Is Your Business Ready for Gamification?
Are you and your business ready for gamification?
As you probably already know, gamification is the latest hype in the business world, with companies ‘gamifying’ everything from order forms to customer reward systems. But before you jump on the band wagon, it is advisable that you take the time to understand what it means and what it could do to improve your business and help you reach your goals.
Although it can be a useful tool, it is not necessarily right for every business. By the time you finish reading this, you should be fairly certain about whether or not your business is ready for this new trend.
What is Gamification?
Gamification uses the same techniques as video games, in order to engage an audience. It has the potential to change a routine or boring task into a creative or at least passable activity, which is why some businesses use it as a motivational tool for employees or customers.
Companies have found that gamification can be used in their marketing campaigns, as a way to increase traffic to their websites, get feedback or even get employees to complete tasks that would otherwise be undesirable.
Google recently found a way to gamify the routine activity of reading news articles by awarding readers with badges based on the specific topics they read about each day. Users can also choose to share their badges with other Google+ users, which brings an element of social pressure into the picture.
Another interesting example of how gamification has been used in the business world is the Finnish National Library, which uses an online game to get volunteers to help update the library’s online e-archives.
Does Your Business Need It?
If you think you would like to start using gamification techniques in your business, you should first ask yourself what you are looking to accomplish by doing so. Are you just following along with the trends or do you have a clear end goal?
Gamification is not just about awarding points and prizes or creating a fun atmosphere to work in. Although these things can be beneficial to your company, you should learn how to gamify your product or service in a more complete way, to engage and collaborate with other users.
When you can’t identify a clear reason for gamifying your products, or you can’t see how it would benefit your customers and employees, make their lives easier or provide them with meaningful interactions, then it is probably not going to be of much use, and you would be better off using different methods to generate interest in your business. On the other hand, if you have a clear set of goals in mind and an idea of how get users to help you reach those goals, then you may be onto something.
Who Are You Targeting?
Once you have decided that this is the path you want to take, you need to identify your audience. Who is it you want to target and what are they interested in? By identifying a clear demographic, you can zero in on that group and see what makes them tick.
What kinds of games are they already playing? Do they like interactive or competitive games? If you are going to spend the time and resources to create a gamified product, you had better be sure that you have the answers to these questions, or you will be wasting your time and money.
Research has shown that advertising is ineffective for 95% of all people who see an ad on a billboard, television or online. The same is true for the use of games in marketing. Your gamified product probably won’t appeal to a very large group of people, so you need to make sure that you know who you are targeting and how you can best engage them.
Some people make the mistake of assuming that a more general gamified product will appeal to more people. The problem is that by making your product too general, you stand the chance of not really engaging anyone fully. So narrow your focus and find out what will work for your audience.
Find the Right Balance
When creating a game for your business, you will have to find the right balance between challenging tasks and relaxation. If the game is too difficult, your users will tire of it quickly, especially if they don’t see any rewards for their efforts. On the other hand, if it is too easy and they fly through it without any difficulty, they aren’t likely to bother playing it a second time.
The key to a greater user experience is to use both long and short-term goals throughout the game. The long-term goal should be whatever goal or objective you have previously identified for your business. Then, in their quest to reach the long-term goal, users should be kept busy with smaller challenges, mysteries to solve, tasks to complete or meaningful interactions with other users.
There should always be rewards and feedback loops along the way every time a small challenge has been completed, as this will motivate the user to continue.
Obviously, there is still a lot you will have to learn, but you should treat it as a work in progress. If you have set clear goals, weighed the cons against the pros and decided that this is the right path for your business, then it’s best to make your move as soon as possible. Be honest with yourself, and if you see that it’s not working, be prepared to step back and consider how you can improve your methods.
Gamification is not the only way for you to engage customers on your site. Having high quality content and the ability to debate will do this as well!