Gamification for beginners | Startup Central
Imagine being able to influence - or motivate - your visitors through behavioral psychology without having a sense of behavioral psychology.

Imagine being able to influence - or motivate - your visitors through behavioral psychology… without feeling a sense of behavioral psychology.

Engage customers, support - or specifically change a behavior in favor of your business - while making your visitors feel seen, entertained and recognized.

Welcome to Gamification for Beginners

Gamification is a professional discipline in itself. But most of all, done right, it's a tactical choice that is beyond effective. The discipline manages to both support your business's growth potential - and reward your customers for their efforts. A win-win.

We'll come back to that.

First, a brief definition of the somewhat English-influenced concept; Gamification. In short, it's about implementing game-like elements directly in your marketing.

Basically, it can be a powerful tool whether you work above - or below the line. That is, whether you work with the classic, traditional virtues such as branding - or work more short-term and performance-oriented in your marketing.

And why should we now "entertain" our potential customers?

To understand that we need to frame a few essential concepts used in behavioral psychology. And thus, in marketing, since all (good) marketing should have that purpose - to create a certain behavior.

We must understand that the human brain is not rational. The mere fact that most of us overestimate ourselves - and think we are rational - is proof of the opposite.

  • An example
    If we had been rationally acting by nature, we would all have secured 8 hours of sleep every single night, never arriving too late for an appointment with friends… and drum roll… everyone would have a washboard. Because we know what's good for us - we know what's needed. We know we need to exercise, sleep, eat, etc., etc., etc.

    And I can safely say, I am living proof that we are not so rational at all... 😊

We are equipped with reason, and we can also determine consequences. But when it comes to retaining rationality when engaging in purchasing, I wouldn’t hold out too much hope.

Feel feel and then feel some more

 I am not a psychologist, but it is safe to say that we are governed by our emotions. We respond to our emotions - and we act on our emotions. And it is these emotions that we recreate through gamification.

One of the most important concepts - and emotions – one should know is the feeling of missing something. The Fear of Missing out (FoMo). Look at how this feeling can be awakened in your gamification campaign, and you are one step ahead.

Let’s take a wheel of fortune. The experience begins by you seeing the potential gain right in front of your eyes. When it starts spinning, the gains spin right past you...unless you are actively participating.

And if you do not participate’ll miss the chance. Feel the FoMo creeping in.

To that, add the fact that the probability of a definite purchase increases considerably, when you have gained a relevant value – and earned it. You automatically want to convert it as soon as possible – especially if it expires the same day. And that’s the next important concept, known as Scarcity. It is typically seen in the form of time or number of items in stock, for example.

You also can recognize the method from when you need to book a hotel room – time allowances. Here you cannot avoid keeping track of how few rooms are now left and that "Marianne from Struer" has just reserved a similar room. It makes it more real - and plays into the concept called "Social proof".

Basically, your brain tells you that if others - and typically - many others have done the same thing that you are now considering doing - then this is enough for you. And then you shop. That's why you always see these messages: "Do as 8754 others - and sign up for our value-creating newsletter…". Or the classic: "1500 customers cannot go wrong…". It's Social proof.

That’s enough about the basic concepts.

Back to the wheel of fortune, gamification and why it might suit your business.

We want to be rewarded

We can live long on praise, recognition and other rewards. When I say reward, I mean it in the broadest sense.

Ex. there are typically 3 rewards when you vacuum – let's just stick to the theoretical idea of you vacuuming…

  • The long-term:
    It will be nice and tidy when the guests arrive. (Yes, we don’t always vacuum more often than for that purpose)
  • The short-term:
    The satisfying rustle in the vacuum cleaner tube when you finally get the that sandy corner. Ahhh. (Yes, the brain also interprets that as a reward).
  • The one in between:
    "You're so cool, honey." A rose from the boyfriend aka the recognition. Based on your efforts, the customized communication experience intended for you, not someone else.

In this case, I haven't personally experienced that last point … but in our marketing world it’s not just theoretical, it is used practically … and it’s quite effective.

Therefore, to briefly explain, if you have spun on a wheel of fortune (thus made an effort), won (thus been rewarded) something relevant, you (the brain) will feel it is your unique gain and you will therefore redeem it.

Because .. if you do not redeem it, you will miss your only chance - and that's what we (the brain) do not want – at least naturally.

It’s not the same as getting a voucher shoved in your hand, with no effort from your side. We do not just want something for free. … We want to be rewarded for the effort we made.

The value is in touching and feeling something.

  • 1 Because here and now it creates great commitment – make no mistake, this little KPI can cost you a lot, when a customer is spending large quantities of time with your logo.
  • 2 It creates sales. It can trigger more here-and-now purchases, larger and highly frequent purchases.
  • 3 It picks up leads - which taps into another super-effective discipline - Email marketing.

Setting up automation flows will allow you to prime, nurture and cultivate your customers. At the same time, I challenge you to change my mind that email marketing is still not the most effective sales channel measured by ROI.

Is it expensive to get started, is it difficult, is it valuable?
Traditionally speaking? Yes, yes and yes.

Does it have to be like that?
Not at all, in fact a modern answer would be: No, no, yes :-)

Typically, it can be really difficult and expensive to get going with this. And if your budget does not consist of millions of dollars or you don’t have helping hands from graphic designers, developers, IT experts, you will remain benched. Unless of course, you have tried your hand with a little American plugin, with all the uncertainty that comes with it.

Today, however, alternatives have emerged that do not require niche competencies, large budgets, or enormous insight into the human brain. You definitely have options.

Roll call – it’s up to you to find out how gamification could be used in your business. I hope you will find a way to use it, even if we just ran across a brief overview of how it works and what it can achieve.

Regardless, you are always welcome to reach out if you have questions about how gamification can be used specifically in your company - or marketing in general. I will do my best to see if I can help.

David Metzon, Leadspin