Digital marketing: the value-add of gamification

Gamification - a concept that involves making a service, application or platform more engaging by adding incentives. Gamification first became a household term in and around 2010 and since then, it has become an essential component of most digital and tech-based applications. Gartner estimates that by the year-end 2014, more than 70% of the world's largest 2,000 companies will deploy at least one gamified application.
Gamification may involve social or economic incentives and ultimately aims to spark a competitive drive amongst users and consumers that makes content, behaviours and tasks more creative and appealing.

At Every1Mobile, a social enterprise that manages engaged communities of youth on the mobile phone, gamification has become a priority engagement tool that is expected to grow this year.

One area of gamification that we are currently exploring and believe has the potential to transform user engagement is social gamification. This approach was first implemented in our relationship and health-based community, smartSex. Implementing a 'points and ranking' system, we assigned points to different levels of engagement and achievements: such as scoring high on a knowledge-testing quiz, joining a mailing list or giving advice to a fellow community member. Unlike economic gamification, the social-incentive approach means that for users, earned points do not translate to tangible rewards, but focus on status and ranking within a community.

"People want to be praised and recognised amongst their peers. They want kudos in their community and to get more points than their friends. With social gamification, people gain a sense of personal achievement," says Alex Fulcher, services development manager at Every1Mobile.

For Every1Mobile, a company centred around social impact, elements of social gamification are crucial to our overall strategy behind attitudinal change and capacity-building. Through social incentives and rewards, users in our communities become more active and engaged in crucial topics and areas of discussion, ranging from health, education and entrepreneurship. Within smartSex, for example, gaming techniques and social incentives helps to generate a fun and refreshing community around critical topics - like safe sex and relationship advice - that would normally be tabooed or too uncomfortable to discuss.

M2 research reinforces the value add behind social gamification, highlighting its ability to generate a 100-150% pickup in engagement metrics, including unique views, page views and community activity, among others.

So far, for Every1Mobile, gamification has yielded positive results: over the past year, 290,869 users have achieved a 'rank' in our smartSex community. The top action for acquiring points has been user sign-ups to client-based mailing lists.

For digital services, particularly on the mobile phone, gamification is a sure-fire way to attract users and generate sustainable and true engagement.

If you are considering incorporating or expanding gamification concepts or applications to your platforms and devices, remember that in order for the idea to work, it has to have a real value-add to the user's journey. In fact, though many companies see the value in applying gaming techniques, many fail to accomplish the results they hoped for because they did not dig deep enough into to truly understanding human behaviour and what makes someone tick. According to Gartner's VP, companies tend to focus on the look-and-feel of the game, prioritising the badges and points, while overlooking the objectives and motivations behind the game.

Ultimately, the content should be compelling enough to have a lasting impact; gamification should only be an additive to an already engaging site, not a solution.


E1M - Top 15 most exciting UK start-ups according to Mashable
E1M - #46, The Start-Ups 100 List, 2013

5 Feb 2014 11:47


Danielle Arad
Danielle Arad
This is an excellent article! Thanks for sharing this. This is something I've been trying to promote and push, especially in our company - We have seen that our clients are finding much value in using games for marketing purposes and engagement. I am eager to see how gamification transforms in just this year.Thanks again.
Posted on 6 Feb 2014 14:09