April 25, 2012
How To

Gamification: 6 tactics for B2B marketers

SUMMARY: Gamification is a fun marketing channel, but it's really just for consumer marketers. Right?

Not so fast. B2B marketers have many opportunities to take advantage of with gamification. This how-to article includes two gamification experts who provide six tactics on B2B gamification applications.

The topics covered include motivating employees, getting Sales to engage with the CRM, driving online community engagement, driving website engagement for lead nurturing, and appealing Gen Y. One key takeaway: gamification is not about the games -- it's about measuring and motivating.
by David Kirkpatrick, Reporter

Gamification is one of those hot, emerging areas in marketing, along with mobile and the constantly shifting universe of social media platforms -- Pinterest, anyone?

Many marketers perceive gamification marketing as something for consumer marketers, but not for their B2B counterparts.

While consumer efforts in gamification currently represent the majority of the market, according to Bunchball, a gamification company behind many campaigns across different industries and business sectors, gamification is something that B2B marketers should not ignore.

What is gamification?

W. Jeffrey Rice, Senior Research Analyst, MECLABS (the parent company of MarketingSherpa), provided this answer: "Commonly gamification is referred to as applying game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more engaging. However, I like Gabe Zichermann’s definition of placing the focus on solving problems -- ‘Gamification is a dynamic and exciting industry that brings together game mechanics and marketing to create engagement and solve problems.""

Rice added, "In our 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Survey, we asked ‘What new developments will most affect your email marketing program in the next 12 months?’ Fourteen percent of software or SaaS organizations reported the gamification of their marketing programs. Survey participants shared their intrigue with comments like this one, ‘We are starting to experiment with gamification and expect this to help bring our prospects back to our website more often.’"

For this how-to article, we spoke with Rajat Paharia, founder and Chief Product Officer, Bunchball, and he provided a number of actionable tips and tactics for B2B gamification -- from motivating employees to increasing website engagement.

Paharia suggested this definition, "Gamification leverages the techniques that game designers have used for years -- goal setting, real-time feedback, transparency, competition, teams, etcetera -- to motivate and engage customers and employees."

We also reached out to Mario Herger, Senior Innovation Strategist, SAP, who provided insights from his gamification research, as well as a powerful tactic for gamifying an online user community.

Why implement a gamification campaign?

"Gen Y has grown up with the language and metaphors of games, including competition and real-time feedback, goal setting, etcetera," said Paharia. "They’re expecting that in the workplace, and that is driving change in the workplace, not only for (Gen Y), but for everybody."

He said gamification isn’t about the games.

"Forget about games," explained Paharia, "It’s about measuring and motivating. It’s about giving people challenges or missions to accomplish, tracking the progress, giving them status, and giving them reward."

He said today’s workplace is full of automated systems that can track and reward, and gamification is a way to harness that and create a more fun workplace at the same time.

Tactic #1. Drive online community engagement

If you offer an online community, you want that community to be active. Gamifying the experience can help drive that engagement.

Herger described how SAP uses gamification to accomplish this goal.

SAP has a community network with 2.5 million users including 55,000 SAP employees and representatives from its 109,000 corporate customers. All participants share information and answer questions about SAP products and services, repost the most vital questions, and even edit FAQs for different topic areas.

"That means the majority of the content, the majority of the responses is actually happening by our customers," stated Herger. "Those people are popping up as leaders in the area."

He said SAP views the online community as a "tremendous marketing instrument" and added that when community members criticize SAP in some manner, typically other customers -- rather than SAP employees -- jump in with an answer to the problem and help solve the issue with the complaining user.

To gamify the community, SAP looks at how users are helping other users along with social sharing of community threads of particular importance. Solving typical user problems, commenting on certain products or issues, reposting, answering questions, and overall activity are all desired goals.

The reward for community users is to become an "expert" in different areas. Experts enjoy a certain status in the online community when they share information or answer a question.

The SAP online community is an example of gamification that Herger calls an "intrinsic" motivator, or reward, because it is essentially only a badge or signifier of status. He describes a reward like cash, prizes or some other tangible item like special access to an executive as an "extrinsic" reward.

Tactic #2. Determine the reward

A good place to start with any gamification campaign is determining the reward.

"The critical part (of a gamification campaign) is to figure out, ‘What is the meaningful reward that I would like to give to people?’" Paharia said.

He continued, "That can be a number of things. It can be dollars, or iPads and golf clubs. It can even be just status in a community."

Here is a short list of possible rewards:
  • Cash

  • Products

  • Community status in the form of a badge, such as identifying the winner as an "expert"

  • Early access to content

  • VIP status at events

  • One-on-one time with executives

Like Paharia mentioned, what is important is finding out what sort of reward will best drive gamification participation.

Herger’s research has found that good game design trumps prizes in productivity games. You want the participants to continue playing the game. For example, if the game involves an unlock code for the next challenge, provide that code to all players, not just the top performers.

Tactic #3. Motivate employees

One area where gamification has proven successful with B2B companies is in motivating employees to take particular actions, such as becoming active on social networks or continuing job training.

Paharia provided an example of a client, a distributed call center company, with more than 20,000 call center independent agents who all work from home with calls routed to them over the Internet.

