In the movie “Cool Hand Luke,” the title character earns his nickname after bluffing through a poker game and then stating, “Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand.” That may work in the movies, but in loyalty marketing, consumers are not so easy to dupe.
Gamification is among the buzziest trends in loyalty marketing these days, and while it can be a compelling tool for early engagement, its long-term effectiveness depends on the nimbleness of the hands behind the game. Put another way: The gaming experience will only be as good as the gaming provider.
In fact, gaming might not be worth the investment for some brands, or serve as the best device for engaging a specific core market. Executed poorly, or with a blind spot for the brand’s message and meaning, gamification could hurt an organization. However, if loyalty data is applied to shape the game rules, its messaging and rewards, the probability of success rises.
The trick is finding a fitting gamification provider for a particular brand. Here are five tips for finding that best-qualified gamification expert:
Limit the odds: An increasing number of gamification providers are emerging across all industries. Loyalty marketers should narrow their search to those that specialize in loyalty initiatives, including the related data analysis. A good gamification expert will be able to glean meaning from the data and use it to better craft entertainment and initiatives that align with a brand’s particular customer.
Get security: Gamification introduces opportunities not only to better engage customers, but also to better understand them through real-time activity insights. That data should be treated like $1,000 poker chips. Marketers should ask the gaming company to provide reliable protocols regarding how it gathers, stores and ultimately destroys data, and these should be in close alignment with those of the hiring brand.
Line up the aces: When an organization assigns its most qualified data analysts to work closely with the gamification experts, its chances are good that the rewards will be relevant to its best customers. This means making the rules clear and the win rates attainable so customers are actually realizing a benefit (one that matters) in return for their playing time.
Read the dashboard: Any gamification strategy should be established to resolve a timely customer issue. Loyalty marketers would benefit by asking gamification candidates to demonstrate their troubleshooting capabilities and provide reliable examples of how they solved a client’s customer engagement or retention issues. References are a bonus.
Find the jackpot: Gamification strategies require money and marketers, like gamers, want a return on that investment. One way marketers can ensure solvency is by hiring a gamification company that is solvent. There is no sin in asking for financials or running a credit check. If the company will not or cannot provide clients for a reference, the marketer should consider it a red flag.
In short, a gamification provider should be vetted like a construction company or baby sitter, because it will be handling an organization’s most valuable asset: it’s brand. There are a lot of shiny-object aspects to the gamification industry, and a marketer can get caught up in the dazzle of it. But when all is said and done, a cool head and hand will earn the reward.