How to plan your gamification strategy

How to plan your gamification strategy? (with real examples)

A gamification strategy is a plan that uses game mechanics, game design principles, gamification techniques, and psychology into account to find the best way to generate the wanted results. 

You’ve probably heard you can use games to boost user engagement and increase conversion rates. But to achieve the desired results, such as long-term engagement, more traffic, and higher conversions, you need a clear gamification strategy in place. That’s why we wanted to use our expertise, as the leading gamification platform, to highlight what is important when planning gamified experiences. 

Therefore, in this post, we will be defining what is a gamification strategy in business, and why it’s important to have one. Then, we’ll share nine gamification strategy steps your business can use to generate results. Plus, we included many different examples from real brands, because we know it’s always better to learn with examples! 

What is a gamification strategy?

A gamification strategy is a plan that uses game mechanics, game design principles, gamification techniques, and psychology into account to find the best way to generate the wanted results. In other words, you want to use gamification to achieve a specific goal, such as boosting engagement, generating awareness, getting new leads, increasing your sales, or the similar. So, you will want to strategize on which game would be best suited to achieve this goal, what channels should be used to promote your gamified experiences, how can you track and measure success, etc. 

Outside of gamification in marketing, gamification can also be applied in a wide variety of other settings, including education, healthcare, and employee engagement. The effectiveness of a gamification strategy in business depends on the alignment between the game mechanics and the user’s goals, motivations, and preferences. When done well, gamification in business can create a fun and engaging experience that drives behavioral change and delivers meaningful results.

Why is it important to have a gamification strategy?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the game itself is the most important part. But there’s more to it than just choosing a game, and then you’re all set.

In a successful marketing gamification set-up, you need to take a strategic approach: map out the steps such as the purpose of your campaign, goals, and desired outcome, means to get there, which game mechanics to use, etc. 

If you don’t, you might end up with a campaign that can entertain your audience but doesn’t yield the expected results. Unless your only goal is to make something that’s fun for the sake of being fun, but let’s face it, that’s rarely the case in marketing.

By implementing a gamification strategy as part of your marketing mix, you can ensure meaningful experiences, higher engagement, increased click-through rates, valuable data collection, and an increase in sales. Of course, while still making something that’s fun for both you and your audience.  

What’s not to like? 

9 Gamification strategy steps you need to know 

  1. Understand what your goals/challenges are
  2. Break your goals/challenges into campaigns
  3. Plan your promotion strategy 
  4. Decide which game mechanic is best suited to your goal
  5. Utilize prizes efficiently
  6. Collect data in a smart and non-intrusive way 
  7. Eliminate dead ends in the journey
  8. Track, analyze and improve: did you achieve your goals?
  9. Try new stuff

1) Understand what your goals/challenges are

One of the most common mistakes, when people start up with marketing gamification, is that they start in the wrong place. They start by choosing a game! But before you even start thinking about game mechanics for your campaign, you should map out:

  1. What are your goals?
  2. What are your challenges?

You need to know what you want to achieve. It is as simple as that. 

Do you want to: 

  • grow your email database? 
  • increase sales of a certain product or product category? 
  • generate brand awareness? 
  • encourage people to spend more time with your brand or on your website?
  • enrich your existing database with more data?
  • know about your customers’ preferences?
  • guide/educate your audience?

And what stands in the way of achieving your goals? If you’re in doubt it’s always a good idea to reach out to your Customer Success Manager from your marketing gamification provider.

2) Breaking your goals and challenges into segments/campaigns

The second step in a marketing gamification strategy that’s important for any business is to break your goals and challenges down into segments and campaigns. Which of these occasions are relevant to your brand and your audience?

  • Seasonal campaigns
  • Promotional and occasional days
  • Product launches
  • Always-on campaigns
  • Ad hoc campaigns

Seasonal campaigns

Seeing a lot of marketing messages around Easter, Christmas, Chinese New Year, etc? Well, it seems like everyone is fighting for attention there. 

And we are bombarded with marketing messages. 

So try to stand out with a more captivating experience using game mechanics to:

1) Make it easier for your customers to find what they are looking for
2) Increase your brand awareness

Enabling gamification in your seasonal campaigns is a great place to start building it into your strategy.

