Top mistakes brands make when using gamification marketing

By Becky Simms, CEO at Reflect Digital

Gamification in marketing has been around for a long time, but I genuinely believe there are few brands that have really nailed the execution. In this article, I will share with you some of the top mistakes made and how to improve your future plans.

1. Too sales focused

Many brands integrate gamification with the view that it is a sales tool so therefore try to integrate the product too much or force the user to buy following completion of the game. A game is about creating a shared experience between customer/potential customer and brand. There is a strong likelihood of sales further down the line, but this must not be the driver. Our research found that consumers were 60% more likely to buy from a brand if they played a game they enjoyed with that brand.

So to dive into this point a little deeper, it is totally fine to have some product placement in your game, if it makes sense to do so, or to ensure your brand shines through. But the major no-no is to make it all about your brand and lose sight of the genuine shared experience you were trying to create. I was with a drinks manufacturer recently and they wanted to make the game all about their products and to fully integrate it with the shop. This is so obvious to the user and loses the authenticity of what a game should be all about.

I have also seen brands where the game is short and sweet and then you suddenly have a voucher code to buy immediately but without any data capture. So this then is driving for the immediate sale, which for an expensive item is not likely, and missed the opportunity for future marketing as no data was passed on.

In the perfect world, your game should have a little branding or product subtly included but there should be no sales focus other than potentially a free prize from your brand.

2. A complete lack of focused outcomes

In total contrast to point one, I have seen it many times before where a brand launches a game with literally no benefit to the brand. Gamification has so many potential benefits without being too sales-y that it is key you ensure you have a plan to deliver some valuable return. I recently met a high street fashion brand and asked them about a game on their website, no one in the marketing team knew about it, it pre-dated them, but the game was totally useless from a brand perspective.

So what do I mean? From a game, your brand should be able to achieve some of the following:

  • Data – by having a reason for example to either save progress or to win a prize
  • Engagement – this could be on site or over social channels, creating buzz about your brand and having a reason to talk to your audience without a sales message.
  • PR – if it is good enough then the websites your target demographic follow will want to talk about it!
  • Links – for an SEO strategy we all know how important genuine links are, this is a great way to get websites to link to you naturally.
  • Social media following – this can help increase your following, especially if users can ask for clues but need to follow you first.
  • Customer insight – we are getting really techy here, but a game might allow you to bucket your users off into new targeting sets based on their behaviour.

All of these are possible alongside offering a fun and engaging experience for the user, it is just a case of planning your game properly. We often advise starting at the end point of what you want to achieve and then work back from there. Find out more about gamification marketing.

Becky spoke about “Gamification: The link builder’s call of duty” at UnGagged London 2019.
Keep an eye out for her next speaking slot at UnGagged London in 2020!