Gamification Marketing Strategies: How to Increase Engagement and Drive Sales

/ 30 March 2023

There’s one main goal of gamification marketing strategies: to engage and motivate individuals to take the action you would like them to take.

Through a fun and interactive “game”-based campaign, you can encourage participation, capture insights, and drive sales with a number of gamification marketing strategies – like reactivation campaigns and loyalty programs.

Plus, these strategies create winners. Not only do prospects and customers literally “win” – badges, discounts, or a top spot on a leaderboard – marketers and their brands win too. Gone are the days when you’d be thrilled by a 10% CTR rate on an email campaign. Now, you want at least 3x that engagement level for your marketing efforts. 

Because not only does gamification boost things like engagement, loyalty, and brand promo, it’s also a tool that leading businesses use to gather real-time insights into customer behaviours and likely future needs (more on this here).

So, let’s delve into this a little more. In this blog, we’ll cover the top four gamification marketing strategies. 👇

What is gamification in marketing? A quick recap

Gamification in marketing is when a business uses game science to encourage participation. For example, it may introduce progress journeys, leaderboards, badges, or “spin-to-win” concepts to make campaigns more engaging and responsive and to gather valuable zero-party data.

You can use these campaigns across multiple channels: social media, email marketing, websites, and more. This means that no matter where your target audience prefers to interact, gamification marketing campaigns are an option.

Why gamification marketing strategies are so hot

Ultimately, they are a mega effective marketing strategy that leads to 4x greater engagement and action. So, they overcome declining and flat KPIs and actually deliver ROI.

How? Because gamification marketing strategies provide a unique, fun, and more personal way to connect with customers and nurture them towards an action. They tap into the human desire to want to win competitions, achieve goals, be good at a task and get better – and get rewards. 

It’s this motivational super power that drives engagements up.

And while ads have proved lucrative in the past, the sharp rise in the cost of media ads and low engagement rates has driven the appeal down.

Not to mention, customers want more. They want to feel they’ve got some sort of value exchange out of a customer-brand relationship. They don’t want intrusive email campaigns, cookies following them around a website, or generic print ads. They want immersive and interactive experiences that keep them interested.

So, for businesses looking to engage consumers, gamification marketing strategies are the way forward.

And if you capture data through these campaigns, you’re in an incredibly unique position to then use this insight to go beyond segment targeting. You can actually use this insight to create much more personalised campaigns across your entire marketing mix. 

Ultimately, this all contributes to sales and revenue generation.

📖Want to learn more? Check out: Why use gamification in marketing? The top 5 benefits

Top 4 gamification marketing strategies across the customer lifecycle (with examples)

As we’ve just seen, gamification marketing strategies will supercharge your marketing results. That’s why businesses looking for new and innovative ways to connect with customers are leveraging gamification marketing strategies to drive engagement.

To better understand how this works in practice, let’s look at the top ways to use gamification strategies across the customer lifecycle with real-life examples.

Gamification marketing strategy #1: Customer acquisition

When it comes to customer acquisition, you can use gamification marketing strategies for a number of reasons. For instance, they can point a visitor to the part of the site they are looking for or promote a particular feature, such as a short-term promo.

Let’s look at some more examples:

  • Contests and giveaways: Customers are motivated by freebies, particularly the high-ticket ones like holidays and property. But even on a smaller scale, competitions like picking Walkers crisp flavours prove incredibly popular because they are fun. There’s an element of winning, and some sort of prize. Many retailers already offer discounts for newsletter sign-ups or first purchases, so make those work harder for you.
  • Interactive experiences: Now, this has double-benefits. It creates a more tangible experience if a customer can virtually try on outfits or see what a piece of furniture will look like in a room. And it also reduces the likelihood of returns.

