Playing to Win – How to Gamify Your Online Marketing

Playing to Win – How to Gamify Your Online Marketing

Playing to Win – How to Gamify Your Online Marketing

Gamification is hot news right now. If you haven’t come across it before, it’s the art of adding the elements of a game to your marketing techniques to engage and motivate your customers. It’s a powerful strategy that has helped many companies achieve their goals and which every online business should consider using. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at gamification and show you some examples of how you can use it for your own business.

What is gamification?

Essentially, gamification is a way of using elements of gameplay to encourage customers to engage with your website and buy your products. It has been used in a wide range of applications, such as educational sites, fitness trackers, rewards programmes and review apps. It involves elements such as competition, levelling up and target setting, and provides psychological and tangible rewards when targets are met or levels are completed. Of course, the achieving of these rewards also helps businesses achieve their own goals.
What makes gamification so successful is that most people enjoy playing games and this encourages users to stay engaged when, without the game elements, they may have lost interest. In this way, it can be used to lead players along the path you want them to take. You start them off at level one and get them to complete their journey upwards, through the levels, rewarding them at each stage.

How gamification is used in marketing

One of the main elements of digital gameplay is to set the user a target and show them their progression towards it. This is usually shown as some kind of graphical measure, like a progress bar, perhaps to show how many loyalty points a user has earned during a particular period or how many products they have reviewed. The aim is to transform the customer’s journey into a game that encourages them to help the company improve its conversion rates.

Some companies create games as a vehicle in which to sell other products. Many children’s games websites and apps offer in-app purchases where parents can buy tokens that the children use to give their avatars new outfits, pets or tools. The games are free to use, encouraging lots of children to visit the site, but those who want the in-app goodies, the VIP status and access to the best areas will need to make purchases.

On a more basic level, some companies just add games to their websites for users to enjoy. Not only is this a way of generating more traffic and increasing user engagement, it can be great for brand development and show potential customers that you care about the experience they have with your brand.

How to use gamification on your website

Not all aspects of gamification will be possible for every website owner. Some forms of game, for obvious reasons, require detailed programming and linking to other areas of the business’ CMS. However, some techniques are much less difficult to achieve and if you use platforms like WordPress, there are now various gamification plugins that can be used.

One of the key ways to begin gamification is to reward users who engage with your website. This could be rewarding them for the numbers of pages they read, products they look at, shares or likes they give or even for the number of times they return to the site. Initial rewards could be points which are then redeemable for things like entry to competitions or discount vouchers.

Another form of gamification is to provide up-levelling for increased participation. Users of Google Maps, for example, are asked to rate places they have visited, write reviews and answer questions. As they do so they are given points. The more points they achieve, they progress upwards through 10 levels. Those at level 4 or above earn the kudos of being badged as a local guide. For companies where getting users to review products or places is important, e-Commerce sites and travel agents, for example, this form of gameplay is ideal.

Perhaps the most useful form of gamification is for enhancing your reward schemes. Rewards can be given for a whole range of things, such as per item purchased, per amount spent, for the continuation of annual or monthly subscriptions, plus any other activity you want to reward users for.

To make this work as a game, you can create leader boards which give special prizes to your most active customers, set progress targets or personal bests, or create levels as in the Google Maps example mentioned above.


Our love of a good game or competition makes gamification an ideal way to attract new visitors, keep them engaged and encourage them to interact with and buy from your website. The development of gamification plugins and extensions now brings this marketing option within the grasp of most websites without the need to have an expensive application specially built.
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