When I say well-known brand, what springs to mind? Maybe it’s Apple or Nike, maybe it’s your favourite car or luxury brand? Perhaps it’s your favourite department store dressed up for Christmas. For many brands, they go down the route of being meaningful or frictionless, according to the Harvard Business Review. We think that marketers can take this a step further and consider how they can be meaningful for their audiences.
There’s a business reason for this too: higher year-on-year growth. Forrester and Adobe found that experience-focused businesses see 1.5 times higher year-on-year growth than other companies in customer retention, repeat purchase rates and customer lifetime value.
We believe marketers need to provide meaningful experiences throughout the year, and this is especially true during the end-of-year ‘peak’ season. Aside from being the biggest sales quarter for many brands, it’s also a time to create a closer relationship with your audience.
Gamification can help marketers create these memorable and meaningful experiences. How?
Well, games attract us on a biological level because when we engage in play, our brains produce endorphins and other feel-good chemicals that then create a positive association. Play also gives us time to explore and really be present, or engage in a ‘flow state’ where a person is fully engaged in the task at hand (‘flow theory’ was popularised by Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi).
In a busy world, games still have the ability to stop us in our tracks and get us to engage in play.
How have consumers changed?
Today, your customers are just a fingertip away. In theory, shouldn’t that make marketing easier? Then why is it that it’s harder than ever for brands to attract and retain customers?
That’s because the power has shifted to the customer – it’s up to them what media they consume, on which device and when. This presents a lot of potential for brands; those who see and act upon these opportunities will be winners.
This is also where games can be a tool for marketers to spend that precious time with their audience, and when done correctly, it can lead to a financial benefit for the company. The Digital Marketing Conference found that 60% of consumers said they would be more likely to buy from a brand if they enjoyed playing a game with it.
In addition to using gamification in marketing to acquire, activate and retain your customers, gamification can also enable brands to create a relevant value exchange. Consumers spend their days being marketed to, being asked for personal information, and for their attention. Gamification provides a chance for marketers to provide value for their audience in exchange for their attention and preferences. And that value can be intrinsic rewards like learning about oneself, physical prizes to win or even the satisfaction of completing a challenge.
How brands use gamification to engage, retain, and delight their audiences
Peak season provides a challenge for marketers – any seasonal period is a busy, crowded space for brand communications and promotions, and the end-of-year festive period is the pinnacle of that.
Dutch mobile app company OK helps consumers throughout the shopper journey by making it personalised and fun. OK wanted to increase app usage during peak season – both visits and time spent in the app. So it created a daily advent calendar to spend meaningful time with it audience. Results included:
- Players came back more than twice as much in December as audience members who didn’t engage with the advent calendar
- 25,000 registrations
- 815 played hours
OK’s advent calendar was also its most opened content of the year and it ended up being its most successful campaign of 2020. It created an opportunity for OK to spend valuable time with its audience and gave audience members a valuable reason for sharing their preferences and personal data with OK.
While OK saw fantastic results, here are some other great outcomes our customers see from campaigns during peak season:
- 82% uplift in game registrations for Christmas campaigns
- 46% increase in engagement
- 117% increase in repeated game plays during Christmas campaigns
- Advent calendar with 935,000 visitors
- Five times: average times a visitor played a ‘drop game’
- 50%: registration rate for a quiz
- 75,000 registrations from a scratchcard
Like our customers, we know how valuable it is to create game campaigns during peak season – our own Christmas calendar, 12 Days of Christmas, launches on December 1, 2021. You can learn more here if you’d like to check it out.
How you can create meaningful experiences for your audience
For brands looking to provide a meaningful value exchange, here’s where we recommend you start:
1. Consider the journey
Maximise the impact of seasonality by ensuring a slick and seamless user journey for your campaign. Think about where and how you are promoting your campaign and ensure the experience flows from there.
And don’t forget the wider journey – if you are using a game or game mechanics to engage, what happens after the game? Will new leads go through a nurturing flow or do you have a plan for how to keep them during the rest of peak season and next year?
2. A time to grow
Whilst continuing to engage and build sales with your existing customers, seasonal campaigns are a great time to provide fun experiences and engage your audience over a longer period of time.
For maximum impact, consider running acquisition campaigns early on and then re-engage with this audience throughout the festive period. When you’re driving sign-ups to your games, consider the length of your registration form or the data you are asking for, and make it easy for your audience to register.
3. Meet your audience where they spend time
Get to know your audience and where they like to spend their time. If you’re looking for a good place to start, we’d recommend mobile-optimised games. We spend hours a day on our phones, so brands should consider how they can meet their audiences where they are already spending time.
Peak season is important and lucrative for brands, but remember to always be thinking ahead as well. Games work during peak season as well as throughout the entire year; they’re for creating everyday interactions and experiences that are meaningful and memorable.
If you’d like to check out more of our advice on optimising Christmas campaigns, check out our recent ebook.
Richard Robinson is general manager, Europe at Leadfamly.