Let’s Play Ball: Gamification For Businesses

Gamification – have you heard the term? The odds are high that if you haven’t, then you will soon. Recently, this method of increasing customer participation has taken off within the industry. It’s the process of using video game-style features to boost the customer experience. For the most part, it tends to make marketing more fun and enjoyable. The same also goes for the products and services themselves.

People who have never heard the term before won’t have a clue regarding implementing it into their business plan. That’s why this post is here – to give you a helping hand. The following are the things to take into consideration.

Valued Learning

Duolingo is a language app which helps its users to learn words and phrases. The way it does this is simple: it starts off small and works higher and higher. Anyone who needs to get to the next level has to unlock the one they are on first. Otherwise, they plateau until they get it right. Adobe Photoshop has a similar strategy with its LevelUp campaign. The competition is the part which engages customers and makes them come back for more as humans hate being beaten. Plus, it helps users take a complicated goal and break it down into bite-size chunks.

Distractions

There are bound to be times when customers lose interest in, well, anything. Whether it’s a marketing ploy or a product itself, people will get bored. Distractions exist and it is your job to find the major ones and deal with them as soon as possible. The reason this is essential is that gamification can lend a hand and make it less monotonous. Then, the level of focus should bounce back and no one will disengage. Use analytics to figure out where people are running out of patience and then gamify the area. Alternatively, you can use your gut.

Tracking And Reporting

Putting a gamified version of the brand out into the world is only a baby step. Those who want to go to the next level need to track results and report on the data. Again, analytic software is available so there is no excuse. And, IT support is accessible across the world regardless of location. Anyone who wonders why this is important should remember two things. The first one is that you can analyze whether the feature is achieving the goals you set out in the beginning. Secondly, it allows the customers to improve, which is added value.

Offline Synchronization

Never forget about mixing virtual and real elements. For example, Foursquare is a program that rewards its users for checking-in to places and events. It also offers incentives for frequently using the app. Anyone who owns a “retro” high street store can use this to merge their strategies. Get your customers to check-in to Foursquare when they are in the store to receive their rewards. Once they start to link the two, they will shop with you more often.

So, the question is: are you game for gamification?

Retirement Planning Blogs Can Ring Up Ideas

Blogs have become more than just a place to share your thoughts or vent your opinions. They are a source of information, of ideas that can provide helpful solutions to readers.

retirementFor those who are thinking about retiring, they can assist in making decisions that will provide financial stability during those years.

Retirement planning providers can benefit by adding a blog to their website. It increases traffic by those who could potentially use the services being offered by the company.

However, a blog should be more than a sales tool.

It should provide valuable information for those who are reading it.

As the following article shows, if you are planning to add a retirement planning blog to your website, follow these tips to make it successful.

Make It User-Friendly

Your blog should be customer-centric, meaning that it should be focused on the consumer and what he or she needs. Provide information that is of value to the readers and make sure to translate complex financial information into layman terms.

It is a good idea to keep the blog posts short and break down a subject into small sections that are covered on multiple blogs. This helps prevent information overload for the average reader.

Include these other hints for a successful blog:

  • Use subheadings so that the reader can skim to find information relevant to him or her – people at various stages of retirement planning will be searching for specific information;
  • Include a search feature or categories to help readers find the topics of interest to them;
  • Include a section for comments or questions to provide for interaction with your audience – make sure to read this section regularly and provide answers to the questions;
  • Include links to social networks that allow readers to share the posts – this step increases your readership and helps your blog to grow.

Be an Authority

Unlike a personal blog that is full of opinions and ideas, a professional blog should establish a retirement provider as an authority. Your blog should show that you are knowledgeable about the subject of retirement planning to make people feel comfortable using your services.

When customers are looking for information about retirement planning, they should be able to find a blog that is well-written, provides detailed information and is backed by quality references. Links to resources and statistics should be provided to give readers a sense of trust about the information provided.

The blog should be error-free and grammatically correct. While this might sound like an obvious statement, far too many blogs contain errors or are poorly written.

Readers are astute and if they see that you make mistakes in your blog, they may wonder if you will also make mistakes when handling their money.

A blog can be an essential part of a retirement plan provider’s marketing strategy while providing valuable information to the consumer.

For it to be effective, it must be easy to understand, enjoyable to read and accurate.

This type of blog will give a greater return on investment and encourage the audience to contact you for their retirement needs.

About the Author: Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including personal finance and marketing.

Content Curation in 5 Easy Steps

Here are 5 tips to making sure you are curating content thoughtfully and to ensure that you get the most benefit from sharing.

