Gamification sounds like a made-up word, doesn’t it? It really is a made-up word, in fact — somewhere around 2002 a guy named Nick Pelling came up with the term to describe what his job involved. The idea isn’t a new one, because parents and teachers have been turning chores and learning into games for centuries, but the word is new.
Oxford Dictionaries have this definition of gamification:
The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service: gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun
Now, it’s pretty clear that a lot of things have been taken over by a gamification mentality, and some argue that the trend is passing because people are getting tired of it. I’m not prepared to argue one way or the other because I think it depends on your business, your brand’s compatibility with a particular type of gamification strategy, and most of all your customers.
The thing I want to point out is that turning chores, learning, and other hard stuff into something fun (or at least a little enjoyable) works because it’s always worked. We all have things we like to do and things we don’t like to do, and it makes life easier if we can put something fun into things we don’t like to do. One non-marketing example is turning on your favorite music while you clean the kitchen. What a difference some good music makes!
If you know your customers and have developed some buyer personas, figure out what makes life enjoyable and add an element of that to your online marketing strategy somehow. Generally, this element will be an appropriate form of status, access, power, or stuff. It could be moving to another level, getting points toward a goal, rewards, or input into when a new product is introduced. The way you do it is up to you, but remember the effect is determined by your audience.