The most attractive qualities of gaming have influenced the way media is delivered to the public. Broken down to the basics, gamification is all about encouraging interaction through a reward system, but in a non-gaming context. If the creator makes the interaction competitive and/or enjoyable, they get more participation, according to research.
Gamification is used in politics, education, news, and of course, e-commerce. Here are a few examples of how e-commerce has benefited from this trend:
Bidding systems encourage “friendly competition.”
If you’re a fan of eBay or Amazon, you’re familiar with the bidding system in an e-commerce context. The truth is…if you win something you’ve been watching for a while, you’re still spending money as a consumer, but it feels like a win. You beat the other guy to a great deal. You conquered their will. You may have even paid more than you planned in order to win your prize, but that’s just the price of being a champion, right?
Ratings and feedback check the degradation of quality.
Checks and balances have to occur to protect consumers from being manipulated by an apparent lack of options. Adding to the fun factor of gamification is the system of ratings and feedback. Marketers used to say “it’s easier to keep a customer than to gain one,” but the tables may be turning. Loyalty isn’t as much of a factor. Customers are empowered to publicly rate companies online, which can be positive, or detrimental, depending on how they handle a bad review. This encourages better customer service, products, and delivery.
Scarcity and time restraints promote customer loyalty.
Whaaaaaat? Here’s the thing, loyalty USED to come from the idea that once you found a reliable brand, you stuck with that brand. However, that kind of consumerism proved to have downfalls once the people running the company got wind of that sort of blind loyalty. Manufacturers sometimes skip on costs by outsourcing products or using cheap materials, for example, assuming we don’t notice. Consumers have figured this out. Gamification is creating a new kind of loyalty. Now stay with me…
Sites such as Woot.com only offer one deeply discounted product per day, in limited quantities, which creates a need for immediacy. It’s a perpetual Black Friday-esque sale. Customers quickly discover that by the time they get off work, that product is sold out, so they start checking the site more frequently out of urgency. It’s a new kind of loyalty. Other e-commerce apps like Wish will offer discounts if the consumer makes a purchase within two minutes. After such time, the price goes back to normal. It literally changes consumer behavior by putting a time-clock on everything.
Interaction and Empowerment can inspire conversions.
Scavenger hunts/quizzes, and other “light” gaming creates interest in products.
There’s an uptick in finding fun ways to keep customers engaged with products, other than showing a pretty photo with a caption. A fun, short, non-scientific Buzzfeed-style quiz can be used to tell customers what kinds of outfits might suit their personalities, for example. Or perhaps, a hidden symbol on a website that offers a prize for the first 25 people to discover it. Remember when people were playing Monopoly with McDonalds large fountain drinks? This is the same concept, but in the digital world. And it works!
Check out Aldo’s use of this concept through their microsite.
Social-driven rewarding, points, or badges help create user-generated content!
Like gaming, there are privileges gained by experience that help the company stay desirable for the consumer. Another way to “gamify” using social-driven platforms is to reward customers for writing reviews, or answering questions on a user Q&A thread, which integrates the social aspect, with the rewards. User-generated content has many faces. Whether you’re rewarding your customers with gifts for posting photos of themselves interacting with your product on Instagram, or allowing them to earn points and status levels based on the amount of money they spend, it can only help your cause. One of the newer trends in e-commerce is to create “VIP” programs which run sales only viewable by members. Other rewards include early access to sales, freebies, and more.