How Brands Can Use Gamification to Boost Mobile Engagement and Customer Experience
Brought to you by WBR Insights
Technologically-savvy brands are always searching for ways to get their customers engaged using various digital innovations and touchpoints.
For the uninitiated, gamification refers to the application of typical elements of game playing - such as those found in video or board games - to create incentives for an audience to engage with a brand. Sometimes this will involve using leaderboards and rewards to get staff members to partake in training programs. Other times it will take the form of customer experiences such as competitions or other special promotions which can be unlocked by performing certain tasks.
Whichever form it takes, gamification can be a powerful engagement tool - if it's implemented in the right way.
Recent research carried out by Korean universities has looked into the effects of gamification strategies on brand app experiences and mobile engagement. The study aimed to reveal the relationship between several different aspects of gamification - fun, rewards, competition, and storytelling - and customer experience using brands' mobile apps.
"Most companies incorporate game mechanics into their brand applications - software programs designed to deliver to consumers a brand-related online experience - to communicate effectively, and efficiently, with consumers," stated the authors. "For that reason, branded application with gamification to improve work performance in business as well as to influence people and drive motivations has been a popular research topic."
Of the 450 participants tested, it was found that fun and storytelling had the most significant effect as motivating factors to engage with mobile apps. This suggests that, while rewards and competition are indeed good motivators for brand app engagement, consumers are far more concerned about having fun while engaging with gamified brand experiences.
So - which gamification techniques can your brand use to help replicate the findings of this research?
Streak-Based Reward Systems
If you look at some of the most popular mobile games, they will usually have a system of reward where players are given certain advantages or bonuses for logging in daily.
The rewards may involve digital currency with which users can purchase in-game assets, or they can include special quests or challenges which, if completed within a certain time frame, unlock further bonuses. These streak-based reward systems are designed to keep users engaged with the game and give them a tangible reason to log on and play regularly.
This same technique can be used with a brand app as well. Offering simple games for customers to play which give credits towards rewards can keep them coming back to your app for more. You can even add streak-based rewards by giving incrementally better returns if customers log on each day. For brands involved in the food and drink industry, you could give increasingly more points if, for example, they purchase a coffee each day - with a missed day resetting the clock.
Referral and Sharing Elements
Modern game consoles all have a facility to capture images and short videos from play sessions and share them on social media platforms.
These systems not only allow gamers to show off their achievements but also have the knock-on effect of organically promoting the game in question - getting existing customers to help advertise the game to their friends and building hype and driving further sales.
"Gamification is used by social media-based services to improve engagement and encourage loyalty," write the authors of the abovementioned research. "Many companies currently incorporate game mechanics into their brand applications - software programs designed to deliver a brand-related online experience to consumers - to communicate effectively and efficiently with consumers."
Allowing your app users to share their interactions with the gamification elements of your smartphone portal can help you recreate this organic promotion for your brand.
Ensure Value Is Added
One of the most important things to consider when adding gamification elements to your mobile app is that it adds to the customer experience instead of detracting from it.
Careless incorporation of gamification can lead to a cluttered user interface (UI) and leave customers confused and frustrated with your app. This will inevitably lead to their thumb finding its way to the dreaded uninstall button and all engagement with your app permanently ceased.
Combat this by carefully considering whether individual gamification elements are congruent with your brand and your app. Make sure the value and rules of their use are clearly signposted and explained. Failure to do so can lead to a messy app and a disengaged audience.
Gamification can be a powerful tool, but it must be implemented with intelligence. Make sure the focus is on delivering a fun experience to your audience and rewards which are significant enough to motivate customers to keep logging on.
"Gamification factors that should be considered include fun, rewards, competition, and storytelling. Gamification can deliver the outcomes marketers seek by making technologies fun. In doing so, gamification can make seemingly boring things fun to do."