Gamification of Marketing

An increasing number of businesses are discovering that gamification can be applied to help solve their marketing problems. Gartner found that over 70% of the Forbes Global 200 saying they planned to use gamification for marketing purposes by the end of 2014. Gamification can be leveraged to drive adoption, engagement, loyalty, sharing, and sales.[1]  With gamification, customers establish an emotional connection with the brand and it leads to better brand loyalty. The real value of a gamification program lies in being able to track ROI based on particular behaviors and user activity. 


How Can Gamification Help?

Gamification helps incentivize and motivate behavior that is beneficial to a brand. It can accentuate the user experience one has with the brand's content and build brand loyalty. Marketers can instantly figure out if gamification works for their company, the statistics and analytics-driven nature of gamification means its success or failure is quickly quantifiable. [1]

Applying game mechanics provide more in-depth engagement than other forms of digital advertising. Rewards help elevate a user's status, making them feel more accomplished and important.

How to Gamify your Marketing Plan

Depending on gamification design, one or more of the following can be done:

  • Add points to tasks that involve engaging with content.
  • Define badges/rewards to be given out after a criteria is met.
  • Create a Leaderboard to show top performers.
  • Completion of challenges can be tied to unlocking higher levels.

The most important step in gamification is to ensure that the program is in line with company goals. It is essential that marketers are in tune with their customer base, and really hone in on what motivates their users. Continuous monitoring of data and user engagement, on a regular basis, so as to modify and evolve game mechanics, over a period of time, will assist with better game design and thereby contribute to the success of gamification applications. Successful gamification applications based on the customer culture or end-user requirements can ensure the success of gamification applications in the long run and can drive real business goals and revenues thereby enhancing the brand name.

Use Cases

Loyalty Programs

In a recent retail study, it was shown that only 12-15% of customers are loyal to a single retailer, but they represent between 55 -70% of total sales. [2] It also costs the average business 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain a current one. Loyalty programs are all about keeping your current customers happy and engaged, which lowers a brand’s need for new customer acquisition while doing wonders for its retention. [3] 

Marketers gamify loyalty programs in order to encourage deeper engagement with the brand. [4]Users earn rewards by completing tasks that are set by the brand. By providing rewards around engagement, users are encouraged to come back to the site outside of advertising campaigns, strengthening brand loyalty while also benefitting the customer with tangible rewards. [5] Programs should provide targeted long-term goals and rewards, rather than just immediate gratification. 

Consumers are very influenced by perceptions of their relative importance to others in a loyalty program. Status levels of membership carry significant weight and importance. Loyalty programs are a quick, efficient way for customers to signal that they deserve special attention. Successful rewards connect with the lifestyle of the brand's consumer. Many loyalty programs recognize "VIPs" with exclusive rewards and remind them to aspire toward the next goal. [6]

An example of a successful loyalty program is My Starbucks Rewards, an app that rewards users with points and badges for visiting their retail stores.


Main Article: Gamification of Communities

Marketers gamify communities to increase customer engagement with the brand's content and other users. Businesses' commonly use Points, Badges, Leaderboards, and Challenges to incentivize activities with the community. In these communities, like-minded people share ideas, expand their knowledge, and make valuable connections. [14]

Communities are a place where the users have a sense of belonging. A sense of belonging and togetherness makes the members come back repeatedly, which drives activity on the community. Through gamification, organizations can take back control of the brand experience by engaging users, encouraging them to join a community, driving active participation, sharing with friends outside the community, and even recruiting friends to join the community. Gamification enables you to turn customers into fans, and fans into evangelists.[7] 

Gamification leverages group identification in communities. Group identification represents users' affective and cognitive loyalty to the user group as users participate in a group. Users with higher group identifications are often willing to remain in a group permanently and to strive toward the goals, and devote themselves to group affairs. [9] 

Marketo launched their Marketo community in 2010. The community was a place where customers and partners could connect with one another and leverage each other's expertise in technical matters. After gamifying the community, Marketo saw a large growth in community engagement. [12]


Businesses gamify their software to encourage engagement and deliver a more personalized experience. [11]

Businesses struggle to drive initial adoption of software for employees and consumers. Game Mechanics such as status, challenges and rewards provide incentives for the user to deeply engage with the software's features.

Autodesk gamified Undiscovered Territory, a new software experience for trial users of Autodesk 3ds Max. The software was built to guide customers through the benefits and differentiators of the tools and to increase usage during the trial period. Data showed that users were twice as likely to purchase Autodesk products if they had used the software at least three times during a 30-day trial period. They experienced a 40% increase in trial usage, and a 10% increase in trial downloads. [13]


  1. Applying the Secrets of Gamification to your Digital Marketing Strategy-
  2. It's all fun and games -- until someone bonds with a brand -
  6. All the World's a Game, and Brands Want to Play Along -
  7. Gamification is the New Brand Engagement -
  8. Gamification 101-
  9. Hsu, S., Chang, J., & Lee, C. (2013). Designing Attractive Gamification Features for Collaborative Storytelling Websites. Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 16(6), 428-435. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0492 
  10. Online Version of the Traditional Game of 'Office Squares' -
  11. Gamification is Serious Business for Marketers-
  12. Marketo Case Study-
  13. Autodesk Case Study-
  14. Win With Gamification in Online Communities-!6qVMN