Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Volkswagen BlueMotion Roulette

How do you make a technical, abstract product benefit interesting? Fuel efficiency is not something you can get people particularly excited about to find out more.
Volkswagen did it by turning the entire experience into a roulette game; getting people to guess how far the new
Volkswagen Golf BlueMotion will run on one full tank of gas. The winner gets to win a car. As each person could only make one guess, participants had to find out more about the car, technology and route in the process, making it an absolutely engaging experience.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Driving User Engagement Through Gamification

Gamification is a buzzword you might have started hearing lately. It refers to the use of game play mechanics in non-game scenarios and applications, in particular consumer web and mobile sites as a means to encourage users to engage with the site or platform in specific desired behaviours.

Gamification or game-based marketing works well in this age of information fatigue, where users are constantly bombarded with an overload of information, product pushing and marketing messages from a variety of different media sources.

Instead of purely pushing website or mobile content and expecting users to consume, engage and act in the desired outcomes, users now become players. If they perform certain tasks, such as commenting on articles, emailing links to friends, checking in to specific locations, they win points and badges and compete with others within the same ecosystem which helps extend the longevity of the engagement by making it much more addictive.

Game-based marketing allows brands the ability to build in their marketing content into the game flow and user journey and leverage on mechanisms such as leader boards, points, badges and prizes to encourage and get users to perform specific tasks such as sharing the content with friends, providing feedback (rate, like) or submitting content that would be beneficial to the brand.

Gamification in Loyalty Programs

The business of engendering online loyalty and engagement through gaming techniques is not new – rewards programs for airlines, hotels and credit cards have been using game mechanics to drive sustained engagement and loyalty with consumers for a long time. Typically airline customers enroll in programs to accumulate frequent flyer miles according to the distance flown on that airline or its partners. These days, there are so many other ways to accumulate miles such as making transactions through co-branded credit cards. When customers hit a certain level, they are rewarded with upgrades, free air travel, airport lounge access and priority bookings. Points can even been redeemed for other goods and services.

In addition, loyalty programs like Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club have multiple membership tiers. Users start with the entry-level green tier and then move up the ladder once they acquire enough travel mileage to meet the next tier’s threshold. Each tier provides additional rewards to customers but more importantly, it is a status symbol or badge for users to display proudly for having achieved an exclusive level that differentiates them from the masses.

In the 2009 film “Up in the Air”, George Clooney plays a man who relishes his perpetual travels and has a personal ambition of being the 7th person in history to collect ten million frequent flyer miles with American Airlines, for which he will receive a special gold emblazoned card with life time privileges.

Most famously, Foursquare gives you badges and rewards in the form of check-in offers plus special offers for “mayors”. Other websites such as LinkedIn (progress bar that subtly urges you to add more details to your profile), GetGlue (offering badges when you review shows) and Groupon (countdown timer for buyers to nab deals before time runs out) all employ gamification to drive user interactions. The list just goes on.

Gamification in Utility

To be effective, gamified applications have to connect something already meaningful to users or wrap themselves in a story that makes it meaningful for them.

To encourage people to get fit, Nike + is a gamified utility that makes running interesting by adding scores, challenges, trophies and competition to what would otherwise just be a self-tracking running application.

Mint.com is an online service that allows users to track and manage their personal finance. It is a gamified system where the “game” is your financial health. New players walk through their financial lives on a digital quest and receive a checkmark for each completed task with the progress tracked on their financial profile. When their profile is complete, they can unlock their player dashboard to see how they are doing and create goals such as getting out of debt, saving up for a new house or vacation.

People love eating and everybody wants to discover where they can get the best food. Enter Foodspotting, the crowdsourced application that allows you to take pictures of food, say what it is, and pin it via geo-location to the restaurant. Like Foursquare, you get points for doing all this and earn badges for tagging certain types of foods in pictures and participating in guides.

Even mundane activities such as doing chores and completing your to-do list can be gamified and made fun and entertaining with applications such as Epic Win and Chore Wars.

