Gamification.jpgEric Singleton is Founder and CEO of the technology strategy firm, Eric Singleton & Associates. He is the former CIO of Tommy Hilfiger, Chico’s FAS, the architect of Raytheon Company’s original eCommerce presence, and held senior executive positions at Honeywell Aerospace and Honeywell Automotive.

UnboundID: In terms of digital marketing trends, what is most interesting right now, and what should be on the radar of every major consumer brand?

Singleton: At our firm, we are spending a lot of time on gamification. This involves marketers creating content where end users will self-identify, and then through a series of questions, roll into a gamification mode which can be very fun and engaging. Our conclusion is that there is a maturity level being reached by this next wave of consumers who are less patient and less committed to navigating search tools and weeding through the results to find what they are looking for. The old Boolean search mode is wearing thin. The human mind has its limits and people will drop off quickly after viewing the first 30 results. Gamification changes things by delivering a brief but engaging experience which is hyper-relevant for what someone is seeking.

UnboundID: How does this work?

Singleton: Let’s say you are searching for a special chair for your living room at a boutique furniture site. When you come to the retailer’s website, and enter that first search term, the site will begin to ask questions to refine your search. It may ask what part of the country you live in (for regional design preferences) and maybe your age and interests. Then the app is going to narrow the selection so that you will see just a few items that are now very targeted to your need and preferences. The gamification element could entail allowing the user to bid on the product, or participate in a contest with potential rewards. Gamification can be effective for certain types of consumer goods because it provides an opportunity to win, then delivers gratification in some form. It also brings a social component, in which you might share the results of the game with friends on your favorite social media channel.

UnboundID: What about the issue of getting the personal data required to play the game or receive the improved product recommendation? Consumers might not be comfortable with that.

Singleton: It’s important to look closely at the product. For instance, if you take sofas versus model sailboats, the latter is most likely going to be purchased by someone who is a collector. The collector is likely going to have a much higher emotional quotient compared with someone buying a commodity product. Therefore, the gamification structure between the two will be very different regarding the optimal level of engagement. In other words, it’s going to be easier to engage the collector and get him or her to share information. You might be able to ask the collector more detailed questions. That’s primarily because the collector is going to come back again and maybe soon. The furniture buyer will make the purchase and then you may not see her again for quite awhile. Regardless, you do need to be careful with how far you go with the questions, and not delve into anything too intimate such as physical address or how much money they earn.

UnboundID: Any other considerations on how to connect effectively with the online customer?

Singleton: Cultural considerations are important. Let’s say on your website you have an image of a model in a room with an art piece that is not acceptable for someone coming to your site from Spain. Generally speaking in Europe, there is much more sensitivity around the topic of art, given all the history there in the art world. You’ve got to be careful as well when it comes to understanding how to incorporate any symbols of national pride or religion. It’s not hard to make a terrible faux pas if you haven’t researched this and aren’t thinking about it. A lot of companies miss these subtleties. Because of the proliferation of mobile devices,people are now very driven by images. Images can be very powerful but even more so if you can understand the context.