As someone who is trying desperately to amp up your higher learning institution’s enrollment numbers, how do you reach the kids you are hoping will enroll in your programs?
Go ahead and log in to your favorite social media website. Somewhere on the homepage should be a series of often eye-catching ads. As an online marketer, you may have created or placed some of those ads. Lately, a large number of these social media website ads are for higher learning institutions. You wouldn’t normally put the two together, but higher education marketers have begun using a unique strategy that is starting to gain a foothold in the superfluous world of online marketing.
It’s called gamification.
What is gamification?
The concept of gamification is pretty simple: mundane tasks are turned into games, or styled to look like games, to make them more interesting and achievable. Online banking system Simple.com treats the creation and maintenance of your financial accounts as a video game.
Once an account is opened, Simple.com logs and tracks each step of your financial history. You are presented with a series of goals, including things they think you want to do with your money. Let’s say you want a new car, and it costs $25,000. The Simple.com system will ask you how long you want to save up for the new car. Once that data is input, a firm amount will be deducted from your bank account on a recurring basis until your goal is met. Visually, this will be tracked via a “meter” type graphic. The meter will grow greener every time money is saved towards the car.
Now, let’s go back to your social media site of choice. One of the big name social media sites allows users to play real online video games. Character creation, skill advancement, and colorful presentations are all a part of them. These games can be accessed via a regular computer or on a mobile device. All the mobile device user has to do are download games they want to play.
According to a 2013 study by the Entertainment Software Association, 58 percent of Americans play video games, and 32 percent of them are 18 years old or younger. Here’s how to tap into this gigantic customer base.
How do you reach these kids?
Though the concept of gamification is still fairly new to the online marketing world, there are conventions dedicated to learning and practicing the art of gamification. The annual gSummit features several days of workshops and breakout sessions designed to teach you how to garner the best results using gamification. One of these sessions is entitled, “Transforming Education with Gamification: The Past, Present, and Future.”
Kaplan University makes great use of gamification. Its students are awarded badges, and can level up to mark their progress within a particular batch of assignments. Kaplan students can also keep track of their classmates and compete with them. Games are so much better with two or more players.
Gamification is becoming so successful and so recognizable, the government is now investing. The U.S. Department of Education is now offering grant money through its Small Business Innovation Research grant program. Twelve recipients of this grant money have been gaming companies. The focus for these companies is figuring out how the games can be placed and utilized in the classroom. K-12 education is changing just as much as higher education. K-12 students account for 85 million game users. Once they reach the age of 17, they have been primed with more than a decade of gamification.
Tips to consider
If you plan on utilizing gamification to pull in higher learning applicants, make sure your program holds significant and personal meaning. After all, this is their education, not yours. You are offering them the opportunity to not only download a game, but to invest in their future. Put the controller in their hands, and let them play.
Creative Commons image by chaseoblack