The Complete Guide to Gamification Marketing in 2021

May 21, 2021 — By Andreas Unt

One of the biggest challenges marketers are facing nowadays is the decreasing attention span in customers. It’s challenging to grab customers’ attention for longer than a few seconds because you’re competing with everything fun, entertaining, and instantly gratifying. 

The type of marketing that covers all those qualities is a booming trend, “gamification marketing”. It has become an essential no marketer can overlook. Although “gamification” is a buzzword in marketing right now, there is still not much information about it, and most marketers don’t know where to start. In this article I have shared everything you need to know to start implementing gamification to boost your results. 🚀

🎮 What is gamification?


Gamification is using game elements in a non-game context. Game elements like points, leaderboards, badges, achievements, challenges and quests to increase customer engagement and motivation.

Definitely. Gamification marketing has a tremendous untapped potential in all industries and it can be used for almost any marketing KPI and in all industries. 

I have listed some of the reasons why it works and why any marketer should consider implementing gamification into their marketing. 

Gamification campaigns are eye-catching and contagious. You can reach customers that are harder to get with regular advertising.

☑️ Increase traffic to your website 

For customers who wouldn’t click on a sales activation ad, have now a contrasting reason to click into your landing page. Once they’ve clicked, game pages have a 22 – 26% bounce rate. 

☑️ Convert more clients

Our case studies have shown that 97% of the people who start the game make it to the end – for you to direct them for the next step. 10 – 30% of them click to the next website and are ready to become a customer.

Within the game, the customer is deeply involved, focused, and ready to be influenced, plus you can make personal sales offers based on their game results.

☑️ Generate new leads

Customers have a reason to fill out forms and you can collect valuable information for every lead (their preferences etc.)

☑️ Increase brand awareness 

Gamification is a good way to increase brand awareness to reduce the CPA of your ads. Customers remember the experience for months and your brand gets favored among the tight competition. 

☑️  Reduce bounce rate while increasing engagement length

This is good for SEO and to increase conversion of your page.

Let me give you a comparison with other types of advertising. 

Average engagement length:
Print ad: 1.7 seconds 🕗
Outdoor ad: 1.5 seconds 🕗
Online banner: 1 seconds 🕗
Gamified ad: 9+ minutes 🕗

Now imagine. A customer is engaged with your brand for minutes, 100% focused, getting good emotions. This encounter will not only be saved into short-term memory, but we’ve seen that they will remember the experience for months.  Gamification campaigns stick.

As gamification has been around for some years, we’ve seen the same mistakes over and over again. It is very understandable because most creative people and marketers don’t have a background in game design and it’s very easy to get lost during decision making. 

Creative people are very keen to make the game as fancy as possible but forget the knowledge of gamification principles.

Game elements signify a progression towards a goal. Feedback has to be a reward for something. There’s a term “intrinsic rewards”. Reward, which is intangible and varies from person to person, including things like a sense of pride, state of mind, personal fulfillment. If I give anyone a random point, then that point itself doesn’t mean anything. It has zero value. The person has to feel they earned that point. They made an action to get that feedback. 

Those actions can be anything, as long as they are interactive. Fortunately, games provide a lot of interactivity with a wide choice of actions that can be rewarded with feedback. And for feedback we can use the game elements mentioned above. 

If you use more than two different mechanics in one game, then you’re taking away the focus from a product.

How to recognize complicated mechanics? 

  • It requires more than one button to press. Gamification marketing games should only have one button to press.
  • It needs a tutorial. 

And as proof, this is why majority of the people like simple games. Just take a look at the most popular games. Neither PubG nor Fortnite is the most popular. Candy Crush is still one of the most downloaded games in the world. It has stayed undisputed for the last 10 years because of its simplicity. 

I’ve seen many creative marketers coming up with too complex game dynamics because they’re afraid the game is too boring. And I always say to them “The audience you’re targeting is not looking for a game to play. They are surfing the web and are in a relaxed mode.” Basically browsing zombies. And you’re competing with everything that is instant and super-easy for them to process. On Facebook feed, they don’t even have to press a play button to start watching a video. So now imagine when you’re asking for them to read a manual on how to play the game and then expect them to play several times to actually cope with the game. 

Customers have limited brain power. In a web-browsing situation, brainpower is the lowest. You need to save their brainpower for later when you’re trying to convert him in your marketing funnel. 

In marketing, we have a certain goal we’re trying to achieve with gamification. Either product promotion, customer education, lead generation or brand awareness. This goal has to be kind of translated into a game. Now, the more complicated our game, the more focus will go into the game dynamics and less focus goes into what we’re trying to achieve in marketing. 