🎳 Gamification in action: Kayser-Roth generates 100%+ uplift in opt-in rates 

Retailer, Kayser-Roth, has a really simple but incredibly impactful example of using gamification to boost acquisition. Essentially, it made an offer on its site through a gamification campaign, providing a voucher for newsletter sign-ups. But it didn’t just give the reward away, you had to win it.

The result? Consumers are 4x more likely to use a voucher if they “won” it – rather than just being given it. Kayser-Roth experienced 100%+ lift in marketing opt-in rates and gathered unique customer data which is now used to personalise customer experiences and to drive repeat purchases.

>> Read the full case study here.

Gamification marketing strategy #2: Conversion optimisation

Marketing gamification is increasingly being used to improve conversions. The key with increasing conversions is to understand what motivates consumers and what makes them want to make a purchase. 

By creating an engaging and fun customer experience, you can motivate people to take action, whether that’s making a purchase, signing up for a service, or completing a task. 

Some examples include:

  • Points and badges: This could be as simple as when you browse and make purchases, you earn points that can be redeemed for discounts and rewards. The more you shop, the more points you earn and the more rewards you unlock. 
  • Unlocking rewards: Earning rewards creates a sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep shopping, leading to higher conversion rates. 

🎳 Gamification in action: eBay increases conversions with gamification

While this one is not entirely new, as it dates back to 1995 with the launch of eBay, it is a brilliant and long-lasting example of gamification. The thrill of outbidding people leads to more time spent on site, more customer information gathered from various touch points, and heightened customer engagement. 

  • Outbidding someone is far more rewarding than simply purchasing something. 
  • It instils a sense of accomplishment and a bit of added sentimental value.

Gamification marketing strategy #3: Customer retention and loyalty programs

Going beyond collecting points, gaming marketing strategies can genuinely increase the volume of loyal customers and boost retention because they actually engage the audience.


Here are just a handful of examples:

  • Badges and achievements: Customers can complete certain actions such as achieving a fitness milestone or referring a friend and they’ll receive badges for it. These badges can build up on a customer’s profile and unlock certain rewards. Like with Peloton, you receive a free T-shirt for hitting 100 cycles.
  • Challenges: Some businesses provide tiers to their membership and the more a customer participates, the next level of benefits opens up. Take Vitality health insurance, for example. Achievements can be unlocked for hitting daily activity goals. But then customers can go into the next level of membership, for example, through doing a medical assessment, to get additional discounts.
  • Tailored treats: And in terms of the types of rewards, you can tailor these. For example, if you like a particular flavoured coffee, the reward would be that vanilla latte.
  • Here’s another example:

🎳Gamification in action: Matalan gains 4x higher click-through rate

Fashion retailer, Matalan, is always on the lookout for innovative ways to engage its reward card holders to drive brand awareness and increase footfall into stores. But, its standard email/mobile push campaigns were only managing a click-through rate of around 1.5%.

The solution? Using ‘wheel of fortune’ gaming elements, consumers were encouraged to visit ‘The holiday shop’ range, which incentivised consumers to undertake additional tasks such as referring friends to the interactive game or following Matalan on Twitter.

The result?

  • Click-through rate increased from 1.5% to 7%
  • 17,000 people shared the game on social media
  • 80% of consumers said the prizes encourages them to visit Matalan online or instore

>> Read the full case study here.

Gamification marketing strategy #4: Customer reactivation

If you’ve got a pot of lapsed or inactive clients, this one’s for you. Why? Because it’s best practice to remove people from your marketing database if they’ve been inactive for 18 months. 

That means you lose a pot of potential – and you know how much that could cost you. Whereas with gamification, you have the option to wake these contacts up.

Here’s how…

Using gamification, marketers can create more engaging reactivation campaigns which are more likely to get noticed and win back customers. Again, it plays into the reward for investing their time.