Gamification to Drive Campaigns

Game-based marketing can also be applied in short term campaigns to drive a desired user behaviour and engagement.

Two interesting and recent campaigns that incorporate gamification are Mini’s “Getaway Stockholm” and Jimmy Choo’s “To-Catch-a-Choo“.

The Mini

The former is a week long virtual-reality game that requires users to hunt for a virtual Mini with their phones and then play the classic hide and seek game to prevent other potential takers from swiping it. The person with the Virtual Mini at the end of the game wins an actual Mini Countryman.

The latter is a scavenger hunt around London that requires users to try to “catch” a pair of Jimmy Choo sneakers from clues based on where it had “checked in” on Foursquare.

Such social gaming has tremendous viral potential as well as being fun for participants. Both Mini and Jimmy Choo have been smart in creating a game that enables people to build new social circles, introduce the brand and product name into conversations and enhance the value in which the brand is known for within their respective target audience.

Blueprint for Gamification

So how does gamification apply to your brand? One way to look at it is how applying game-based marketing can help make interactions with your customers more engaging by driving participation.

A game by definition is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles. Players opt in to play the game because it has compelling and defined goals and rewards, an established game play (mechanics) and a dynamic feedback system (of points, levels, badges, achievements and leader boards).

As such, the four basic building blocks that create a game system involves developing goals for players, creating rules that limit players and force creativity and interaction, providing a dynamic feedback system for the progress of the players in the game and making the game voluntary.

Before jumping into gamification, brands should consider the following:

- What are the particular behaviours you are trying to reward? Is it for users to peruse, share and/or submit content?

- Understand your reward points system. Define the types of goals, how achievements are rewarded, different types of rewards and leader board mechanics to drive competition.

- Know what will make the game compelling. Just because it is a game does not mean it will be fun. Good game design, mechanics and a well thought out user journey and game flow are some principles that will help make the experience engaging and addictive.

There are many examples of companies currently using game thinking and mechanics to influence and drive behaviour. With more brands leveraging on gamification to engage users, it will not be surprising to see that within the next 5 to 10 years, almost every consumer interaction online and mobile will have some form of game mechanics built into it.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

The LivingSocial Taxi

Living Social has been the lesser known of the daily deals site (especially in Asia) as compared to Groupon.

The company started as a social discovery and cataloging network company that offers  daily deals based on handpicked experiences that can be shared with friends.

Their point of view is to surprise and delight consumers every single day and the company digs deep to deliver this by designing total experiences that delight consumers and bring an adventurous and loyal following to local businesses

This POV is manifested very nicely in the form of the Living Social Taxi where unsuspecting passengers who have hailed the cab have to make a choice—carry on to their original destination, or 'roll the die' and go for an exciting experience.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Balance Urban Dash

New Balance drives in-store visits in NYC with an AR app. Similar execution to the Mini Getaway in Stockholm done late last year.

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Friday, August 05, 2011

Introducing: Layar Vision

Layar's new real-world object recognition protocol will change the way we view and use Augmented Reality

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Speedo Pace Club

Speedo launches an online community and mobile app - i.e. The Nike + for Swimming.

The Speedo Pace Club provides training programs to help all levels of swimmers improve their fitness and stroke technique.Swimmers are able to find swimming pools, track their times, share them with friends, and receive support from a swimmer’s social network within Pace Club. Alongside training is content from the world’s top swimmers that includes tips on training, your diet and an insider’s perspective from the heat of competition.

The Speedo Pace Club has five components.  It lets users form a virtual swim team, via Facebook, helping them connect online for the support, recognition and motivation they need to achieve their swimming goals. It even allows them to give fellow team members a virtual high five, when appropriate. The club will also award virtual swim team members virtual badges and discounts on Speedo merchandise once they reach certain levels of achievement.

Great to see platform type ideas from classic brands.

Check out the site at: http://paceclub.speedousa.com

You can also download the mobile app at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/speedo-pace-club/id448067082?mt=8

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