Do your clients read your e-mails or send them straight to the recycle bin? Do they complain of e-mail overload? Workload? Business travel? Kids baseball? Dance recitals? Do you send too many e-mails – just saying Hi? What would you do to encourage e-mail reading? What if someone merged video games with corporate e-mails?
One experiment took this giant leap of merging video game strategies with e-mails. They attached tokens to key messages to get recipients to read corporate e-mails that would otherwise go straight to the recycle bin. Tested on a group at IBM, messages with 20 tokens attached were 52 percent more likely to be quickly opened than normal. No more e-mail overload complaints. The tokens weren’t real. They were virtual – like the game The World of Warcraft.
As the reasoning goes. People like the excitement and challenge of video games. Some have been known to spend hours completing boring tasks in a video game just to win. So it makes sense to harness the principles of gaming with its virtual rewards to promote e-mail reading. Giving e-mail senders measured amounts of tokens would also encourage them to send e-mails only when necessary. Some creative thinking there.
Assuming that everyone is motivated by virtual video game tokens, this is a great idea. Of course, as with anything else, companies have to beware of the monster they’re creating. Eventually the mice figure out the mouse trap. At least the clever and unethical mice do. Then they’ll focus on the tokens and forget about the e-mail. And how do you ever get them to pay attention to anything you have to say again? Then again, someone’s always out there moving the cheese around.