The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. Anyone who has ever competed knows how seductive it can be, how addictive. But competition doesn’t happen only on the football field, the basketball court, or from behind the gaming console. It can be found everywhere from the classroom to the boardroom. 

And now, more than ever, you use that human instinct for competition to the advantage of your business. Gamification is turning out to be a powerful tool to help small businesses attract new customers and keep the existing ones coming back for more! Read on to learn the most effective strategies in gamification for your business!

An Experience to Remember

The ever-expanding digital marketplace means that customers now have virtually unlimited buying choices. To survive in the face of seemingly endless global competition, it’s essential for your business to stand out. This is especially true for businesses that operate exclusively online, as they don’t have the luxury of offering their customers a unique and engaging face-to-face experience.

You can’t offer them doorbusters to get them to walk in. You can’t ply them with treats to get them to linger and browse for a while. You can’t let them physically touch, hear, smell, or feel the product before they buy it. Instead, you have to find other ways to offer them the kind of immersive and personalized experience that online shoppers require if you’re going to motivate them to click through your pages and actually convert from browser to buyer.

Eyes on the Prize

Gamification is all about competitive play, so if you’re going to make the best use of gamification, then you need to know who your customer is and what they like. Developing a strong social media presence for your business is a fantastic way to do this because it helps you to interact with your target customers in real-time, and to watch how your customers interact with each other. You can use gamification to host trivia and other simple games on your website and social media pages. You might even hold a competition or two! This will inspire some healthy rivalry among your customers and that’s a great way to keep them coming back to your sites!

Monitoring your customers’ posts on your business’s social media pages can also give you an immediate sense of how they feel about a certain product or service, as well as what sorts of topics interest your customers beyond your product line. For example, maybe you’ve noticed that someone posted a comment on your site about liking Dave Matthews Band and that the post generated a lot of comments and likes from your customers. Well, there’s a great opportunity for some business promotion!

You could do this in any number of ways. For instance, you might hold an online drawing for free DMB tickets and give your customers a chance to enter the drawing one time for every day they visit your company’s website. The more often they visit, the more chances they have to win! And what will they find when they visit your site? Why, eye-catching promotions and highlights of your best products and services, of course! And if you can tie that into the contest itself, all the better!

Lovin’ the Loyalty

Another terrific technique for harnessing the power of gamification is to create loyalty and referral bonus programs. Customers can accumulate points for every purchase, every new customer they bring to your store, or every visit to your company’s website or social media pages. 

Once customers reach a certain number of points, they can cash them in for free products, merchandise from participating partners, or gift cards. Or they can choose to keep accumulating points for even better swag down the line! Best of all, you can create a leaderboard allowing customers to see where they rank, either against their fellow shoppers or their own past performances. Again, this will tweak the competitive instinct we all have, even as it inspires customers to keep browsing, referring, and buying!

The Takeaway

In an increasingly crowded global marketplace, it’s harder than ever to make your company stand out from the competition. This is especially true for online businesses trying to capture their customers’ interests and keep them coming back, all without the benefit of face-to-face engagement.

As significant as these challenges are, though, gamification is an awesome way to overcome them. Gamification allows small online business owners to capitalize on the human thirst for competition to win new customers and keep established ones. 

Online games and contests will pique your customers’ interest and motivate them to keep coming back to your website and social media pages. Loyalty and referral programs will motivate your customers to shop, to browse, and to spread the word about your business and all the amazing products and services it offers!