Corporate use of ‘gamification’ drives brand engagement and business goals

Companies of all kinds have begun to introduce ‘gamification’ into the way their products, processes, training and marketing are presented and consumed.

October 31, 2012

BY SIMON BESTBIER, ACCOUNT DIRECTOR, REALMDIGITAL 

Companies of all kinds have begun to introduce ‘gamification’ into the way their products, processes, training and marketing are presented and consumed.

Gamification is particularly successful at promoting engagement with brands and portfolios, and driving strategic objectives like increased sales, marketing and even innovation.

This is because of a predisposition in many people to respond to fun, “cool” activities and activity-based task execution, notes Wikipedia.

The growth of gaming beyond gaming

Wikipedia describes gamification as the use of game mechanics (stories and actions) and game design techniques – in a non-game context.

Blog sites and forums have used it for some time –for example awarding higher status to users as a reward for full and frequent use of site functionality.

From there, gaming methods have branched out into social networks and other scenarios where high engagement is paramount.

Even politics and civil service have a use for it. In the run-up to the 2012 American Presidential election, various companies have been promoting voting with the use of gamification tactics. Elsewhere, authorities are rewarding drivers who stay within the speed limit by entering them  into a monthly lottery. In both cases, gamification has had a significant effect on achieving objectives.

But the impact of gaming is not purely social. It also has proven influence in businesses of all kinds. Decidedly serious industries like financial services and professional services firms are showing an interest in using game techniques in their content and workplaces.

Forms of business gamification

Business gaming occurs on various platforms – websites, intranets, mobile apps and other applications – and they range from fully-fledged applications to game-like strands woven into a wider context.

A large body of techniques are available to corporates, and can be applied in different scenarios, including:

  • Progress bars to indicate closeness to completing a task that a company is trying to encourage –www.givengain.cominvites site members to start real-life projects (e.g. run a marathon) to raise funds for causes, and to set and track their fundraising goals.
  • Systems for awarding, redeeming and exchanging (trading or gifting) points, such as www.perk.co.za
  • Other awards such as discounts or achievement badges encouraging staff or customers to learn about a product, service or a key procedure or process
  • Rewards such as discounts are used along with social networks to encourage viral product referrals, such as the Stickers campaign developed by Realmdigital for Exclus1ves.
  • Leader boards, for example Shape Up and Keas
  • Challenges between users, such as NikeFuel and Club Psych
  • Virtual currency including FNB’s eBucks, Standard Bank’s Mimoney or Bidorbuy’s bobBucks 

Corporate gamification benefits

Wikipedia notes that DevHub, a website-building resource, used game techniques to increase the number of users who completed their online tasks to 80% (was 10%).

In the Exclus1ves Stickers example, reviews and ratings increased substantially as stickers now rewarded users for engaging with products. Stickers also enabled users to control which products they wanted discounted by introducing smart discounting and group buying.

According to a 2011 Gartner Research Report, more than 50% of organisations that manage innovation processes will use gamification for that purpose by 2015. Innovation is often cited as crucial to competitiveness, making this a resounding endorsement of gaming methods. 

It can be challenging. Or not.

Complex endeavours like innovation and development projects involving intricate processes and ambitious goals (for example purpose-built simulation and storylines), require a serious development capability.

But gamification comes in light-touch as well as complex formats, with varying shades in-between. It need not break the bank.

Companies seeking to benefit from the persuasive power of gaming elements should choose a development partner with proven experience and references in that area.