Gamification - Make Marketing Fun!

Gamification is a powerful tool that has the potential to revolutionize various aspects of our lives. Incorporating game elements into non-game contexts can motivate and engage individuals in a way that traditional methods often fail to do. Learn how to leverage the time, talent, resources, and reach of brand ambassadors.


Bill Arnold

1/7/20249 min read

Gamification - Make Marketing Fun
Gamification - Make Marketing Fun

If you want to do more with less, then you need to learn how to leverage the time, talent, and relationships, and reach that other people who share your same targeted audience. This means you need to find a way to motivate companies and people to engage where, when, and how you want. Sound like pure magic? Well in many ways gamification can be just that.

Whenever we start an educational journey we like to provide a depth of understanding so that you can ascertain if this is a marketing strategy that might work for you and also how to implement it. In the course of three blogs, we will share with you why gamification is such a powerful tool, how to implement a program of your own, and finally examples of how we have successfully utilized gamification for our clients.

What is Gamification?

Gamification is the process of incentivizing to attract and retain customers or engage brand advocates to take specific action on your behalf. While the term “gamification” first came into our lexicon in 2002, the technique has been used by companies since the early 1800’s.

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.

It was not until 2005 that the first cloud-based platform (Bunchball) was developed to help businesses use gamification in a wide-scale digital manner.

Today, gamification marketing is valued at almost twenty-three billion dollars with seventy percent of the largest two thousand companies incorporating gamification into their business acquisition and retention model. (Gitnux)

Why Gamification Works

Gamification is an effective strategy for marketing due to its ability to engage and captivate audiences. By incorporating game-like elements such as rewards, challenges, and leaderboards into marketing campaigns, businesses can create a more interactive and enjoyable experience for consumers. This, in turn, leads to increased brand awareness, customer loyalty, and ultimately, higher conversion rates. Gamification taps into the innate human desire for competition, achievement, and rewards, making it highly effective in capturing attention and driving desired behaviors. Additionally, gamification allows for personalized experiences, as it can be tailored to individual preferences and behaviors. This level of customization further enhances the effectiveness of marketing efforts and creates a deeper connection between the brand and its target audience. Overall, gamification offers a unique and engaging approach to marketing that yields impressive results.

Gamification incorporates fun, competition, community, and prizes to incentivize people who are already using your product or service to keep doing so or to reward advocates for sharing their opinions and recommendations. Gamification works because it relies upon foundational principles of behavioral science and human desire.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, written by Dr. Robert Cialdini, sets forth seven laws of influence. Three of them apply to gamification:

Social Proof: As the old saying goes, there's safety in numbers. If so many people are advocating the benefits of your product or service, it must be good.

Liking: We are more likely to be influenced by people we like. If I am already in your social circles and following you on social media, I am more likely to be influenced by you.

Unity: This is another way of saying community, which means the members have a shared identity. This sense of community provides validation. But if you're unconvinced as to how effective validation can be, watch the movie Validation.

Purpose: Gamification often involves setting and achieving goals, which gives users a sense of purpose.

Recognition: Rewards and recognition in gamification satisfy the human desire for achievement and recognition.

By tapping into these basic psychological needs, gamification can trigger the release of dopamine. This is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. It creates a sense of satisfaction and motivation that keeps users engaged.

To better understand how behavioral science can motivate, direct, and encourage a person to perform specific tasks, we have created a blog entitled, "The Laws of Influence: The Psychology of Getting to YES.

Third-Party Proof

Prevail Marketing is a data-driven marketing agency. We never guess but base our decisions on empirical data that will always show the correct path. We always tell our clients that if you doubt anything we are suggesting, ask for proof. We will always have data that will support our statements.

For those who doubt the science behind gamification, here are the results of a number of independent studies showing the effectiveness of gamification. We encourage you to explore these resources and do your own research.

  • Customer acquisition can be raised by 700% through a gamified system. (Lxahub)

  • Gamified experiences can increase customer engagement by 48%. (Adact)

  • Companies with gamified loyalty programs experienced a 22% increase in retention. (Adact)

  • Gamification in their sales processes has a 25.3% increase in sales conversion rates. (Adact)

  • 61% of CEOs, CFOs, and senior executives take daily game breaks at work. (Accelerole)

  • 80% of learners would be more productive if their work was more game-like. (Accelerole)

  • 89% say that a point system would increase their engagement. (Accelerole)

  • Gamification can increase website visits by 108.5% and a conversion rate of 9.38%. (Lxahub)

  • This also can lead to a 100-150% increase in engagement metrics including unique views, page views, community activities, and time on site. (Lxahub)

  • Using gamification for customer engagement strategies resulted in a 54% increase in trial usage and a 15% increase in buy clicks and channel revenue by 29%. (Lxahub)

Elements of a Gamification Program

The elements of a gamification program will differ from company to company. But many of the characteristics that these programs have in common are covered by Debbie Hemley in her article, the 26 Elements of a Gamification Marketing Strategy. There are 10 characteristics of a gamification strategy that are so important, that I want to highlight them here.

