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Two Key Elements of a Gamified Experience

As we prepare for 2022, it is no longer enough for brands to simply have an online presence. Marketers need to stand out from the competition with convenient, easy-to-use, and entertaining experiences throughout the customer journey. Rather than wait for consumers to wade through the clutter of brand messages, you can draw them in with entertaining brand interactions. We call this gamification.

What is Gamification?

Gamification uses compelling game mechanics to capture customer attention and motivate brand engagement by applying specific techniques found in behavioral science. When employing gamification, we aim for four types of responses:

  1. Evoke customer emotion
  2. Shortcut human biases
  3. Build customer habits
  4. Drive repeat engagement

Keep in mind, gamification is more than leaderboards and winning prizes. It includes interactive experiences that are intended to spark any of the four behaviors listed above. For example, the skin assessment on Neutrogena’s Skin360 app is a gamified experience. Following the launch, Neutrogena saw that consumers who developed a regimen through the Skin360 web app (read more about it here) spent 43 percent more during the 2020 holiday season than those who didn’t.

Other examples of simple gamification include the progress bar on your Bumble profile or the “similar items” feature on Amazon product pages. When you develop gamified experiences, there are two basic elements to keep in mind.

Gamification Element One: Engagement Drivers

An engagement driver is the desired emotional connection that drives a customer to engage with your brand. While there are hundreds of emotional drivers, Merkle identified the six we think are best to change behavior, drive engagement, and increase loyalty. To make it easier to determine which of the six drivers will work best for your gamified experience, we separated them into two categories.

Social Drivers:

  1. To give
  2. To connect
  3. To compete

Individual Drivers:

  1. To learn
  2. To create
  3. To solve

An easy way to think of the difference between the two is this: social drivers work well if your audience is motivated by the opportunity to engage with others who share their interests, and individual drivers are best used when a customer’s motivation is specific to time with themselves.

Gamification Element Two: Game Mechanics

Making an emotional connection alone isn’t enough to drive results. Game mechanics – how customers interact with your brand – are essential to hold your customer’s attention. The kind of emotional connection you want customers to have will determine what game mechanics you use to interact with them. For example, leaderboards and levels work to motivate engagement through competition, social discovery motivates connection, and avatar creation motivates creativity.

A few game mechanics that we find work well for the brands we partner with are:

  • Challenges
  • Special events
  • Lotteries
  • Points of currency
  • Progress bards
  • Scavenger hunts
  • User streaks
  • Feedback
  • Tasks
  • Set collecting
  • Commitment
  • Quizzes

What makes an experience successful is how these two elements of engagement drivers and game mechanics work together toward your business goals. Because contrary to what the name implies, a gamification strategy isn’t just fun and games: according to Harvard Business Review, gamification increases customer retention rates by five percent, which can increase profits by 25 to 96 percent.

Ready to play?

If you’re ready to take the next steps toward more engaging experiences, download our corresponding ebook, Two Elements of a Gamified Experience, to dive deeper into this strategy. You’ll learn exactly how gamification meets business outcomes, understand if it’s the right fit for your brand, and find gamification examples.

Download the ebook

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