Around one in four internet users use an ad blocker. As many as 90% skip pre-roll ads. Over half (55%) ignore marketing emails due to inbox overload. Nearly three out of four (74%) social media users say they’re tired of ads on the platform.

People are about as resistant to advertising as they’ve ever been right now. From banner blindness to ad fatigue, marketers are really up against it and need to find new ways to engage their prospects.

Here at Q Content, we’ve had great success using gamification to help our clients engage otherwise tricky-to-reach audiences. So, what is gamification exactly, and how can it be used in the B2B context?

What is gamification?

Essentially, it involves using game-style or interactive techniques as a means to boost engagement. At times over the past decade it looked like gamification was going to become an all-conquering marketing tactic. In 2015, Gartner predicted that “by 2016, gamified strategies will become standard practice for driving brand engagement and fostering consumer loyalty.”

2016 was clearly an optimistic prediction, but the thinking behind it was sound. Done well, gamification can drive specific behaviours and motivate players to perform tasks that require a lot of effort or time and would be impossible in non-gamified environments.

It’s fairly easy to come up with B2C examples of gamification marketing in action. One of the most successful and well-known examples is the McDonald’s Monopoly campaign, where diners collect game pieces from menu items and trade them in for prizes. The game first ran in the U.S. in 1987 and has since been used worldwide. Even airline points systems can be considered an example of gamification in action.

Yet despite the success in the B2C space, it’s almost impossible to come up with examples of gamification in B2B marketing, which too often relies on the safe option. While there’s certainly a place for the tried and trusted (especially if it’s been proven to deliver results), gamification remains criminally underused, leaving untapped potential for B2B marketers looking to break the mould or give a boost to declining engagement.

Why gamification hasn’t taken off in B2B, and why it should

Most marketing teams don’t have ready access to game developers, and many assume that bringing in an external team will prove to be prohibitively expensive. And, as with any new innovation, there’s always the fear that the investment will miss the mark with customers. In short, it’s considered too much of a risk.

However, with traditional B2B marketing methods increasingly ineffective when used in isolation, there are fewer better ways to wrestle back the attention of your audience than gamification (particularly if you’re looking to capture customer/buyer data and drive actions).

Get it right and gamification can also provide a platform for building brand awareness, more complete databases and, crucially, relationships with buyers. It has the power to differentiate your brand and humanise it – something that isn’t always easy to do when you’re, say, a SaaS platform or an accounting software provider.

In a report by SNIPP, gamification increased a brand’s client engagement by 47%, brand loyalty by 22%, and brand awareness by 15%.

Case Study: Paragon Customer Communications – Persona Pix

We recently worked with Paragon Customer Communications – the leading digital customer communications specialist in the UK – on a gamification campaign which sought to promote the message that defining, segmenting, and understanding a customer base is crucial for developing successful customer experience and management.

Not a particularly sexy message to try and push. Paragon knew this, so turned to gamification to make it more palatable and engaging.

Inspired by the classic card game, Top Trumps, we developed Persona Pix, a fun web-based card game that encourages players to think differently about their customers.

The game encouraged players to think about the factors that influence the success or failure of customer communications, and start considering why a more intelligent use of customer data is important for communications preferences.

Check out some of the character cards, plus more information on the campaign, here.

How to get it right

The first thing is to recognise that gamification isn’t appropriate for everything. However, it’s perfect for building awareness of a product or service and sparking that initial interest in buyers.

Your game should just be one element of your content marketing strategy, sat alongside a suite of promotional and supporting assets that might include an email campaign and a flow of content (from blogs, to whitepapers, to videos) that guides customers through the sales journey.

In terms of game development itself, our advice would be to have clear objectives in mind (make sure the game isn’t too sales focused or no one will play it!), avoid including too many design elements or game mechanics (keep things simple), and to align with formats that people are familiar with (e.g. the McDonald’s Monopoly).

Ready to work elements of gamification into your strategy? Q Content can work with you to develop an approach that captures the imagination of your audience, injecting your content strategy with some active marketing that builds awareness and drives engagement.

Email us today on info@qcontent.co.uk and we’d be happy to set up a meeting to talk through ideas and concepts.

James L'Esteve

June 9, 2022