By Mostafa Razzak,Principal, JMR Connect, Chairman, IMA Mid-Atlantic Group
Gamification can have far more serious results for businesses than just fun and games. By leveraging the competitive dynamics of games that make playing so addictive, companies can actively engage customers and employees to encourage loyalty, ignite brand advocates, and reward behaviors that sustain – and grow – the business.
The concept of gamification has been visible in businesses for decades, but recent advances in real-time technology and social networking have literally “changed the games”. These trends pave the way for gamification growth; Gartner predicted that by 2014, more than 70 percent of Forbes Global 2000 organizations will have at least one game-based application. And, that by 2015, half of all companies with innovation processes will gamify them – making the gamification industry worth $112 billion and as important to marketing and retention as Facebook.
Looks like Gartner was right.
But successful gamification isn’t just about slapping leaderboards and achievement badges on your company’s website. Because of poor design, strategy and deployment, Gartner is less optimistic about gamification’s short-term outlook, predicting that 80 percent of current gamified applications will fail.
Gamification holds huge potential, as long as your company takes a smart, strategic approach to drive business objectives – not to just play games. Apply some of these best practices in gamification to maximize your results and turn games into serious business.
Begin with business goals.
The goal is not to get lots people to play your game; the goal is to achieve meaningful business objectives through gamification. Before jumping on the hype-wagon and building a game with no relevance, begin by clearly identifying your business objectives and critically analyzing how gamification can achieve those goals. Whether you want to engage clients in communication, encourage employee productivity, or promote a sense of community, different priorities require different strategies. The clearer your objectives upfront, the more successful deployment will be – and the less likely you’ll be to confuse activity with progress.
Focus on the players.
Employee engagement: your game can’t exist without engaged players, and you should know by now that consumers won’t readily do your brand’s bidding just because you dangled a gift card in front of them. As you’re defining business objectives, also consider player objectives: What do participants need to do in order for this game to achieve your business goals, and why would they? Make it not only fun but meaningful by engaging your target audience with relevant, personalized incentives and rewards. The more closely you overlap your purpose with players’ personal motivations, the more engaged they’ll be. Look at gamification leader Nike, whose Nike+ app community is built around users’ personal fitness goals.
Keep it simple.
The best games are intuitive in their design, effectively leveraging tools like leaderboards and social sharing to make competition interactive. Effort should be clearly linked to reward. Remember that in this mobile age, consumers are busy, bombarded, and likely playing from somewhere other than a desktop. So sleek, simple functionality is key. Consider how your target audience communicates and behaves – your game shouldn’t disrupt routines by asking them to go out of their way, but should come naturally, leveraging their existing habits (like posting on Facebook) to maximize your reach.
Effective gamification can leverage the engaging, interactive potential of online gaming to tap into consumers’ natural drives for competition and recognition, creating brand advocates and driving social word-of-mouth about your organization. But most important to note, is that games must engage your communities in ways that match your business goals to have any measurable impact on your bottom line.