What Marketers Can Learn from Gaming

There’s something in the human circuitry that loves a good challenge. We can’t help but take pride in rising to a task, defeating an opponent and being named the very best. Now, even marketers are harnessing the power of humans’ innate love of games within their campaigns; when games are successfully merged with branding and marketing, sales can skyrocket.

Mobile gaming’s intense popularity cannot be denied. Downloads of Rovio’s Angry Birds hit one billion in May of 2012. In 2010, Halfbrick Studios released Fruit Ninja, a mobile game app where players use their fingers as “swords” to slice flying fruit of their touchscreens. By 2012, Fruit Ninja had been downloaded more than 400 million times, making it one of the most popular iPhone games of all time. The Wall Street Journal has reported that, on average, people are now spending about two hours per day using smartphone apps.

The “Gamification” of a Brand

With all of this hype around the gaming industry, mobile marketers are taking notice. “Gamification” refers to the practice of adding gaming mechanics and dynamics into non-game pursuits to inspire a desired outcome. Social leaderboards, accumulating points and even simulated live casino games can all be used to help spark interaction with and among consumers. For marketers, gamification is ideally used to keep consumers engaged with a brand and more likely to make a purchase.

For example, the Verizon Wireless “Verizon Insider” social hub increases customer time spent thinking about and interacting with the Verizon brand. Users earn points for playing games, entering contests and interacting with the brand; high scorers get bragging rights on Verizon’s social media feeds. Verizon users were found to spend as much as 30% longer on the Verizon site because of this added social hub.

Playing and Shopping: A Blurred Line

Playing games is universally loved, and when fun is used to blur the line between entertainment and marketing, a more compelling shopping and purchasing experience can be created. Since human beings innately love the rush of rising to the challenge defeating opponents, marketing plus gaming often results in higher customer interest, interaction and satisfaction.

How to implement gamification? A company might consider creating fun, interactive quizzes about its newest products, making them into competitive contests. Readers with the highest scores could be offered prizes like discounts on future purchases. The highest scorers could have their names announced via the company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

For Best Results: Test and Re-test

Companies should consider beta-testing for a few different gamification ideas before “going live” with their final choice. A few versions of a game or quiz could be sent to a small cross-section of customers for feedback via an online survey. The tests with the highest click-through and conversion rates could then be launched on a broader scale.

The use of online gaming in the marketing world looks to be just starting to ramp up. The internet continues to evolve as consumers are spending more and more time online. Gamification can help marketers tap into the natural human tendency toward fun, friendly competition. While games should be tested via analytics to ensure maximum engagement and ROI, ultimately a compelling message plus a fun online experience could add up to marketing gold.

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