5 Things to Keep in Mind When Building a Gamification Strategy

What is Gamification?

Gamification is an up and coming marketing trend that is gaining more attention in marketing, education and other industry sectors as an ideal way to create engagement with a consumer audience. With Game-like mechanics like points, countdowns, bonuses and difficulty levels, the socio-psychological concept of playing a game and possibly winning something stimulates the creative, playful and competitive spirit.

Courtesy: iMore

The goal of increasing the probability that a person repeats desired steps through games is achieved by using the scoring systems or ranking lists to reward its consumers with virtual items such as access to exclusive privileges, discounts, levels or prizes. And by using such game-like mechanics and dynamics for a non-game marketing purpose, gamification has shown promising results in increasing consumer engagement and/or influence consumer behaviour.

Why does Gamification work?

From a psychological perspective, the Prospect Theory introduced by Kahnemann and Tversky shows that small incentives enable people to take an extra effort to do things that they otherwise would not. The Prospect Theory is a behavioural economic theory that describes the way people choose probabilistic alternatives that involve risk — where the probabilities of outcomes are known. People take an effort because of their intrinsic motivation (brand commitment maybe too) in situations where they expect a reward.

In other words, people’s behaviours are being influenced by Gamification elements mentioned above, which can have a very small cost / investment for the brand. Research has shown that gamification not only increases customer commitment and loyalty, but also the motivation of the intended audience. If implemented correctly, it can have a high return on investment for companies (Dr. Städtgen, Gamification and Motivation, 2015).

How has gamification been effective in the sports industry?

From the days of gladiators fighting each other in the Colosseum, sports spectatorship has never be passive. Even today, sports teams and its players are given a celebrity status and watching them play is their way of interacting with them. The sports fans have always shown passionate involvement when watching their favourite sports persons or teams at their peak physical condition compete. To the fans, players are more than just celebrities – they are their idols, their heroes who inspire and motivate millions across the globe. Watching a sport means living the action, and fans become a part of it by rooting for their icons.

In today’s digital world, sports fans are no longer only at the receiving end of a monologue. Sports consumption has become even more interactive and captivating, thanks to the latest developments in technology. They are constantly interacting with the game through predictions, live updates, and post-match comments on second-screen platforms like Twitter or Facebook. They are engaged in every moment of the game, now more than ever, all thanks to the smartphone that lets sports fans experience rich, engrossing, immersive entertainment experiences on-the-go.

Streaming matches, checking and predicting scores, reading sports-related news and articles, or building a fantasy team – all of this is possible with a few taps on a screen. Given the popularity of instant digital access to sports, it is hardly surprising that Hotstar in India pays INR 300 crore to the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the mobile rights of a single IPL season!

The Road Ahead For Gamification in Sports…

Gamification with the direct intention of increasing engagement was first introduced by Fantasy Sports – a concept conceived in 1979 by American sportswriter Daniel Okrent that received great response from the audience over the last couple of decades. Seasonal games provided daily fantasy matches and became one of the biggest engagement tools for a sports fan. As part of the fantasy game, fans would memorise individual players’ statistics and analyse the upcoming fixture list to lock their teams before the match.

Lately however, fans began turning away from fantasy leagues due to lack of time and the fact that the teams would have to locked in an hour before the match – thereby putting an end to the engagement well in advance of the match. This passive aspect of fantasy sports has fans yearning for a real-time format more accessible and exciting.

With the growing use of smartphones, it didn’t take long for live sports gaming to gather momentum in the sports fan engagement market. Not only did live sports gaming attract the Fantasy sports fan base, but also the casual fans – a demographic that is far greater. Live Sports Gaming as the name suggests, is based on one of the most common behaviours observed in a sports fan’s conversation during a live sports event – Predictions.

The sheer thrill in predicting how a sports match unfolds on the field and finding glory in the success of it is what makes live sports gamification a more realistic experience. It allows users to get involved in the game from the blow of the whistle or the sound of the buzzer and remain engaged in the match till the very end. It gives the fans the chance to connect with one another and share their passion for sports across real and virtual worlds. The inclusion of chat forums, pre-match quizzes and live match prediction games allows for a sports interaction experience that is far more engrossing and riveting than any other medium.

5 Things to keep in mind when incorporating gamification into the marketing strategy

With clear evidence that the future of sports consumption lies in fans engaging digitally and sharing their insights, predictions, and analysis in real time, here are 5 key things to keep in mind when incorporating gamification into a marketing strategy.

  1. Know your Fan Base. To determine what type of game might appeal to your customers, you must first and foremost understand your target audience. Get this wrong and you may not engage them correctly to get the level of engagement you’re seeking. A young 25 year old fan would have different preferences to the type of gameplay as a 40 year-old. If a quiz format is to be used, one must consider the audience’s age so that relevant questions can be included.
  2. Research is Important. Before launching your own game, see what other games have been created for consumers. See how they work, how and what type of rewards they yield. The best gamification strategies come from evaluating what others have done to identify best practices that would fit your marketing objectives. Social sharing, scoring and rewards are the kind of games that tend to do well in the sports environment.
  3. Choose your incentives wisely. Decide what incentive you want to offer. It could be tickets to a sporting event, discounts towards merchandise, promotional coupons or unlocking access to exclusive content. The right type of incentives being offered need to be chosen in order to make the gamification work with right type of audience.
  4. Keep it Simple. Making the game too complex is only going to result in losing the interest of your audience. Gamification only works if your game is able to capture their attention quickly or else they will abandon it. Build your game assuming your audience has a short attention span and is easily distracted. This will help you design the gameplay to be relatively short.
  5. Have clear goals. Have a clear objective in place that you want the gamification strategy to help ultimately achieve. Without a goal, how can you be sure your gamification strategy is worth it? It also helps to keep monitoring the progress of the game to determine if your strategy is bringing you closer to achieving your objective. If not, revisit the design of your game to make the necessary changes.

Gamification has gathered momentum in popularity lately only because it appeals to the audiences on a deeper psychological level than just a one sided communication such as an advertisement. Implement these key principles into your gamification strategy and you’re guaranteed to capture the sports fan’s attention.  

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