Whenever I plan a trip to an energy conference, such as tomorrow’s Emerging Technologies Summit, I end up entering my frequent flier information as part of the booking. And when that happens, I’m reminded of how airline miles programs have become a huge part of booking travel. Some people spend hours every week playing the miles and points game to maximize their rewards balances – and nearly every frequent traveler participates in at least one airline points program. It does make traveling a bit more fun and rewarding.
The same concept applies to energy. Think about it. Which of these options sounds more appealing? Option A: Reducing your energy usage to conserve energy; or option B: Reducing your energy usage to conserve energy and being entered to win an iPad Mini, as well as receiving reward points that can be accumulated and redeemed for gift cards. Option B is a no brainer. This concept is known as gamification – the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems, and it’s something every company can leverage in their customer engagement strategies.
Take this study as an example: The University of Washington designed a game that burn wound victims play while they go through painful treatments, and clinical trials showed that game play sharply reduced patients’ pain levels and anxiety, and that it was more effective than morphine. That’s right – just playing a well-designed game was engaging enough that it reduced pain more than morphine.
Another example: Stanford University’s virtual reality lab, VHIL, set up a virtual reality game where research patients were given a chainsaw to cut down trees. After participants experienced cutting down a virtual tree, they used 20% less paper products compared to participants who simply read a print description of deforestation. The interactive, virtual experience drove internalized, sustained behavior change. These examples show how incredibly absorbing and engaging games can be.
So how are we at Simple Energy using gamification? As part of our platform, we analyze customers’ energy consumption, account, and publicly available data and transform that data into points, rankings, and rewards. The data morphs from numbers and graphs that appeal to one already-engaged segment of the population to a compelling experience that attracts and engages many segments. One in which customers are empowered to change their behavior, track their progress and receive rewards. And the best part – it is not only fun, it produces real impact.
Our results: a less than 0.1% unsubscribe rate from our weekly emails, 30-40% of customers opening the emails every week, 65% of customers reporting learning helpful energy-saving tips, and energy efficiency results 2-3 times higher than other programs. One example: customers who signed up for demand response alerts with rewards messaging reduced energy use during peak periods by an average of 10x compared to default messaging.
As these studies show, there is an incredible amount of power in play. Companies are constantly looking for ways to increase their customers’ engagement, motivate their customers to take action, and engage a broad range of people – and it’s critical to include gamification as part of an engagement strategy.
If you’d like to learn more about gamification and how it can impact energy usage, there’s much more information here.