How to use gamification to boost sales and engagement

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When you sell a product, the biggest challenge is engaging your customer and making them want to buy from you. Without that, there’s little to stop them deciding not to make a purchase — or even worse, heading straight to your competitor. In a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, researchers found that 95% of our decisions to buy a product take place subconsciously. Or, to put it another way, we buy based on our emotional response.

What if there was a way to tap into that huge sales potential by making the sales process fun and potentially rewarding? In fact, there is a way — and it’s called gamification.

What is gamification?

Gamification is the process of applying elements typically found in a game, such as point-scoring and winning, to other activities. Based on the desire of individuals to achieve success, the concept of gamification initially gained traction through web apps such as Habitica, which lets users gamify their lives. Based on the premise of reinforcing positive behaviours by rewarding them, users (or players) can earn points, level up and purchase pets, spells and more powerful tools.

Using gamification in a business takes this one step further. Instead of setting goals your customer wants to achieve, you set them a goal you want them to achieve — in most cases, buying your product. The chance of earning a reward acts as an incentive for customers to “play the game”, which not only increases your sales but allows your customer to associate your business with fun and reward.

How it works

Lucky Cycle is a game that businesses are adding to their checkout. All you need to do is set up a minimum spend (we recommend a minimum of £10) and let Lucky Cycle do the rest for you. Once the transaction is complete, customers will be presented with a slot machine they can spin — and if they win, they get their entire basket for free!

It might sound counter-productive to give away free products to one in every 20 who buy from you, but it could actually make you plenty of profit. The key is to set a minimum spend before customers are eligible for their lucky spin. This gives buyers the incentive to spend a little bit more if they’re just below the threshold and, over time, these purchases add up, more than making up the cost of the occasional basket you give away.

The biggest advantage of Lucky Cycle is that it allows you to customise your terms. If you want to run it on a trial basis to see if it works for your business but are worried about your bottom line, consider increasing the odds of winning or upping the minimum spend.

Using social media

Gamifying your checkout doesn’t just increase sales, it can also drive engagement and traffic to your website. With Lucky Cycle, if players lose, they get the opportunity to earn a free spin by sharing on social media (including Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and via email). Not only does this make customers feel valued — especially repeat customers who are more likely to win — but it acts as a way of getting people to talk about your business, because you’re doing something innovative that makes shopping less of a chore for consumers.

Games include scratch cards, wheel spins and slot machines (as seen on Electric Tobacconist). It’s no surprise that clients such as PayPal and Clinique are fans. Clients can expect a 30% increase in click through rate, a 15% increase in conversions and a 25% increase in basket size.

Don’t run an e-commerce business? There’s no reason why you still can’t take advantage of gamification to boost your business. Implement a reward scheme to give loyal customers a discount if they purchase from you a number of times. If you want to attract new customers, provide instant gratification by offering a small discount if customers leave a review or refer you to their friends. The only question left to ask is: are you ready to gamify your sales?

Pascal Culverhouse is the Founder and Managing Director of Electric Tobacconist Ltd, UK’s largest supplier of e-cigarettes and e-liquids, with services in the US and the UK.