Some of the world’s most influential brands are gamifying their shopping experiences. You’ll see this in forms of rewards, like Starbucks, awarding virtual Stars for purchases at their coffee chains. These Stars have no cash value, but once you complete an achievement like collecting so many of them, you are awarded with a free drink or a discount at your next visit. Customers in a way become addicted to this collection of points (or Stars in this case), and in turn go out of their way to buy more product.
Gamification should include 3 things - narratives, tasks, and progress. Narratives give your program a story to follow, something that plays on customers’ emotions and connects them to your brand. This doesn’t necessarily mean narratives as in a story, but instead, give your program a mascot or characters they can unlock along the way. This connection will not only be an enjoyable visual for the customer, but will be recognizable outside of the program as an effective marketing tactic.
Think of popular games like Halo or Call of Duty. Why are they so popular? Don’t players get sick of doing the same thing over and over for hours? Clearly not! The games include different tactics and avenues players can take to achieve various rewards, status, and achievements. The same should go for your loyalty program, even if those tasks consist of buying more product from your store.
During a customer’s loyalty journey with your company, they should be able to see the progress they’ve made on particular challenges or tasks. A major technique in gamifying your loyalty program is showing a progress bar. Customers should be able to see how close (or far) they are to earning points for their next reward. This subconsciously creates the need to complete unfinished tasks, and a sense of accomplishment once completed.
Gamification isn’t just about accumulating points, though. It can include other techniques like levels, leaderboards, trophies, badges, and virtual goods. For a game to be successful, there needs to be a place where users can spend the points they’ve earned, an incentive to earn even more, and a way in which they can express their personal identity. Virtual goods are a great way for customers to express themselves, and can be anything from a badge or trophy to display on their profile to characters, avatars, and virtual objects that can be purchased to show off to their community.
Other techniques of gamification include the ability to share on their social networks. Users love to collect, share, and boast about their winnings. Give them the opportunity to show off and drive competition by allowing them to share rewards on their social pages, or a newsfeed within your platform’s website or app. Encouraging them to do so not only gives them an opportunity to brag, but piques interest in their friends and family, leading them straight to your business.
However, successful gamified loyalty programs go beyond discounts, badges, and points. Your program must first understand what drives your audience in ways that will actually benefit your business. This is where you leverage the data your program collects. Make sure you use this data to your advantage, personalizing customers’ shopping experiences and engaging with your program’s members. The response you get should be motivation and excitement, which will result in more sales, a higher ROI, and ultimately, deeper loyalty.
This article was written by Loyal-n-Save, an omni-channel customer loyalty solution for retailers looking to increase customer retention and new customer acquisition.