Gamification: Campaigns for All Occasions

Gamification programs offer a multitude of possibilities for businesses. During our discussion, we explored three distinct ways in which these programs can be effectively utilized.


Bill Arnold

1/9/20245 min read

Gamification Campaigns
Gamification Campaigns

Theoretical concepts can be a valuable foundation for understanding marketing strategies, but it is often insightful to delve into real-life campaigns to witness their execution and the outcomes they yield. In this article, we will explore three exceptional campaigns that achieved remarkable results. By studying these examples, we can gain valuable insights into the practical aspects of campaign planning and implementation. Examining the strategies, tactics, and creative elements employed by these campaigns can provide us with a deeper understanding of how to effectively connect with target audiences and achieve desired outcomes. By combining theoretical knowledge with practical examples, we can strengthen our understanding of marketing principles and enhance our ability to develop successful campaigns.

Gamification for Client Retention

With gamification, you can significantly reduce customer churn by gamifying a loyalty program. Just like S&H Green Stamps knew, over one hundred years ago, consumers will continue to buy if you have an exciting rewards program.

One of the earliest examples of using gamification to encourage customer loyalty, and to get them to purchase more, was done by S&H Green Stamps. The program was first introduced in 1896 and continued until the late 1980s. For every purchase you made at specific department stores, you would be rewarded with branded green stamps in the amount that was tied to the purchase price. I still can remember the taste of licking the back of thousands of stamps to stick into the stamp book to redeem them at the store. It was a big deal, and it worked because we always purchased from that store when we could.

Loyalty programs aim to reward customers for their repeat business. Incorporating gamification into these programs can make them more engaging and fun. Similar to earning green stamps, businesses can now award points when a customer makes a purchase. These points can be redeemed for discounts, swag, or gift cards. The more you purchase, the more points you earn.

Another popular gamification strategy is the use of achievement badges, which customers earn after reaching certain milestones. This not only gives customers a sense of accomplishment but also encourages further interaction with the business. When a customer achieves a designated milestone, they will earn additional benefits, such as a ten percent discount every Tuesday, or be given priority in buying tickets for an event.

Gamification can aid in client retention by making interactions with the business more enjoyable and rewarding. For example, businesses can use a leaderboard to foster a sense of competition among customers. Seeing their names rise on the leaderboard can motivate customers to engage more with the business.

Moreover, businesses can gamify a referral process where customers who make referrals earn rewards and prizes.

Gamification for Brand Advocates

Imagine having an army of die-hard advocates who can be called upon to influence buyers or use their social reach to spread the word about your brand. This is every marketer's dream, right? If that excites you, then gamification is your answer.

Using brand advocates is powerful because they are a more trusted source of information than the brand itself. It is not what you say about yourself that matters, it is what other people say about you that counts.

Brand advocate programs are one of the best use cases for gamification as they can weaponize the power of influencer marketing. Brand advocates are usually satisfied customers but can also be value-added resellers or any party who is passionate about your brand. You can utilize gamification to reward individuals who already love your brand and incentivize them to communicate that passion where and how you want them to. This may take the form of sharing content (offers, events, white papers, or webinars) through social media, writing reviews, or speaking directly to your prospective company.

They can also write online reviews on portals such as TrustRadius or G2Crowd. They can engage in LinkedIn conversations or respond to a tweet asking about your brand.

One of the most effective utilization of the brand advocate is growth enablement. You can utilize the best and most articulate advocates to speak directly to prospects who have already considered your case studies and now want to talk to a real person.

HubSpot had a masterful program that they designed for brand advocates to reach out to decision-makers on their behalf. The program was HubStars, and they enlisted the most ardent brand advocates through gamification to make referrals, recommendations, or testimonials.

If a CEO or other decision maker was questioning whether HubSpot or one of their competitors was a better solution, HubSpot would recommend they ask the question on LinkedIn or another social platform. When that CEO did, HubSpot would send a request out to their brand advocates to respond en masse. Within minutes, 30 or 40 brand advocates would respond with detailed and glowing testimonials. The CEO thought that outreach was organic, and the response was from users passionate about the product. What they did not know was that HubSpot rewarded those individuals with points that could be exchanged for swag or gift cards.

Gamification is not for every company nor can it operate in a vacuum. You need to have an established brand that advocates believe has value and are willing to promote. You cannot use gamification to get an advocate to do something they do not believe in or aren't inclined to do.

Gamification to Increase Sales

Gamification is a powerful strategy that companies can employ to boost their sales. By integrating game elements into their marketing campaigns, companies can engage and motivate customers in a fun and interactive way. A prime example of this is the McDonald's Millionaire game, which was launched in the early 2000s. This game involved collecting game pieces from McDonald's products and matching them up with others to win various prizes, including cash. This clever gamification technique created a sense of excitement and competition among customers, driving them to purchase more meals in hopes of winning big. The game successfully increased sales for McDonald's as customers eagerly participated, eagerly collecting game pieces and returning to the restaurant for more chances to win.

We have our own example of a client for whom we created a gamification program to drive sales. We had a B2C client who sold cartoon figures both DTC and through retail outlets. They were not the principal player in the industry and had been seen as a poor imitation that was not quite as cool. We started a contest that involved three aspects: 1) Every Day they Posted on Social media showing a picture or a video of their "action figure" doing something cool, and they would earn points. 2) The Best entry of the day also won cool swag. 3) Best collection contest where avid collectors would participate in a double elimination tournament. Their collections were displayed on the company website and the community would vote who had the best collection.

What drove the enthusiasm were several sets of tickets to Comic Con in San Diego, and the opportunity to attend several highly sought-after panels. The top winner got to meet some of the celebrities.

Results - Sales went through the roof. The buzz created for the client made their product the coolest and most sought-after. In post-campaign analysis, we found that people were buying action figures to enhance their collection for social media posts or for the double-elimination contest.


Gamification programs offer a multitude of possibilities for businesses. During our discussion, we explored three distinct ways in which these programs can be effectively utilized. Firstly, they can be employed for client retention purposes. By incorporating game-like elements into loyalty programs, we can enhance customer engagement and encourage repeat business. Secondly, gamification programs can serve as a powerful tool for motivating brand advocates. By rewarding customers for promoting and advocating for our brand, we can strengthen their loyalty and encourage them to spread positive word-of-mouth. Lastly, these programs can also be employed to boost sales. By creating interactive and engaging experiences, we can captivate customers and persuade them to make purchases. The beauty of gamification lies in its limitless possibilities; there are no boundaries except for our own imagination. However, it is crucial to follow best practices to ensure optimal results.

To learn more about these best practices, we recommend that you visit the following two blogs: "Gamification - Make Marketing Fun" and "Gamification - All Games Have Rules."