On the first day of Customer Expo 2018, Mitch Kennedy, Senior Program Manager of Loyalty & CRM for Dell, gave a presentation that offered insight into how brands can leverage gamification to build customer loyalty. He addressed many relevant topics in gamification, particularly the psychology of consumers and the role of gamification in cultivating engagement.
 
When Kennedy entered his current position, the brand’s loyalty program offered members 3 percent off purchases and free expedited shipping. These rewards, Kennedy notes, are “purely transactional” and “completely lacking in engagement.” He saw, however, that Alienware, a brand owned by Dell and known for its gaming computers, had a highly engaged group of consumers. At the time, they were not engaged with the Dell brand, but that was about to change.
 
Kennedy said, “I could look at these people and engage them and use ARP as a measure of that engagement. I now have an idea of what I can invest in converting them to direct buyers. All of that gets supported by gamification.”
 
Dell began to employ event-based games to foster engagement. Kennedy described them as something like “Pokémon Go within an event.”  Dell also sent gamified emails to a dormant list and received a positive response. 
 
Now, the brand hosts daily games and “Weekly Quests,” which invite users to work together in forums to solve difficult problems. These games have created substantive engagement between the gaming community and the Dell brand. Winners’ names appear on a leader board with a tiering system, which Kennedy said is “crazy complex,” but that complexity actually increases engagement in the gaming community, as gamers tend to appreciate elaborate scoring systems.
 
The brand gives out transactional rewards to users in the various tiers, encouraging them to become direct buyers. Kennedy stated, “We’re buying a transaction here, but we’re doing it thoughtfully with a targeted audience within an ecosystem of engagement.” He indicated that this approach is less expensive than a traditional marketing campaign and that, given the high-level of engagement, these bought-transactions have a good chance of creating a long-term relationship with buyers.
 
All of Dell’s gamification is informed by an understanding of human psychology.  Kennedy noted that people are essentially irrational.  Though an individual will likely say that the best rewards game is the one with the highest chance of winning, the reality is that people play the games with the best prizes. Kennedy suggested that brands should focus on “fantastic” prizes and brand gamification. He believes that brands “can’t be afraid to have losers.”

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