Score! How and why to gamify your B2B demand generation strategy (it’s not just because everybody’s doing it).
As a B2B marketer, you’ve likely heard the term “gamification” more than once in the past several months.
Or, if you attended SXSW in March 2011, you probably heard it 5,000 times. And gamification is making the big-business news, too: Recently, on the Forbes AdVoice blog, Tim Clark@SAP mused, “It was Ben Franklin who once said ‘in the world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.’ If Ben were alive today, I wonder if he’d modify his now-legendary quote to include gamification.”
So what is gamification, and how does it apply to B2B marketing?
Forrester’s defines gamification as: The insertion of game dynamics and mechanics into non-game activities to drive a desired behavior.
Now, how does it relate to our B2B world?
“Gamification describes the broad trend of employing game mechanics to non-game environments such as innovation, marketing, training, employee performance, health and social change,” said Brian Burke, an analyst at Gartner. “Enterprise architects, CIOs and IT planners must be aware of, and lead, the business trend of gamification, educate their business counterparts and collaborate in the evaluation of opportunities within the organization.”
Does Gamification Make Sense for B2B Marketers?
Absolutely! Interactive and B2B marketers can use game mechanics to motivate action and drive engagement with prospects, customers, channel partners, sales… just about any audience, really. The key to making it more than just a fun attention-getter is, as always, to clarify the actions and metrics you expect to result from gameplay.
The essential game dynamic works like this:
- It begins with motivation—the incentives that will trigger people’s interest in playing the game.
- The motivations drive actions that are fulfilled by rewards.
- The rewards give players a sense of achievement that reinforce the initial motivations.
If at this point you’re thinking, “B2B marketers have been integrating gamification into marketing programs for years,” I agree—this is not our first rodeo! The best developer contests and games put on by companies like IBM, Oracle, Intel and Cisco feature all of the most powerful game mechanics like challenge, peer recognition, social status, reward and community.
However, there’s been some new smart thinking (and plenty of buzz) about how to best apply game theory to marketing. One of the most cogent gamification analyses comes from Seth Priebatsch, a thought-leader and Chief Ninja at gaming platform start-up SCVNGR. His SxSW 2011 keynote on how “the game layer” is building influence (and driving action) among audiences is worth your time to watch:
How Do I Start Thinking About Gamification for B2B Marketing?
As with any B2B marketing activity, you need to put the buyer and their business needs at the forefront of your mind. R “Ray” Wang, Principal Analyst and CEO of Constellation Research, offers plenty of useful perspective and direction in “Trends: 5 Engagement Factors For Gamification And The Enterprise.” Start with his simple tips on how businesses can apply game mechanics and dynamics to improve engagement and participation:
- Intrigue. Content and story line often represent the consumer tech side. The enterprise needs to develop relevant content to keep users engage. Content could include help topics, related information, user generated comments, etc.
- Reward. Both non-monetary and monetary incentives can be deployed. Rewards should match level of difficulty so users gain a sense of accomplishment. Non-monetary rewards could include exclusive information, access, or recognition.
- Status. Leaderboards codify status in gamification. Leader boards reward status and provide a recognition mechanism as well as a way to tier users. A robust analytics platform must align with the objectives of gamification and support reward systems.
- Community. Social is a key part of gamification. Users want to connect, share, and reach out to other “players”. Expect integration back to mobile and social platforms.
- Challenge. Users must earn a sense of accomplishment to remain engaged. Gamification in the enterprise should tie back to the achievement of levels with increasing difficulty. Challenges will tie back to reward and intrigue over time.
Now, time to work on your game plan!