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Leveraging gamification to increase customer engagement

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This post is sponsored by Epsilon.Consumers today have endless choices in the brands they choose to buy from, the channels they engage in and the loyalty programs they are a part of. Customers now expect more than just value, convenience and simplicity from their preferred loyalty programs and brands must do more to set themselves apart from their competition.Gamification is a proven and powerful way to influence, motivate and engage loyalty program members. Adding elements of gamification into your customer experience strategy can drive deeper program engagement because it taps into human emotion and people’s natural tendencies to socialise, learn, master, compete and achieve.By 2019, the gamification market is estimated to be worth over US$2.8 billion. But what is gamification - really? In the research paper "Defining gamification - A service marketing perspective", gamification is defined as a process of enhancing a service with affordances for gameful experiences in order to support user’s overall value creation. Gamification is hardly a new concept, however many loyalty programs have yet to tap into its benefits - and it is more than just awarding members with badges. Gamifying a member’s loyalty experience should be about creating more simple, informative and enjoyable interactions with your brand.Loyalty marketers have the opportunity to incorporate gamification tactics at almost any touchpoint in the customer journey. Consider these four tactics:Take the dull out of onboardingFor your loyalty program onboarding strategy, consider creating a series of fun and quick mini-surveys deployed over the first few weeks of enrollment to capture vital customer profile information. Sprinkle in fun facts about the program while reinforcing the benefits and how to participate in the program.To go even further, recognise and reward your members’ progress in completing profile information by awarding surprise points. Jazzing up your onboarding process not only gets your members to engage early and often in your program, it enables you to capture vital information in creating a personal relevant customer experience.Invoke friendly competition Add variety, fun and competition to your loyalty program by creating individual or group challenges. Who hasn’t been enticed to perform a Starbucks Rewards challenge to earn Bonus Stars?Challenges have been a widely successful gamification strategy for Starbucks and other brands. Challenges offer members rewards for performing specific behaviours or actions within a certain time period. Program challenges can be based on total purchase amount, number of purchases or visits and more. Leverage your member data and/or segmentation to create relevant, 1:1 member challenges. And, sure, there’s badges to be awarded! Remember, customers love to be recognised.Inspire and motivate Adding auctions into your program’s rewards options not only adds variety but also adds excitement and a sense of community. Auctions enable members to compete with other members in your loyalty program to purchase rewards using program points. The rewards to be “auctioned” may be unique and only available through the auction.The ideas for auction rewards are limitless. Programs can auction experiences, services, exclusive/early access, special or limited-edition merchandise and more. And, the availability of offering auctions can be easily managed and leveraged strategically to augment your loyalty strategy.For birthdays, anniversaries or a good causeCustomers love having options and the feeling of "being in control". Allowing your members to gift or donate their earned rewards points increases program convenience and relevancy while increasing engagement.Enabling points donations can be an ongoing, every day feature of your program or consider leveraging intermittently during specifically planned time periods or during times of national interest or need, such as providing support for the recent Hurricane Harvey and Irma relief efforts.The takeawayGamification in loyalty programs goes above and beyond “badging”. Consider weaving elements in to your loyalty strategy to enhance specific points along the customer journey. Monitor, evaluate and adapt these experiences over time. And, leverage gamification tactics that fit with your brand and are right for your members.Epsilon’s Agility Loyalty makes it easy for loyalty marketers to imagine and enable the gamification experiences that drive deeper engagement with your program.The writer is Jennifer Browers, director of loyalty marketing, Epsilon.

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