Gamification: Game On For Your Business?

Gamification

As technology becomes more interactive and social, one of the biggest challenges for businesses is striking a balance between engaging with customers and asking too much of them.

Entrepreneur Magazine recently discussed new business ideas and how they might impact us in 2012. One of the topics explored in the article is gamification, which is “the concept of applying game-design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging,” according to Nathan Lands, creator of gamification.org and co-founder of Gamify.

We aren’t just talking Foursquare badges and mayorships here. Traditional companies such as Nike have been hugely successful with gamification to engage with their customers.

So, does gamifying your site and your brand make sense? If you’re an advertiser, or if your business model is compatible with rewarding customers for virtual achievements, the statistics from the realm of games are compelling. One survey found that 24 percent of those who play casual games actually make purchases after clicking on an ad in the game.

Equally significant, research conducted by companies such as M2 and Gartner predict that by 2015 U.S. companies will spend approximately $1.6 billion on gamification. Furthermore, games are in the plans of more than half of the world’s largest businesses.

There are plenty of success stories from smaller companies as well. An ‘upcycling’ business in New Jersey, for example, added 160,000 players to its Facebook-based game. One website business increased the number of users who complete their websites by 70 percent by making its tools more fun to use.

A company that decided to try applying gamification techniques to fitness signed up 30,000 new users in two months. And a social performance management platform designed to gamify the workplace increased revenues five-fold.

If you have doubts about what gamification can do for your business, check out this profile of Kiip, a mobile advertising startup launched last year that describes its business model as “moments-based.” One such moment: A gamer has just reached a significant milestone on the way to victory and is offered a coupon for a free smoothie, which the gamer can refuse by deleting or accept by simply entering his or her e-mail address and then return to the march toward victory.

Kiip’s model is far superior to selling banner ads to advertisers, which don’t work well in the realm of mobile computing. Also, advertisers in a recent pilot saw a 50 percent click through rate – when was the last time you saw a banner ad do that? Kiip’s gamification has transformed obstacles into opportunities.

Many believe that enhancing everyday activities with games is nothing short of a cultural transformation. Gabe Zichermann, chair of the Gamification Summit and author of Game-Based Marketing, says the rapid rise in popularity of games is proof that there is no limit to how much fun something can be.

Despite the glowing data and anecdotes though, it’s important to consider gamification implications for your current customers and those you’d like to attract. Would customers really visit a dentist’s website regularly to play, for example, a tooth drilling game? It begs the question – what customer wants a daily reminder of going to the dentist? (I can see the game popup now: “Congratulations! You’ve won $50 off a crown!”)

Is gamification in your plans for 2012? Tell us your plans below.

Matthew Stibbe is writer-in-chief at Articulate Marketing. He is also an avid blogger, closet geek and HP fanatic.

  • We’re building a new e-mail system that uses gamification to make responding to e-mail more enjoyable, *and* encourages better e-mail etiquette. Feel free to take a look at http://zeninbox.com/get or drop me a mail if you’re interested.