Nov 2016 | Marketing Solutions | Marketing

Gamification is the act of turning something into a game to achieve a purpose

This can be anything from a parent pretending a spoonful of food is an aeroplane or a friendly competition in a sales team.

In marketing terms, gamification means adding game components to your campaigns to increase customer engagement and retention. Gamification does not mean lots of games – and this is critical, as many people turn their noses up at the thought of playing games – gamification is about absorbing the fun elements of a game into a real-world application.

Games are more engaging, tap into our competitive spirit and often make us act in different manner to how we would otherwise. For marketers, gamifying is a great way to increase exposure and effectiveness.

It also improves the customer’s experience – making it more fun and engaging is a positive for them and for the brand.

Here are a few examples of some successful gamification tactics which could work for your brand:

Unlocking achievements

Enabling browsers to unlock achievements based on activity on your site is an excellent method of keeping them engaged. In order for this to work the brand needs to be able to offer something either valuable or really interesting and useful – such as free trials, free goodies or the ability to post and comment freely – to encourage interaction and give users something to strive for.

Using an achievement-based gamification strategy ties in really well with membership programmes or repeat customers and can be a really fun way to keep them engaged. It’s also a damn site more interesting for those involved – keeping customers happy should be a brand’s number one priority.

However, the goals have to be worth it. There’s little point in creating a complex system of achievements and measurement and then marketing them if the enticements are not up to scratch – there will be minimal engagement and all that effort will have been wasted.


Everyone loves a quiz. What better way to challenge someone’s knowledge and really get them thinking about a certain subject? Maybe add a competitive element– depending on the subject and nature of the content it may encourage browsers to challenge their friends and contacts – thereby expanding the reach of the message. Quizzes can also be used to liven up pages with images, graphics and (if not too annoying) sounds.
Adventure or exploration

Videos are popular and generally receive high levels of engagement. Custom built videos can be used to offer users the chance to choose the way the story develops and ends – based on the decisions they made.

This could involve theory based role playing or in some way incorporate the ways a specific product can be used.

Making alternative endings and interesting story lines will keep people engaged – especially if the fact there are alternate endings is made public. If it’s interesting enough, players will return to see what happens when you do something different or if they can achieve a particular outcome.


Individual brainteasers or riddles are a great way to quickly challenge and engage with users. A tricky theory based question somewhere prominent on a website may encourage users to click to find out the answer – potentially hanging around longer than they would have otherwise. If you build in a share function people may pose the question to their friends and contacts – especially if they knew the answer and want to brag a bit.

Animated Games

Small animated games are always popular. The skill is to make them simple yet engaging. This may be one where you have to bring in an external party. Mini sports games testing hand eye coordination are a relatively easy win – especially if you can tie it to your proposition. Leader boards (see ‘Achievements’ – above) are a good shout – again, people may wish to show off and challenge their contacts so make sure there’s an easy-to-use share function.

Does gamification work?

There are some astonishing stats out there which show just how successful gamification can be. In this example from an eLearning company they reported the average visitor spent 50 per cent more time on a page after gamification tactics were employed.

There are plenty of other instances of gamification success (start with these 90 examples) but some of the most telling figures are that it was estimated by Gartner that by the end of 2014 more than 70 per cent of the world’s largest 2,000 companies had deployed at least one gamified application. Similarly, vendors claim that gamification strategies can lead to a 100 per cent to 150 per cent increase in engagement metrics.

Base it on the target audience

Whichever gamification tactic you choose (the more original the better) remember to keep the customer and business goal in mind.

What sort of games and tactics are going to work with your audience? What sort of things do they like? What will they be more receptive to?

These are all critical questions and must tie into your proposition and what you offer. For these insights you need to have a set objective that your gamification is going to achieve – do you wish to engage with a particular audience you’ve highlighted as having high potential? Then use the insights you have on that audience to tailor the gamification to appeal specifically to them.

This requires a level of insight not normally found in first party data and you may need to look at third party sources for greater levels of insight.
Techniques like gamification are all well and good and have bags of potential however they are only ever as accurate and effective as the data and insights they are based on. Make sure your data and audience understanding is sufficient before investing in expensive or time consuming new strategies.

For more on audience read this post on Understanding Your Audience.

Experian Marketing Services is the leading global provider of consumer insights, data quality and cross-channel marketing. We help organisations intelligently interact with today’s empowered and hyper-connected consumers.

By helping marketers identify best customers, find more, and then coordinate seamless and intelligent interactions across the most appropriate channels, Experian Marketing Services can deepen customer loyalty, strengthen brand advocacy and maximise profits.