Saturday, January 26, 2013

How Companies Can “Level-Up” Analytics with Gamification

gamification gamify badges techniques strategy social networking

Gam-i-fi-what?!?? The gamification buzzword has been thrown around frequently over the past year, yet companies might not have looked into what it means for their customer engagement and marketing strategy. Gamification can be explained as the use of points, badges, leaderboards, and other game mechanics that are applied to non-game applications. This is done in order to engage user interaction and motivate customers to invest time and, in many cases, money towards the business.

While this new trend is still somewhat unknown, it is growing rapidly. According to M2 Research, the gamification market reached $100 million last fall and is expected to grow to $2.8 billion by 2016. Similarly, Gartner Inc. predicts, “by 2014, more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one "gamified" application.”

analytics gamification gamify game design behavioral economicsWhy is Gamification Important?

Gamification is exciting because it exists at the intersection of analytics, game design, and behavioral economics. At its core, gamification is a data-based business strategy that depends on analytics to understand the modification taking place, the effect on business, and also to determine where any refinements are needed. It not only influences behavior, it can also produce relevant meaning for measurements that can be used to improve the bottom line or ROI.

Examples of Gamification Success

An example of the success of gamification analytics can be seen at Beat the GMAT - an online community for students who are preparing for MBA programs. Beat the GMAT enlisted Badgeville to create a gamified user experience. Once the gamification system was in place, Beat the GMAT saw a dramatic increase in social sharing and user participation. There was an increase of 1,500 comments within their social community and more than 900 community members ‘followed' their favorite schools. During this time, Beat the GMAT also increased pages-per-visit by 195 percent and time spent on site by 370 percent.

nike analytics gamification gamify social networkingAnother example of success can be seen from Nike who has implemented gamification in many creative ways through the Nike+ brand. There are mobile applications that can keep track of exercise times, run distances, and more. Users can level up as they progress. Nike+ makes it easy to see progress in exercise routines through these applications or online, through the Nike+ website. The Nike+ programs also feature social media integration, allowing the ability to share workout accomplishments and create competition with friends. Due to the implementation of these gamification techniques, the company has been able to increase brand awareness, create a larger base of fans, and expand the Nike+ program to a wide range of new products.

Tread Lightly or the Company Might Level-Down

While there is an explosion in the growth of gamification analytics, it is only something a company should approach if the company is willing to spend the time and resources to implement it properly. Forbes predicts that: “by 2014, 80 percent of current gamified applications will fail to meet business objectives, primarily due to poor design.” Similarly, Gartner states that: "gamification aims to inspire deeper, more engaged relationships and to change behavior, but it needs to be implemented thoughtfully… most attempts at gamification currently miss the mark, but successful and sustainable gamification can convert customers into fans…”

trophy gamification gamify points social networkingHow to Approach Gamification

While the gamifaction analytics market is still in its infancy, there are a number of companies, such as Gigya, Badgeville, and Bunchball, (to name a few) which can help with implementing a gamification analytics approach. If done correctly, gamification can create a compelling experience that may lead to an increase of usable analytic data.  If a company is able to create a compelling gamification experience, it will be able to determine what user behaviors align with their business objectives, measure existing performance around these behaviors, and carefully track ROI.

Enjoy the Game

In a digital world that can often be conformist, people haven’t lost the urge to create a strong personal identity online. Gamification is a powerful enabler of goal-oriented change that can lead to strong interaction and customer loyalty.

For those wanting to learn more about Gamification here are a few links where you can learn more:

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  1. I love the fact you brought this up. Gamification is something I see a lot as a graphic designer as well. I have never thought about web analytics as being a part of gamification, but it absolutely makes sense. I think there is a lot of potential to overdue the "gamifying" process. Using web analytics to decipher the best way of making your website, or elements of your website, a game I think will prevent it from becoming overdone.

  2. Thanks! I came across this topic while doing other research, and I was totally captured so I abandoned the other topic and latched on to this.

    One part that I didn't get to attache to my research was how gamification is poised to actually become the "norm." It's being adopted so rapidly and has proven to be a conversion success (if done right), so it will be interesting to see where this trend progresses.

  3. Great post! I hadn't really noticed this as an emerging trend, but I can clearly see how gamification can not only drive traffic, but also increase loyalty, returning visitors, engagement, conversions and really every other KBR related to your site! It reminded me in part of the super lame game which was used to help me learn spanish before serving a mormon mission. While that was a poor execution, simply putting the learning environment into a game like experience made it somewhat more bearable. Great job...

  4. Great post! I Guess I hadn't thought about it, but even the restaurant reservation site/app OpenTable is gamified. I wouldn't make a reservation by phone if it were available on OpenTable. I don't wanna miss out on the points!
    Keep the great posts coming.