List of different actions: 

  • memorizing or guessing
  • directing or aiming
  • jumping or flying
  • catching or collecting
  • running or evading

Ideally use 1 action (sometimes 2) and don’t go further. Every action should give feedback for a player and when you have too many various actions, then the player at some point won’t understand what he’s getting feedback for and the whole gamification process loses its purpose.

If interactivity and feedback mechanisms are in place, then the player will be 100% focused on the game. For minutes. Without multitasking (not possible when playing). 

If you’re aiming for huge engagement lengths, then you need to keep this in mind. When a player can play his first gameplay for 2 minutes without losing, he will close it. End of story. He’s gone. 

When you make the game too long, you’re lowering the chances for people to reach the end. It happens if you exceed the peak point. Let’s say someone plays a game for 45 seconds and they are enjoying it. At some point in that timeline, there’s a peak where they enjoy the game the most and then it starts dropping down. We need to end the game on a peak. Because that’s the highest chance that someone thinks “Okay, I think I can do better next time”. 

It sounds impolite to cut the game off, while they’re having a good time but that enables them to like it even more and makes them eager to start again. If you end the game too late, then they’re not going to replay.

Like when you’re looking at Netflix. With movies, people usually watch one and then go to sleep. With series they keep watching it for hours and can’t stop because every episode ends on the most gripping situation. With games, we also need to apply that same effect.

What are you trying to promote? If you’re trying to promote a product, then is it new or existing? When you’re promoting a service, do you promote its qualities or uniqueness? 💎

What are you trying to achieve? Either raise awareness, educate them, generate leads, convert new clients etc. 🎯

I will write down some of the scenarios to give you inspiration on how we approach when brainstorming a game idea. 

🦄 Mascot
Let’s say we have a mascot. So what can we do with it? We can make him act and do something. We can use a Drop Game where the mascot can catch something. We can use the Runner Game where the mascot can run and collect stuff.

Let’s say our purpose is to promote a product’s quality. If our product’s quality is strength, then we should use a game that puts the strength of the product into test. Let’s hit it with something. A good game type for it could be “Whack a mole” where something pops up and you have to hit. 

But let’s say our product has batteries that last longer. The game type we can use for it could be Endless Runner, “How long can you last”. 

Imagine we have a new drink coming out. Each component in that drink can be separated as a game element. We can use a game to tell what kind of flavors are in the new drink. That gives us a hint that we have to use a game where we focus the game on the components of our product. 

Memory Game is a game like that. We have to match components together or Match 3 (Candy Crush) where you have to swap ingredients to match the same three in one row. 

Let’s say you have a new package coming out and you want customers to recognize it in the supermarket. You should use a game where you can show images of the packaging. A good game for that is Tower Stacking where players are required to stack objects to reach the highest tower. With this game you can make customers gaze at your product – making sure your product lasts in their memory. 

Promoting a service: quality

Pretend the service quality you want to bring out is speed. For example, a delivery company. Then you should use games that focus on the speed. Like reaction games – “Can you react fast enough?” which translates into the speed of that service.

Promoting a product/service: price

If the price is your advantage, then make a game where you need to collect coins for discounts.

Promoting a product/service: uniqueness 

When your aim is to promote service uniqueness, then you can always use “Did you know?” type of quizzes. Or if your service is very highly personalized or you have a wide range of products for different customers, then you can create a personality test where a person has to answer a set of questions to get a personalized product recommendation.

How to create a game for marketing: Design

🏆 Show prizes

When designing a landing page, use prizes. Here we have one example from one of our users. Prizes are showcased next to the game and you can also see the number of the prizes which increases the motivation because players can see how big of a chance they have to win. 

🌂 Show product and brand

It’s still a marketing campaign so take advantage of it. Here’s an example where we have a Tower Stacking for a food company. In order to succeed in this game, you’re basically forced to stare at their package. You can only buy these from a physical store, so their goal was to make people memorize it, and when they’re buying groceries, they would recognize it.

Try to make the product part of your game. 

📱 85 – 90% players are on mobile 

Something that many creators tend to forget. They get too excited about creating desktop versions and they sometimes also start to think about new elements while looking at the desktop version because they think there’s so much free space. 

But even on a mobile you can easily present your brand. 

Wrapping Up

Creating games for marketing used to take 15k+ euros and 2 – 4 months of work. And there are a lot of decisions that have to be made regarding game length, rules, etc.

That is why we created Adact where you can easily set up gamification marketing campaigns quickly by yourself using Adact. Choose from 15+ different proven game templates to match your needs, use our proven game rules and dynamics, track all the steps, and much more. 

👉 Book a demo with us where we help you discover how to implement gamification into your marketing to reach new audiences and boost results. 📈