No longer a term only used in the tech industry, gamification has now become a popular buzzword in marketing, and has put its foot forward as one of the most powerful marketing tools that propel brands closer toward reaching their objectives. Coined in 2010 by Nathan Lands, gamification refers to the act of incorporating game elements into other non-gaming pursuits to boost engagement levels among users, and, in turn, generate greater awareness for the brand (Source: Gamify). In the context of marketing, gamification used to be considered an enigma to marketers – not anymore.

Games and marketing may sound like a strange combination, but they’re actually a perfect match for each other as they weave together and form an impeccable marketing strategy. On one hand, users get to have fun interacting with brands that they like, while on the other, brands can engage consumers more effectively, keeping them in the loop about their products and services. Especially in this age where people often turn to their screens to seek solace in moments of downtime, games can not only offer people quick bursts of energy, but also give brands an opportunity to boost discovery and awareness at the same time.

For those who are still on the fence or unaware of the benefits that you can reap from utilising gamification, below are some of the reasons why it would bring your next marketing campaign to a whole new level.

Why use gamification in marketing?

Given the ever changing technological landscape, marketers must be willing to step into new grounds in order to level-up their campaigns (yes, pun intended). Despite steadily gaining traction in recent years, gamification is still not widely adopted as a marketing too (yet). However, it is high time that brands recognise how they can be implemented in many types of products and services, and at any stage of the consumer journey. So what’s the impact of incorporating gamification into your marketing strategy?


1. Engaged Users

Unlike online marketing ads, games do not pop-up in users’ browsers and feeds to capture their attention – which can at times, be deemed as intrusive. Instead, when it comes to games, users are more often the ones who willingly choose to enter and immerse themselves in the entertainment experience. In other words, they are the ones in control. With gamers engrossed in the gameplay, they will inadvertently interact with the brands that are featured in it. This makes it the perfect opportunity for you to take advantage of this gameplay time to inject your brand message onto this platform, ultimately contributing to building brand awareness and encouraging brand interactions. After all, such forms of positive brand engagement and interactions can help keep your brand at the top of users’ minds, and even result in greater brand loyalty.


2. Improved sales funnel

Gamification also possesses replay value – whether it be users trying to beat their own or competitors’ scores, or attempting to reap better rewards (Source: Gamify). According to a report by Magna, games are nine times more effective than standard video advertisements in terms of increasing purchaser’s intent. As gamification makes your content more engaging, users are more likely to recall it. By giving users an online experience to remember, this will gradually help in converting curious users into interested customers.

How to incorporate gamification into marketing?

1. Incentives

The most essential aspect of gamification is rewarding the users. Without a clear incentive, no one will be encouraged to even participate in the game in the first place. But here’s the deal: rewards don’t necessarily have to be tangible items, certificates or discounts. Nonetheless, it is imperative that people have their achievements acknowledged – both by themselves and others. Once you have decided on the rewards, the next thing you should focus on is sustaining users’ attention using points of engagement such as scores, badges, ratings and other communication channels. These are effective ways to help users keep track of their progress toward the final reward. This keeps them motivated as they work toward the ultimate goal, while simultaneously maintaining contact with your brand. In fact, by making users’ actions rewarding, you create value for both the customers and the brand, as users are more inclined to follow through your sales funnel. One of the most common ways in which this can be implemented is through loyalty programmes.

Source: KrisFlyer

Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer programme serves as an exemplary instance of how brands can gamify rewards to incentivise conversion (Image: KrisFlyer). Based on how much is spent, passengers will be able to earn miles that can be redeemed for various perks and benefits. Basically, the programme capitalises on different membership tiers based on the number of flights passengers take – the higher the tier, the better the benefits. Not only can earning miles be quick and simple, but passengers can also be classified as experienced high flyers (literally and metaphorically) based on their frequent flyer status. In addition, brands can also increase the likelihood of repeat customer interactions by rewarding users who continuously engage with the platform, often through accumulating points that can translate to a tier upgrade and bigger rewards.