  • Interactive experiences: We’ve touched on this already. For a reactivation campaign, a business could promote a relevant workout routine or a simple quiz to discover new travel destinations. As an example, First Direct ran a ‘What type of Money person are you’ quiz which was sent by email. This quiz helped to tailor handy tips to better manage money, based on the individual’s profile results. 
  • Personalised offers: Understanding a customer’s needs grabs attention. So, with gamification, you can tap into previous behaviours and provide something of value. For example, if you ran a food delivery app, you could offer a discount for their favourite restaurant.
  • Progress tracking: And to keep customers engaged once you’ve piqued their interest, gamification can track and reward user engagement. For example, a fitness app can provide similar workouts, offer gifts for hitting milestones (like Peloton) and provide words of encouragement.

🎳Gamification in action: Michaels drives 41% engagement in reactivation campaign

Large arts and crafts retailer, Michaels, had a dilemma. Around 4.8 million email addresses were at risk of becoming inactive due to not opening an email from the brand in the last 9-12 months. And they wanted to better understand these customers (why they shopped with the brand, hobbies, preferred communication and more).

The solution? Michaels deployed gamified content with a holiday-themed “Advent Calendar”, sitting within a reactivation email. This included a combination of unique events and incentives to purchase.

The result?

  • 80,000+ unique emails were reactivates – worth an estimates $400k
  • 41% that clicked the email engages with the experience
  • 2,500 previously uncaptured unique data points were provided by the respondents

>> Read the full case study here.

In short, gamification marketing strategies can be used across the entire customer lifecycle to help you acquire more customers, convert them into paying customers, and retain them for the long-term. 

With all these factors in mind, let’s look at the importance of measuring your gamification strategy. 

Measuring the success of your gamification marketing strategy

Put simply, measuring the success of your gamification marketing strategy is essential to determine if you’re meeting the right goals and achieving the desired results. 

Here are some metrics you can use to measure the success of your marketing gamification strategies:

  • Engagement rates: Measuring engagement rates can give you a sense of how well your marketing gamification strategy is resonating with customers. You can track metrics such as page views, Click-Through Rates, time on site, and repeat visits, also look for increases over time.
  • Conversion rates: This is one of the most important metrics to track, as it tells you whether your marketing gamification strategy is driving desired behaviours and increasing conversions. Look at the percentage of visitors who take the desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up, and track changes over time.
  • Customer satisfaction: Customer satisfaction is another key metric to track when measuring the success of your gamification strategy. Collect feedback from customers and track any changes over time to see if your gamification efforts are having a positive impact.
  • Retention rates: Finally, retention rates tell you how well your gamification strategy is working to keep customers engaged and coming back for more. Track the percentage of customers who make repeat purchases or use your service over time, plus look for increases.

By measuring the success of your marketing gamification strategy using these metrics, you can determine whether you’re meeting your goals and achieving your desired results. You can then make adjustments and improvements to your strategy as needed to ensure continued success.

Gamification: The key to unlocking customer engagement and sales growth

As you can see, gamification marketing strategies have proven to increase customer engagement and impact the bottom line…

And, they create a much more positive user experience for the customer – cleverly tapping into their psyche of needing to feel a sense of achievement. 

While there’s an abundance of benefits, there’s one thing to bear in mind: you need to use it correctly. Customers need to feel like it’s a fun experience and they aren’t being exploited for their data. Trust is critical.

So, what a brand chooses to do with this data is key. Brands that are seemingly using these tactics to trick customers into spending more than they intended or just aren’t super explicit about what will happen with data that’s shared are a major no-no. It’s unethical and ultimately it negatively impacts a business’s brand perception and profits.


✅ Customer value focus

✅ Building authentic and mutually valuable relationships

✅ Using data to better the customer experience

Ready to start using gamification in marketing? If you got an in-house team of web devs, product devs, and designers to hand then great! You’re more than prepared to test these gamification marketing strategies.
Not blessed with these resources? You are not alone! In fact, a lot of leading retailers choose to outsource the development side. Here’s what to look for in a marketing gamification software provider: Checklist: What to look for in a marketing gamification platform.

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