Because of this set-up, the company has what Paharia described as a "distributed community of workers," and the client’s challenge was to motivate these home-based workers to go through training to be able to handle calls from a wider range of the company’s customers. It also wanted to get new agents onboard quickly to begin taking calls.

The call center has a corporate intranet for training, and the solution was to gamify the learning experience for the agents to encourage training. The rewards for this program include placement on leaderboards, recognition within the agents’ community, and an improved reputation among colleagues.

The company also looked at all the metrics it collects on these independent agents, such as:
  • Call time

  • Upsell volume

  • Customer satisfaction

  • Attendance

  • Seniority

The call center then created a game environment with those metrics as well to have the employees compete on their key performance indicators (KPIs).

This effort has produced the following results:
  • 15% reduction in call time

  • Improvement in sales of 8-12% among some of the agents

  • 80% adoption rate in the first week of the program with users outperforming non-users by 23% across the KPIs, and 9% higher customer satisfaction rating for users

Herger’s research has found this type of employee motivation is effective in gamification.

On his website, Enterprise-Gamification.com, he said, "Games tied to organizational citizenship -- those that motivate individuals to enhance or acquire skills by doing things like mentoring or cleaning out the coffeepot at work -- are more successful than those that might reward people for their established day-to-day responsibilities."

Tactic #4. Create website engagement

B2B lead nurturing is all about getting the prospective customer to engage with your company through a number of channels, but the key engagement is with the website. The prospect’s activity can be tracked and scored for visiting certain pages and consuming certain content.

Often, there is a progression of engagement that best describes a fully sales-qualified lead, and gamifying the website experience for that lead can help drive them to follow that progression.

Paharia said, "You’re a marketing website for an enterprise company that’s selling to other companies, and people are coming to your website. How do they learn about your product?"

He continued, "What if you gave them a set of missions to do? Download the whitepaper. Watch the product video, and answer this little quiz."

And offer an incentive, like entering prospects into a drawing, or offer a prize, such as a product add-on, for everyone that completes certain lead nurturing and qualification steps.

"The idea of turning that experience of passive surfing through the website and giving people a mission, a goal to accomplish, it’s very powerful. People love having goals," explained Paharia.

Tactic #5. Get Sales to interact with the CRM

The data in the CRM is most valuable when the sales team is highly engaged and entering correct information into all the fields. The challenge is getting those sales reps to see the value in continuing to fully tracks leads all the way to a closed deal, and then get them to take the time to actively utilize the CRM.

Gamifying the process is a way to motivate Sales to get that quality data into the CRM so both Sales and Marketing can track those leads to the point they become a customer.

Paharia said anything that is trackable within the CRM can be gamified.

He offered a few ideas for point scoring:
  • Close on opportunities worth more than $100,000

  • Hit 100% of quota in the first six weeks

  • Engage in activity within internal social media platform

Reaching these goals earns sales reps points, and the rewards can be anything that most motivates the team members -- golf clubs, iPads, etc. Paharia said these rewards can come from the company, or even its partners, and one way to present them is through some sort of catalog.

He suggested for this type of gamification to have levels, where everyone starts at level one. You can even offer missions to accomplish such as close $1 million in business, or close $500,000 in a quarter, or whatever goals work within the framework of your company.

Hitting these missions would lead to larger rewards. Paharia added that the missions could be specific for different roles in the company such as field sales, corporate sales and lead generation.

Paharia also suggested even creating individual goals and team goals with teams broken down by geographic region, job title or job roles.

"You get these personalized missions that everybody has, and then you have the teams," he stated. "People love competing and collaborating and being part of something bigger. Nobody wants to be the one ruining the team (effort)."

The difference between this gamification program and the typical sales rewards programs is it’s tied to entering data into the CRM to provide both Marketing and Sales visibility of leads and how they move through the pipeline.

Tactic #6. Avoid "over gaming"

Herger said, "Caution against the temptation to run games constantly."
The issue is you can "over game" people because it does take up their discretionary time. Anyone who has lost a half day to Angry Birds can attest to that. Even if the games are productive, they do take time out of the day.

One suggestion is to run gamification efforts in phases of two or three weeks followed with a break to allow for recovery time.

If you found this case study useful, you can sign up for our free weekly B2B marketing newsletter, and if the gamification topic interests you be sure to check out next week’s newsletter article featuring a brand-side marketer’s gamification campaign.





MarketingSherpa's 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report

Related Resources

Serious Play Conference 2011: Microsoft's 'Productivity Games' (via Gamasutra)

Why Gamification is the exact opposite of what you think it is (via Bunchball’s Social @ Work blog)

How Gamification Fuels the Social Enterprise (via SocialNetwork)

Latest Game Theory: Mixing Work and Play (via Wall Street Journal)

Not All Fun and Games: One Call Center's Performance Success through Gamification (via Social Media Today)

B2B Gamification: Bold strategy in conservative industry increased website visits 108.5%

Improve Your Marketing

Join our thousands of weekly case study readers.

Enter your email below to receive MarketingSherpa news, updates, and promotions:

Note: Already a subscriber? Want to add a subscription?
Click Here to Manage Subscriptions