Games for Business Can Engage Your Audience in New Ways

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Like many others, I'm back from seeing family, and my biggest takeaway, besides the leftovers, is that everyone plays games—video, board, jigsaw, quizzes—especially my two 20-something nephews. People are competitive and like to win.

Okay, no scoop here. But gamification in business—on your website, at events, in emails—makes sense. "If you are doing things traditionally, the world is moving in a different way," said Sindhu Cauveriappa, CEO of SIPA member edCirrus Inc., a company that creates web-based board games for businesses. "[Games are] a great medium for pushing content or helping with compliance."

Here are some recent examples:

1. Gamify potential savings. In an email, United Airlines asks me to guess the extra percentage of miles that I can add by buying miles—it can be up to 75%. It definitely makes me click. If they had just told me in the email, I probably would not have clicked.

2. Stage a game night or session. Here in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian is running Climate Change Game Nights—"winning may not be everything, but it can save the planet," they write. Their game playing goes beyond just attracting interest. "Talk with experts in gaming and climate science and explore activities, objects, and more." This also means the climate change people see these activities as a way to attract attention. 

3. Run a popular photo challenge. Here's where SIPA members get in on the action. Chesapeake Family runs a very popular Pet Photo Cover Contest, sponsored by a local pet retreat. They also get content this way, with readers uploading their favorite photos. There's a vote, a magazine cover, Facebook postings—all great engagement.

4. Ask for video. Staten Island Parent is running a Holiday Gift Guide Giveaway. To play, you need to give them an email. And they've attached other data questions to it asking for age, children, where you get Staten Island Parent, what you would like to see on the site, and what your "least important feature" is.

5. Hold a contest that requires a video. 20th Century Fox tells me that I can enter to win a walk-on role in the upcoming film War for the Planet of the Apes. (Sounds like a joke my mother used to play on me—"you won't even need make-up.") Apparently they want to see your "most life-like ape impersonation," to undoubtedly be part of a hoping-to-be-viral stream that they will show. Still, they're acquiring content.

6. Plan a scavenger hunt. Kait Shea, from Access Intelligence's Event Marketer, reports today on a recent social media-powered scavenger hunt through Los Angeles offered by Hyundai and iHeart Radio.

"Everybody has a different purpose in this event," says Jon Budd, senior group manager-new media at Hyundai. "The [band we featured] has a new album... we have a new car... then iHeart wants people to use their channels to listen to music. We brought all those objectives together into one day. We didn't just go license somebody and do a one-time thing."

But a scavenger hunt can also be held virtually and on a much smaller level. Ask your audience to find three, hard-to-come-by things in your niche (or on your site).

At BIMS, Lev Kaye, founder and CEO of CredSpark—they make quizzes—could have been speaking for all of gamification when he said that quizzes connect with people. His desert island rule is that you "make sure you're acquiring data."

The games/quizzes should be easily shareable and have input from both marketing and editorial; they can also be used to find gaps in your coverage. Say if the pet photo contest is your number one engagement item but you're not running many stories on pets. Or, in an example Kaye gave, a company's own CPA flunked their accounting quiz. "Fortunately, they didn't fire him," Kaye said, but now they know there's a gap in coverage.

The bottom line: Try to gamify something you're doing, even if it's just one subject line. It could be a winner.

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…