An emerging concept called gamification may just be the jolt the loyalty space needs to shake off the cobwebs and become vital again.
Gamification takes lessons from the gaming community and applies them to loyalty programs. The idea is to apply human sciences in a social way in order to connect loyal customers with one another.
“Understand that things like status, play, the social aspect and goal achievement are all part of being human beings,” says Barry Kirk, consumer loyalty practice leader for Maritz Loyalty. “As marketers, we’re trying to get people’s attention and connect to them in a meaningful way, and games are exceptionally good at doing that across all age levels.”
TRY THESE GAME MECHANICS IN YOUR NEXT LOYALTY EFFORT:
Points given by consumers to consumers to acknowledge their contribution to the brand experience, usually in a social way, such as by posting messages or voting online.
Lets people see who the top earners are and who is most engaged.
Human psychology drives us to collect sets. Use sets to get customers to earn points. For example, require stays at different hotels in a chain or the use of a credit card at three separate places — a grocery store, gas station and restaurant — during one payment cycle. “If you put them in a set, it increases the likelihood that people will try them that way,” Kirk says.
At the end of each level of play, gamers are thrown one big task to overcome before they can move on. Apply the same to a loyalty program. Once a certain number of points are earned, pose a challenge before upping status, like requiring the use of a credit card within 30 days in six places the cardholder has never used it before.
Allow members to exchange value or points with one another. One program lets people post a memory about the way they used points in the program — taking a trip, for example. Others can then comment on that and exchange information, which adds value to the program and gets people more engaged.
When gaming, players often create and personalize the characters they play with, creating ownership in the experience. Allow members to personalize a selection of rewards, or how they earn points, or their Web experience.
“If you can get marketers to master these ideas you could see a real change in their programs,” Kirk says.
TIP: How to think like a gamer
Gaming has a lot to offer loyalty programs:
1. See yourself as a game designer, not a loyalty marketer. The program should be engaging, fun and social in some way.
2. See your customer as a player, not just someone who buys your products or services and you want them to buy more. Make it a game. Make it fun.
3. Set the rules and tell loyalty members how to play.
Got an incentives tip to share? Contact Patricia Odell at firstname.lastname@example.org