Gamification in Direct Marketing

We’re a culture that loves to play games. In a few days will be the Super Bowl. We scratch-off lottery tickets, buy quick-picks and dream of winning bazillions, and many go to casinos for the adrenalin rush. Games are all around us and as Americans, we love to play and keep score.

Games have been in direct mail packages for generations. Tokens and other involvement devices are proven to increase response in certain instances.

Two articles that I recently read got me to thinking about games and this is the subject of my Target Marketing magazine blog, Gamification: Game Playing? Or Game Changing?

One article was about playing games. The other about gamification. On one side of the coin, games are used to reduce stress by people who play on mobile devices. In this case, an eMarketer report said that 50% of mobile gamers spend up to 30 minutes daily playing games to reduce stress. Others use games to pass time.

On the other side of the coin, offices are using gamification to increase productivity which reportedly increases stress. In office settings, gaming processes—gamification—engages users to solve problems that improve user engagement, ROI, data quality, timeliness and learning. An article in the Wall Street Journal titled “The ‘Gamification’ of the Office Approaches” noted how productivity inside offices can be tracked and measured in points, fostering competitiveness and excellence.

Whether you use offline direct mail with tokens or other involvement devices, or online channels, gaming techniques that are vetted as being legal, can be a good way to perk up your results.

Here are five ideas:

1. In direct mail, if you mail your prospects or customers frequently, add a game that builds over time for purpose, more interaction, and anticipation of your mailing.

2. For any channel you’re in, use games to create customer loyalty so your buyers return again and again.

3. In social media, check-ins and badges using mobile apps are like games, and they get your name in front of the friends of your fans.

4. Encourage people to play a game that requires completing surveys and gives information about themselves for use in nurture marketing programs.

5. Let your prospects and customers track their game score, but as a direct marketer using sophisticated marketing automation software, you can turn the tables and score your customers to determine who is most likely to come back and buy again.

Finally, if you’re stumped with generating ideas, get your staff together and play games to get the ideas swirling. Ideation meetings that include games often bring out unexpected creative ideas.

Bottom line, use the principles of gamification to reinvent and reenergize your direct marketing approach. By becoming familiar with gamification techniques now, you or your staff may identify the next big sales game-changer.

Gary Hennerberg

After a lot of years in marketing and sales, this is what I know works:

Stories sell. Think unique. Stimulate emotion. Close deals. And here are a few other gems from my new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code.” Know the persona, interpret your offer and let your prospect give themselves permission to buy. That’s how the brain is wired. It’s how people think.

What else? When I’m not breaking down complex topics (or ones marketers over-complicate) into easy-to-grasp stories that sell, I crunch numbers. Manage projects. Write. Teach. Lead.