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What Is Gamification?

We're living in a tech-crazy world, and people—your customers—are obsessed with their gadgets, devices and gaming systems. That's why gamification is the trendiest of buzzwords right now, but many experts are predicting that it is more than just a fad.

What Is Gamification?

In the simplest terms, gamification is the process of turning everyday, routine tasks into a game. Businesses can leverage gamification to transform their customer’s everyday experiences into more engaging and fun processes.

The reality is, human beings have a visceral and centuries-old love for gaming (in fact, board games have been discovered from times as early as 3500BC). Games are in essence a microcosm of society; they each have their own set of rules, and players strategize, unite and fight for victory. Games often involve complexity, politics, alliances, and most importantly, a sense of either failure or accomplishment.

So how can this love of gaming apply to your business? To turn your product or service into a game, you offer customers challenges and then reward them when they overcome those challenges. If customers enjoy the game and feel that the incentives are worth their time, they stay engaged, come back again and again to participate, and encourage others to join the fun through social media.

Gamification can involve simply adding a few gaming elements to an already existing product or system, such as a progress bar, customer competitions or rewards (like coupons) for participation. It can also mean creating an entire product or service that is meant to be experienced as a game, which includes interactive challenges, different levels, trophies and victories.

Examples of Success

Dropbox

The cloud-based storage system Dropbox offers valuable rewards to users who share content with others: more space to use. With a free account, you receive 2GB of storage; however, you can earn more space by taking a tour of the services (250MB), by connecting your account to Facebook or Twitter, leaving comments or following Dropbox on Twitter (125MB), and by referring the service to a friend (500MB per referral up to 16GB).

Additionally, last year when the company held its Dropquest scavenger hunt, nearly half a million people participated in order to win 1GB of storage space and other prizes. That kind of reach is invaluable to brand recognition and building awareness for a product.

Verizon Wireless

The mobile network provider created Verizon Insider, a social hub that offers users contests and social initiatives among other benefits. Verizon then rewards customers with badges as they engage with the site. The company integrated Gigya’s Social Login, making it easy for people to register, login and share using a social media profile.

The effort is paying off: More than 50% of customers who visited the site participated in the gaming environment. Additionally, the average customer who used the registered Social Login spent 30% more time in the hub, and those customers generated 15% more page views than customers who didn't register.

Teleflora

The floral wire service uses PowerReviews' Social Loyalty feature to offer customers "points" for posting on Facebook, submitting reviews, answering questions, making comments and responding to customer queries. As customers earn points, Teleflora rewards them with higher-level badges. There's even a leadership board that touts the top "influencers."

Teleflora has seen a 105% increase in their Facebook referrals—and a whopping 92% increase in their conversion rate.

Starbucks

The global coffee company and coffeehouse giant connects with devoted customers through the My Starbucks Reward program, which uses gamification tactics to reward registered players when they buy Starbucks products. As players frequent Starbucks, they move up a level and receive rewards like free coffee.

Last year, 4.5 million customers participated in the My Reward game, accounting for $3 billion in sales.

McDonald's

Although less techy than the other brands listed here, the popular McDonald's Monopoly game has given the fast-food chain a lift in profits regularly since its creation several decades ago. This year, to compensate for lackluster sales in some markets, McDonald's released the game early and saw higher-than-expected sales in July, as people hit the drive-thru to collect pieces in hopes of winning money and prizes.

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