Introducing Gamification to Your Marketing Strategy

Gamification has become a bit of a buzzword in the last few years.

Although gamification has been around for more years than ‘a few’, it is still alive and kicking. If anything, it’s gaining more attention as an ideal way to create engagement with your audience. That’s because the concept of playing a game and possibly winning something stimulates the creative, playful and competitive spirit in pretty much all of us.

Using gamification to increase the amount of time a potential customer spends on your site can raise their engagement level with your brand/company. This goes a long way toward influencing their purchase decisions in the future.

What Is Gamification?

More or less, you know what a game is: a structured form of play as a means of enjoyment and entertainment.

young adult standing in front of arcade game
Photo: Andre Hunter

Gamification is a bit more complicated.

The Google definition of gamification is this: The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.

Gamification’s purpose is to leverage the psychological drive behind games. It tries to apply all these elements that make games engaging wherever they can apply.

Gamification is about turning “Have to” into “Want to”.

 Benefits of Gamification

So why should you consider applying gamification if you still haven’t?

  • It’s popular because it works. What used to be a pastime of a minority of ‘geeks’ or ‘nerds’ it now has become an industry bigger than Hollywood. It’s more likely that someone will enjoy gamification, so it is a reliable mechanism. Gamification can be part of a valid strategy.
  • It makes the user experience more enjoyable and thus more engaging.
  • It increases user acquisition through word of mouth and social sharing.
  • It’s cheap to implement in comparison to other mechanisms.
  • It helps with customer data gathering. Gamification encourages users to provide info about themselves with incentives such as points, badges and achievements.
  • It increases brand loyalty. A positive app-experience reinforces brand acceptance.

Common Gamification Mistakes

Taking rather than giving.
A reward is better than punishment. In human psychology, losing something has a more significant impact than gaining something. For example, imagine your car is stolen. Chances are that what you will feel will be more massive than what you felt the day you acquired it. Likewise, you don’t want to create negative feelings for your customers.

Positive reinforcement is what usually works best. A happy player is a committed player.

Complicated game mechanics.
Keep it simple. Your set of rules should look that of tic-tac-toe, not chess. Incomprehensible rules, criteria and leaderboards mean fewer opportunities for engagement.

Bad design.
The reasons that make UI/UX important for your website apply here as well.

No clear or unreachable goals.
The user should know what he’s supposed to do within seconds. The ultimate goal and the immediate step should be crystal clear and appear as easily obtainable.

There is a fine line that a marketer must stay inside of when working with consumers to promote your product. The biggest mistake I see happening is when marketers forget that the relationship needs to be mutually beneficial – meaning that they need to be acknowledging these messages and fueling them with rewards. One way to make relationships mutually beneficial is through rewarding consumers for sharing socially and making it fun and worthwhile to help share your brand’s message.

Where to begin?

The “Wheel of Fortune” Widget

I have to admit, “Wheel of Fortune” Widget is my latest addiction. No one can deny the power of Wheel of Fortune. Wheel of Fortune ranks as the longest-running game show in the United States, being on the air since 1975. The concept of the “Wheel of Fortune” is straightforward: It’s all about FUN! It’s not just reading words on a screen or watching an exciting video. It’s the whole process trying to hit your target, plus it involves some type of prize.

A Wheel of Fortune Widget is possibly the most simple and easy way to implement a gamification marketing strategy.



Wheel of Fortune is easy to set up as a widget for your website. New website visitors who are browsing your site will be presented with the opportunity to spin the wheel for a chance to win one of several great prizes. Once the user turns the wheel, they are presented with the opportunity to receive their gift by providing their email address.

Unlike traditional email pop-up offers which typically generate 1-2% email signups, the Wheel of Fortune usually averages 6-8% email signup rates making it one of the most powerful tools for savvy online marketers to take advantage of.

The Wheel of Fortune works best with discounts and promotional items. You may also choose to propose your products and services.

“Playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.” Bernard Suits, The Grasshopper Click To Tweet

Why is Wheel of Fortune so Successful?

The main reason people play games is… dopamine. Dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter and plays a significant role in the motivational component of reward-motivated behaviour. A reward increases the chemical release of dopamine. The reward can be external, like a trophy, or intrinsic, which is a sense of accomplishment. In either case, the reward warrants a flood of dopamine into the pleasure centre of the brain, which is why games are so powerful. When appropriately used, gamified applications can be a staggering tool to persuade visitors to stay longer and perform specific actions.

