[Advanced] How to Integrate Gamification with Your Content Marketing Strategy

If the title of this post already has you scratching your head with confusion, don’t worry, most people aren’t familiar with the term “gamification” either. However, if you’re a marketer for a small business, then gamification is an important word to learn, as is knowing how to integrate gamification into your content marketing strategy.

What is gamification?

Gamification is actually a pretty straightforward term and refers to applying the elements of game playing to content marketing technique – appealing to the competitive nature of a consumer. Gamification, or the need for competitiveness and challenge, is all around us – people love playing Farmville, the Nike+ app is a huge hit (which challenges fitness-hungry people to challenge and track themselves), and yet other companies will employ “leaderboards” that display the names of top participants in an activity or program. (The big difference between Farmville and Nike+, though, is that the former uses a gamification for general purposes, while the latter uses gamification as a marketing technique).

According to Gartner News, more than 70 percent of the world’s largest 2,000 companies are expected to have deployed at least one gamified application by the end of 2014. Gamification is an important marketing strategy because it engages the customer in a completely unique way. By appealing to a person’s zealous side, people are driven to want the product for personal gain and mental satisfaction, making gamification in marketing a unique tool. And, don’t forget that a huge component of Gamification is that a reward is offered. Whether it’s a personal milestone that’s hit, a 10 percent off coupon, or a free product, gamification works because the customers get something as a result of pushing themselves to a new level.

Don’t Shoot for the Moon – at First

If gamification sounds like a great marketing strategy to you, then it’s time to start thinking about how to put gamification in motion. A big mistake that a lot of first-time gamification marketers make is to start too big; gamification has a lot of elements, and starting small is the best way to begin. Rather than beginning a full on competition or creating a new app with competition in mind, think of something much more simple. For example, offer a small reward to those customers who watch a video you’ve posted, or share a status update.

Stay Focused in Marketing Goals

The thrill of getting more site visitors and more people participating in your game can be very exciting, but make sure that you don’t lose sight of your overall marketing goals. If people are visiting your site just to play the game and then leaving, product awareness and profits probably won’t soar as you intended them to. The gamification process, whatever it is, should lead visitors to other pages on your website, and draw their attention to great products or services.

Know Your Gamer

There are a lot of different gamification strategies out there, ranging from the type of challenge that’s presented to the type of award that’s offered. Before committing yourself to a particular game, you need to think about the different types of consumers/gamers out there.

According to Richard Bartle, there are four players (consumer) types: achievers, killers, explorers, and socialites. Each group will approach the game differently, and each will want a different type of reward. In addition to player type, you should think about the demographics of your audience. According to data from the Los Angeles Games Conference, 50 percent of game users are female, and only 30 percent are over the age of 45. And, not surprisingly, Facebook is one of the largest hotspots for gamers, with over 200 million people turning to Facebook for entertainment in the form of games.

The motivation for playing the game, playing style, measurements of success, reward preference, social interaction level while playing, and causes of not succeeding in the game (difficulty? lack of motivation) are all things that should be analyzed regarding the players. Once you know more details about your gamers, then you can design a more successful gamification style.

Gamification Done Right – A Look at Successful Gamification in Marketing

MapMyRun: The fitness website and app MapMyRun is a great example of a company that has successfully employed a strategy of gamification in marketing. The fitness website – which is related to the company MapMyFitness – doesn’t just provide users with a means of tracking their workouts. Rather, the company offers competitions, challenges, and goal setting opportunities for runners/exercises, all of which come with a reward. Sometimes, the rewards are smaller – such as a weekly email detailing a person’s “Greatness at a Glance.” Other times, the rewards are greater. By teaming up with companies like Merrell, MapMyRun offers things like a year’s worth of free shoes for those who win certain competitions. And, the competitions aren’t always just about burning the most calories or scoring the highest number of miles; sometimes, they’re based on consistent logging, or even creating “art” in the form of a map for a runner’s route.

Mint: Mint is a financial website that provides users with the abilities to set goals, track progress, monitor spending, and set budgets. The fact that people can view their financial fit score, receive updates about their goals and progress, and are provided with visual breakdowns for spending habits makes Mint a perfect example of a company that has used gamification in marketing to meet business needs.

Chipotle: As part of a 2013 marketing approach, Chipotle – the company known for its burritos and salad bowls – introduced a game that drew it some major positive attention. The game, named The Scarecrow, is meant to raise awareness about food factories, animal treatment and raising, and the harm that poor practices have on the environment and the body – all in a fun, lighthearted way. For example, a player of the game has to complete tasks like carrying crates full of fresh veggies through dangerous obstacles within a factory. Not only does the game engage the user, but it also brings light to the fact that Chipotle is focused on creating an ethical and environmentally friendly product. Linked to a film and a facts section, it’s hard to play the game without being motivated to eat Chipotle.

The Benefits of Gamification

In a world where those in the online marketing field are constantly trying to find new and inventive ways to attract an audience, gamification in marketing can help. Sometimes, gamification serves as a form of entertainment, other times as a form of education, and yet other times as a form of goal-tracking and progress-monitoring, all three of which are great at increasing user engagement and increasing brand awareness and customer loyalty.

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