Keeping your customers interested: game mechanics and social networks

By admin on April 3, 2012

A few months ago we shared some thoughts on how to make saving energy as fun as skiing with game mechanics, and recently a new article popped up focusing on how these same social gaming principles apply to another critical element of customer engagement: how to keep people coming back for more. The marketing lessons discussed in this article apply not only to getting people to return year after year to the same ski slopes, but also to keeping them interested in energy efficiency, demand response and more over a sustained period of many months and years.  

According to the article, the social gaming system that Vail Resorts has created to motivate their customers to pack in more vertical feet during a day on the slopes also has the highly desirable side effect of encouraging them to renew their ski pass for the following year. This is because the cumulative effect of being motivated to spend more days skiing during one season tends to result in people deciding to go ahead and buy another pass the following year, as they perceive the value they got from skiing so many days the year before.

This virtuous cycle of continuing to play the game because you’ve already played so much can also be applied to getting people interested in their energy use. Once people have started to focus on energy consumption, they start to become more interested in checking their results on a daily basis. In other words, the more they use the system, the more interested they become in using it.

Similar to the dynamic observed in many online social comparison systems such as Foursquare, gamification rewards customers for using the platform more often, making it more likely that they become the ones who use it the most. Indeed, game mechanics are becoming quite popular across a variety of industries.

This same rewards dynamic was also demonstrated with energy use most recently during the Biggest Energy Saver in San Diego, where the winner of the contest became so involved with the competition that she saved nearly 50% on her energy usage over a three month period. Now, she is still maintaining many of the energy-saving habits that she acquired during this challenge to continue enjoying a reduced electric bill every month. This is similar to skiers who would normally only get in a few days each season becoming so interested in tracking the vertical feet they cover that they end up skiing a dozen days or more and renewing their pass for the following season.

For more on motivating people to save energy with games and keeping your customers interested, check out “Beyond price: motivating energy savings with social competition.”

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