Gamification has evolved beyond just another buzzword over the past few years, with its impact felt across education, business and our day-to-day lives. Its elements – levels, badges, and leaderboards, are frequently used in marketing and workplace sectors. Enterprises are no longer asking about whether it is worth applying it for their business and are now looking for ways to best leverage it to their advantage.
The concept is not new – even before structured phases of gamification were defined in the industry, gaming principles have been used by businesses for decades. A popular example would be the airline industry where leading players have been offering frequent flyer programs for added benefits to loyal customers. This has been replicated in other industries with the goal of increasing interaction and consumption that leads to a tangible benefit such as coupons, previews or discounts. Schools and offices apply it as well, where a sustained process of achievement ends in the form of a degree, bonus or promotion.
These examples, though mapped over many years, demonstrate elements of simple game design but lack features that can create a more engaging experience. Today’s enterprises are leveraging SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, cloud) as a perfect convergence of technologies to drive innovation and accelerate outcomes of their strategic goals. To drive interest and increase the potential of gamification, enterprises are molding their techniques based on fundamental principles founded on behavioral science, a recognition that games are a critical communication and entertainment medium, and an unwavering focus that places each customer at the center of their strategy.
For B2B marketers, gamification can be an important tool to achieve their goals, measure ROI on marketing investments, and enable sales to drive business growth. The following four applications are where B2B marketers are focusing on –
- Driving online community engagement: A common technique would be to design a robust B2B brand community with the objective of increasing engagement. Employing a user-driven online community with simple reward mechanisms can help achieve this goal. Large enterprises, such as SAP, are building such interactive communities where employees, customers and partners network and motivate action while inspiring meaningful contributions and collaboration. This ecosystem helps increase the quantity of user-generated content, crowd-source their products’ enhancements, amplify their brands’ voice, and reduce support requests and costs.
- Generating leads: This is one of the key challengers for marketers who heavily rely on inbound marketing. With the amount of content being generated across multiple platforms, getting eyeballs to react to a brand’s message and convert passive interest into meaningful and actionable leads can be challenging. Companies are thinking beyond the standard “please fill in this form” routine to capture readers’ information and give them access to content. They are also thinking of developing personalized customer facing messaging and content by tracking customers’ content consumption trend to a reward, such as a personalized webinar, invite to an event, or access to a trial version of a new software. IBM’s Innov8 is one such example where users are encouraged to solve real-world problems through a free game that can be accessed after a sign-up.
- Incentivize sales: Gamification can be used to motivate sales teams beyond traditional financial incentives. Competitiveness is a crucial component to sales success and gamifying this can only increase the impact on revenues. Setting up a leaderboard with regular recognitions for top performers, and promoting internal trainings can act as incentives for sales teams to drive win rates, and increase employee engagement.
- Improving customer experience: This is a little more complex and goes beyond badges and recognitions. Designing a better customer experience requires an in-depth analysis of the customer base to determine whether individual touch points or entire sections need to be gamified. Key touchpoints can include an immersive product exploration on the company’s website, a deep-dive interaction through demo videos and social content, and even interactive troubleshooting with product teams.
To conclude, businesses now think differently about how customers and employee engagement can be enriched to boost revenues and trim bottom lines. Gamification provides a reason for customers to visit websites and influence buying behavior, and gives employees new ways to obtain feedback on job performance and acquire skills to take on more responsibility at work. It can also connect customers and partners, and make them feel respected for providing feedback. In today’s hyper-engagement economy, time and attention have become increasingly valuable. People are more likely to engage in activities that are truly rewarding with opportunities for them to learn, grow, socialize, be recognized and rewarded. The principles of gamification, evolved from human psychology, behavioral economics and game design, can further help marketers increase return on effort and investments in such an economy.