These days, the majority of us carry around a little rectangular screen that’s perfect for playing digital games on. It’s little wonder, then, that more and more brands are turning to game-based experiences to get people to engage with their brand.
But how can these brands latch upon this engagement to deliver against serious commercial goals?
This was the question posed by our digital director Jake Xu at last week’s Bath Digital Festival. During a breakfast talk at our offices on Tuesday, Jake outlined a number of different commercial objectives that digital games and other gamification techniques can be used to achieve.
First of all, let’s clarify what the term ‘gamification’ refers to.
Some mistakenly believe that it’s just another term for gaming. But actually, Wikipedia describes gamification as…
“the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts”
Essentially, this means creating experiences that don’t involve actual gameplay, but mimic aspects of it such as rewards, challenges, choices and achievements.
So what are the commercial benefits of both gamification and actual digital games?
INCREASE SALE. DELIVER TO BOTTOM LINE
The holy grail for any marketing activity, really. But this can be difficult in the digital realm, as attention spans dwindle and the noise becomes ever-more deafening.
One brand that turned to gameplay to drive e-commerce sales recently is Jo Malone. Visitors to their homepage were invited to play Pick & Spritz, a simple arcade-style grabbing game.
Each user had three chances to click on the grabber, which lowered into the animated gift boxes and came up either empty-handed or clutching a gift.
These ranged from lower-value items such as personal engraving to actual Jo Malone products. Whatever the result, the winning items were added straight into the user’s basket.
The sales-driving aspect then sprung into action, as it was revealed that users had to make a full-price purchase in order to claim the gift. For those who won a lower-value prize, this may not have been as effective. But when we played, we actually won a fragrance worth £44. So buying another full-price item worth a similar amount still felt like a victory.
Many lower-price items weren’t available to purchase, meaning we still had to spend £40 to claim our prize. The JM team evidently planned the activity meticulously, working out which inventory to use as the carrot and which to use as the stick.
To add to the fun, an actual arcade machine was installed in Jo Malone’s flagship London store during the campaign. A nice touch.
IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY AND EFFICIENCY
Such tactics aren’t only effective for externally-facing activity. They can also be used to motivate staff and increase business performance as a result.
Call centres can be dull and uninspiring places to work. So the bosses at a centre in Northampton decided to liven things up by playing a version of the board game Monopoly.
Each member of staff moved around the board by completing KPIs such as average speed of answer, collecting £200 in Monopoly money each time they pass Go and acquiring properties on the board that had been renamed to relate to the company’s business goals.
Another call centre whose staff worked in pods implemented a game of Battleships. Any team member who made a sale got to ‘sink’ their colleague in the corresponding pod on the other side of the office.
PRODUCT AWARENESS AND AUDIENCE EDUCATION
We are constantly bombarded with brand comms on a daily basis, with little genuine incentive to take notice of much of it.
Gameplay is a highly effective way to promote product benefits in ways that compel people to interact. A perfect example is Ready’s recent campaign to promote baby and toddler food brand Kiddylicious‘ new Wafer products.
The brief was actually quite open: raise awareness of the new products amongst mums of young babies in a way that also captures data for retargeting.
Many of our audience would be on maternity leave, and we knew they were highly active on Facebook. In our eyes, this made a game the perfect approach. So we created Wafer Wipeout, a Candy Crush-style Facebook game that used the products’ ingredients and packaging as the items to be shifted into rows and columns.
A full case study outlining the success of the campaign can be viewed here.
DATA CAPTURE & CLEANSE
Data is the new black gold of today. Good, clean customer data is crucial to businesses, but it’s tricky to convince customers of the value of handing over their personal information.
Air France KLM came up with an ingenious way of obtaining new customer data for their Flying Blue loyalty programme, and update and enhance that of their existing customers.
The experience was built around ‘the world’s fastest traveller’, the fictional Mr Miles.
In the first iteration of the campaign, Mr Miles ‘visited’ a different Air France-KLM destination every day. A clue would be posted via his social media channels, after which users had one chance per day to guess the destination on a bespoke microsite.
Successful players were awarded instant air miles to their Flying Blue accounts. Cleverly, those who got it wrong were given three more chances – as long as they recommended the campaign to three friends.
This then developed into a Facebook Messenger-based chatbot experience, in which users had the chance to “become the next Mr Miles” by winning a Platinum card loaded with three million miles.
Users who started a conversation on Messenger with Mr Miles were set a series of challenges, such as taking a selfie with sunglasses on or guessing a country’s flag. Completion of all tasks entered the player into the Platinum card competition.
The resulting interactions, and the data collected from it, allowed Air France KLM to understand much more about who their loyalty customers were, and the destinations they preferred. This allowed them to tailor future communications to their preferences.
For this section of the talk, Jake was joined on stage by Andrew Allen, Head of Merchandising and Content at Quidco.
Quidco is the UK’s leading online cashback website and a long-standing client of ours at Ready. They have benefitted hugely from a series of games and gamified experiences we have created for them over the past two years.
Andrew spoke about how the games, each one hosted on their website and featuring the chance to win instant cash prizes, have exceeded their expectations in terms of customer engagement.
A passionate community of Quidco members has sprung up around the games, attempting to predict the themes of upcoming games and sharing them across money saving sites such as HotUKDeals and moneysavingexpert.com.
They also have the added benefit of building relationships with Quidco’s retail partners, who pay to be featured within the games and experience dramatic increases in traffic and sales as a result.
Check out this case study to see how effective a selection of the games were across the course of a year.
ARE DIGITAL GAMES RIGHT FOR ME?
To sum up, digital games and gamified experiences are typically seen as just a bit of fun. But they’re so much more. They can help businesses achieve a range of different commercial goals; some obvious, and some not so.
In fact, it’s often the fun factor that is central to their success. So much digital marketing activity today is dry, one-way and uninspiring. But brands are beginning to recognise that digital content doesn’t have to simply be intrusive videos, unwanted banner ads and broadcasted social posts.
Interactive content that offers incentives and rewards instead is much more likely to succeed. And the beauty of it? The content can be tailored precisely around your business objectives – whatever they may be.