What Can You Learn About Gamification from This Industry Giant?

Gamification is set to be one of the biggest buzz words of 2014. Everyone from recruitment agencies to government departments are using the tactic to increase customer engagement and retention. For some, gamification might seem like a new concept. But I received a piece of direct mail marketing recently that proves it has been around for longer than many people realise.

Reader’s Digest have been sending out direct mail for decades. I recall my parents getting similar letters back in the 80s and, being a child, I found them fascinating. As an adult, I’m not quite as mystified – but I definitely recognise the solid strategy behind their letters.

If you’ve ever received a Reader’s Digest letter, you’ll be aware of the consistent features they contain. In the letter I received last week, I was instructed to affix three “Activator Seal” stickers to a certificate to send in. There was also an envelope with scratch panels and a “Car Key Seal” sticker to attach.

Qualification Certificate and "Activator Seals"
Qualification Certificate and “Activator Seals”

Of course, the stickers are in the package and are the same for everyone. They don’t mean anything. They have one purpose only – to make you engage with the material. It works because it makes entering fun – even such a small act as peeling stickers and sticking them onto a separate sheet is enough to bring out the child in many people!

Adding the scratch panels to the car entry section builds on this – it’s something we associate with fun and winning, due to the same process on scratch lottery tickets.

Reader's Digest - "Car Seal" entry form
“Car Key Seal” entry form

You will notice the middle “Activator Seal” is an offer for a 50% saving on a Reader’s Digest subscription. This is the real aim of the letter – to sell subscriptions. The offer is cleverly sandwiched between two prize-winning stickers, and forms part of the entry and thus part of the fun. I don’t have access to Reader’s Digest marketing stats, but I would hazard a guess that this is a highly-successful marketing tactic for them that brings a lot of new subscribers on board.

What You Can Learn From Reader’s Digest

Most of us don’t have the kind of status to be able to offer the kind of prizes Reader’s Digest do. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from their marketing and implement parts of it ourselves.

What can you do to make your marketing more fun and interactive? Social media, Facebook in particular, is a great platform to experiment with this. Try making your posts more exciting, with more personality, and ask your fans to DO something – don’t expect them to just read.

Remember, what we’re trying to achieve is an experience for your prospects and customers. Show them something interesting, something fun, and watch your conversions increase.

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