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Gamification: Finding 'softer' ways to incentivize behavior

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Kris Duggan is co-founder and chief strategy officer of Badgeville Inc., which develops gamification opportunities for companies. Badgeville, which was founded in 2010 and has 100 employees, has already raised $40 million in capital through three rounds of financing and counts among its clients Deloitte, eBay Inc., EMC Corp., Oracle Corp. and Samsung Group. Duggan sat down with Social Media Marketer to discuss the role of gamification in marketing. Social Media Marketer: Gamification is often thought of as a common ingredient in social engagement. How else is it being used today? Kris Duggan: When the company started, it was all about engagement. It consisted of techniques coming out of social gaming, and in the beginning was used to address enterprise software being purchased but not utilized to its fullest extent. According to Forrester Research there has been $1 trillion spent on software over the past five years and less than 50% of it is being used. If you have an investment in software and want to drive uptake, you can use gamification as an insurance policy to get people using it. Social Media Marketer: So a company might create a game where employees would win points for using a software solution? Duggan: Some tools might guide people to onboard the new software, and as they complete tasks or complete a challenge, they can earn points. And as you do those things, you're guided to learn what the software can do. It also can be earning a reputation inside your team as to who is the best at it. But gamification is a loaded term. Some people think it's competition, but most of the time making things too competitive has a negative impact on motivation. I'm a full believer in transparency and accountability, but you have to be careful in how you visualize that back to the team. Social Media Marketer: Of course, sales reps are often driven by competition, correct? Duggan: If it has to be a competitive game, it's maybe better to have teams competing—say on a regional basis—or to develop personal goals. The best definition of gamification is tapping into human psychology of what truly motivates people. If you get a raise tomorrow, you may not work harder. Better motivators are whether you feel successful, feel recognized, are growing and making progress. Gamification offers tools to realize those experiences. It can reinforce the right inputs to drive the right outputs. Social Media Marketer: Can you give us an example? Duggan: We have a Salesforce.com connector called Big Game Hunter. At the beginning of the quarter, you start out as a chicken hunter, and nobody wants to be a chicken hunter. Through closing larger opportunities eventually you can become a whale hunter. What's interesting is that the game doesn't change the top performers; they'll always be whale hunters, and the chicken hunters will be chicken hunters, although it may surface them more quickly. But for the salespeople in the middle, you can change their behavior and model it on higher performers, showing them what it can mean. Social Media Marketer: What about gamification for more traditional marketing purposes? Duggan: Loyalty is fundamentally changing, and that's forcing marketers to think differently. Attention spans are decreasing, options are increasing and you only have one shot to give a delightful experience. Previously a customer might earn an incentive, say a discount, for a behavior, which was making a purchase. Now, the behaviors we want customers to make are things like recommending, sharing or reviewing a product. Samsung's challenge, by the way, has been that they don't have an end-user relationship with buyers; its products are sold through stores like Best Buy. So we created Samsung Nation to reward such behaviors as registering products, writing reviews, tweeting, “liking” or sharing products with friends. And we reward those behaviors mostly with purely virtual things, like points and badges. But we also gave away a TV to the person who tweeted the most. Autodesk has a trial process for its software. They found that if they gave virtual rewards during the trial process, the prospect would be more likely to buy the product. That's the real takeaway—expecting more behaviors from customers and employees, using rewards like status, and expertise and reputation—that matters to people.
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