LEVEL-UP! YOUR BUSINESS WITH GAMIFICATION

Lured by the possibilities of massive and sustained increases in activity soon you will be asked what can Gamification do for your business.  But what does that mean and how should you think about it?  Here’s my first pass at surely more attempts to answer this question.

ga∙mi∙fi∙ca∙tion [gay-muh-fi-kay-shuhn] — Integrating game dynamics into your site, service, community, content or campaign, in order to drive participation.   (source: Bunchball)

Think social media headlines not long ago and still today, just type into your search ‘is social media good for your business?”

With the popularity of Foursquare and Zynga, 2010 has been dubbed the year of Gamification or in some cases kicking off the decade of Games as Gamification is not entirely bound to the digital realm (you don’t just do things online).  But it will have strong ties to digital since the not so secret element fueling gamification are social graphs especially Facebook Open Graph.   A high-level goal of Gamification is to create customer loyalty as emphasized by a leading authority on the subject Gabe Zichermann.   Gabe not surprisingly references airlines loyalty programs are essentially employing gamification and he hits home a few more key insights like the game can become ‘the thing’, the reason to buy but also cautioning why prizes are passé.

Pause Play.  If Loyalty is the game you wish to play I recommend first reading…
Designing Loyalty Programs to Enhance Value Growth — By Mark Kadar and Bernhard Kotanko
Kadar and Kotanko have “identified a number of key issues for creating loyalty programs that make an ongoing contribution to value growth.”
For more on Loyalty see Bob Thompson article on Find the “Ultimate” Loyalty Metric to Grow Your Business”.  One line I took away was “The most effective measurement for Loyalty is Average satisfaction scores.”

Resume Play.  For the digital practicioner, online marketer, and product manager we are tasked with increasing many of the following metrics:

  • Registered users
  • Demographic and behavioral profile data of registered users
  • New visitors
  • Visitor frequency
  • Length of stay and quality of engagement
  • Education and familiarity with product
  • Frequency of purchase
  • Revenue per sale
  • Content consumed
  • Engagement in between sales, events, content broadcasts

We look to measure and drive user behavior that creates value for our business and function.  These measures are sometimes referred to as KPIs (key performance indicators).  Keep in mind behavior can be ones you want and don’t want.  Broadly defined the goal for these performance indicators fall into these categories: Acquisition, Conversion, Revenue, Retention, and Brand Perception.

Fundamentals of Gamification are based upon:

  • Social Psychology
  • Behavioral Economics
  • Game Dynamics

Applied game dynamics create the conditions that spontaneously generate (my words — don’t make them have to evaluate or think about it too much) optimal behaviors by tapping into human desires that fit well in the context of seeking fun and enjoyment ala the term ‘Funware’…again refer to Gabe at funwareblog.com.
Human desires most listed include:

  • Reward
  • Achievement
  • Competition
  • Status
  • Self-Expression

But also include:

  • Making a new connection
  • Strengthening an existing bond via a shared experience
  • Values-Expression
  • Altriusm
  • Co-creation
  • Game mechanics most listed:
  • Points
  • Leaderboards
  • Badges & Levels
  • Challenges
  • Rewards

Applied game dynamic hooks once you have someone playing include:

  • Peer pressure
  • Clock running out
  • Keep an appointment
  • Increase reward frequency
  • Exclusivity

Ok, so you were probably skimming through to get to the examples well, here they are (check back as this list will grow):

  • NY Jets Ultimate Fan App
  • Mint.com
  • RecycleBank.com
  • Swoop.com
  • Causeworld.com
  • Dailyburn.com
  • Wii Fit
  • Google Image Labeler
  • Pepsi has a call to developers

Or, you advanced this far for some additional thoughts on how to answer can Gamification help your business.   Some assessment questions you might ask first:

  • Do you know what behaviors you want more and/or less of?
  • Do you know which performance metrics you want to improve and their priority?
  • Can you create an activity (fun layer) that folks will want to participate in just for recognition or self-expression as the reward?  Is it one they’ll want to tell their friends about?  Is it congruent with your brand?
  • Do you have something to offer existing or potential customers as a reward for really good behavior and is it what they want?
  • How easy will the tracking and fulfillment of the reward be?  There are vendors that can help build this solution and some come with functionality pre-programmed.

Two impressive presentations that will do a better job than me to get you primed for motivating you to dig deeper into applied game dynamics…
Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world
Carnegie Mellon’s Jesse Schell

Additional Reading:

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2010/09/03/the-game-based-economy/

http://www.hplusmagazine.com/articles/art-entertainment/gamification-turning-work-play

http://www.assortedstuff.com/?p=3466

http://www.slideshare.net/gzicherm/game-mechanics-funware-for-nonprofits

http://www.bunchball.com/nitro/ — scroll to bottom

Originally posted: September 20, 2010