  • Find a topic that interests you. If you are not interested in the content you are curating, why would anyone else be?
  • Subscribe to lots of great feeds. I start each day reading my feeds to see what is interesting and exciting. I check my feeds throughout the day to add to what I am sharing.
  • Share with Care. When I share content, I try to attribute the content to the author as well as the source. This often requires an extra step to find the author’s Twitter handle (for example) but it will be much appreciated and will result in increased followers.
  • Add a visual when possible. “Images and videos are the foundations of the internet’s new language, and they are likely to dominate the digital marketing scene in 2014.”
  • Space your shares out. What are the best times to share on social media?

What are your tips for curating content?

5 Steps to Writing an Effective Blog Post

You want to start a blog? Getting started is easier than you think.

Here are 5 easy steps to follow to write a blog post that other people will want to read (and how they would be able to find it!)

Step 1: Pick a topic. Write about something you are interested in, something you know about that others would want to read. Another option is to research a trending topic and write a post that summarizes your research and add your thoughts/opinion to generate some conversation.

Step 2: Write a 5-paragraph essay. The 5 paragraph essay is a good model to use for blog posts because it is succinct.

5 paragraph essays generally follow this format:

  • Introductory Paragraph
  • First Supporting Paragraph
  • Second Supporting Paragraph
  • Third Supporting Paragraph
  • Closing or Summary Paragraph

Read more about the 5-paragraph essay here:

Step 3: Find an image to enhance your post. Why are images important? I am sure you have heard the saying; a picture is worth a thousand words. In the case of blog posts, it is true. Using images in your posts actually has several benefits. Tin Dizdarevic, shared 10 reasons to include images in your blog posts. It is important to pay attention to licensing rules for images or you might find yourself in hot water. Read Peg Fitzpatrick’s post, “Oh Snap! Can I (Legally) Use That Photo,” to learn more about finding images you can legally use in your posts.

Step 4: Choose a catchy title. As Darren Rowse points out, “Titles change the destiny of your posts.” Titles matter because titles appear in search engine results, RSS feeds, links, and on other social media sites. Read Darren’s article, How to Craft Post Titles that Draw Readers Into Your Blog, to learn more.

Step 5: Tag and Publish Your Post. Are you familiar with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? According to Wikipedia, SEO is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. Read more in Beginner WordPress SEO (Part 1): How to Optimize Your Blog Posts.

John Haydon wrote a great explanation about WordPress tags and categories.

Categories are like the aisles in a grocery store and tags are like the ingredients in the various different foods. Chinese chili sauce is located only in the ethnic foods aisles, but garlic (an ingredient) is found in the chips aisle, the frozen dinners aisle, and the vegetable aisle.

Tags (ingredients) link together all of your posts (food items) across your categories (aisles).

Well, there you have it. No more excuses. Share a link to your blog post in the comment section so we can see what you came up with!

Course Design – Online Classes with Flexible Options

What is HyFlex? According to Brian J. Beatty of SFSU, HyFlex combines both online and face-to-face teaching and learning activities in a setting where students may choose whether or not to attend face-to-face sessions … with no “learning deficit.”  HyFlex course design is built around four fundamental principles: Learner Choice, Equivalency, Reusability, and Accessibility.

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Learner Choice: Provide meaningful alternative participation modes and enable students to choose between participation modes weekly (or topically). The primary reason a HyFlex course design should be considered is to give students a choice in how they complete course activities in any given week (or topic). Without meaningful choice, there is no flexibility … and therefore no HyFlex.

Equivalency: Provide equivalent learning activities in all participation modes. All alternative participation modes should lead to equivalent learning. Providing an alternative approach to students which leads to inferior learning “by design” is poor instructional practice and is probably unethical.

Reusability: Utilize artifacts from learning activities in each participation mode as “learning objects” for all students. Many class activities which take place in classrooms can be captured and represented in an online- delivered form for online students.

Accessibility: Equip students with technology skills and access to all participation modes. Clearly, alternative participation modes are not valid alternatives if students cannot effectively participate in class activities in one or more modes.

7 Things You Should Know About the HyFlex Model – http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7066.pdf

Using the “HyFlex” Course and Design Process – http://sloanconsortium.org/effective_practices/using-hyflex-course-and-design-process

Interactive Course Design: Interactive Course Re-Design for Higher Education Instructors – http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/cdm/supporting/Interactive%20Course%20Design.pdf

Piazza: Social Question and Answer Tool

Do you teach online? Do you hate the native discussion tools in your LMS? There are some interesting options emerging that could replace (or add another dimension) to online discussions. Enter Piazza, the social question and answer tool.

Piazza is a question-and-answer website for students to discuss topics about individual classes. Professors can set up a page for a class for their students to discuss with each other. Or students can set up a page without a professor being involved. The service reduces the number of repetitive questions that students ask professors, because they can check the site. Piazza can also show professors standing questions that they need to answer.

Piazza’s Q-And-A Website Goes Back To School  – http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomiogeron/2011/08/26/piazzas-q-and-a-website-goes-back-to-school/

 

Community Building 2.0: Using Piazza to Encourage Student Rapport Outside the Classroom