So, this widget performs better than any other gamification strategy, just because it triggers real, powerful human emotions in a few minutes.

Happiness, intrigue, excitement… dopamine release, a sense of reward.


These are positive user experiences. And positive user experience leads to better engagement, loyalty and higher sales.

Okay, so what makes the Wheel of Fortune so powerful?

Quite simply, it triggers emotions that are linked to a positive user experience.

  1. It Gives The User Control

Simple psychology tells us that people don’t like to be forced or dragged to a destination. They want to be the masters of their destiny. Most people like to feel in control. It’s like a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ book or picking which level to play in a game.

  1. A Sense of Achievement

Achievement is one of the most powerful psychological driving factors of human behaviour. Everything we do, we do to achieve something. If you can make your user feel like they’ve accomplished something, they’re going to come back.

  1. Humans Love to Explore and Escape

Of course, this exploration should be carefully structured, so users don’t get lost.

  1. Humans Love Rewards

Everyone loves rewards. We’ve already talked about creating a sense of achievement. But, why not go one step forward and offer a real, tangible reward?

  1. People Will Do Just About Anything for Exclusivity!

There’s a reason why people pay thousands of dollars for a first class plane ticket. Sure, you get a bed and a glass of champagne. But you’re not only paying for the features. You’re paying for status.

Exclusivity creates intrigue, jealousy, and curiosity. People will work hard to achieve that status. Starbucks gets the balance perfect with it’s ‘gold’ status for regular customers.

Where to Apply Gamification?

Introduction to Your Platform

Let’s start off with an example. Steam, the popular PC game retailer has a thing for badges. In addition to the selling of games per se, there is also a gamification layer on top. This is how it works: The moment you sign up, your Steam profile is at level 0. Badges give you XP and XP increase your level. Did you become the owner of your first ten games? Here’s a badge. Did you become a beta tester for a new feature? Here’s another. Do you want to know what you can do with Steam? Do all these actions and get your first level (and a badge!).

Steam badges


Running a contest is the easiest to participate in for your customers.  Reward your visitors with unique gifts. Ask them to add their e-mail and after a draw pick the winner!

There are some points to note here:

  • Ensure that your contest is not too product-centric
  • Incorporate some elements of fun and intrigue

Promo Code Giveaways

Offers and discounts are one of the reasons why people gravitate towards your Facebook Fan Page or Instagram Account. Reward your site’s visitors with promo code giveaways. That could be 10% off, 20% off etc.

Engaging Visitors

Simple as that. Gamification is an easy way to boost your engagement with your customers and provide a frequent reason for them to return to your site. It will help your site to stay top of mind. Like with Steam, your level XP remain the same since last time, and your mission is to gain more. There is a sense of purpose and continuity.

Experiment With Gamification Starting Today

There are a number of tools just doing spinners, but there are few that the have all kind of widgets including spinners in various formats (popups, full-screen takeovers, half screen takeovers etc.). Just let your imagination go wild!


A visually stunning tool that will enable much greater engagement in your website. The main concept behind it is based on a give and take relationship. You offer your visitors the chance to win a gift via an interactive and fun game, and in return, they give you their contact info and engage with your website. You can try it live for free!


Attract new visitors, engage customers, and drive traffic to your online store with the new Spin the Wheel widget from Shopify.


Brand, customise and create your own spin widget and win new customers with the Wheel of Pop-ups.


OptinSpin smartly asks the visitor to submit their email and can help you generate leads by populating your email list with a good collection of emails.



Listagram is an email list building tool which increases opt-in conversion rates by turning opt-in forms into an interactive game. It works on any platform (Magento, Shopify, WordPress/Woocommerce, Bigcommerce, SquareSpace, ClickFunnels – literally any) and integrates with many of the top Email Automation platforms.


You can manage the gifts being offered to the customers from the back-end of Prestashop interactive exit-intent pop-up and create your own – customised spin widget.


Offer your users a moment of fun and a chance to win a prize by turning the Wheel of Fortune, made with love by WP Optin Wheel.



You’re not limited to Shopify. No matter what platform you’re on, you’ll be able to install the interactive Vyper’s popup.

“Gamification is 75% Psychology and 25% Technology.” – Gamification by Design co-author, Gabe Zichermann Click To Tweet

Are you familiar with gamification? Are you using any gamification tricks on your website or app? I’d love to hear how you’re incorporating gamification in your content marketing strategy.  Please do leave your commentsbelow. and let me know!



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