Gamification strategies for email marketing

Email marketing is a high-performing and cost-effective direct communication channel, but it can sometimes lack the interactivity necessary to make it more engaging for subscribers.

Enter a new solution: Email Marketing “Gamification”

Gamification is the application of gaming concepts and techniques to non-game experiences, in order to drive desired behaviors from an audience. While the concept of adding some fun to communications in order to grow user interaction is not new, the idea of “gamificiation” takes reward-based engagement to a higher level.

Playing to win has strong appeals, regardless of the channel. Through gamification, brands are able to build loyalty amongst a community, all under the veil of playful interactions. Game mechanics are essentially a marriage of tools that measure and report statistics and those statistics are used to represent progress and justify rewards.

Implemented strategically as a part of your email sends, game mechanics can help you better engage both enthusiastic and even passive subscribers.

Spruce up your email campaign engagement with the mechanics of fun

To be done successfully, gamification must adopt a behavior-based approach. For instance; by offering rewards for user actions, consumers are more likely to engage with a product or service; visit the site more often, register for newsletters, browse at length, invite friends, participate in campaigns, take surveys and so on.

Designing a gamified brand experience requires that you identify the behaviours or actions you want from participants, alongside their relative value, and then identify engagement-based strategies — “game mechanics” — to engineer a path toward your goal. Simply put, you identify the behaviors you want to elicit (awareness, click-throughs, recommendations, purchases) and then you determine motivators that can provoke each of those behaviors and notify your readers.

How can brands leverage this concept in emailing?

The best email marketing campaigns educate, inform and motivate audiences while at the same time entertaining them. If you add gamification to this, your emails provide a rewarding and influencing environment for consumers.

One way to power email marketing gamification is via user-generated content; which is often submitted through simple vehicles like comments, ratings, testimonials, case studies or reviews. These are basic ways to get publishable feedback from users based on the virtues of your service and the content you produce.

The moment you encourage content creation, the user becomes more engaged and you make your newsletters and website richer. Try rewarding top commenters in various ways, such as by allowing ‘weighted commentary’ on your website -permitting users to sort comments based on each person’s respective rank — which gives the most active commenters a worthy fistful of clout.

There are two key benefits to showing ranked reactions in an activity feed: not only will the user expose your newsletter content to others, but they will also showcase their rank, in turn driving other users to attempt to achieve a similar or higher status.

Social sharing of email newsletters is another possible gamification tool that can prove incredibly useful in syndicating your content, and with gamification elements, users feel even more compelled to do so. Social logins bring a valuable layer into the game. With all the metrics available, marketers can track not only the users who shared content on social networks, but also their friends who click back to your website via an email.

Offer rewards for liking, tweeting or +1-ing your content, and make these rewards real

Triggered emails, for example, could be used to gift users with special graphics, titles, credits, social accolades or QR-coded coupons that give them access to exclusive content or deals and discounts for achievers.

The reward system could be taken as far as you are willing to, such as by providing users who progress to greater brand engagement levels with special features, professionally designed email templates, advanced accounts, unique deals on bulk credit purchases, special award badges or some or other ego-stroking status token to show off on their newsletters or social networks.

Scoring is essentially a roadmap for encouraging participation

Good gaming systems let users advance and provide ways to benchmark progress, keep score and show an indicator of their progress. You could award users with small amounts of points by default just for clicking around or for remaining on a page to consume content. People who may have had no initial interest in earning points will still be able to advance in the rankings given their increase in participation points, and will get hooked and consciously participate as soon as they recognise the value in it.

Keeping users involved in the game without any effort on their behalf is a great strategy for converting them into active email-driven gamers later on.

Many brands are already having tremendous success using gamification to provoke their customers toward action

Foursquare, for example, employs this strategy by motivating users to check in to locations in order to gain points and awards (or badges) and track a user’s progress.

Companies like Red Bull have implemented gamification as a consumer marketing strategy to drive users to their website: People buy a certain number of Red Bulls, collect codes on the cans and enter them online to claim rewards.

Daily deals company Groupon debuted a loyalty program recently that enables vendors to deliver follow-up offers to consumers who previously purchased a Groupon from them.

Groupon Rewards is rolling out over the next few months to help them drive loyalty and help merchants drive redemption. Consumers will earn Rewards based on the amount of money they spend at a participating outlet, basing Rewards on monetary spending rather than transaction quantity, since this incentivizes consumers to spend more at a business as well as to become return customers.

While this does not quite follow the basic model of gamification, it shows that the use of progress-based rewards (the cornerstone of gamification) is growing vigorously in digital soil. And, while email marketing is not a chief feature of these gamification efforts, the channel could easily be tied in to or used to facilitate or enhance the processes. Gamification can not only help subscribers become more engaged, but also help solve some of the marketing world’s issues in retaining people’s attention.

Since top brands are investing more and more resources in gamification, the industry could be poised to see the rise of “gamification agencies” or “play-added resellers” which take the features of Software-as-a-service, such as that of an email marketing provider, then mechanising and texturing it for gaming programs — similar to how value-added resellers operate in bestowing additional embellishments and services to product or service standards.

Image: nan palmero



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