Marketers have known for years that an engaged customer tends to be a loyal customer. Loyal customers are more likely to make return visits, and their average purchases tend to be higher than the purchases made by first-time buyers. The most common method used by companies to encourage customer loyalty is to buy it through reward points, members-only sales or other financial incentives. While such loyalty programs worked for many retailers in the past, today’s customers want more.

 Customers Demand Engagement

Modern consumers want to interact with the companies they patronize. They want to feel that they have been singled out for special attention. They want to feel that you know them and understand their needs. They want personalized offers that are relevant to them, and they want you to deliver these offers in the manner that they prefer. They want you to provide them with relevant content and to keep your content fresh. In other words, your customers want to engage with you, which means that you must engage with them. One method of engaging your customers is through gamification.

The Basics of Gamification

Essentially, gamification is the use of game mechanics outside of a game environment. When used for customer engagement, gamification can help you foster relationships, gain insight into your customers’ motivations, promote brand awareness and drive sales.

  • Gamification relies on certain traits that most people have in common.
  • Humans tend to be competitive. Even if they are playing solitaire, most people are happier when they win than when they lose. Gamification offers them a chance to display their competitiveness in a safe environment.
  • Most people want to improve their abilities. Whether they are solving a logic problem or mastering the game of darts, many people derive satisfaction from seeing their skills improve with repetition.
  • Humans are goal-oriented. They want to have a finite goal in mind and track their progress.
  • People want to enjoy themselves. They want to have fun, relax and take a break from stress.

Gamification relies on another human trait that may be the most important to marketers: When people are relaxed, having a pleasant experience or just feeling good about themselves, they tend to spend more freely.

Although gamification may involve aspects of a game, the basic idea is to require customers to complete an interaction to achieve a certain outcome. It allows you to reward your engaged customers or entice new ones.

Credit cards that offer free miles or cash rewards are employing gamification at its most rudimentary level. Social media apps that require users to check in from participating locations to earn discounts or badges are also using gamification. Newer techniques apply the principles used by the designers of video games to offer special games that are hosted on a company’s website or social media page. For example, the visitor might have to navigate a maze to unlock a mystery coupon.

Using Gamification for Customer Engagement

If you plan to use gamification for customer engagement, the following four tips can help you achieve the best results.

  • You must have structured and understandable rules. Rules let people know what they must do to participate.
  • There must be a tangible goal. Whether the result is earning a discount or an online badge, participants need to know specifically what they will receive.
  • All tasks must be achievable. People often enjoy a challenge, but they will quickly lose interest if a task is too difficult to achieve.
  • You must provide feedback throughout. Even if it is nothing more than an automated message addressing the participant by name, you need to interact with your players regularly.

Gamification is far from an innovative concept; it has been used for decades. However, in recent years, it has evolved and increased in popularity. Handled wisely and creatively, gamification can help you engage your customers and promote your brand.

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