80% of gamification apps are likely to fail. Video games are an enormously rich well of engagement psychology of understanding what motivates people and what excites people. There’s everything from power, the power of stories, which we’ll come on to perhaps in a little bit, to mechanisms around incentivizing behavior, and exchanges of value. And all of this, at a very sort of basic psychological level is really valuable for marketers, people interested in customer service, and advertisers, to understand and be able to bring into their day to day lives. It doesn’t even need to be about points and high scores and badges, and things like that. Actually, just taking the learnings around how we interact with each other and with mechanisms or challenges we enjoy and how we can bring those to bear to incentivize behaviors that are beneficial to the business, but also pleasurable positive to the customer.

3radical: We’ve had a lot of success in helping brands rethink how they design their customer experience and how they get value out of that both for themselves and for their customers Gamification has really been misunderstood over the last couple of years. And really, gamification is about how do brands create an environment where customers can feel comfortable and confident in making the decisions they want to make about their own journey, and in sharing with the brand feedback on how they can improve that going forward. So, if we think of it in that context, we’re really able to help brands rethink their entire customer experience from beginning to end in such a way that they improve the customer experience, as well as capture more consented data to further improve their business models.

And the gathering of data and encouraging engagement go hand-in-hand. If it’s a well-designed customer experience, they’ll be able to take an additional action to experience a new thing, to go down a new path, whether that’s virtual, physical, what have you, there are key decisions that are made. And there are key incentives along the way for consumers to make those decisions. All we are doing in gamification is highlighting those elements and pulling them to the fore in terms of strategy and operations.

Karl: You want to create a virtuous circle in terms of the data gathering and using it to generate insight. You can use gamification mechanisms to create, essentially, equity in value exchange; you offer value and an experience. In return, you can get the data and insight and create that sort of positive emotional resonance to customers who are more than happy to share information with you because they feel like you’re not sneaking around taking it from cookies or storing stuff they don’t know about. Consumers are getting wiser to what’s going on. And, I think this whole thing with Facebook might backfire in terms of what they’re talking about, how much data is collected, and how it’s collected. Consumers will come out on the side of Apple. So being transparent and upfront, by offering, effectively, fun value, whatever it might be, for that data is a great way forward.

3radical: Any industry that is looking to improve its data position would benefit from incorporating gamification into their consumer experiences. In particular, industries that are looking for and needing direct feedback that they can take action against. For example, in the healthcare industry, where there’s just a tremendous need to get feedback from patients on their understanding of their policies or healthcare systems; financial services is another one, similar in complexity and importance in its value in a person’s life. So a lot of these industries are just looking to be able to break the curse of repeating the same discount year after year after year, because they have no better tool in their toolbox to better understand the needs of their audience.

Karl: Retail is an interesting one, because over the long term, particularly in digital marketing, it’s very easy to lose sight of one of the core tenants of marketing – your brand position and how customers perceive you. In building brand equity over the long term, it almost becomes a very day-to-day trading, numbers driven, sales support type environment. Whereas you can use gamification, not just for “we need to get our data”, but a quick “we need to create new outreach that’s going to bring in more useful data”. And with gamification, you can help redefine your interaction with customers and what they can expect from you.

3radical: Integrating a gamification solution that incorporates simple instant win games, possibly role-playing games, with market research, surveys and data gathering doesn’t have to be challenging. They’re all fundamentally rooted in understanding the consumer. So, the ability to be able to identify a consumer in a given brand, to be able to tie data to that consumer, and send that data around to different marketing communication platforms, or content management platforms, are more tied to whether a brand has a data strategy to begin with.

Karl: Like everything, there is groundwork and foundations that need to be in place to really reap the value of gamification such as developing a data strategy, developing some endpoints, developing and articulating some clear goals that you want to achieve. If you don’t start with that, if you just slap in scoreboards or sort of socialization without any purpose, then you won’t achieve what you wanted.

Although, there are certainly some use cases where if you are simply looking for a small mechanic for an individual marketing campaign, and that’s kind of the extent of your vision, it’s fairly easy to stand up an instant win scratch card type thing and go for it. But I think the real value in gamification comes from looking at it in a much broader, deeply rooted strategy where brands can build and link different experiences together that allows their customers to experience that brand along their own path over time. 

Our website uses cookies to help us to understand how you use it. By continuing to use our website you consent to our use of such cookies. For more information please read our privacy policy.