Gamification: From the Arcade to the Bank: A New Marketing Trend Is to Add Video Game Elements to Online Customer Interaction with Financial Institutions

By Kastner, Nick | ABA Bank Marketing, December 2013 | Go to article overview

Gamification: From the Arcade to the Bank: A New Marketing Trend Is to Add Video Game Elements to Online Customer Interaction with Financial Institutions


Kastner, Nick, ABA Bank Marketing


ONE OF THE HOTTEST BUZZWORDS IN MARKETING AT THE MOMENT is "gamification." In this article, we'll discuss what gamification is and show how one financial institution is using gamification to change the online experience for its customers.

According to Wikipedia, gamification is the "use of game thinking and game mechanics to engage users in solving problems." In other words, it is all about turning daily activities into games.

A typical gamification strategy would be to reward a user/player when they complete a task that be/she would complete anyway. The most common game mechanics used in gamification marketing strategies are:

* Achievements/bonuses (users receive new items or other benefits when they complete a task).

* Leaderboards (a listing of all users based on level of completion).

* Loss aversion (providing a game environment that could result in a loss).

* Lottery (randomized winning).

* Points (points earned based on task completion).

* Progress bars (a measure of completion).

* Quests (awards provided based on the completion of a list of tasks).

* Status (status levels to show growth in an area).

* Trophy case (a place to allow other users to see your success).

* Virality (elements that require multiple people to play online).

Sometimes these games are competitive in nature; other times, it's about the individual prize available at the end of the game.

Traditional examples of gamification include loyalty programs for retail chains and frequent flier programs for airlines. However, with the continued shift to digital marketing channels, many companies are relying more on the Web and other online media to execute their gamification marketing efforts.

Why gamification?

MillenniaIs and generation Xers grew up using their spare time playing digital football and battlefield games from the popular Halo franchise to World of Warcraft.

Because of this, Gartner Inc., an information technology research company in Stamford, Conn., estimates that by 2015, 50 percent of businesses that manage innovation processes will gamify these processes. An even more eye-opening statistic from Gartner is that by the end of next year, more than 70 percent of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application.

These statistics would lead to the astounding conclusion that a gamified service or tool will be as important as Face-book, Twitter or YouTube within a given marketing strategy.

How does gamification help the brand?

By "gamifying" a service or creating a game for a brand, marketers encourage a continued interaction with their brand that can also lead to modifying behaviors. Gamification can be applied to things as simple as surveys and as large as the full execution of the customer's service interaction. In order to have a positive effect on a brand, the important mechanics are not necessarily about the promotion the game is tied to, but more about the experience created by the game.

Well-designed gamification projects create an engaging user experience, greater brand loyalty and higher customer satisfaction rates. However, a poorly executed gamification project can do irreparable damage to a brand's image.

Which banks are already "gamifying" their services?

Well, a lot of them.

PNC's Punch the Pig app allows users to "punch" a virtual piggy bank to transfer money from their spending account to their savings account (www.pncvirtualwallet.com/features/#punchthepig).

Barclays in the United Kingdom put together a free, online money management game built around an interactive virtual city. The game, which is now dated, allowed users to go through levels as they mastered life lessons or made positive financial decisions.

Other banks are activating their customer bases using Foursquare by rewarding users for making frequent branch visits.

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