Source: Starbucks

With a staggering 16 million active members as of March 2019, Starbucks Rewards programme is another perfect example, and the epitome of an ingenious gamified programme that incorporates simple, easy challenges that allow users to earn “Stars” with every purchase made. The programme also revolves around a tiered membership where customers can move on to the next level based on the number of “Stars” earned. By capitalising on challenges, the loyalty programme offers a sense of accomplishment for customers when they actually hit these goals. Like Starbucks Rewards programme, gamification should prioritise customer engagement, and be sufficiently easy to “play” and “win” so that users would be encouraged to interact with and purchase from the brand, again and again.


2. Contests

Looking for a fun and exciting strategy that can potentially help increase your brand awareness? Whether it’s online or offline, hosting contests is another way to drive customer interaction with your brand.

Source: TidbitsMag

Take for example how McDonald’s Monopoly campaign managed to increase its product sales by utilising gamification concepts derived from the well-known, classic game of Monopoly (Image: TidbitsMag). Dating all the way back to 1987 when it was first introduced, customers who purchased from McDonald’s during the campaign period would receive Game Labels that represent a property on the monopoly game board. The main objective of the game is to collect all the properties with the same colour in exchange for a prize. The campaign was met with great success and McDonald’s sales increased by 5.6% in the United States (U.S.) (Source: Yu-Kai Chou). This illustrates the incredible potential of how gamification can bring your business to greater heights.

Source: Facebook

Closer to home, homegrown food and beverages brand Prima Taste organised a spot-the-difference Facebook contest a couple years back. The concept was simple – entrants just had to guess and comment the number of differences between two seemingly alike images of hot pot ingredients placed side by side. They were also required to tag three friends, like and share the Facebook post to stand a chance to bring home a Prima TasteHamper worth $50, just in time for Chinese New Year. Prima Taste managed to tap into the competitive nature of people and offer a valuable incentive to encourage participation. The contest was a success as the Facebook post garnered a total of 355 likes, 329 comments and 303 shares in the span of just six days! In addition, by giving away their own product as a prize and timing the contest to coincide with Chinese New Year, Prima Taste was able to build brand awareness, brand relevance and higher engagement on social media. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are excellent channels to host gamified contests given their shareable features – giving your brand more opportunities for discovery and visibility.


3. Social media AR game filters

Once you have tried your hand at gamification, don’t be afraid to take your campaign up a notch by tapping into Augmented Reality (AR). AR is the process of superimposing digitally rendered images onto our real-world surroundings, giving a sense of an illusion or virtual reality (Source: Think Mobiles). Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been an increase in digital media consumption by 30% as compared to pre-pandemic levels (Source: Comscore). This is a welcoming sign for brands to start tapping on digital mediums for increased visibility and ensuring business continuity during these trying times. Leveraging on AR filters is a perfect and simple way to do so without compromising on your resources. Now that interactive AR experiences can be incorporated into social content, this makes it highly accessible and shareable, providing endless possibilities to how you can use them for your brand.

Source: Instagram

Uber Eats India for instance, launched “Eats in a Blink” in Dec 2019 (Image: Instagram). This was their very own gamified AR filter on Instagram Stories that requires users to “deliver food” to various homes and businesses by simply blinking their eyes. At the end of the campaign, the player with the highest score would get to enjoy free food for an entire year worth up to 1,09,500 rupees. This campaign gained massive traction and over one million people played the game in hopes of achieving the top spot (Source: VR Scout). With a growing number of such success stories, it is no question that AR technology is emerging as one of the key tools in the future of marketing.

Ultimately, gamification enriches the overall user experience because it adds an extra layer of engagement value to any marketing strategy. If you would like to engage your customers better – with a little fun on top, start thinking gamification. Want to win big with gamification in marketing? Drop us a message and we will be more than happy to advise!


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Hero image: Pete Pedroza, Unsplash