Friday, 24 August 2012

A guide to gamification and how it can improve consumer interactivity

Gamification is the process by which you use game mechanics to influence and encourage users to take part in non-gaming activities. This concept is something which has been increasingly more prevalent in the world of online selling. 

These techniques are great for online stores and other sellers as they can help improve traffic, sales, interactivity and ROI. However, if you are running a small business, which gamification techniques can you use to try and encourage customers to regularly purchase from your store?

Reward points

Success for any online business is going to come in the ability to turn customers into repeat buyers. While good value and product quality is going to play a huge factor in allowing them to return to your store in the future, you can encourage them to regularly purchase from your store with reward points. How this works is that when a customer purchases an item from your store, depending on how much that product cost, they will receive a certain number of reward points. As they make more purchases, they gain more points which they can then exchange for money off future products.

This gives customers more of a reason to shop at your store than a rival competitor. Even if the customer does find the same product cheaper elsewhere, the money they could save from using their reward points at your store could by the deciding factor in helping them make up their mind as to which store they want to purchase from. 

Survey rewards

This is something we have seen become increasingly popular on social media platforms like Facebook where users can complete surveys in order to gain Facebook credits which they can then use to purchase items within the social media site's app games.

If you run an ecommerce store, while you don't have applications that require credits to play, these surveys can make a huge difference for your business by allowing you to improve the overall customer service and efficiency that your business provides, enabling you to entice future customers to your store. As customers are generally reluctant to fill in surveys, you can look to provide some sort of incentive that gives them a nudge to complete the forms. 

Level or badge System 

If your online business has a forum, blog or other form of community communication, you could reward users based on their levels of interaction. The more a user posts a comment on a blog or forum, the more points they get. The points then work as a level system, meaning the more points you gain the higher level you achieve. Each of these levels could also consist of a different badge which allows users to separate themselves from each other in some form of social hierarchy system. If you wish, you could then reward individuals who reach a certain level with a prize or discount on a particular product. What this does is encourage all users to regularly engage with both yourself and others through your communication channels. 

However, while gamification is a great way to increase competition between your customers and encourage them to carry out a range of activities related to your business, there are a number of aspects that you need to watch out for. Whenever you carry out gamification, you need to ensure that the different techniques you employ have some form of substance to them. For example, there is no point giving out random badges that don't really have any meaning to customers. While this will result in a short term increase in activity on your site, known as the "shark fin" effect, the real lack of effort in achieving the badges will fail to satisfy customers and will most likely result in them becoming bored and leaving your site. 

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