Content marketing is serious business. Games, by definition, are pure fun. You wouldn’t think there’s much overlap between them, yet a game-theory approach to content marketing can give you some surprising insights. Game mechanics – the same rules and guidelines that drive the success of games from Farmville to World of Warcraft – also underlie successful marketing strategies. Here’s a look at how games can teach us about content marketing.
In gaming terms, lag is the interval between a command and the action taking place on the screen. For content marketers, it’s the time between when your leads need information and when you get it to them. In both cases, lag is lethal to the player’s interest. It’s frustrating to click a button, fill out a form, or start a download and be unable to access the information you want. It’s the same kind of frustration a player feels when tapping a screen doesn’t send an angry bird flying or a Tetris block tumbling. Make sure all your content is readily accessible – no long page load times, no broken links, and no dropped newsletter subscriptions.
Players Love Open Worlds
One of the biggest advances in console and computer games is the advent of the open world, a seamless and immersive experience that lets players move throughout the game realm without distracting loading screens. Your content flow should be seamless too, allowing your leads to move from social media platforms to blog posts to landing pages to gated content without friction. Build in open-world architecture with content that keeps visitors flowing easily between different content streams.
Players in big multi-player games can readily communicate with each other and carry on conversations that thousands of people read at once. That’s a clear parallel to social media and the importance of including it as part of your overall content marketing strategy. People are always watching even if they don’t always participate. Make it easy for the most vocal influencers to share and talk about your content, and you have the interest of hordes of quiet watchers.
Everyone’s the Hero
The largest games have the capacity to host hundreds of thousands of players at once across dozens of servers, yet story lines are carefully crafted to make each player the hero of his or her own story. Content, no matter how many people it reaches, must always feel specific and relevant to the reader. Customization, specificity, and careful audience segmentation will let you develop nurture programs that deliver highly specific content that tells your leads you’re focusing on them.
Keep It Fresh
Without regular infusions of new downloadable content or fresh levels to unlock, players get bored. Novelty is essential, and a new patch can bring back players who haven’t participated in the game for years. Newness also counts in content marketing. Audiences love a fresh perspective or a new solution to an ongoing problem, so think of ways to engage with original content that has real value.
A Sense of Accomplishment
Players can spend months tackling a difficult raid boss or plowing through activities to earn experience. They expect a pay-off for their efforts – great loot, for instance, or a new level. Audiences who interact with your content expect some return on their investment too. They should come away feeling as though they’ve “leveled up” by learning something new or getting a fresh perspective. Reward them with usable information, and they’ll keep playing.