Why Treating Gamification as a Tool, Not the Goal, May Be the...

Why Treating Gamification as a Tool, Not the Goal, May Be the Key


Here on the second day of GSummit, Content Manager Ashley Tate of BigDoor stopped by to provide us with some unique insights into the gamification industry. BigDoor’s unique angle comes from the perspective of a customer loyalty company that uses gamification as simply one tool of many to carry out their programs.

BigDoor started 5 years ago like any other gamification company. But over time, they observed from their work and from their clients that the industry’s use of gamification was changing. According to Tate, gamification has transitioned from being the end-all, be-all goal of customer engagement for most companies, towards being more of a tactic used to increase customer loyalty.

In this scenario, gamification is a tactic, which can utilize leaderboards, points, trophies and such. Customer loyalty is the goal, and it is accomplished by building a relationship with the customer through incentivized engagement, reciprocal loyalty, and, yes, gamification.

Reciprocal loyalty is when the brand gives to the customer before the customer gives to the brand, and it is one of BigDoor’s main emphasis points. Customers have learned to receive things for loyalty and come to expect it, so to gain their attention you must initiate that transaction.

But the things that customers want in return for loyalty have changed, says Tate. T-shirts and coffee mugs don’t cut it anymore (which is good for companies, considering the cost of purchasing, storing, and shipping such reward items). Non dollar-backed rewards for online soft-actions, like the ability to share and interact with content, watch videos, and get the chance to enter sweepstakes for a fancy dinner with the CEO, are all customers want. And those types of rewards are of low cost to set up for the reward they promise to return in customer loyalty.

BigDoor is interested in helping companies get to know their customers. They dive into customer journey maps, identify customer personas, and learn about the customers’ wants and needs so as to work backwards from the customer when determining customer loyalty tactics and how to implement appropriate gamification.

This is accomplished through data driven decisions. BigDoor takes big data so seriously, says Tate, that they operate on the idea that you should only make decisions backed by big data. “Emotional marketing” is no longer a thing, Tate emphasizes. BigDoor takes this approach to all their brands. Every roll out of new ads and loyalty tools for a brand has a separate cohort of consumers left unexposed to the new material. The separate cohort acts as a control on which BigDoor can check the data against to prove the new material is effective, or ineffective.

To find more podcast interviews from similar events, check out Clark Buckner’s list of tech conferences at TechnologyAdvice.com.


  • Gamification is just one tactic of many used to promote customer loyalty

  • Customers expect different rewards for their loyalty than they used to expect

  • Customer loyalty programs and gamification techniques need to start with the customer and work backwards to the implementation.

  • Big data is the best way to verify and predict the success of customer loyalty programs


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