Gamification - All Games Have Rules

It is crucial to emphasize the importance of setting up and continuously monitoring any gamification program to ensure that it delivers the desired results and has a positive Return on Investment (ROI). Proper setup involves designing the program in a way that aligns with the objectives and targets of the organization. initiatives to ensure their effectiveness and success.


Bill Arnold

1/8/20246 min read

Gamification - How To Start
Gamification - How To Start

Gamification has become a popular strategy for businesses to engage their customers and drive desired behaviors. By incorporating game elements into marketing programs, companies can create interactive experiences that capture attention, encourage participation, and foster customer loyalty.

We have previously discussed why gamification is such a powerful method for activating customers and brand advocates to take action on behalf of the brand. We shared the science behind how it works in a blog entitled, "Gamification - Make Marketing Fun."

However, setting up a successful gamification marketing program requires careful planning and implementation. In this article, we will explore the best practices for creating an effective gamification marketing program.

Step 1: Define Your Objectives

Before diving into gamification, it is important to clearly define your marketing objectives. Are you aiming to increase brand awareness, drive customer engagement, or boost sales? By understanding your goals, you can design a gamification program that aligns with your overall marketing strategy.

Step 2: Identify Target Audience

Next, identify your target audience. Who are the people you want to engage with your gamification program? Understanding their demographics, interests, and motivations will help you tailor the game elements to their preferences. Conduct market research, and gather data to gain insights into your target audience.

Step 3: Choose the Game Mechanics

Game mechanics are the rules and systems that make a game enjoyable and engaging. When designing your gamification program, choose game mechanics that align with your objectives and resonate with your target audience. Some popular game mechanics include points, badges, leaderboards, challenges, and rewards.

Step 4: Design User Interface

The user interface is a crucial component of a successful gamification program. It should be visually appealing and intuitive, making it easy for users to navigate and interact with the game elements.

Step 5: Gamify Marketing Channels

Once you have designed your gamification program, it's time to integrate it into your marketing channels. Whether it is your website, mobile app, social media platforms, or email marketing campaigns, make sure to incorporate the game elements seamlessly. This will ensure a consistent and engaging experience for your customers.

Step 6: Promote the Gamification

To maximize the success of your gamification program, promote it effectively. Use your existing marketing channels to create awareness and generate excitement. Leverage social media, email marketing, and influencer partnerships to spread the word about your gamification program and encourage participation.

Step 7: Analyze and Optimize

Once your gamification program is live, track and analyze the data to measure its effectiveness. Monitor user engagement, conversion rates, and other relevant metrics to understand how well your program is performing. Based on the insights gathered, make necessary optimizations to improve the program's impact.

Step 8: Provide Meaningful Rewards

Rewards are a crucial component of any gamification program. They motivate participants to act and continue engaging with your brand. However, it is important to provide meaningful rewards that are relevant to your audience. Consider offering exclusive discounts, access to premium content, or personalized experiences as rewards to keep participants motivated.

Step 9: Foster Competition

Gamification programs can be designed to encourage both competition and collaboration among participants. Leaderboards and challenges can foster healthy competition, while team-based activities and rewards can promote collaboration. Find the right balance between competition and collaboration to create an engaging and inclusive experience for your audience.


As with any program, there are a number of best practices that you need to be aware of. Here is a list of items you should consider including when you start your gamification initiative.

1. Don’t Go It Alone: Setting up and running your gamification program can take a great deal of time and effort. We highly recommend that you do not go it alone at least for the first year. Hire an agency that has experience setting up these programs. The time you will save and the mistakes you will avoid will pay for itself. If you are not in a position to hire an agency, we strongly recommend you enlist the help of a fractional Chief Marketing Officer.

2. Use a Gamification Platform: Finally, do not attempt to build a brand advocacy gamification program without using a third-party platform. There are a number of gamification providers who specialize in brand advocacy programs. Several examples are Influitive, Nextbee, and Bunchball. Since I am not advocating one over the other, it is a safe bet that I am not a brand advocate for any particular provider. I am just an advocate for the effectiveness of the programs.

3. Encourage Competition: Offer challenges and award badges, trophies, and meaningful prizes. The sense of competition will drive participants to keep active.

4. Keep Regional/Ethnic/Religious Differences in Mind: If you are going to have a holiday contest, be sure to include Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, as well as Christmas. Be inclusive.

5. Leverage User-Generated Content (UCG): Inspire and reward users to generate and share user-generated content. It can be a blog, social media post, or eBook. You will be amazed at the creativity and traction this can generate.

6. Incorporate Storytelling: Make the process fun and interesting. After all, who doesn’t like to go on a good quest once in a while?

7. Use Nostalgia: People respond to memories of days gone by, which seemed simpler and for which they have fond memories.

8. Make it Fun: After all, this is a game.

Use the Right Metrics

If you are engaging in ANY marketing activity, you need to decide upfront the metrics that will show the effectiveness of your program. It is not enough just to collect data for a data-driven marketer you must understand its importance, A/B test alternatives, analyze the results, and make continuous improvements.

Prevail Marketing tracks over 400 key performance indicators for every client every month. We reject the notion that marketing is simply trial and error. It is all about implementing strategies and campaigns based on a foundation of discovery and assessment, then having a continuous analysis and optimization based on KPIs performance.

Gamification programs add to the list of KPIs we need to establish and track.

Engagement Rate of Activities - This is a foundational metric that you need to track and optimize. Knowing what activities of the gamification program have the greatest support. Figuring out which elements need to be improved so participants are willing to engage. Often if a particular activity is not getting community support, you will need to amp up the reward.

Adoption Rate of Participants- What percentage of your community is involved? Typically 20% of the participants will drive the program, but if you find that some members simply are not logging in at all or or just make an occasional appearance, you need to investigate the reasons. Look for patterns in what they give as a reason and if possible address them. If you have brand advocates that no matter the incentive simply do not engage in any meaningful way, replace them. Part of what drives everyone's behavior is the mob mentality. You want those who are part of your program to be caught up in the notion that their community is special and everyone there is excited to participate.

Scoring and Rankings - This is a game and if you want participation you need to drive the competition with scores and rankings. Send out emails to participants showing them the top five people who are above and below them. This is important so they do not get discouraged by seeing scores well outside their reach. Give them badges they may display that show they have reached a particular milestone or did a particular task.

Conversion Rates - The purpose of your gamification program is to generate leads and customers. You need to track the conversion rates of each activity to see how effective it is in the generation of qualified leads or converting them to customers. A/B test these poor performing activities to optimize those activities that are underperforming or replace them with better ideas.

Return On Investment (ROI) - No matter how well a program is performing, if it does not generate an ROI, it simply is not a good campaign. When you run a gamification program you have hard costs for both the platform being used and the prizes being given out. You will also have a significant cost for the upkeep and monitoring of the program by your staff. These costs are not insignificant. If your program is not generating a positive ROI after six months, you need to seriously evaluate whether the program should continue.


It is crucial to emphasize the importance of setting up and continuously monitoring any gamification program to ensure that it delivers the desired results and has a positive Return on Investment (ROI). Proper setup involves designing the program in a way that aligns with the objectives and targets of the organization. This includes selecting appropriate game mechanics, defining clear rules and goals, and ensuring user engagement. Continual monitoring allows for the identification of any potential issues or areas for improvement, enabling timely adjustments to be made. Without proper setup and monitoring, a gamification program may fail to achieve its intended results, resulting in wasted resources and a negative ROI. Therefore, organizations must prioritize the establishment and continual assessment of their gamification initiatives to ensure their effectiveness and success.