An example of gamification would be to ensure engagement or re-activation of “sleeping” customers over a long period of time with a Christmas or Advent Calendar in December, just like LEGOLAND did:

Gamification strategy example 1: Legoland's advent calendar

The results of such a campaign are often pretty amazing. This campaign got: 

  • 30,000 newsletter sign-ups 
  • 66% more website users*
  • 680,000+ video views
  • 2+ million in organic Facebook reach
  • 33% more park-related purchases*

LEGOLAND accomplished this with just €1,400 in ad spend and through organic social.

*= compared to the previous year 

Learn more about Legoland’s Advent Calendar!

Promotional and occasional days

Promotional days like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc. are easy to use in your gamification strategy. 

Here is an example of gamification for a Black Friday campaign. To encourage customers to buy products on your website rather than on a competitor’s website on Black Friday, you could create a wheel of fortune campaign where participants can win extra discounts. A wheel of fortune is an amazing way to cut through the clutter on the biggest shopping holiday of the year. Plus, on a day like Black Friday, customers are extra sensitive to price and are on the lookout for the best deals and extra discounts. That’s why creating a gamified campaign is a must!

Gamification strategy example 2: wheel of fortune

But there are so many more opportunities that are often less known/utilized. Every week there’s something to celebrate: such as the Oscars, get to know your customer day, world chocolate day, the Olympics, and national pet day.

Take a look at this website and browse around to find fun national and international days

Can you use any of these to connect with your audience? Pick the occasions that align with your brand and target audience, but also try to include occasions that you haven’t thought about before that can grow your business. Or even better, think of occasions that are not overused by your competitors. Many companies only use seasonal, promotional, and occasional days for their gamified campaigns. 

So if you want to stand out from the crowd, read along for gamification strategy steps that will help set you apart from the competition.

Product launches

Launching a new product or an entire category? Great! 

Do you usually just show new products on your website or on social media? A way to build more excitement around a new product coming could be a countdown clock leading into a landing page with a game. When the countdown is over the audience gets access to a game that promotes the product, what the product is, what it does, etc. You can support this with video, or simply by using a video quiz format that combines game mechanics with sharing knowledge about the new product. 

Or you can use a scratchcard game, where products are hidden behind the front like Ecooking did:

Gamification strategy example 3: eCooking

Or use a Memory Game, where you can display a larger number of your items. Just like Dermosil did in this example of gamification:

Gamification strategy example 4: Dermosil

The prize for completing the game successfully could be a product from the category or a voucher to use on this new category. The idea is to get people to try it, so they will hopefully purchase from you again next time they are looking for a similar product. 

Then, send emails about the category to people who sign up to play to stay top of mind for a longer period of time. You can also use this opportunity to educate them even more on your new product(s). 

In other words, promoting new product launches can be a nice idea to include in your gamification strategy.  

Always-on campaigns

We know that the use of game mechanics increases conversion rates, brand awareness, etc. So why not leverage this key resource for more than Christmas, Easter, and other holidays? 

Do you want to know more about the preferences of your loyalty club members? 

Then make an always-on nurture flow where new members are sent a link to a quiz or a personality test, so you can pick up that relevant data. Or have a dedicated landing page on your website with a registration form where people can always fill out a questionnaire, quiz, or personality test. 

The Dutch Football Club PSV has several always-on games on their website to keep their fans engaged:

Gamification strategy example 5: Dutch Football Club PSV

Another great example of gamification is from Natusan. Natusan wanted to generate awareness around the serious impact cat litter can have on the environment. So, they created a cat litter waste calculator where they highlight how much participants could lower their environmental impact by switching their brand of cat litter to Natusan’s sustainable one.

Gamification strategy example 6: Natusan

Read more about Natusan’s always-on campaign with a Waste Calculator

Always-on campaigns are great gamification techniques because the time you spend planning, building, and promoting the campaign can be leveraged for a longuer period of time, thus increasing your ROI.

