How One B2B Brand Sucked Me in With Gamification

a user engaging in a gamified experience on a computer

Farmville. Plants vs. Zombies. Candy Crush. Candy Crush Soda Saga. Angry Birds. Angry Birds Star Wars. I downloaded, I played, I became addicted to all these games. I confess it. I built an elaborate chicken coop and orchard. I defeated Dr. Zomboss. I freed the Gummi Bears. I flung Wookies at pigs. Then I uninstalled the games so they would stop interfering with my sleep. So, dear reader, you won’t be surprised that I got hooked on completing challenges and working to move up the rankings in 15Five Leaders. I was kind of surprised, though, and I took some time to figure out how this B2B brand hooked me with a gamification advocate marketing strategy.

B2B Gamification: Draw Them in With Flattery

15Five is a weekly reporting tool that Pace uses to help teams communicate and problem solve. It’s been a great addition to our fast-paced culture, and I said so in an online survey on the 15Five site. 15Five pulled my survey response out of their data mine and sent me a personal invitation to participate in their Leaders program. Big data plus my ego equals click through.

The Leaders program does a couple of key things for 15Five: It solicits referrals for their sales team, generates reviews on third-party sites and prompts users to create community content like blog comments. Plus, it’s an online focus group for the brand’s products and services.  Leaders participants earn online points, which can be redeemed for offline prizes like gift cards or charitable donations.

The Lesson for Content Marketers:

For stronger B2B gamification, find a way to show your audience you’re paying attention to their engagement. Don’t let responses fall into a dark pit of nothingness. Even a cleverly worded auto response is better than nothing. And a small free download or other exclusive content can be a good idea, too.

Keep Them Engaged With a Clean, User-Centered Design

15Five Leaders uses Influitive, an advocate marketing software. The interface looks great—a cleanly designed content “chip” for each challenge and progress dials for my points tracking—and helped me learn to play the game in seconds. I could earn some of my points immediately by setting up my profile and completing a few surveys about how I manage my team. Other challenges took a little more time, like drafting a two-line testimonial for 15Five; these larger challenges also required verification by real people at 15Five to score the points.  With about 45 minutes of effort, I found myself in the top 20 and within reach of higher scores. I’m currently No. 13.

The Lesson for Content Marketers:

Make it easy to interact with your site. That often means taking a look at basics like mobile responsiveness and load time. Consistent branding can add to users’ loyalty and comfort. It might not feel like real gamification, but effective games have taught us how powerful clean user experiences are for B2B and B2C brands alike.

Offer Relevant Rewards

You could argue that 15Five Leaders awards points don’t matter to my job. My boss doesn’t care if I’m ranked No. 13 in this game. I need to generate two referrals leading to a sale to get enough points for the Vitamix blender, and I’m not sure that’ll happen. But, one challenge resulted in a free analysis of how successfully I’m using my social media accounts for business networking. Another made me aware of a user community that has impartial reviews of B2B software. Plus, I’m close to having enough points to make a $50 charitable donation.  I wrote before about how first-hand observation is an important journalism skill that I still use in creating branded content at Pace. I’d say the most valuable payout with 15Five Leaders is that the whole experience has me learning first hand about the role of customer advocates and how engaging us can advance a brand.

The Lesson for Content Marketers:

Embrace opportunities to be audience-centric with the value you provide with your content. Loyalty is built from the beginning to the end of the customer journey, and rewards that are meaningful to your audience—even amusement can be a “reward”—show that you want a relationship with your customers and prospects that lasts more than one transaction.

You might not have thought about using gamification. But with a little flattery, an easy to navigate interface and relevant payoffs for players, you’ll steal some of the addictive energy of video games to propel your brand.

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