ORLANDO – Barry Kirk, Senior Director Digital Strategy, for Bunchball, told attendees at the 6th annual Loyalty Expo that too many loyalty programs look alike and there needs to be differentiation spearheaded by engaging experiences.

During his workshop session -- “Loyalty 3.0: Avoiding the Engagement Cliff and Driving Sustained Engagement Through Gamification” – Kirk defined gamification as applying game mechanics and game thinking for engagement, participation, and loyalty.

“It’s not about slapping badges on everything or adding a game to your current experiences,” he said. “It’s about changing the context of what you’re asking me to do.”

For example, Kirk said scouting is about learning life skills, including badging as a game mechanic. YouTube has gamification elements, Kirk said, including watching, uploading, and hits. Gamification methods can greatly enhance loyalty programs, he said.

“All points-based reward programs are gamified,” Kirk said. “Gamification attracts us and pulls us in, and places reward levels into the experience.”

Kirk pointed to foundational elements for gamification programs: action (desired behavior such as sending an email) challenge/mission/quest (criteria for feedback; send X emails in Y days), and reward (result of successfully completing challenge requirements; earn the contributor badge when you send x emails in Y days).

Indentify a universe of actions, Kirk said, such as: watch, view, play, recommend, express, curate, read, share, create, explore, flirt, advocate, write, rate, review, poke, help, gift, post, tag, join, give, promote, comment, purchase, take, greet, favorite, and compete.

Reward for behavior beyond purchase transactions, understand your customers’ motivations, demographics, hopes and dreams, online vs. offline identity, frustrations, media/technology, and daily routine vs. free time, Kirk explained.

“We all exhibit different behaviors,” Kirk said. “Identify the actions and assign a value and figure out how hard it is for users to complete a certain action. There is much more flexibility with gamification than with traditional loyalty programs.”

Kirk pointed to three key areas of gamification: disruption (reward for exploration); habit (frequency-based behavior focused on single-action challenges mixed with some multi-action challenges); and ritual (includes only multi-action challenges).

“Create the challenge and establish the reward,” Kirk said.

Gamification should be a fun thing, Kirk said. He defined the economics of fun as containing the following elements: a certain amount of difficulty, a certain amount of friends, a certain amount of interesting strangers, a certain amount of reward, and a certain amount of opportunity.

Kirk said flow is potentially the most important concept in all of gamification. Flow is the state of mind commonly referred to as being "in the zone", and it describes the highest level of engagement where a person can be completely consumed by what he or she is doing. Gamification’s ultimate goal is helping people enter flow. The goal is to help people achieve activities that challenge them and help them learn or develop a skill.

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