How To Use Gamification To Build Brand Loyalty

By Rodney Laws | Marketing

Nov 27

Any modern business that isn’t investing heavily in brand loyalty is leaving revenue on the table.

In a time of intense competition and narrow margins, relying on the ability to bring in new prospects is a huge mistake. When leads start to dry up — and they always do — the results are inevitably catastrophic. But loyal customers will always be there to support you.

There are various viable approaches to earning brand loyalty, though, so it isn’t as simple as following a set formula that will compel your customers to stick around. You need to decide which tactics are suitable for your business in particular, and come up with a decent plan for implementing them effectively.

In this post, we’re going to look at one tactic in particular: namely gamification. This is the process of drawing upon game-design principles to create enhanced customer experiences that are significantly more engaging and can encourage users to stick around for longer. Enough preamble: let’s go through some core tips for using it to your advantage.

Make your user interface optimally easy

One key ingredient of gamification is animated feedback following actions. 

In a game, after all, the player needs to know the consequences of everything they do so they don’t waste time and effort trying tactics that won’t work. This is also important for customer experience. When you hover over a button, something should indicate that clicking it will have an effect. When there’s a field that needs to be filled in, it’s standard to highlight it in a red hue to make it more noticeable.

By reviewing the entirety of your website’s user interface, you can pick out the parts where it’s anything less than abundantly clear what actions need to be taken, and you can draw upon the game design playbook to make improvements that will keep users moving in the right direction. Remember that your animations and tweaks don’t need to be showy — just useful.

Keep people updated on order progress

Just as your site should indicate when actions have been taken, it should also keep customers updated on order progress. The less information you provide, the more probable it will be that your customers will become frustrated with your store. 

Consider the remarkable precedent set by other top brands that draw upon mobile apps to provide rich updates. Often, consumers know everything about their product’s journey — from the moment their order is received, to when it is dispatched from the warehouse, to the exact time it will arrive by courier at their doorstep. 

Just as a game questline needs clear steps, your order process needs distinct parts that can be checked off to keep the customer informed. In addition to helping achieve and maintain loyalty, this will significantly reduce your need to provide customer support: if someone can see exactly where their order is in the fulfilment process, they won’t need to reach out to you.

Present the purchase thresholds for rewards

Assuming you have a comprehensive customer loyalty system in place (you certainly should), it’s worth thinking about how clearly it functions. Do you provide rewards on an ad-hoc basis, deciding when a customer has been with you for long enough? Do you have a tier system in place somewhere but communicate it poorly? Neither approach is ideal.

Instead, you should not only have a clear set of reward tiers, but you should also provide progress on the thresholds from the very first purchase. 

If a customer can see every time they open their account exactly how far they are from earning admission to the next loyalty tier, it’ll push them to keep spending and reach that milestone — and it’ll be great for driving referrals.

Add elements of customer comparison

Why do customers want to hit reward tiers? For the rewards, of course (they can be quite substantial for big customers), and for the simple dopamine hits of achieving those minor goals.

But there’s another factor that should be taken into account: competitive drive. We all compare ourselves to our peers, after all, and it can be used to motivate us to act.

Video games have high scores and leadership boards so everyone knows which players are the best. While you shouldn’t take things that far, you should think about including statistics pertaining to customer habits: for example, you could tell a particular customer that they’re the biggest buyer of a particular item, and give them a discount as a reward. And if you told the second-biggest buyer of that item, you might motivate them to go for the top spot.

These are just some of the ways in which you can use elements of gamification to earn and maintain brand loyalty. After all, gamification is such a rich subject that there are so many more to be found. Start with these tactics and see how you get on.