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Game On: How to Boost Engagement & Build Loyalty by Gamifying Your Marketing Strategy

Have you ever spun the wheel for a chance at a prize? Or provided your email address in exchange for 20% off your first order? Maybe you’re carrying around a half-filled punch card from your local bakery or wearing the free t-shirt you got for giving blood last year.

If so, you know exactly how effective gamified marketing can be. It worked on you, and studies show that, if you do it right, gamifying your marketing will work on your customers, too.

Gamified marketing started to gain traction in 2010. Since then, companies as diverse as McDonald’s, Nike, Target, and Codecademy have used gamification strategies to increase customer engagement, build customer loyalty, and drive sales.

In this blog post, we’ll dig into what it means to gamify marketing and why it’s so effective. We’ll also look at some successful gamified marketing campaigns and break down how you can gamify your marketing strategies to help you stand out in the Salesforce ecosystem.

What is gamification?

Gamification simply means incorporating game elements into situations and settings that aren’t traditionally considered games. You can gamify anything from education to healthcare to manufacturing, but we’ll focus on gamified marketing here.

When you gamify your marketing, you use traditional game elements such as rewards, competition, status building, challenges, and scoring systems to encourage your customers to take specific actions that will benefit your company.

These actions might be providing an email address, scheduling a demo, starting a software trial, commenting on a social media post, providing feedback, or purchasing a product. When a customer exhibits the behavior you’re looking for, you reward them with privileges or rewards that keep them coming back and progressing along the customer journey or sales funnel.

Don’t confuse gamification with actual games. You don’t need to create a game to use gamification in your marketing activities. Instead, you take the kinds of game elements that motivate people to play and use them to engage your target audience and turn them into loyal customers.

Why gamification works in marketing

The most interesting thing about gamified marketing is why it works so well. Successful gamified marketing campaigns take advantage of human psychology to influence customer behavior.

People love to play games — it’s just hardwired into our psychology. No matter how old you are, it’s hard to resist trying your luck at a game that offers you a chance to earn a reward, beat your friends, or put your name at the top of a leaderboard.

The same impulse that prompts people to play carnival games, spend hours on Candy Crush, and host family card tournaments leads them to respond to gamified marketing strategies.

Lured by the promise of rewards such as discounts, free merchandise, digital badges, and preferred status, customers are happy to fill out your survey, check out your new software version, or sign up for your newsletter.

Gamification also works because it injects fun into the customer journey. By offering rewards and positive motivation to customers, it helps turn the sales and marketing process into a mutually beneficial exercise instead of a one-sided sales pitch.

By appealing to customers’ sense of fun, competition, and curiosity with game elements in your marketing, you increase customer engagement. Offering rewards for continued engagement motivates them to become loyal customers, and loyal customers who have consistently enjoyable interactions with your product or service often turn into valuable advocates for your brand.

Tips to help you gamify your Salesforce consulting firm marketing activities

Now it’s time for the details about how you can gamify your marketing activities to increase your ecosystem footprint. We’ve included some tips for defining your strategy as well as some specific ideas you can implement.

Understand your target audience

As Gamificaton by Design co-author Gabe Zichermann puts it, “Gamification is 75% Psychology and 25% Technology.” You don’t need fancy technology to successfully gamify your marketing— but you do need to understand your audience.

In the Salesforce ecosystem, you need to appeal both to the companies who use your solution and to the Salesforce partners who recommend your solutions to clients. You want to engage and satisfy your customers and convince the sales team members that your solution can solve potential clients’ needs.

If you want to gamify your marketing efforts to these two audiences without drifting into spam territory, you need to understand what motivates them and what types of incentives will encourage them to engage and continue their customer journey. You won’t regret taking the time to get this right.

Decide what actions you want customers to take

Gamification in marketing is about influencing people to take specific actions. Before you can decide on potential rewards for your customers, you have to decide what you want them to do. Here are some potential actions:

  • Provide feedback on a new feature

  • Sign up for a demo

  • Download a new white paper or case study

  • Comment on or share a social media or blog post

  • Participate in a free software trial

  • Complete a customer survey

  • Sign up for a newsletter

Defining the behavior you want to influence is important because, along with knowing your audience, it forms the foundation on which you build your gamified strategy.

