There are many benefits of bringing moments of play to your store. Before we get into the details, here’s the broad list of benefits:
- Customer engagement
- Technology in-store
- Dwell time
- Interaction leads to retention
- Data gathering
- Positive experiences
- Rewards encourage loyalty
- Brand awareness
Why is customer engagement important? Customer engagement is really about trying to personally connect with your customers: to see and to be seen.
For customers, engagement means more than just purchasing something; it means taking an action, establishing a connection, and getting closer to your brand. This could take the form of leaving a review, answering a survey, downloading a guide, entering a competition or connecting with you on social media.
Your most-engaged customers are typically your fans. They’re the people that love your business and will go out of their way to avoid your rivals. According to Gallup, your fully engaged customers represent a 23% share of profitability, revenue and relationship growth compared to your average customer.
If fully engaged customers are your most valuable audience, how you can move more of your average customers into the engaged group? What does it take to encourage greater engagement?
Most advertising is static and passive. Messages are broadcast at people and we hope that they absorb some of the content. Advertisers try to overcome this by using techniques such as unresolved questions or visual metaphors that nudge the viewer into providing the answer. And while these techniques are effective, they can never rival dynamic content that allows consumers to play a part in the action.
Interactive content draws people into your brand story and gets them to take part. Games can activate parts of the brain that static ads never can. Numerous studies have shown that playing games activates the pleasure centres of the brain (nucleus accumbens, amygdala, orbitofrontal cortex), and causes an increase in dopamine release.
Bringing technology into your stores offers many benefits, but the challenge is how to deploy technology in a way that fits your brand and meets a customer need. With gamified experiences, you can get the data-harvesting potential of technology, as well as the brand-building and customer engagement benefits, in a form that customers value.
The future of retail may be owned by organisations that can blend the two spheres of activity, and blur the lines between digital and physical retail.
Deploying gamified experiences on in-store kiosks is a way to grab customers’ attention in a way that your app or website never can. While many branded apps are lost and forgotten in app stores (and rarely downloaded) our own in-store games get millions of interactions each day.
Procter & Gamble’s brand chief, Mark Pritchard, recently discussed the performance of their online ads, which can get average viewing times as low as 1.7 seconds. Although P&G’s approach to resolving this was to create super-short videos, with the message front-loaded into the first two seconds, this is a useful reminder of the difficulty of getting the attention of people online.
Banner ads, pop-ups and videos tend to appear when people have the least time; at the moment they’re trying to complete an action. It’s not surprising that people skip ads – or just ignore them – when they’re trying to book a holiday, find information or make a purchase. Online ads rarely appear when we want a distraction.
Brands and retailers can get very different results by using in-store gamified experiences. Instead of trying to interrupt a customer journey to broadcast a message, you can give people a welcome distraction when they have a moment to spare. With gamified experiences, you can stop trying to push your message and start inviting people to play.
Interaction helps people remember your brand
Broadcasting your messages can be helpful, but it doesn’t compare to the power of getting people to participate. This idea is older than Confucius (ca 2500 years old) who wrote “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
More recently, countless studies prove that people learn more effectively when there is a practical, interactive component to their learning experience. If you really want someone to learn, understand and recall something, simply giving them information is not enough. You need to engage learners, to make them interact, and to make them part of the story. Otherwise, they are much less likely to recall your message.
Researchers at the University of Iowa found that people remember less of what they hear, compared to things they touch and see. And in the 1960s, Edgar Dale created a well-known model to explain the effects of different learning styles, which suggests that experiential learning is far more powerful than reading a book or listening to a lecture.
It’s very difficult to delight your customers without knowing a lot about them. But how do you gather data about the needs and interests of your customers? Traditional customer research methods capture customer views after the moment of purchase, so the results never capture the live mood of the customer. Instead, we know how customers feel thirty minutes or thirty days after they made a purchase.
In-store gamified experiences can capture the mood of customers in-the-moment, while they’re still in the store. This makes the data more accurate and more reliable as a driver of business strategy.
Positive customer experiences
Small moments of magic can help you create strong bonds with your customers. Giving people a game to play can make customers feel more favourable towards your brand – particularly if the game concludes with a small gift or a personalised reward. Such gestures cost very little to give but can have a significant impact on how customers feel about our brands.
Providing a game is a small way to surprise customers, and to build on your reputation as a forward-thinking retailer and a destination worth visiting.
Rewards drive loyalty
Your gamified experience can include a reward component so that customers who complete a task – or win the game – are rewarded with a voucher or custom content. By closing the experience with a gift, customers are more likely to feel positive about your brand, and more likely to choose to return.
The gamified experience can be linked to your loyalty programme or used to encourage sign-ups. For example, you might give customers a prize of points in your loyalty programme, which they can claim by registering, or signing in to their account (which could be simplified by scanning membership cards).
There are endless ways to reward customers for taking part in the game and using this activity to build stronger relationships with your customers.
There are few more powerful ways to get people to think about your brand than with an interactive experience. The strength of gamified experiences is that your customers willingly choose to interact because they relish the challenge. Instead of trying to coerce customers into something they reluctantly complete, gamified experiences use the language of play to draw people in. Customers are determined to complete the game or win the round – and of course, they may relish the distraction if they’re waiting for a friend or a shop assistant.
This means that gamified experiences create many positive associations, and are therefore prime real estate for brand messages. Customers then feel more warmly about your brand because you’ve given them an experience they enjoyed.
The interactive, engaging nature of gamified experiences has another advantage: messages that you weave into the experience are more likely to be understood and absorbed because they aren’t simply being broadcast; your customer is playing a part in your brand story.
In-store experiences like these have the added benefit of being in the right place at the right time. After having a taste of your brand, customers can find your products and experience the real thing.