Is Gamification Something You Should Try for Sales?

Is Gamification Something You Should Try for Sales?Gamification has been tossed around a lot in the marketing world lately and has become very popular for B2C. However, it’s also become a little muddled by overuse. Think of it as the writing term “personification” except instead of overlaying personal attributes to non-human characters it’s when you use game attributes to describe non game type activities.

We’ve all been to sites where people earn badges right? has a great gamification setup. Now of course they sell games so it makes sense for them that their audience would be into game-like marketing. Downloading products, visiting a site and making purchases is not competitive…unless you decide to make it so through gamification. Are you following me?

I just watched a stellar webinar with Jeremiah Owyang and the people of It was about how to get sales from social. And like anything Jeremiah or anybody from Altimeter group touches, it was amazing. Since deals with mostly B2C sites (they do more than help you set up site reviews but as you can imagine that is a lot of their business) the content of this webinar was mostly dealing with B2C concerns.

I think there are some very important hallmarks to sites that can leverage gamification successfully.

1)     Is your audience naturally competitive or does your product provide a platform for authority building.

Take SEOmoz, the SEO resource program. They have successfully built a large community of SEO interested individuals that are often selling SEO services themselves. This means that like minded people are going to this site to find answers to questions on a regular basis. More often than not, these questions lead to powerful networking, and possible sales.

I know that I personally really enjoy the gamification at SEOmoz because I can spot right away how active a person is by their amount of Mozpoints. I also adore SEOmoz because it is such a powerful link and niche community that I get absolutely lovely traffic from over there. And of course if you are a complete newbie to SEO you can spot authorities right away which can be incredibly helpful and often hard to do among all the “SEO gurus” out there toting their wares.

2)     Do you have a strong enough community that this will be viewed as a good thing to brand new site visitors?

Ian Lurie did a great post (as always) last week, about the LifeCycle of Internet Marketing. In it he describes the cyclical process of building your community, expanding and building an even stronger community on top of it. It would be unwise (to put it nicely) to launch a gamification out of the gate with little to no traffic. Especially when you have a sitewide ranking system, it will show just how little traffic you have. And like anything else, you don’t want to emphasize the negative. Maybe a system where people earn points is great – but don’t assign badges or allow people to see “top members” until the stats are more impressive.

We’ve all been to forums that have zero discussions or 30 members. It’s no fun. And it makes the whole site look bad.

3)     Do you have something of value to give away with the activity you want to see the most?

The SEOmoz example of course is that you gain authority in the community. They also provide a free month’s worth of their Pro subscription if you do so much participating in a single month. Obviously their goal is to see more participation in their community.

Another example could be an ecommerce site that gives points to social sharing or reviews. Maybe you really want to beef up your Facebook traction. So you give double points over Tweets for sharing on Facebook. Just make sure that you are providing a decent gift certificate or something else so that the inconvenience is outweighed by the reward.

4)     You have the technical staff to keep spammers at bay.

There’s no two ways about it. If you are going to give away anything of monetary value online, spammers are going to find a way to win it cheaper and quicker than anybody else.

If you don’t have the technical backing to protect yourself from fraud either hire someone to create the system and do the ongoing maintenance or forget it. It’s not worth losing your brand image over a marketing tactic.

Gamification is a solid technique, but only for the right companies. It’s the kind of thing that could get really bad, really fast. Remember that just like anything else in marketing, have a solid concept of your entire plan before you start rolling it out. Otherwise you will be up a creek without any sales.


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Amie Marse is the founder of Content Equals Money. She lives in Lexington, KY with her two dogs: Billie and Lily. She has been writing content for her web based clients since 2005. She launched Content Equals Money in Oct of 2010, home of conversion focused content writing services. She loves to chat about small business development and how to make content equal money!

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