Incorporate game elements to encourage your target audience to take the actions you want

Once you understand who you’re trying to reach and what actions you want them to take, it’s time to think about how to incorporate game elements into your marketing strategy. Here are a few ideas.

  • Free stuff: Branded stickers, t-shirts, mugs, notebooks, and other goods serve a dual purpose. People love free stuff, and the swag serves as a constant reminder of your brand.

  • Access to exclusive content: Offering exclusive access to quality content makes customers feel valued and increases loyalty.

  • Participation in invitation-only events: Invitation-only roundtables or Q&As with industry experts make great customer incentives.

  • Digital badges: These are a simple but effective way to recognize expertise, confer status and encourage engagement.

  • Special partner status and privileges: Promote customer loyalty by publicly recognizing your most valuable partners and giving them perks such as opportunities to prioritize new feature development.

  • Early access to new features: Everyone likes to be first. Reward loyal customers and brand advocates with sneak peeks and opportunities to influence development.

  • Creative competitions: Appeal to your customers’ sense of competition by asking them to do things like come up with the most creative solution to a particular problem. You can reward the winner with a prize and feature them on your website.

Examples of successful gamified marketing campaigns

Wondering what a real-life gamified marketing strategy looks like? Let’s take a closer look at three highly effective gamified marketing campaigns so you can find inspiration for your own strategy.

My Starbucks Rewards

The goal of the My Starbucks Rewards campaign is simple: get people to buy more drinks from Starbucks, and it’s been incredibly successful. In 2018, Starbucks reported that 39% of U.S. sales came from Starbucks Rewards members. The My Starbucks Rewards program encourages this by giving customers points for every purchase. As points accumulate, users can use them to get free food and drinks or discounts on merchandise.

Customers also achieve higher status as they drink more coffee. This higher status comes with exclusive rewards and benefits such as free refills. As you can see from the long lines at Starbucks across the country, the My Starbucks Rewards program has been an extremely successful gamified marketing strategy. The combination of earning valuable rewards points and achieving higher status keeps customers coming back to Starbucks and bringing their friends with them.

Nike+Run Club

Nike has been a leading maker of athletic shoes and clothing for a long time. To stay ahead of their competition, they needed a way to connect with their customers and collect valuable information to help them develop products and target advertisements.

The answer was their Nike+ fitness tracking system. Nike+ started off as an app paired with the Fuelband fitness tracker. Today, it’s morphed into the Nike+Run Club app, but the goals haven’t changed. Nike+ helps users track their fitness activity such as miles, pace, and heart rate.

Users can share their data with friends, participate in competitions with other users, and personalize their stats with photos and stickers. Nike+ users have fun with the app and get exclusive access to new products, which increases their loyalty to Nike and the likelihood they’ll recommend Nike products to their friends. Nike benefits from increased customer engagement and from the data they collect from users. It’s another win for gamified marketing.


Codecademy built a user base of 1 million people in just 5 months using gamified marketing to encourage people to sign up for their service. To do this, Codecademy invited people to get started using their product for free without creating an account.

Users completed small assignments and earned badges for achievements. Once they had made some progress, Codecademy asked them to create an account to keep the rewards they had earned and keep using the service.

Most people signed up because they didn’t want to lose the rewards they had already earned and they wanted the chance to keep making progress. By incorporating the classic game elements of rewards and loss aversion, Codecademy quickly established a solid user base and attracted additional investment in the company.

Ready to play?

Gamification is a great way to increase customer engagement and build loyalty, but you need a well-designed strategy to make it work. People are hard-wired to respond to game elements, but translating responses into gains for your business takes thought, time, and expertise.

Our Bloomly team has years of experience with marketing in the Salesforce ecosystem. We specialize in helping our clients grow their ecosystem footprints by doing things differently — such as implementing gamified marketing strategies.

Whether you are looking for a new go-to-market strategy or just trying to mix things up, bloomly can help you inject some fun into your marketing plans and turn your target audience into advocates for your brand.

Contact us today for a free introductory call to see how we can help you get your marketing game going.


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