Time for gamification to grow up

by: Lucinda Southern on 08 December 2014

Q&A with gamification experts from Paddy Power and 3radical

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"The fact that most of it was borne out of video games led marketers to discount it from their thoughts."

Stephen Lovell, CIO ChemistDirect

According to McKinsey, in 2012 $50bn dollars was spent on loyalty programs. Now only two years later and more than half of the members are inactive. Loyalty and reward programs have long been a popular with people and a consideration for smart brands. The evolution of this is gamification, popular back in 2012 but since has seen a lull until recently, perceived as a bit gimmicky, but gains results.
At its best it incentivizes existing behaviour. At its worst, critics say that it encourages and fuels addiction – many gambling sites use gamified techniques. With mobile and convenience high on people's agenda, now is the time for a resurgence in interest. 12ahead spoke to Stephen Lovell, CIO ChemistDirect and previous head of digital innovation at Paddy Power, and gamification specialist, David Eldridge, co-founder 3radical about the possibilities.
Why has gamification not been taken seriously by marketers in the past?
Partly the name, it makes it sound frivolous. And partly the fact that it was previously called something else; loyalty.  What gamification has done is to have taken a long hard look at the factors that drive people into repeat behaviour, and the motivations that lie within that. The fact that most of it was borne out of video games led marketers to discount it from their thoughts but successful usage in social with the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn has made others stop and think about how they can incorporate it into their business. - Stephen Lovell, CIO ChemistDirect
Consumers also now understand they are in the driving seat - that there is an inherent value in providing engagement with a brand. As a result people are increasingly expecting to be rewarded for their engagement. Switched on marketers have spotted this and realise that gamification can plug this gap and provide the desired value exchange. - David Eldridge, co-founder 3radical.
Can you outline the key components in a successful campaign? 
Are you using gamification to help customers discover and try your service? Are you trying to improve the day-to-day experience they receive? Or are you looking to incentivise people so their will tell their friends and family about your product? Once you have framed your objectives it is then about creating a framework of interactions that you can leverage at the appropriate time. Typically this means starting off with simple challenges that get people interested and illustrate the value exchange early on. Thereafter it is about increasing the level of challenges presented and rewards that can be unlocked to keep consumers engaged. - Ruaraidh (Rory) Thomas The Gig at DST
At its most basic level, it’s determining the acceptable level of interactions required - too little it won’t catch and too much it will become arduous. Determining small and large reward incentives is key. These are, more often than not, kudos based rather than monetary. Therefore, having a larger stretch goal in there is important so people can “level up”. 
Brands need to make it easy for people to interact and mobile is key here. By using alerts and one finger interactions (that take seconds, not minutes) it makes it socially sharable, and even competitive - so that in the end it promotes itself. - SL
What needs to be a brand’s first consideration when embarking on gamification? 
First and foremost - is it appropriate? Does rewarding them for particular behaviours benefit them as much as you?  Health care and medicine could be considered too important for a seemingly frivolous gamification campaign but if it helps someone to give up smoking, stick to a healthy eating regime or even brush their teeth correctly then there are benefits all round. Generally you want someone to enjoy interacting with your brand on a regular basis, or make something they have to do regularly more enjoyable, or make an arduous task easier by rewarding little steps along the way. Looking at it like this, there are plenty of areas that could do with a little gamification about them. - SL
Different segments are motivated and so mobilised in different ways. There is little point targeting high net-worth individuals using mechanisms that provide low value monetary rewards. These individuals are more likely to respond to interactions that address their desire to illustrate achievement and status to peers. It’s all about matching the right challenges and rewards to the right objectives and the right consumers, or to re-write an old phrase, right consumer, right challenge, right time. - DE
Are there any particular brands or sectors that are unsuited to this process?
Not really, because it’s about processes and interactions, all brands and sectors have these so you could add simple things like badges as rewards to any arduous tasks. With a little gamification knowledge you could be increasing conversion of those tasks by adding more interactions and incentives along the way. - SL
For too long customer engagement has focused on the nuts and bolts of making processes efficient rather than optimising those processes to make them fun and rewarding to complete – thinking about it from the consumers point of view and understanding they are bombarded with messages from brands. That’s where gamification comes in - if two brands are attempting to get the same consumer to complete the same task but one brand has made the process fun and rewarding to complete which brand are they going to choose? - DE
What does this sector need in order to flourish? What do you see happening in the future? 
I think the main thing is for it to shed its gaming connotations so it can grow up and be taken a little more seriously, right now it’s a buzzword that nobody completely understands. Where its opportunity lies is in its ability to gain and work with data you build up on an individual. - SL
We need to educate marketers that ‘gamification’ and ‘games’ are not interchangeable terms. Once marketers realise that gamifiication is also about using subtle mechanisms to motivate consumers and enhance existing processes, and that it provides uplift in compared to like for like ungamified engagement, adoption is likely to skyrocket. That’s not just our view, that's one shared by the likes of Forrester and Gartner. - DE