1. Clear Objective

Decide what activities you want your brand adv what activities you want your brand advocates to perform. The scope and type of engagement will not only dictate its success but whom you are going to invite to the program. If your brand advocacy involves direct verbal communications with a potential client, this is a different skill set than having someone retweet a promotion.

Gamification should not exist in a vacuum. Every campaign you run should include a gamification element if at all possible. You will want to establish the metrics you'll use to track and demonstrate the effectiveness of the program.

While you will want to monitor the engagement and activities of your brand advocates, the real metrics that need to be tracked concern how that engagement translates into a stronger brand profile and an increase in the number of customers you have. As with any marketing initiative, you will need to let the metrics determine the best ways to utilize your advocates.

As you continue to grow your program, you'll need to ensure that your processes and interactions remain scalable as the number of brand advocates you have working for you increases.

2. Exclusivity

It is imperative that the brand advocates be the right fit for your brand. Establish a robust screening process to ensure that the advocates are passionate believers in your brand and vision. It is important that they understand that they were hand-selected as representatives and reflect the high caliber of person you wish to represent your brand. Advocates who appreciate that they are special will go above and beyond to represent the brand. Establish a social network to allow members to connect and socialize. It is important for adoption that each class of brand advocates feel they were chosen because they are special. This will boost engagement. You should also reward participants with points when they interact with others in the community forum.

Establish a social network to allow members to connect and socialize. It is not only more fun to play with people you know, but it can generate some friendly competition that will further boost engagement. You should also reward participants with points when they interact with others in the community forum.

3. Engagement

Make it as easy as possible for your brand advocates to acclimate to your program. For each new advocate, have a series of tasks that are simple to complete but highly rewarded. For example, award them points and a badge for completing each step in setting up their profile (e.g. uploading their picture, completing their bio, or connecting their social channels).

Have each step of the set-up process be an individual task. This will not only assure that all the information you need has been completed but will provide practice that is reinforced.

4. Challenges

Challenges help keep people interested and provide the brand with a means of directing the activity. For each challenge, make sure that the points that can be earned reflect the difficulty, time involved, and importance to your company. It is far more valuable when a brand advocate provides a referral or gives an online testimonial than merely tweeting about a particular event.

Each task should have a specific deadline for completion so that you ensure the activity will take place when it is most beneficial to the brand.

5. Diversity

Not every challenge will appeal to every participant. Some will not feel comfortable being asked to speak to a potential client or to write an online review. However, this same person might be an absolute wizard at advocating your brand on social media. Challenges must provide enough diversity for each participant to find an engagement that suits his or her personality.

6. Competition

Competition gives people a chance to prove themselves against others. Participants take their role very seriously and most would relish the status of being seen as the No. 1 brand advocate. Being at the top of the leaderboard gives them this gratification.

What they will do with the points they earn is less important than being seen as one of the top brand advocates. The competition may also spark some friendly rivalries that often turn into friendships.

Leadership boards will allow participants to see how they compare to each other. Since brand advocates will join over a period of time, and some will not be able to perform certain tasks, there will be a large disparity over time in the rankings. To avoid discouragement for participants, it's a good idea to only show the points accumulated by the five participants above and the five below them.

7. Rewards

Most gamification platforms reward participants for completing a task. For brand advocacy programs, this is a critical component that will allow you to task individuals to respond to social media needs, reply to a referral, or make a recommendation. Having tangible physical prizes and rewards is critical in helping to promote the desired activity and ensure engagement. Make sure the prizes will be truly valued by your participants.

Many companies choose to reward participants with branded swag. However, if you want real engagement, reward your advocates with gift cards from major online retailers (e.g. Amazon, Apple). The key is to have a variety of options, so each person can decide what is important to them.

8. Integrity

Make sure you have integrity in your reward programs. I have seen significant disengagement when a brand decides to "double the points" it took to earn gift cards or swag or even fails to reward them at all. Participants will feel tricked, and there is nothing worse than a former brand advocate who has now turned on the brand.

9. Validation

We are in the millennial generation where social interaction is expected and rewarded. Foursquare became one of the original masters of this by encouraging people to check-in then awarding them badges for engagement. People love (need) to be validated. Many programs thrive simply by awarding users with badges for engaging in activities. However, it's important to award them in a meaningful way to ensure that they are appreciated.

10. Nurturing

Brand advocates can easily get burned out or discouraged. It is vitally important that you send periodic emails displaying their progress and thanking them for their effort. Occasionally give them a reward just because they are awesome. Ask them for suggestions or ideas to generate further participation. Thank them, and reward them for those suggestions. When they post something meaningful on social media, repost it. Have a monthly virtual meeting where you acknowledge the individuals who went above and beyond. Most importantly, listen to them, and make them feel important and part of your community.


Gamification is a powerful tool that has the potential to revolutionize various aspects of our lives. Incorporating game elements into non-game contexts can motivate and engage individuals in a way that traditional methods often fail to do.

Gamification offers a unique and innovative approach to problem-solving and achieving goals. It leverages our natural inclination towards competition and rewards to drive behavior change and enhance learning experiences. However, it is important to note that gamification is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It requires careful consideration of the target audience, objectives, and the design of the game elements to ensure effectiveness. With the right approach, gamification has the potential to create meaningful and lasting impacts on individuals and society as a whole.