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Marketing gamification: Using games as marketing tools

Who doesn't like playing games? The fun, frolic and enjoyment can bring out the child in even the coldest of people. Now, what if use this fun and enjoyment in some other context; let's say marketing your products? Sounds clever and fun, right? Marketing gamification is certainly fun and highly effective if used correctly.

Gartner defines gamification as the use of game mechanics to drive engagement in non-game business scenarios and to change behaviours in a target audience to achieve business outcomes.

Siddhesh Bhobe, CEO, eMee & Business Head, Persistent, believes that gamification, when done well, allows the brand messaging to get internalised in the target audience through experiences which have better recall and relate capabilities. This has been proved time and again in learning and coaching, and it's no different with brand marketing.

"A good gamification strategy will be based on taking the participants through the 4A levels of engagement - awareness, activation, addiction and amplification. Needless to say, this is exactly what marketers and brands try to achieve, and the overlap of purpose is obvious. Gamification tenets based on behavioural analytics enable a very personalised connect with the users and hence it becomes easier for marketers to build and reinforce brand trust and confidence," he added.

A large number of organisations today are using gamification to engage their customers and employees. A large proportion of them rely on gamification as a solution for their marketing problems. Gartner predicted back in 2011 that over 70 per cent of global 2000 organisations will have at least one gamified application by 2014. Madu Ratnayake, Head of Digital at Virtusa Corporation, stated that, "At Virtusa, we adopt the technique of gamification and gaming mechanics such as scorecards, leaderboards, recognition and rewards internally to notify and establish performance benchmarks, enhance sales and client delivery."

According to Kabir Ahmad, Associate Director at Mind Commerce, "Gamification has passed its nascent stage and the scope of applications became much wider lately. In most cases, the old techniques like using fruitless points, badges and rewards as conversion funnel doesn't work anymore."

He believes that adopting new kind of gamified practices, syncing interactive environments with the user mindsets, choosing the right technology platforms, and connecting user's real world with augmented / virtual world are something that became key factors to captivate the full power of gamification. "Advertisers should stop relying hundred per cent on all prevalent techniques and start finding new types of motivations from observing user behaviour. Fundamentally, they should put more focus on 'using a right process to invent new kind gamification techniques', rather than relying on prevalent styles," he added.

Mr Ratnayake opines that building communities amongst customers for not just your products but also for the potential clients is one unique aspect of gamification. For example, earning accolade points from a common recognition platform and being able to use it for all the vendors who are part of that community for purchases are a much sought after idea among consumers. The vendors also gain a lot of traction from such platforms.