Gamification & Retention

In a world with so many options, retailers and companies are looking for alternative ways to retain their customers. In doing so they are thinking outside the box and combining the fun of gaming with the ability to gain and retain loyal customers.

Retention can be costly, so if a company can keep a customer happy and coming back through traditional outlets, that is great, but unlikely. A study showed that by increasing customer retention rates by a mere 5%, a business has the potential for increasing their profits between 25% and 95%. But, with so many options for consumers that is getting harder and harder to do.

One of the key components of retention is listening to your customers and giving them what they feel is a good incentive to keep coming back. Whether that is in the form of a loyalty program or discount, customized communication or something entertaining, it is important to make your customers feel important.  That feeling of importance or belonging will foster an ongoing relationship between you, building brand loyalty.

So, what better way to incentivize your customer than introducing gamification? What might that be, you ask? Gamification, in a nut shell, is the introduction “of game-thinking in non-game contexts.”  It’s the process of borrowing pieces of games and applying them to areas of business, allowing one’s competitive nature to thrive.

By introducing games to the consumer cycle, you are adding a non-traditional component to your marketing pyramid.  This, not only makes your company unique, but it allows for your most loyal customers to further increase their engagement with your brand.  This increased engagement will also increase the likelihood of consumer reviews, positive word-of-mouth, and unpaid advertising through social media shares.  All by adding a game.

One example of gamification that has been proven to work is the rewards program through Starbucks. They reward you for purchasing through their app, at their stores, buying products online and/or at your regular grocer.  They get you excited about their brand and engage you on several levels. Add to that the gaming aspect of ‘winning’ free stuff, and you have a marketing campaign that has paid for itself in droves.  And they even market it by stating “Play Starbucks for Life”, and the link is labelled ‘Join to Play’.  Who doesn’t want to play a game?!

Another example is going to the grocery store and being rewarded ‘points’ for buying things you need.  Chains are rewarding your purchasing behavior in various ways, knowing that you have options on where to shop, they are rewarding you for picking their doors to walk through.  Those points can mean dollars off on a future visit or cents off on gas, but regardless of what it is, you are being rewarded for being a regular customer.  You are a pawn in the marketing chess game and retailers are using incentives to get you in the door and to keep coming back.

Using simple gaming tactics can increase brand loyalty, which increases the bottom line. Companies that are actively engaged with their current clients are increasing that customer’s lifetime value, which is often more profitable than looking and luring in new customers.  As we mentioned, customer acquisition and retention is expensive, so increasing your current customers loyalty, and therefore return rate, is a highly profitable way to do business.

Knowing the Challenges of Email Marketing

Email is not dead, not matter what some people say, we’ve talked about it before. It is still proven to be an effective and affordable means of communicating and advertising. But that’s not to say that email facing its fair share of challenges.  When looking at the engagement, it is imperative to understand the potential challenges of email marketing before being able to put together an effective campaign.

The Abundance of Information

The internet is easy to access, as we all know. In a few clicks I can have a plethora of information literally at my fingertips. But this ease of use and over-abundance of information might actually counteracting each other.  Users have suddenly been faced with an overwhelming amount of information that they do not have enough time to process. A bit of foreshadowing came in 1971 from economist, Herbert Simon: “In an information-rich world, the wealth of information means a [death] of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”

In all, it is imperative that as marketing experts we pay close attention to the phenomenon of Attention Economics when formulating email marketing plans. Simply stated by Matthew Crawford, “Attention is a resource; a person has only so much of it.” Treating attention as a commodity is a good way to start thinking about what to put into your emails.

Don’t Ignore Today’s Cross-Channel Marketing

Companies that are looking to engage their customers need to be looking to interact with them across many channels: email, mobile, social, display, print, etc. Being relevant with your brand across the various channels of which your customers interact will bring credibility and influence to what you have to say in the eyes of your (potential) customer.

Today’s buyers are multi-taskers by nature. They are able to interact with multiple brands across various channels almost simultaneously.  Traditional email service providers are not equipped to handle this level of engagement.  The latest school of thought is to embrace email as a platform to tie all of the channels consumers use together. Building that trust in your brand across media is vital to building a relationship with your audience.

Knowing what your audience is already doing and where they are doing it will help grow your email marketing strategy.  Remember that your audience is inundated with information on a daily basis. Become a trusted advisor by providing relevant content across multiple platforms. And speak to the various platforms; your tone makes you relevant and trustworthy. Treating people’s attention as a limited resource will go over well. Give your audience the information they need and want in a precise, aesthetically pleasing way.

Tie your whole marketing strategy together via your email campaigns. Allow consumers ways to connect to you where and when they feel the most comfortable.