Gamification has become a really exciting force in the world of digital marketing. Known primarily for its ability to build brand awareness, engagement and loyalty, gamification also offers a number of advantages for improving your visibility in organic search results.
The use of gamification can be seen as a unique form of content for websites. Content marketing and SEO go hand in hand. Whereas SEO refers more to the technical process of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website, content marketing is more focused on producing valuable content to match these needs. SEO is strategised around content. Without keyword research underpinning page content, for example, your website may be near invisible in search engines.
Using games and gamification techniques can be a real secret weapon to help supercharge your SEO strategy and rank above your competitors. The link building aspect of gamification is central to this, but also the ability to engage new potential customers to your page.
The central advantage of adopting gamification as part of your digital strategy, from an SEO perspective, is the ability to drive high-quality inbound links to your website. More high-quality links are generally a good indicator for Google that your site is a quality resource, and worth ranking for particular keywords. To exemplify this, at Reflect Digital, our Find 50 Football Clubs quiz reached an audience of 86,000 visits over the course of just five weeks, earning high-quality backlinks from Sport Bible, Buzzfeed and Bored Panda.
There are obviously a number of on and off page key ranking factors for SEO, from ensuring you are using title tags correctly, right through to factors such as page speed and mobile usability. Although the Google algorithm is constantly evolving, backlinks remain an important factor in deciding what pages rank. A strong backlink strategy is a good way of growing your website authority and aid your broader ranking efforts. Gamification can provide the hook to drive links to the website, and also drive the individual page authority for particular webpages.
Producing outstanding content, no matter whether it’s a stunning infographic, incredible video footage or an enthralling game that keeps you up all night, is bound to earn links and be shared by the target audience if it is executed properly. A recent example of this is the Monopoly game by McDonald's, which is just coming to an end here in the UK. The game is based on having stickers affixed to food and drink items which offer instant prices such as more free food, a “property” or online codes. The game uses classic gamification techniques such as rewards, point scoring, collaboration, competition and rivalry. To read more about the basics of gamification, read our blog “What is Gamification?”
Despite being played predominantly offline, the McDonalds Monopoly game has attracted a vast amount of coverage and links from authoritative websites including online publications such as The Independent, but also niche websites such as Save The Student and Money Saving Expert. The game is also strategically designed in collaboration with other companies such as NowTV, which creates even more of a buzz.
When producing content, such as games for a gamification campaign, the output needs to be genuinely engaging and tailored to a specific target audience. The fatal error to make with using gamification in your business is to think tactically, rather than strategically.
Producing a game without a particular focus or without identifying linking opportunities from the offset is going to struggle to get traction. Adopting gamification techniques or using a game is one thing, but you need to ensure that you have a comprehensive integrated digital strategy built on strong research and understanding of your target audience.
Ideally, there should be a particular hook for your game. The Reflect Digital 2019 Content Calendar provides some fantastic ideas for marketers. From the National Biscuit Day to the World Emoji Day, there are lots of potential hooks that you could use.
Producing great content that is unique, enticing, and something different from your competitors is the best way to use gamification. One such example is the US Army recruitment game, Americas Army Proving Grounds, which is a gaming platform developed by the US Army in order to boost the number of new, young recruits to the army. Despite being rather controversial, gamification has obviously been successful in targeting the right audience and has played a significant role in attracting thousands of potential new recruits.
Similarly, many of the most successful gamification marketing campaigns, from the Starbucks loyalty programme through to the Magnum Pleasure Hunt, have all focused specifically on how their game, or gamification techniques, fit the needs or desires of a particular segment of their target audience. This is where many gamification campaigns fall flat on their face.
During the game ideation process, understanding which link opportunities would be most relevant to your target audience should feed into the game design and content. This will also make your PR and Outreach a lot easier. The Reflect Digital CEO, Becky Simms, has recently covered this topic in her talk Link Building in a Fortnite at BrightonSEO, which describes how to build and implement the perfect gamification campaign.
Gamification provides a fresh and engaging way for potential new customers to be exposed to your business’ products and services, and encourage them to engage on a deep level with your brand. Having a game with a strong hook is bound to make potential customers curious about your business, which would hopefully lead to a rise in the number of branded searches for your business.
A great example of a well-integrated digital strategy is Victoria’s Secret, who has an app called Pink Nation, which uses gamification to foster loyalty by giving users the opportunity to unlock badges through branded games and looking through brand catalogues. There is a high level of consistency across all platforms from their website, app and social media channels.
On the whole, the link building potential of gamification is the primary benefit for SEO, which can only be achieved by having well-targeted, high quality content. Taking a strategic approach to gamification, looking at how it can be tied into your overall business strategy, and how you can build an organic buzz around your business is key. This content can also play a really instrumental role in exposing the brand to a wider audience and fostering loyalty, which would hopefully drive more branded searches to your website.
Here, at Reflect Digital, we are an award-winning digital marketing agency with a passion for gamification and delivering tangible results for our clients. If you are interested in learning more about how our team can help you create and implement gamification as part of your digital strategy then feel free to get in touch.