In video games, players earn rewards for beating bosses or leveling up which motivates them to keep playing.  In ecommerce, you can motivate your customers to behave a certain way in exchange for additional benefits.  This technique, known as gamification, is an increasingly popular marketing tactic used to increase conversions and customer engagement.

While there are multiple strategies you could use, we’re going to introduce you to 3 of the most popular tactics in a series of game-inspired levels: Beginner (Contests), Intermediate (Spin-to-Win), and Advanced (Loyalty Tiers).

Beginner: Using Contest Promotions to Increase Engagement

Running a promotion on your site for a free giveaway is a great first step into the realm of gamification. At their core, ecommerce contests are very simple: in exchange for their email or some form of contact information, you offer your visitors the chance to win a free product.

gamification strategies trophy
Contests encourage customers to give you their contact information in exchange for the chance to win a prize.

While many online retailers might see giveaways as a money sink, the benefits definitely outweigh the initial cost. By capturing your customers’ email address and contact information, you have the chance to encourage potential future sales with lifecycle email marketing.

You can also use your contest to encourage customers to boost your social media accounts or explore more of your website.  Enlisting the help of a social media influencer to help encourage participation in your contest is a great way to give this type of marketing campaign a boost.

gamification strategies salt supply contest example

Salt Supply Co is a good example of offering free products as a giveaway for their subscribers.  With a price tag of $299, a free item like this is a perfect candidate for on-site gamification in the form of a ‘sign up to win’ promotion. This promotion alone has captured tens of thousands of emails, further proving the point that email marketing is the highest return on investment form of digital marketing.

Intermediate: Using Spin-to-Win Modules to Increase On-Site Gamification

One of the most popular methods to enact gamification for online retailers is the “Price is Right” style spinning wheel. In the example below, the visitor inputs their email to receive a coupon code for a discount, which will then be applied to their cart. The perceived value of this promotion and it’s engaging qualities (including slide out animations, gradient coloring, and branding recognition) create a seamless gamification experience that keeps customers engaged and drives them to complete a purchase.

gamification strategies branded donut spin to win

The reason why a spin-to-win style promotion is considered more of an advanced gamification technique is largely due to the design aspects. Perfecting the look and feel of a spin-to-win promotion goes beyond inserting branding into a pre-built template.  You must also consider when you’re going to present it to your customers and what the call to action text is going to say.  If the copy isn’t engaging, customers aren’t going to want to click!

Similarly, positioning is also very important.  Considering these types of factors may challenge you a little bit, but ultimately will have a positive impact on the fun your customers can have with this gamification strategy.

Advanced: Tiered VIP Loyalty Programs

VIP tiers are one of the most diverse and effective forms of gamification in marketing.  Reward programs like inkbox’s TRIBE provide an incentive for repeat and increased purchase habits by offering additional incentives to customers who spend more within a certain time frame.

gamification strategies inkbox tiers

This act of separating certain types of purchasing habits taps into the consumer psychology of wanting to “unlock” more with each successive purchase. In the example of inkbox’s rewards program, unlocking new levels not only provides free pieces of Arimae art but also gives customers access to a previously inaccessible inkbox merchandise store.

As you can tell, branding has a big impact on the success of a VIP program, and inkbox is only one great example of a well-branded tiered rewards program at work.

Tiered reward gamification doesn’t have to stop here, though.  Programs like inkbox’s add a certain level of exclusivity to their customer experience that ultimately acts as the ultimate incentive.  Each of your customers want to feel special, and showing them how close they are to reaching that next level of exclusivity motivates them to do whatever it takes to reach it.

gamification strategies elf customer panel

e.l.f. Cosmetics is a great example of this principle at work.  As a customer, they have the ability to run a rewards program with a panel that lets every customer see how close they are to their next reward and, as a result, the next VIP level.  These considerations make each goal seem achievable and valuable everytime a customer logs into their rewards account.  The more you spend, the more opportunities and rewards you receive!

Gaming the Marketing System with Gamification

Gamification gives you the boost you need to take your marketing strategy to the next level.  By combining a personalized brand experience with other forms of marketing (such as social and email), you have the power to turn one-time buyers into repeat purchasers with ease.  How’s that for leveling up?

Ben Choy is the Content Marketing Manager at JustUno.  Lover of IPAs, tennis, and marketing.