Putting Games to Work

by Meri Gruber on October 19, 2009

VW has launched a wonderful initiative called The Fun Theory demonstrating how “fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better”. Their video “The Piano Stairs – The Fun Theory” has gone viral with over 3M views on You Tube.

Us business execution folks call this Putting Games to Work. As I wrote in “Playing Around with Customer Loyalty”, integrating proven game mechanics into normal content motivates desired behavior. Game mechanics can help companies fulfill their promise to their customers, and in doing so, drive customer loyalty, retention and revenues.

Bunchball, a leading game mechanics platform, calls this the “Science of Engagement”.  “Promotions are a cold start each time,” said Rajat Paharia, BunchBall’s Founder and Chief Product Officer at Enage!Expo last month. Like other traditional loyalty programs, they only engender loyalty to the program, not the brand. Customers are gone as soon as they find a better offer.

“If we understand what actions on your site impact customer value, then what tools and techniques can be used to increase it? Behavioral incentive and rewards programs, game dynamics and social media tools are all part of the mix,” writes BunchBall CEO Peter Daboll in his Forbes commentary, “A Web of Engagement”.

BunchBall’s customers have some remarkable results to show for building a web of engagement:

  • 55% increase in desired behaviors
  • Time on site up 20%
  • 400%+ increase in page views
  • Revenue generating sponsorships
  • Users being incented to create the core site content, so that sites “run themselves”
  • Increase in visit frequency

These metrics reflect the changing relationship that is possible between company and customer. Warner Brothers, for instance, never had a direct relationship with their customers before. Now they are starting a global loyalty program where website users can build virtual movie sets with virtual goods using WB virtual money, explained Rajat. Another BunchBall customer, NBC, launched a social networking site Dunder Mifflin Infinity, based on the hit series The Office. The DMI site has an “incentive economy – powering a virtual currency, leaderboards, behavior tracking, and virtual goods.” Website visitors are incented to become employees and generate core site content. By motivating users, NBC is able to meet its goal of having the site “run itself” with user-generated content. Comcast is another Bunchball customer and Jean-Claire Fitschen, Director, Games for Comcast, shared the Comcast experience with game mechanics at Engage!Expo. Comcast has achieved higher member conversion and more page views per unique visitor since launching the program. “Status and reputation are highly motivating for some users.”

Rajat also touched on how the science of engagement works internally, too. LiveOps, a virtual contact center solution provider, is using game mechanics to incent employees to complete training programs.

Games are fun, and fun is powerful. Put the science of games to work to help you build and motivate your customers and your team. Gamification is not only the new marketing, but together with the web of engagement of social media tools, it is a platform on which to build out your promise to your customers.

{ 1 comment }

Mark Loessi October 21, 2009 at 10:44 am


Wow! this is great stuff you’ve pulled together.

In my arena of Strategic Planning one of the common problems is in the execution of the plan once all the time and energy has gone into creating it. Like taking the stairs sometimes getting started on ‘the plan’ is something that is, well….. avoided. Perhaps making both Strategic Planning and its execution FUN the behaviours that seem to stifle this necessary activity can be hurdled.

I’ll have to give that more thought, perhaps your mind will come up with a post on this idea 🙂

Thanks Again,

Mark Loessi

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