Rewards must also come into consideration, said Gabe Zichermann, editor of Gamification.com and a conference chairman of the Gamification Summit. “You don't want to give a 55-year-old guy a cutsie virtual reward and expect it to work,” he said. “Rewards have to be something that's meaningful to your target audience.”
Every would-be player, Bunchball's Paharia said, considers the rewards carefully before they get started doing anything. If the marketer can't demonstrate that the player will get as much out of the relationship as they put in, they are likely to skip the experience. Increasingly, those rewards don't have to be monetary or even tangible. Something as simple as earning exclusive access to a website or video, or garnering a badge that proclaims the participant as an expert, will work since each, especially in the b-to-b world, can provide a knowledge or career boost, respectively.
Electronics giant Siemens in March 2011 went with bragging rights—with a little fun thrown in—for its own gamified experience, an online game called Plantville. According to the company's press release, Plantville, which asks participants to manage a virtual plant, “enables players to improve the health of their plants by learning about and applying industrial and infrastructure products and solutions from Siemens. Gamers are measured on a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including safety, on-time delivery, quality, energy management and employee satisfaction.” Those players who garner the most points move up on a public leaderboard.
Some companies let colleagues and other gamified participants bestow honors and rewards. At Forrester, for instance, analysts earn badges for ideas that garner the most votes by other employees, Celestre said. “Creating a way for customer collaboration is a good use of gamification as long as it is clear that, if customers come up with good ideas to improve upon a product, the company will actually consider implementing them,” she said.
And it's not just online marketing that's seeing a boost from gamification. Earlier this year, SourceMedia Inc., which publishes American Banker, introduced a mobile game called SuperBanker for attendees of its Best Practices in Retail Financial Services Symposium. During the conference, players could earn points by networking with each other, visiting booths and answering trivia questions. According to the publisher, more than 40% of the more than 500 attendees played the game.
This type of one-off gamified process is what Gartner's Blau calls “Gamification 1.0.” It's successful, but the real test of time will come when companies launch longer-term marketing campaigns.. “Can these companies move beyond this stage from not just the business side but the user side? We think the answer is yes,” he said. “The key is effective design of process, and that usually requires business process experts or a designer-type person—not common processes for regular companies.” It's going to take some skill-building, according to experts.