Games are not just for kids.

How to Apply Gamification in Marketing Your Startup

A great way to engage customers

Gamification is one of the most interesting and trendy topics in marketing and product development. Businesses are getting their users’ attention, raising brand awareness and engaging with their product, using gamification.

When you arrive at the exit of your subway station, you always have a huge decision ahead of you: Stairs or Lift? In Stockholm for instance, most people choose the lift because walking up the stairs is pretty tiring. Volkswagen wanted to solve this and get people to take the stairs more. By transforming the stairs to keyboards, using that route suddenly seemed like a lot of fun! In comes gamification.

Volkswagen campaign in Stockholm

What is Gamification?

Gamification is implementing the engaging elements and fun found in games into the real world, thus turning everyday actions into playful actions.

What is Gamification Marketing

To make it simple, gamification marketing is the process of applying gamification methodology onto marketing tools. When you want to get your users’ attention, raise brand awareness and engage them with your product, gamification is one of the best practices around. Ultimately, gamification marketing is a great way to keep your users in an engagement loop with your product.

The Mechanics of Gamification

Puzzles, quests, strategy games, board games and even gambling games, there are many types of games. According to Yu kai chou, creator of Octalysis behavior design, in order to create experience users would want to engage with, you must implement at least one of the eight core drives of gamification.

The 8 Core Drives of Gamification

Epic Meaning & Calling

Epic Meaning & Calling is the core drive where a player believes that he is doing something greater than himself or he was “chosen” to do something.

Development & Accomplishment

Development & Accomplishment is the internal drive of making progress, developing skills, and eventually overcoming challenges. Challenge is very important, as a badge or trophy without a challenge is not meaningful at all.

Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback

Empowerment of Creativity & Feedback is when users are engaged with a creative process where they have to repeatedly figure things out and try different combinations.

Ownership & Possession

This is the drive where users are motivated because they feel like they own something. If a person spends a lot of time customizing his profile or avatar, he automatically feels more ownership towards it.

Social Influence & Relatedness

This drive incorporates all the social elements that drive people, including mentorship, acceptance, social responses, companionship, as well as competition and envy.

Scarcity & Impatience

This is the drive of wanting something because you can’t have it. Many games have Appointment Dynamics within them (come back 2 hours later to get your reward) — the fact that people can’t get something right now motivates them to think about it all day long.

Unpredictability & Curiosity

Generally, this is a harmless drive of wanting to find out what will happen next. If you don’t know what’s going to happen, your brain is engaged and you think about it often. Many people watch movies or read novels because of this drive. However, this drive is also the primary factor behind gambling addiction.

Loss & Avoidance

This core drive is based upon the avoidance of something negative happening. On a small scale, it could be to avoid losing previous work. On a larger scale, it could be to avoid admitting that everything you did up to this point was useless because you are now quitting.

Why Gamification Marketing?

Today, in the global era, getting users attention and engagement is a difficult task more than ever. Applying different gamification core drives to your product in the right way will improve key elements:

Users awareness — As your product will stand out from your competitors.

Engagement — Users will engage with your product and promote it on social networks.

Communication — It is easier to communicate with users in a gamified environment.

Loyalty — As users become more engaged with your product they become more loyal to it.

How to Get Started with Gamification

You don’t have to be a part of an enterprise or operate on a massive marketing budget to apply gamified methods into your marketing. Gamification works for almost any product and it’s very flexible to fit any scale of business. Here are a few tips to help you get started with gamification marketing:

Play first

It is best, to begin with a simple game so you can learn the methodology behind the game and see how your customers react to it. You can reward users for liking your Facebook page or reviewing your product

Keep it simple

Instead of building a large and complicated environment, it’s better to divide the game into a set of small parts which visitors can learn gradually. Give players only the crucial information they need so they know what to do next.

Set your game with your marketing goals

Plan your gamification model to ensure that visitors don’t just visit your website to play and then leave. Gamification is there to help you to get better product awareness or increase your ROI. The gamified environment should direct visitors to other parts of your or product and features.

Keep the core drives in mind

When having new ideas for gamifing your marketing, always check that your design sets with at least one of the core drives of gamification

Keep users in a loop

When designing a gamification environment it is important to keep your users coming back for more. You can see how Gotcha’s team found a way to make users answering questions with their circle of growth(CoG).

To conclude, according to Gallup, “brands that successfully engage their customers, realize 63 percent lower customer attrition and 55 percent higher share of wallet.” And a great way to engage customers is by using gamification methods that reward users for using your product. Always keep in mind that your users are actually people and they need to have fun using your product.

Post topics: digital marketing, digital strategy, engage, marketing, startups.

Originally published at on April 16, 2017.

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