Gamification in marketing is an exciting and fast-growing technique that takes advantage of mankind’s innate desire for play. In this article, we’ll break down exactly what gamification marketing is, why it’s such a powerful tool, and give you eight practical ideas to test in your own business.
Our articles are based on thorough research, and real-world experience of working in marketing, so you can be sure our ideas and suggestions will be valuable.
Ready? Game on!
First and foremost, what is gamification? It may sound unfamiliar, but it’s simply any marketing technique, or strategy, that borrows from the world of gaming.
The most popular games tend to be entertaining and satisfying to play. Gamification marketing understands this, and translates some of the typical elements of game design into actual marketing strategies.
A huge range of features typically seen in gaming can be incorporated into gamification marketing ideas, such as competition, narrative, rewards, incentives, and progress tracking. Read on to understand why these ideas work.
- Digital Marketing Tips: For more general guidance, check out our article for 11 digital marketing tips.
The key reason why gamification works so well is psychological. It’s well-known that video games can be addictive. This is because so many elements of games trigger small dopamine hits in the brain: levelling up, winning a battle, or hitting the top of a leaderboard, can all elicit a rush of pleasure.
In marketing terms, gamification is also based on understanding psychology, and this can be powerful for a multitude of reasons:
- Increase user engagement
- Build user awareness
- Create positive brand associations and embed your brand story
- Increase conversions
- Allows for data collection
- Re-engage inactive customers
Next up, it’s time to look at some real-world gamification marketing examples. Here we’ll explain eight different gamification marketing ideas, and how these case studies could be applied to your own business.
#1. Website Treasure Hunts
A treasure hunt is a simple and fun way to engage your customers. If executed correctly, it’s a brilliant way to encourage users to spend more time on your website or app, and earn rewards.
Vodafone took the strategy one step further by creating a treasure hunt that was both digital and appeared in the real world. To encourage under 25s to engage with its new phone campaign, Vodafone sent customers invites to shopping store treasure hunts. Customers were given a series of clues, and those who solved the clues first won a mobile phone. This was a fun marketing strategy that led to lots of engagement on social media and press coverage.
#2. Gamify Loyalty Rewards
This strategy rewards loyalty and encourages repeat customers through real rewards. You can adopt a tiered system to ensure the very best perks and benefits are given to those who spend the most.
The airline industry is one sector that has adopted this strategy most effectively. Southwest Airlines have a loyalty program called Rapid Rewards which means its customers earn points for every flight, to be used for future flights, or other rewards with partner websites. They also have a tiered system which means the most regular flyers get even more benefits on top.
These types of programs are incredibly effective because they mean your customers become invested in your brand, and they’re incentivized to stay with your business. They can be translated to practically any industry, from hair salons to airlines, and ecommerce websites to energy suppliers.
#3. Spin-the-Wheel Rewards
Spin-the-wheel is an exciting idea that can be used either in person, at events or trade fairs, or virtually. This type of gamification marketing technique is successful because it’s fun. Simple. There’s intrigue that comes from wanting to know if you’ve won!
Wheelify is a spin-the-wheel tool that can be integrated into your Shopify store. In the example below, its aim is to capture customer data, but, in return, Wheelify offers users the chance to win an exclusive prize.
#4. Online Scratch Cards
Similar to spin-the-wheel games, scratch cards are simple and compelling games that will encourage your customers to become more engaged with your website. You could use them to launch new products, give away discount codes, collect data, or simply invite customers to spend a little more time on your website.
A nice example is the travel organization TUI, which asked visitors to its site to dig in the sand to uncover rewards points.
Of course, scratch cards can be given away in real life too. You could post out a physical scratch card with every online order, and give customers the chance to ‘scratch to win’ special discount codes or freebies. All of this helps to create an engaged and entertained customer base.
#5. Gamify Your Brand Story
As the internet becomes more sophisticated, and with the growth of technology such as HTML5, companies are using gamification marketing ideas to tell their brand story in increasingly creative ways.
An ‘About us’ page containing dense text may not be the most interesting way to tell your story. Instead, how about an interactive game that walks people through how your brand started? You could use videos, questions, polls, or prompts to make telling the story more interesting and personalized to the user.
To help explain this idea, consider the hugely successful Netflix episode of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. For the first time ever, a show used video game techniques to enable the viewer to alter and determine the outcome, ultimately making it far more engaging, and one of the most popular episodes of all time.
#6. Ignite Competitiveness With Customer Scoreboards
A brilliant way to capitalize on the competitive nature of your customers is through scoreboards or leaderboards.
A neat example of an organization using scoreboards effectively is Strava, the fitness and exercise tracking app. The success of the app is based entirely on competition, with scoreboards allowing subscribers to compete against each other in their local areas, or against themselves, by ranking their best runs, cycles, or walks.
You could extend this idea of scoreboards to an ecommerce business by creating fun online games to encourage customer interaction and increase the amount of time spent on your site.
#7. Play While You Wait
These are simple games that you could embed on your website for customers to play while they wait for something. For example, while a page is loading, or while you’re waiting for items to come back into stock.
Games such as these are a light-hearted and fun way to increase your customer engagement and brand love.
A famous example of this is Google’s T-Rex game. Ever had your internet cut out while attempting to access your Google browser? Did you know you can press the space bar and the T-Rex will jump over the cacti and obstacles?
#8. Gamify Product Use
Many businesses build ways to show users their product usage, and they can turn this into a game in itself.
Spotify utilizes this effectively via its annual ‘Wrapped’ campaigns, taking the extensive amount of user data they have at its disposal to create something exciting. They create shareable videos, statistics, and summaries explaining a user’s music taste, favorite genres, and how this compares to their peers and the wider population.
This campaign is successful because it uses elements of gaming. Consumers love to better understand their habits, and how they might compare to other people.
We hope this article has explained gamification and has provided you with some sparks of inspiration for your own business. Any idea that borrows from gaming, and uses techniques such as competitiveness, curiosity, progress tracking, or incentives, can be classified as gamification.
What gamification marketing ideas will you try? A scoreboard, a loyalty program, or maybe even a spin-the-wheel game? Over to you!