What is Gamification?

What is Gamification?

Games, a part of our lives in different patterns since our childhood, are our most significant source of motivation... The educational, developer, and motivational side of games influencing us from the moment we opened our eyes to the world have also taken hold of digital marketing. With the development of technology, the rapidly digitalizing marketing world is after the ways of getting consumers as the crow flies. Gamification is one of them. Through gamification, brands develop loyalty programs and brand new consumer experience maps using the entertaining and motivating power of the game. Well, what is gamification, one of the new strategies of the digital marketing world? How does it differ from the games we know? What methods does it follow? What kind of experience does it offer brands and customers? Let's look for answers.

What kind of experience is there for brands and consumers?

Defined as "an attempt to adapt game mechanics to non-game areas, " gamification is one of today's innovative digital marketing approaches. The digital marketing world brings consumers closer through gamification, taking advantage of their common features such as competition, success, collaboration, and charity. To this end, it uses known digital game tools such as rewards, points, badges. Gamification aims to create a behavioral change in the consumer, unlike digital games. Consumers are expected to connect with the brand that directs them to achieve their goals, motivate and improve their performance. Essential measurable success standards for gamification are engagement level, influence, brand loyalty, time spent on an event, and the game's potential to go viral. The brand achievements carried by these success criteria build brand awareness while supporting sales.

Gamification tools for new marketing strategies

Brands were able to get information on customer behavior through research they carried out in return for tens of thousands of Turkish liras in the past. Through gamification, brands can acquire comprehensive data on various customer behaviors with no considerable budget spent. Brands can develop operational practices and set a course for new marketing strategies through these data. The key to the success of gamification is that it enables sustainability of the behavioral change in consumers by motivating users with entertainment and competitive elements. It also leads the way for the future marketing trends as the new tool of the brands since it improves brand loyalty.

Which areas can be gamified?

As hard as it is to feed broccoli to a child who dislikes vegetables, it is also hard to create a buying decision in the consumer who does not sympathize with no brand. The marketing world employs some instruments to expand its target audience, enhance the sense of belonging in the existing audience, and build new brand phenomena. Gamification, one of these instruments, gamifies real-world activities, bringing them to the virtual world. The points earned on each online purchase or a cup of coffee and the miles earned on every flight can be given as daily examples of gamification.

Social networks are the gamification leaders

The first applications of gamification were observed in animation-based games. Gamification was included in the online environment systematics as social networks develop. Award-winning competitions to increase the follower numbers in various social networks help brands to become famous. The brand followers play the leading role in such gamification applications.

Challenges, competitive, and productivity applications

Encouraging people to spend more money is certainly not the one and the only purpose of every content gamified. It is like applications that encourage users to work out by transforming sports into games, which non-profit organizations launch to increase donations. Educational institutions mainly employed by educational institutions for a higher level of competition among the participants and a more efficient learning process, badges are good examples.

Gamification at work

Gamification is one of the tools favored in the business world. In some cases, employees can think of applications as a sign of distrust through which managers track employee performance. Yet, it is a crystal-clear fact that the game elements added to such applications make the job enjoyable. It is also another way to improve work productivity. Applications with game elements allow for a pleasantly competitive environment among employees and opportunities to set new goals and engage in a personal development process towards those goals. Performance awards increase motivation in such applications that encourage employees to do their best.

What are the gamification risks?

Let's go back to our childhood… Our goal is always to be the winner in every game, right? Making the longest jump, having the most goals scored, being the latest tagged…All these childish urges build great motivation. The passion to be the most outstanding and successful has been shaping our lives since our childhood. This is the point where gamification captures us with the help of these urges. Yet, our urges can stick us with themselves in some cases.

Without the right mechanisms and criteria, gamification can bring about unforeseen adverse results instead of the desired behavior change. So, the characterized game elements must support the desired behavior change! An application with a poor design can create unwelcomed competition among participants and even lead to an addiction. At this point, aside from wasted time and money, evolving into a brand going beyond its purpose and adversely affecting its target audience is just a matter of time. Applications developed without considering risk factors are likely to cause reputational damage. Plus, this may result in a severe financial loss instead of commercial benefits. Moreover, consumers may easily manipulate applications and raise ethical issues.

The successful examples of gamification

Let's dive into gamification with a few examples and look at the successful ones around the world.

  • The United States Armed Forces: The military gamifies a recruiting tool on its website. Participants not only have fun with the military training games on the website. But, the aim is to encourage participation in the armed forces as well. Through this method, the US Military manages the perception of participants, as the phrase goes.
  • Nike Fuel: Nike has not only developed a game program that builds a competition space for users via Nike Fuel developed as a personal health program. The brand also launches new marketing campaigns with the help of the user's personal health information through the program. Furthermore, this application enables users to post the results on their social media accounts. So, users advertise the brand for free as well. Plus, the application encourages consumers to use the brand's products and win more awards such as trophies and badges for achievements in return for thousands of kilometers runs.
  • Starbucks: Having one of the most famous loyalty programs, the application of Starbucks rewards its loyal customers with free food & drinks. Called My Starbucks Rewards, the app literally creates loyal consumers. The members of My Starbucks Rewards earn stars for each purchase. As consumers earn more stars, they enjoy different rewards such as a free birthday drink or a second ice cream.  Scored in different categories depending on their stars, members are rewarded with the best gifts when they reach gold status.

Gamification roadmap in 5 steps

1. Start with simple apps

First, define your success criteria. Build the gamification program depending on these criteria. If this is your first time gamification, you don't need to take huge steps. Start by developing simple games. Benefit from the power of social media. Reward your followers for sharing or viewing a video on any social media platform. Use the measurable data you obtained in this step for an application of better quality. Don't forget that gamification will succeed when it creates the desired behavior!

2. Put your marketing strategy on the table

Your only focus should not be just to have fun with the participants in the game you developed. Develop a game strategy that is convenient to your marketing strategy. Ask yourself which idea can lead you to success. Remember that the path to success is that the participants have experienced all practicable learning outcomes! Encourage participants to visit your website if you introduce the game on one of the social media platforms. Provide various rewards in return for website visits embedded in the application. Yet, don't bore the participants.

3. Create attractive content for your target audience

Put yourself in your audience's shoes and think out loud. Find answers to “Why should users join your game?” Consider the platforms of which your target audience are active users. Find a suitable content for them. Decide how you want to motivate them. Don't look for an adventure to be different if your target audience is uncommitted to various motivation types. Attract them with the motivation types they're used to. Be sure they feel safe.

4. Simplify your reward system

You are on the wrong track if users do not understand the system language you have developed. Develop your application in a simple language, clear of complexity all the way. For this, develop stages in the application. Give participants little clues of what awaits them in the next stage. 

5. Add Game Dynamics

Add standard game dynamics to your system, like rewards and adding comments. Create a transparent environment where participants can freely comment.  Don't worry about bad reviews; improve your system in the light of these comments instead.