Ad hoc campaigns

You can’t plan everything in advance. Sometimes you just have to do stuff on the go. Maybe because your manager came up with this (great) idea? Because you have extra bandwidth to play around? Because you want to try something in between already planned campaigns? Or, maybe because your sales department is pushing for something more sales-specific?

Whether your gamified campaigns are always-on or timed, planned or ad hoc, internally driven or externally inspired, the next step is to think about your promotion strategy.

3) Plan your promotion strategy

The third gamification strategy step is to think about all of your channels. Think of every touch point you have with your customer, so gamification becomes an integrated part of your marketing strategy and works to your advantage wherever it can. 

Do you use it on every channel?

Online examples:

  • Website (main page and landing pages)
  • Social media 
  • Email 
  • App

Remember that you can promote your gamified campaigns both organically and through paid channels such as paid media, Google Display, and so on. 

It’s also powerful to use game mechanics in the physical world. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, where can you engage your audience to create a full omnichannel experience? 

Offline examples:

  • In-store/showrooms (screens, QR codes on desks, etc.)
  • Packaging
  • Leaflets, posters, A-signs, menu cards 
  • Store openings
  • Events/trade fairs 

Gamification in business isn’t just for special occasions. So why not make gamified experiences throughout your store or showroom?  When people are browsing around, you can get a hook of them by offering them an engaging experience. If you’re a store you could urge people to scan a QR code to try a fit finder or check out a style guide. 

Store openings

What does a store opening have to do with a marketing gamification strategy you might think? 

A lot, if you ask the fashion lifestyle brand Shaping New Tomorrow!

Shaping New Tomorrow used a gamification campaign to create brand awareness and activate people in queue when they opened a store:

Gamification strategy example 7: Shaping New Tomorrow

People sent a text message and received a link to a spin the wheel campaign, where they could win t-shirts and boxers. Within the first 60 minutes of the campaign going live, Shaping New Tomorrow already had 200 registrations. By the end of the day, there were nearly 600 unique registrations, each player averaging 32 game plays! (yes, that’s really the right number!)

The campaign was such a huge success that Shaping New Tomorrow has implemented gamification for each new store opening. 

Check this blog post to learn more about Shaping New Tomorrow and how you can gamify a retail store opening!

Gamification strategy tip: Go beyond the red carpet, bubbles, and balloons at your next store opening, and invite your audience to play an active part in it.

Events and trade fairs

Have you ever had a stand at an event or a trade fair and struggled to cut through the noise? Or participated at an event or trade fair and found all the stands with their pens and sweets dull and uninspiring? 

Then you’re not alone! 

A free gamification strategy example for you: 

Catch your audience’s attention at fairs/events with game mechanics. Like in this example of gamification with a physical sliding puzzle:

Gamification strategy example 8: Playable

Or like in this example, where an employee had a QR code on their t-shirt, which participants could scan to enter a game:

QR code on t-shirt

4) Decide which game mechanic is best suited to fulfill your goal

Human psychology is a powerful thing. When cultivated effectively through an experience, it can yield promising results. 

Consider which game mechanic you can use to support your goal of turning your audience from unengaged to engaged: 

  • To compete
  • To be challenged
  • To be rewarded
  • To have fun
  • To mirror

As humans, we are hardwired to compete, to be challenged, and to play to win. Maybe because it releases feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. The challenge or game itself can, in some instances, be the reward as well. To have fun may seem like a no-brainer and something that all brands strive for. However, it is important. There is so much competition for brands, so one way to stand out is to make the experience fun.

We also like to compare ourselves to others (to mirror). It fills our very human need to see and feel that we belong and answer the question, “How do I measure up (against others)?”.

5) Utilize prizes efficiently 

The best-gamified campaigns aren’t about the prize, but about the experience itself. According to our recent consumer research with YouGov of 5,563 people “the size and value of a prize is less important than winning”. Winning a voucher is more valuable than being given a voucher.  

Food for thought!

See more interesting stats in the report:

Ebook Marketing is a Data Game

And sometimes a prize isn’t even necessary! 

Just look at polls, quizzes, personality tests, etc. Here the challenge or the mirroring effect is the center of the experience.

