Socially-Distanced Marketing, Strategy, and The Force

Tag: gamification

Gaming & Your Credit Union

First version published on 2019 (current) version is CU Geek exclusive.

“Savings aren’t a game!” Except when it is.

Gaming Our Money Challenges

In many ways, the opening quote is correct. Money is an important topic for everyone. Plus, we know too many Americans don’t have adequate savings (I mean $400 or less) for a range of reasons.

So isn’t it a bit improper to compare their situation with Mario Kart (N64 version, obviously the best)?. But what if you did treat it like a game? Or, at least, make learning about it and how to escape the cycle feel like a game.

What is Gamification?

What I described above isn’t a new concept. Known as “gamification”, the idea is that by making an activity feel like a game rather than a chore, users are more likely to participate. When given the choice between fun and boring, which would you rather do?

An article by The Financial Brand dives deep into this topic.

Gamification in Sport and Banking

Think of going for a run. Many people don’t enjoy putting feet to pavement and will make any excuse to avoid it. But what if you were part of an adventure and needed to outrun a hoard of zombies? Their rotted fingers are nearly scraping your back…pick up the pace!

Come to think of it, I’ve written about this before. Here. And here.

Plus, that pennies post? It discussed a marketing campaign Ally bank put on across the country. Check it out, because it’s way cool. Though perhaps not as awesome as their latest endeavor. Yes, you may pass go and collect $200.

Oh, and that “don’t get eaten by zombies” running inspiration app? It exists, by the way. It’s called Running with Zombies. I don’t use it, because everyone knows the best way to deal with them is a shotgun, shovel, and old records. Bonus points if you got that reference (no, I’m not a Walking Dead fan).

Gamification Tips You Can Do Today

So instead, as the previous post discussed, of puzzling your members through a convoluted rewards program or other service, get them in the game! Where to start?

You already reframed their credit union relationship as game levels, right? Perfect, because that is a great opportunity to have virtual and real-world badges, rewards, and accomplishments. Make sure they have value, otherwise it’s just a hollow effort. And remember, value could mean, “look at my Instagram post here…this is so awesome!”

Ok, so you’ve taken the first gamification step, and members show their interest in person and across social media. If you can connect this with more traditional account rewards, do that, too.

What next?

For this, I’d suggest a brain storm session with your team. And a copy of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Why this game? Because it’s the best puzzle adventure/level growth game ever made. Also, your staff will have fun.

And the N64 will probably remain in your branch. Tell me that won’t encourage people to stick around.

Using Big Boring Data For Appealing Awesome Games

How do you gamify your credit union without it being tacky or feeling like an afterthought? That is a great question. And it brings us to (cue deep announcer voice): Big Data!

Yep, that essential concept emerges again. Now, it’s going to help empower your members with useful analysis of their own data. Combine the appeal of sports stats (as in, their own financial relationship’s metrics) with playing a video game (as in, progressing through towards goals).

Hey, wait a minute! This is what Ally did with their Monopoly campaign! And they also encouraged “players” (of which nearly half became prospects for a banking relationship) to help support local charitable efforts. Sounds very “people helping people” to me.

Data Precautions

Turns out, taking big pools of data and applying it to all your members doesn’t work. It has to be their own data, not estimated metrics. A study found that some Fitbit (now a Google company) users actually gained weight while using the activity trackers. What? Why? How?

It’s believed that participants trusted the averaged metrics so strongly that they just didn’t listen to their bodies. If you provide useful data, useful suggestions can follow, ending with beneficial results.

Gamification For Everyone’s Success

Look at that. Once again, we come around to the inescapable conclusion: When you frame your services around the specific needs of your members, engagement, excitement, and loyalty will increase.

And we all get to enjoy some fabulous classic games. What are you waiting for? Go smash some pots and collect your rupees!

Image credit:

Leave The Puzzles to Zelda

Originally published on

When I was growing up, I enjoyed video games. It didn’t hurt that I am part of a generation who experienced the “golden years” of console gaming. My first system was an Atari, then NES, Sega Genesis, and onward. But there was one game franchise which kept me on a certain company’s systems: The Legend of Zelda.

Where Puzzles Are Good

No game before (and few since) presented adventure, humor, and puzzle-solving within a single package. Plus, the storyline was always solid. If it said Legend of Zelda, you wanted to keep playing, and not just to the end, but to completion, where all side-adventures were done as well.

Puzzles for Link are good. Puzzles for your members are not.

Your credit union is not Hyrule, and the member benefits chart should not read as a set of clues to the Triforce.

Where Puzzles Are Not Good

One of our clients used a member reward structure based on their level of involvement. That’s fine; offer more to your most profitable/engaged members.

However, it was far too complicated, with 4 levels ranging from Bronze to Diamond. What changes can you expect from each level? 11 areas that change across levels, plus another 10 benefits which are available to all members.

Oh, and of these 10, 2 of them, despite being shown in a chart as available to all members, are actually an extra fee on certain account setups.

Confused yet?

Rethink Membership Levels

I get why credit unions want to offer membership levels. A lot of the benefits you offer cost money, and why pay to provide them to members who have hardly any relationship with the institution?

My concern is when you have so many variables, it’s hard for a member to keep track. And a member that’s confused will avoid the source of confusion. Which in this case, is your institution.

Oh, did I mention that this credit union offers unlimited ATM fee reimbursements for all new members, for the first 6 months?

Such a confusing structure lays the groundwork for member issues. “What do you mean I pay a fee? I never did before!” “Yes, but since you are now a member for more than 6 months, or your total balance fell below $5,000, or you’ve paid off your auto loan, you are now eligible for these new fees.”

You read that right. At some credit unions, paying off your loan might actually mean you pay more fees. They reward having a loan, which I get is an income-generator, but then essentially punishing a member for fulfilling their financial obligation rubs me the wrong way.

How to fix?

Aim For Simple

In all aspects of your institution. Your members and your staff will thank you.

Look at every internal and member-facing process. Create a spreadsheet, mind map, or your favorite organization system, for every service. Lay out the choices or steps within. Then share this with staff, family, or selected members. Is it intuitive to them?

If not, time for some changes. And by changes, I mean, “remove extra steps, requirements, terms, and more.”

Next: Gaming at your Credit Union

“So that’s it? All that buildup with Link, Zelda, and references to the game series, and now you’re done?” Ah ha! Your reward is in the next dungeon. Or, in this case, Part 2. There, we will learn to use the best ideas from gaming to excite your members and grow the relationship.

Image credit:

© 2020 Credit Union Geek

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