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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