How Big Brands Are Boosting Customer Loyalty Through Gamification

January 25, 2016

4:00 pm

The marketing world has long embraced the use of games and gaming elements for advertising, inspiring customer loyalty, and even replacing customer education. From keeping corporate learners engaged to mobilizing customers and creating communities, let’s take a look at how these marketing teams are utilizing gamification to up their game.

Create a Community (Nike)

The Nike+ community is unparalleled when it comes to fitness fanatics. Since its conception in 2007, Nike+ has been dedicated to helping athletes, especially runners, track and tout their mileage. Having  garnered over 11 million users, the Nike+ platform enables athletes to track their runs, input times and results, and then compare and share with millions of other users. They can also earn points and challenge friends and family. Since the creation of the Nike+ community, Nike has increased its share of the American running shoe market by 14 percent. Humans are social creatures by nature, so Nike+ is capitalizing on the desire for community by allowing users to interact and share results with one another.

Lesson: The big takeaway here is that social collateral is key. When brands make community involvement part of the process to engage and motivate customers; when they can converse with, and see how they stack up against, others, people are more likely to stick with a program.

Reward Performance (Starbucks)

Any caffeine fiend knows about the Starbucks gamified customer loyalty program. My Starbucks Rewards gives users “stars” or points for drinking their ubiquitous coffee. As stars are earned, they can be redeemed for rewards (like free coffee) and even personalized loyalty cards, ensuring that customers are almost as addicted to the app as they are their daily java. The other key component of why the loyalty program skyrocketed is due to the involvement of staff at every location. Every single time you get a Starbucks coffee at one of their locations the cashier will never fail to ask if you want to pay with your loyalty card. This amplifies the usage and success of the entire program.

Lesson: Rewarding participation — even when it requires a purchase – encourages program loyalty and ensures that people are willing to visit – and revisit – in order to earn points, badges, and other rewards.

Simulate a Scenario (Army)

What was once created as a fun recruiting game is now being utilized as a training tool by the U.S. Army. America’s Army, a first-person shooting simulator, was created as a way to attract potential recruits and test their skills and knowledge. The simulation was so wildly successful that one in three recruits have played the game. Playing the simulation promotes memory recall, strengthens neural connections, and builds confidence for when skills are called upon in a real-life setting. Simulations allow the player to see where they may be lacking, or discover skills they never knew they had.  

Lesson: Simulations are an effective and engaging gamification tactic because they let the participant test his or her skills in real-life ways.

Many industries, including the eLearning industry are increasingly taking the gamification route. Gamification strategies that fit seamlessly into new eLearning applications, can also often be deployed as innovative and effective marketing tactics. There’s a reason the above three companies have been so successful in improving customer loyalty and satisfaction. After all,  good marketing is engaging and motivates action, which is the exact same response you want to extract from learners in the learning industry. Simply thinking outside the typical learning module may uncover strategies marketers can use to grow loyalty towards a sneaker brand, the same way those strategies help keep learners loyal to eLearning.

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Andrew Fayad is the CEO, co-founder, and managing partner of eLearning Mind, ELM is a multi media design agency focusing on education that creates custom learning for Fortune 500 companies.

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