Game on! Revolutionising Online Promotions with Gamification

By Marko Luhtala | 01 Jun 2015

Gamification is a modern approach to online promotions that creates brand engagement and encourages customers to purchase — and the stats show it works.

It has long been understood that motivation is key to inspire action.

Online retailers are well aware of this, in particular the power of rewards in attracting customers. Motivating consumers with the promise of something extra is a tried and tested formula, all the way from in-store “buy 1 get 1 free”, to website banner ads offering various discounts.

However, in today’s omnichannel, multi-device retail world, consumers are looking for a different kind of motivation. It is not a case of “build it and they will come”; that was never true anyway. Customers’ attention span is short and extremely divided, so online stores need to engage potential customers quickly and efficiently.

For online retailers, gamification is a relatively new phenomenon, but it’s catching on fast.

Statistics from the online retailers who have incorporated gamification into their marketing and engagement strategies show that 30–50 percent of site visitors interact with a smart promotion, consequently driving 10–15 percent more sales.

To be clear, in this context, gamification doesn’t mean complex video-game style games, but something much simpler that’s cost effective to build, easy to offer to potential customers and doesn’t take much brainpower or time to play. In retail, this means promotions like interactive scratchcards that reveal a voucher code, or a spin-the-wheel-to-win-a-prize game that engages casual browsers.

Gamification is about enhancing the customer experience, and a natural place for gamification is within offers and promotions. ‘Smart promotions’ that combine gamification with brand experience produce interaction rates that are around 10 times that of rich banner adverts and website traffic.

Gamification brings something new to the table. It is a modern approach that enables brands to engage customers and encourages them to make purchases — and the stats show it works.

This is a clear opportunity for online retailers, but they would be well advised to remain consumer savvy. Simply placing a gamified promotion on a website and expecting engagement numbers to sky rocket would be shortsighted.

Interactive smart promotions need to be part of a broader promotion strategy that takes consumer data and customer preferences into consideration.

For example, if a customer drops a particular item into their basket, an interactive scratchcard can be triggered that reveals a voucher code for an accessory or related product. The voucher has an expiry date that compels the customer to use it for fear of missing out on a good deal.

Alternatively, incorporating gamification into a broader marketing strategy can also pay dividends. For instance, a customer who visits the online store of a retailer, selects an item to purchase, but then goes on to abandon the shopping cart can be sent an email shortly afterwards directing them to a smart promotion that offers the chance to win the same or similar products.

Smart promotions may be relatively new in comparison to established promotion types, but consumers won’t have to wait too long to see their favourite brands offer gamification. Once companies try it and see the benefits, others will follow suit.

Retailers who are slow to react will be left at a competitive disadvantage.

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