Managing a gamification approach to ecommerce

managing a gamification approach to ecommerce

Marketing

Jul 18, 2022

Sean McTiernan Editorial Content Writer Talon.One

Sean McTiernan

Editorial Content Writer

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8 minutes to read

With every gamification project, the real work begins after it is launched to the public. You’ve followed your roadmap and are ready to put your new shiny toy in front of some customers (this can really be helped if you use a tool that helps to future proof your development!)

“Nothing is ever so good that it can’t stand a little revision, and nothing is ever so impossible and broken down that a try at fixing it is out of the question.” - Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark

Player feedback and player behaviour can influence games to a huge degree after their release. New tactics that designers couldn’t have predicted are developed, throwing a curveball at the imagined state of play can change a game forever - sometimes literally.

The same can apply to gamification. A full picture will only become clear when your customers start using it. Depending on its complexity and how it has been implemented, it’s possible customers will avoid it for an unforeseen reason, engage with it but in a way that doesn’t encourage sales or even from their own communities to discuss how to get the most of it.

What’s Their Motivation?

Increased engagement is the most straightforward measurement of how well the gamification you’ve implemented is performing. But it’s not enough to simply know whether something is working or not. If it’s successful, what is driving that success? And if not, where is the customer journey breaking down?

Pinpointing this information should involve as little mystery as possible. Both a robust system of metrics and a flexible implementation is essential in ensuring your gamified solution evolves alongside the needs and practises of your customers. This information is invaluable and there needs to be a framework for collecting it right from when the first time these features are available to the public. The concentrated use of your gamified solution at launch can yield valuable insights into how to approach the project long term. 

Patch notes: what kind of support tickets are arising from gamification?

Releasing a feature to the general public will immediately highlight issues no amount of in-house stress testing can uncover. This is not necessarily a bad thing, after all it means people are eager to use your product. In fact, it’s a good reminder to plan for unexpected success as well as glitches, your gamification solution needs to be scalable enough to take full advantage of the kind of exponential growth many businesses have seen almost immediately. However, teething problems will occur and it’s important to track support tickets to prioritise troubleshooting.

Support tickets may also indicate that the issues do not just lie in your technical stack. Poor internal change management can lead to conflicting messaging if in-store employees have not been briefed about promotions.

Or perhaps there’s a UX/UI issue — poor instructions, especially during checkout or as part of a loyalty program, may have led to customer confusion. Are customers trying to redeem expired coupons? Are they not getting the benefits they expected or are they unsure how to redeem them? Just as your approach to gamification must be holistic, so too should the way you troubleshoot any issues that arise. 

Successful gamification may also be affecting other aspects of your business. Unexpected success may strain your fulfilment processes or, in the case of in-store promotions, disrupting foot traffic in physical outlets. Conversely an implementation which doesn’t allow users to opt out could lead to customers unsuccessfully attempting to do business as before while avoiding the gamified aspect of your offering entirely. This is only the beginning of the unexpected behaviour customers can develop. 

Player evolution: what is motivating “cheaters?”

In gamification, since we’re attempting to copy the incentives and mechanics of commercial games, it always pays to consider the lessons learned by game development studios.  

The introduction of an option to purchase in-game points with real-life currency — instead of keeping these as rewards solely for racking up playtime hours — exploded the earning potential of online games for the game developers that got their monetisation right. However some users are so adept at finding exploits in these systems they have effectively turned it into a full-time job. Online shooter Team Fortress began to gamify player consistency by awarding frequent players with random, cosmetic items which could also be purchased with in-game points and traded between users. A time-limited promotion unexpectedly led to Apple earbuds becoming an incredibly high-value object, the scarcity of which the Team Fortress team could not control. The frantic in-game trading of this item eventually led to accusations of the Russian mafia using it for a complex money laundering scheme involving stolen credit card details.

Similarly, many online phishing enterprises, such as scam tech support calls, demand their targets pay them with Apple gift cards due to the ease of resale. Gamified promotions, such as referral bonuses or coupon codes, which are similarly untraceable can also lead to coupon fraud, sometimes on a large scale. 

Having a backend that can track individual codes and redemptions puts a stop to this, allowing you to keep a close eye on misuse of your system. Talon.One’s system is completely auditable, giving you information on every coupon redemption or loyalty point award. 


Customer profile Talon.One

Used in combination with campaign level budgets and other handily configurable guardrails, you can ensure you gamification project stays in the black. 

Long-term customers

Not all unexpected customer behaviour is extreme or negative. Organic Discussion of your loyalty program or gamified app promotions outside of your established channels on communities are usually extremely positive. The customers who are sharing tips on Reddit about how to get the maximum ROI from your loyalty program or gamified offers from brands like Ulta or Palace Clothing are very different from those seeking to exploit loopholes, they’re loyal customers compelled by these brands' approach to promotion. 

For longevity of your gamification, it’s extremely important to monitor behaviour of these power users over time within your system as well as on the wider internet. If they’re concentrating on one aspect of your loyalty program while ignoring another, it’s time to examine if that dynamic can be balanced or if your loyalty program can be streamlined to take advantage of what’s really capturing your customer’s interest. If they’re burning out and leaving the program, perhaps they’re not being given sufficient incentive to stay or perhaps finding the expected level of engagement too intense. 

Holding the attention of long-time customers is just as much of a priority as attracting new people to your brand. 

Talon.One’s Insight Dashboard

Having actionable, measurable data about customer behaviour in your gamification project is how you iterate upon the initial design and arrive at a system that sets you up for success.

Talon.One is set up to easily share information with any Business Intelligence (BI) system you may have, but it also has powerful reporting capabilities you can access from within the Insights dashboard within the Campaign Manager.

Campaign performance Talon.One


By tracking the performance of the campaign, on a number of different levels, you can see if your campaign is performing as expected. With the ability to track loyalty points, number of redemptions and also the currency value of any rewards, it’s a useful tool to see how things are progressing.

For more information on how gamification can help your business, check out our ebook Promotion Gamification: How And Why It Works.

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