The benefits of chatbots are increasingly well-recognised in marketing and beyond, with advantages that include saving both time and resources by optimising operational processes and automating key tasks, alongside creating positive customer experiences.
But the benefits of chatbots go far beyond sheer efficiency: they also provide a high degree of entertainment value, ultimately boosting brand loyalty by making the sales process a fun and an all-round positive experience.
More and more companies are bringing elements of gamification - using psychological triggers to boost player engagement and retention - to their marketing strategy. Chatbots are a natural way to bring gamification to your brand strategy. Read on to find out how!
Creating Immersive Experiences With Chatbots
In this day and age, buyers are bombarded with promotional messages to the point where “ad fatigue” is becoming a real issue for the marketing industry. And while there have never been so many platforms through which to reach out to consumers (social media, email, search, messaging apps, and even traditional press, to cite but a few), an increasingly competitive consumer landscape means that in order to gain attention from buyers, companies are having to offer ever-more engaging and creative customer journeys.
One way to do this is to provide customers with immersive, personalised experiences that truly speak to them. Chatbots have the major advantage of integrating with people’s favorite messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or Viber, thus providing them all the information they need at their fingertips.
The possibility of interacting with customers through the platforms they know and use every day is in itself a huge advantage. All the more so when you throw powerful analytics into the mix, thus providing marketers with valuable insights on what their customers like to engage with through relevant demographic, geographic and behavioral data. At a fraction of the cost of a fully-fledged customer service team, chatbots give customers the impression of being truly taken care of.
Incorporating Game Design into Your Chatbot
Play comes naturally to humans, who use it to develop their cognitive and social skills from an early age through common games such as hide and seek. Video game developers quickly realised that it was possible to capture and retain the attention of users at unprecedented levels by using innate psychological triggers. Gamification has since become the subject of intense research focusing on how game design can be applied to various aspects of our day-to-day lives.
Marketing strategies can incorporate several different degrees of gamification. More sophisticated systems include points systems and loyalty programmes as well as a competitive aspect that incites the user to compete with friends for a higher score. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can incorporate game design into your chatbot:
1. A points system
Many platforms, including Facebook Messenger, allow you to implement a system in which users are rewarded with points for each click. This is the first step towards encouraging users to regularly interact with your bot; the more they interact with your bot, the more points they earn for themselves, where these accumulated points can be exchanged for some form of tangible or intangible reward in return.
If you’ve ever played any form of mobile games, you would have received notification reminders to re-engage you after a period of inactivity. A similar approach can be applied to your chatbot design, in which your bot can remind users to make recurring purchases for necessities and sundries. This is especially useful for industries where purchases are made at regular intervals, think personal care items like contact lenses, shampoo/body wash and tooth paste.
3. Badges and titles
Once the user has gained a certain amount of points, you can award them a fun title or badge to add to their profile, thus creating a sense of reinforcement that incites them to continue engaging with your chatbot.
A next step can be rewarding the user with small prizes, such a discount code or access to premium content. This is a real incentive for the user to continue interacting with your chatbot, while at the same time deepening their relationship with your brand and moving them towards a purchase.
5. Leader Boards
People are naturally incited by competition - either with themselves or others. Take a leaf out of popular language-learning app Duolingo’s book through leader boards that allow them to see how they score compared to their friends and how they’ve progressed over time.
Challenges (“30-day streak”, for example) are a fun and effective way to boost engagement by encouraging users to work towards a certain goal.
7. Surprise users with random, mystery content
Boost engagement by “teasing” special prizes and offers to come, such as discount codes, future challenges and exclusive content. One way of keeping things fresh and exciting for users is to serve up new, random content each time they interact with your bot.
Brand Loyalty Through Chatbots: Making it Work For Your Company
As we’ve seen, a well-thought out gamification plan is a great way to boost all-round customer engagement. You must however have a strong strategy in place to avoid appearing “gimmicky” and ensure your ensure your efforts pay off. Make sure you take the following points into consideration when implementing gamification principles into your chatbot.
Your objectives: consider your end goals of your new strategy and the outcomes you wish to see. At the same time, establish how you will measure those results and which metrics and KPIs you will use to do so.
Your audience: in order for your gamification efforts to really resonate with your base, you have to know what kind of content they are most likely to engage with. Getting to know your audience is key: yet again, strong analytics are essential here.
Your story: novels, films, TV shows and video games all need a strong plot, and interactive online content is no different. Your company’s brand voice should be woven into a story that keeps users coming back for the next installment.
Your social presence: chatbots’ ability to seamlessly integrate users’ favorite social media platforms is a godsend for marketers. Social-friendly game design elements such as badges and leaderboards enable people to share their brand experience, effectively helping create a community around your company.
Consumers are increasingly turning their backs on companies just seeking to sell them “stuff” and looking towards those that offer them truly valuable experiences. A chatbot that streamlines the customer journey is already a great way to do that - one that is entertaining and captivating is even better.