Gamification in Marketing

Gamification is the use of game elements to promote desired behaviours among customers and employees, and, in fact, has been a popular business strategy for decades. Examples of gamification include loyalty programs, cereal box prizes and employee-of-the-month programs.

The idea is that tapping into people’s innate desire to play games can be an extremely effective way to engage users, and convey ideas, such as a brand’s story. With the smartphone age, the opportunities for gamification have vastly expanded.

Gamification is quickly becoming a popular marketing tactic.

The rise of gamification in marketing has been made possible in part due to the increased use of social media. By combining game mechanics with social media, companies have created some of the most effective marketing campaigns in recent memory. But how exactly does this work?

People generally use social media to connect with friends and family first, not to engage with a company’s brand. However, given how much time users spend on social networking platforms, businesses can’t ignore the necessity of having a brand presence on these sites. Furthermore, if businesses can offer users something extraordinary and attention-grabbing, they can harness social networks to spread their brand name and content.

Examples of Gamification

Now gamification is widely applied in marketing. Over 70 percent of Forbes Global 2000 companies surveyed in 2013 said they planned to use gamification for the purposes of marketing and customer retention.

Tourism Saskatoon, a client of William Joseph Communications, has also recently adopted gamification. The organization was seeking to improve its efficiency and effectiveness of its marketing spend, while reaching specific target markets with tailored messaging.

This contemporary approach featured the development of an iPad Trivia game, which will be used by Tourism Saskatoon’s Summer Road Crew, who visit various cities and events to promote Saskatoon; at trade shows; and will also be set up in the organization’s front office for all visitors that stop by.

In the game, participants are asked a variety of questions about Saskatoon. They receive a score and can enter their contact information to be entered to win a prize. Participants are also asked questions related to their interests, such as sports, cuisine, festivals, etc., which permits for data segmentation and profiling.

This tactic will increase target audience engagement and also assist the organization in capturing more data about existing and prospective visitors to Saskatoon.




The Nissan Carwings program, a concept created by Nissan Innovation for the Nissan Leaf, Nissan’s 100-percent electric car, gamifies driving and draws customers like magnets. With a regional rankings dashboard, owners can compare their performance to other local drivers, earn bronze, silver, and gold medals – or for the most impressive performance rankings, a fancy platinum award. A complimentary service for three years for new Leaf owners, Carwings does much more than just ranks your driving stats on a leaderboard. You can communicate with your car via your smartphone and get reminders, start charging the battery, set timers, turn on the A/C and more, even if you’re not near your car at the time.

Nike+ is one of the most famous examples of a game that locks a high amount of potential customers into staying in contact and communicating with the company. Nike+ is an app developed to complement the most unstructured sport on the planet: running. This platform collects personal data from the users and keeps close update on their running activities in order to monitorize and display their latest achievements and overall evolution. Nike+ also allows users to compare and compete with people from all over the world, including direct friends when connected to social media.

For Nike, this viral game greatly boosted their exposure and customer loyalty; and this highly-developed gaming system allowed them to collect high amounts of data over long periods, after which they were able to segment and market their products and services directly. All the information collected also allowed an increase in productivity of the R&D and Online Marketing departments

One of the great examples of successful a successful online social game was the 2013’s M&M’s eye-spy game. Framed within the M&M’s Pretzel campaign, this simple cost-effective game consisted of a simple full-page graphic design of M&M’s and 1 small pretzel which users had to find.

This simple, cheap game brought huge gains to M&M, with a boost of more than 25,000 likes on their Facebook page, 6.000 shares and 10.000 comments.

Essentisally, game mechanics are a way to get consumers addicted to things. Gaming has been ingrained in culture. The consumer has become more and more engaged, and gaming allows them to spend more time with a brand and gives them incentive to do so.

The Visualization of Social Media

One of the things that I love about social media is the constant evolution of social media applications to please the end user. The latest direction the evolution is heading toward is a highly visual experience. The rise in popularity of applications such as Pinterest and Instagram has led to the creation of new highly visual social media platforms such as Pheed. Pheed is a new platform for web and mobile devices where people can share all forms of digital content including photos, videos, audio, and text. Popular social networking services are keeping up with the trend by changing their applications to have a much more visual presentation. Twitter has introduced a new app called Vine that allows users to create and post short video clips to be posted on their Twitter feed.  Facebook has once again completely changed their newsfeed in order to be cleaner and focus more on visuals compared to previous newsfeeds. MySpace is even back with a brand new look that uses a lot of imagery and animation.

From a business perspective this change in social media means businesses need to put much more emphasis on the visuals they use. The visually-focused social media crowd will become more engaged with your company the more visually appealing your advertising is. Nike is a company who has already caught on to the trend of visualization – head over to Nike’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube, and you will scroll through pages of beautiful imagery and video clips with Nike branding. They have embraced visualization so much they have even created a website where users can upload their Instagram photos and Nike will design a shoe to match elements from the photo. From a creative perspective this is a very exciting time, now more than ever people are showing their appreciation for captivating visuals so creative and artistic people now have a larger audience than ever before.

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