Nonetheless, planning your prizes is an important section of your gamification strategy. Are you giving vouchers? Discount codes? Free samples? No matter what you are giving out, you need to make sure the logistics support your choice. For example, if you want to give free samples, you need to make sure to produce enough, and you need to think about a distribution strategy as well. Are you going to send the samples by mail? Or, should participants pick them up at your physical shops? 

Gamification strategy tip: if you encourage participants to collect their free samples at your physical shop, you also increase your store visits, thus hopefully succeeding in boosting sales as well. 

6) Collect data in a smart and non-intrusive way 

Zero- and first-party data collection and data enrichment are on everyone’s lips these days. Luckily, marketing gamification is an excellent way to get data in a non-intrusive way. 

If you want to collect several data points, a multi-step format such as a quiz or a personality test can be the solution without negatively impacting user experience. In fact, multi-step formats are often less intimidating, despite the fact that they require more from users. (Maybe that’s why 49% of all games used by our customers are knowledge games, with quizzes as the most popular game format). 

And remember that context is very important here. If you want people to sign up so you can send them vouchers to your website, you might not want to ask for their phone numbers. As a rule of thumb, only ask for what you need, as the longer your lead form is, the less likely are people willing to fill it out. 

Also, keep this in mind. there needs to be a two-way value exchange. Always!Pro gamification strategy tip: If you want to collect many different data points, it is often better to create multiple gamified experiences rather than trying to collect everything in one.

7) Eliminate dead ends in the journey

The seventh gamification strategy step for your business is to think about the whole buyer’s journey and not just the game itself. 

Yes, you’ve got people to play the game. But what happens afterward?

Always include a secondary CTA such as a store locator, book a meeting, visit the website, etc. 

The UK-based Costcutter Supermarket Group wanted to boost consumer engagement, draw new shoppers to local stores, and convert those shoppers into loyal customers. In one of their gamified campaigns, Costcutter used a Spin the bottle game to spike interest. At the end of the game, they included a store locator button that yielded 1,400 clicks. That’s what we call a win-win!

CTA button for store locator

This represents a potentially valuable group of consumers who interacted with the brand, liked what they experienced, and went on to find out more.

8) Track, analyze and improve: did you achieve your goals?

Tracking & analyzing should be part of any gamification strategy in business. Did the campaign drive the results you aimed for? Analyze the impact of the game mechanics. What worked and what didn’t? Can you recreate the campaign with a different mechanic for your next campaign? Can you split-test your next campaign to understand what worked best? 

Whether you have a seasonal or an always-on campaign, you should track and analyze performance to see where you can improve. Thus, improving your gamification techniques after each campaign.

9) Try new stuff

So, you’ve come to the end of your campaign, well done. 

After analyzing your campaign, look for new opportunities. There’s lots of potential for using game mechanics through the whole customer journey and in places you might not have thought of.  

Consider the wider business usage. Here are just a few examples you might not have thought of:

HR and recruitment

Be like JYSK and help your recruitment process by using gamification. They used gamification for candidate screening and saved 31,000 HR working hours on the task. Jysk designed a flow based on a personality test that would define a “store manager persona”.Read more about this gamification strategy example: Jysk and its gamified candidate screening process!

Gamification strategy example 10: Jysk

Internal training

Game mechanics have also proven to be very powerful for internal training. 

For instance, it can be used for training on

  • GDPR 
  • ISO
  • Health or safety
  • Product knowledge
  • New procedures
  • Skill improvement

Maybe you can also use game mechanics for another setting? There’s a whole world of game-changing possibilities out there. Just waiting for you to grab them. Read more about gamification at work, and how it can help employees develop skills for the future.

Ready, set, let’s get your new gamification strategy rolling!

So here you have it: the 9 steps for a gamification strategy that your business can steal.  By following these steps, you are on the right track to creating gamified experiences that generate results. However, planning is one thing, implementing your experiences is another. 

Playable is a gamification platform that enables everyone to create gamified experiences without coding and wizard-level IT skills. With 30+ different game concepts, ready to be utilized, we can assure you that you can find the right game concept to fit your marketing goals. 

Sounds interesting? See playable marketing in action!