According to the IPC report released in January this year, the 2021 peak holiday season promises an impressive show. With ever-changing customer requirements, not every brand will be able to answer adequately on emerging digital demands and delight their users along the entire journey.

In this article, I want to explore gamification as an efficient way to boost customer engagement. Even though a less known topic within the CX arena, it has plenty to offer. I’ll name five key benefits of making gamification an integral part of your CX strategy.

Defining gamification in CX

The term “gamification” was first used in 2008 in a blog post by Brett Terrill. He describes the term as “taking game mechanics and applying them to other web properties to increase engagement.” However, the use of gamification goes back as far as 1912, when American popcorn brand Cracker Jack implemented the first basic use of gamification in marketing by including a free prize in every bag. I’m sure many of us still remember the excitement of receiving a free toy in your cereal.

Gamification creates excitement and urgency which further motivate a customer to explore a website, browse products, and ultimately order. From scratching a digital card to ‘spin the wheel’ offering activation, gamification excites customers at every stage of their journey – especially during the hectic peak season.

The 5 key benefits of using gamification in CX

an image showing how to boost customer engagement with gamification. This photo shows a black young woman buying online with her phone.

Research by Criteo shows that 68% of us shop online. If we can stay at home and get our orders by purchasing from the comfort of our homes, most of us will go to that option. This is no mean feat for marketers in an age of shortening attention spans and “choice overload”. In many sectors, retailers can no longer rely on simply providing excellent UX and great discount offers.

To capture and convert customers – retailers need to go one step further and delight them. That’s where gamification can offer an advantage over their competitors, helping to differentiate and convert customers quickly and effectively.

Let’s take a look at the five key benefits of using gamification throughout your CX:

  • It gives users control: Brands can show a purchase progress bar to demonstrate to users how close they are to a complimentary gift or free shipping. This helps the user feel in control of their purchase and encourages organic exploration and surprise without feeling “sold to”.  
  • It intrigues customers: In comparison to a traditional promotion with a stated end date, gamified promotions feel more transient and spontaneous. Hunkemöller found that displaying the popularity of products (social proof messaging) as shoppers browse their site, drives urgency for the shopper to buy that product.
  • It keeps customers active: In games, when you complete a level, you get a reward — that motivates you to continue to play and master the next level. Gamified websites and apps apply the same logic. For example, when you sign up for a newsletter, you instantly get a discount, so you are motivated to stay longer on the website, browse products, and order.
  • It creates a sense of achievement: By creating milestones or awards with a gamified approach, users will feel a sense of accomplishment through tracking of these awards or milestones. For instance, give users a discount code if they sign up for your newsletter, or offer them a free product if they encourage friends and family to buy from your brand.
  • It provides exclusivity: Nowadays, many of us are willing to pay a premium price for that exclusivity. This is one of the reasons why subscription-based consumption is on the rise. According to Barclays Payments, 65 per cent of homes are signed up to a subscription service, with the average number of subscriptions totalling seven. The UK spends £552m a year on subscription services. Increased 50.2 per cent year on year during April last year – the height of lockdown.

How Clarins used gamification to boost customer engagement

an image showing young couple being engaged and happy because they won an award playing an online purchasing game.

Let me walk you through a fascinating example of gamified service designed by Clarins. Their marketing team developed a dedicated landing page for hosting the game and used overlays and on-site redirects to direct users likely to engage with this format.

The ad agency was tasked with creating a visual campaign to generate interest and direct users to the “Beauty Wheel” page offering discounts on their favourite products. The game was similar to the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ television game show.

In a few months, the company had generated more than 8,500 leads and 4,000 coupons had been activated. By tailoring coupons, discounts, and offers within the game to individual users, Clarins were able to build more meaningful relationships with their customers and boost conversions.

Final thoughts

As customer expectations continue to rise and traditional growth hacking tactics become less effective, gamification will play an integral role in revitalising the customer experience and tapping into customer psychology.

According to Mordor Intelligence, the global gamification market was valued at $10.19 million in 2020 and is expected to reach $38.42 million by 2026. The peak shopping season offers the perfect time to bring the elements of gaming into your CX to increase engagement and action when competition is fierce, attention is low and frustration is high.

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