Gamification: A powerful tool for email marketing

Ever wondered why platforms like Duolingo are so addictive? Or why brands with loyalty programs are much more popular than others? What if we told you that it’s all because of gamification? You may not be aware of it, but those brands know exactly how to use it to keep you wanting more.
If you find yourself wondering what gamification is right now, don’t worry! This article will answer all your questions about the meaning of gamification, the different applications of gamification in business, and how you too can reap the benefits of gamification in your email marketing. Stay tuned to become a gamification expert!

By Manar Sadkou
A man wearing a headset playing a game on his computer
Gamification may not be as easy as playing a game on your computer, but it can make things just as fun.

What is gamification?

Nick Pelling first coined the term “gamification” in 2002 when designing a game-like user interface for commercial electronic devices (ATMs, vending machines, mobile phones, etc.). The British-born inventor and programmer recognized the utility and promise of in-game mechanics as tools for business and industry. Ever since then, gamification has grown more and more in popularity and evolved into the powerful social and marketing tool that we know it as today. But what is the meaning of gamification?

Well, scholar J. Dale Prince defines gamification as “a new technology that incorporates elements of game play in nongame situations. It is used to engage customers, students and users in the accomplishment of quotidian tasks with rewards and other motivators.” In other words, gamification aims to increase user involvement and enjoyment by making a task that would otherwise feel “boring” more interactive and rewarding. So, gamification mainly leverages the motivational aspect of games, such as points, badges, leaderboards, and challenges.

Gamification examples in everyday life

There is a wide range of gamification applications across various fields like education, corporate training, marketing, health and fitness, and financial services. Here are a few examples of how gamification is being used today:
  • Education: Gamification is used to make learning more engaging and fun for students. This model can be seen on platforms like Kahoot! and Duolingo where quizzes, levels, and rewards are incorporated into the learning process.
  • Corporate training: Companies use gamified training modules in the onboarding of new employees. Gamification is also used to track and reward employee performance, thus offering an incentive for employees to perform better.
  • Marketing: Remember the loyalty programs mentioned at the beginning? Well, a lot of brands like Nike and Starbucks use these programs to reward customers for regularly purchasing their products and interacting with their brands.
  • Health and fitness: Gamification has been highly incorporated into multiple fitness apps like Fitbit. Fitbit uses gamification to motivate users to exercise by encouraging them to track their progress and even compete with friends through challenges and leaderboards.
  • Financial services: These services are also employing gamification to encourage customers to save and invest. Think of the finance mobile app Qapital, which pushes users to set goals and offers them rewards for reaching financial milestones.

Benefits of gamification in email marketing

Adding gamified elements to an email marketing campaign has many proven benefits. These are a few ways that gamification can take your email marketing game to the next level:
  • Increased engagement: If the content of your emails is more fun and entertaining, it is more likely to grab your readers’ interest. By adding interactive content, you may produce a more immersive and dynamic experience that is likely to keep your subscribers engaged.
  • Higher open rates: Open rates stand for the percentage of recipients that open an email from a campaign. Digital marketing experts at Econsultancy found that incorporating gamification in your email marketing campaign can potentially increase open rates by 30%. That alone should be reason enough for you to hop on the gamification trend!
  • Enhanced customer loyalty: When you design interesting and enjoyable experiences for your readers, you are fostering an emotional bond with them. That emotional connection can be key to developing a devoted and loyal following and makes it more likely that customers will recommend your brand to others.
  • Improved click-through rates: Click-through rates measure how often people click on your website from an email link, compared to how many people have seen it. Gamification can help drive this essential metric up because gamified elements capture your subscribers’ attention and ensure they are less likely to miss updates from you.

 Types of gamification techniques for email marketing

With gamification, the possibilities are almost endless. Take a look at a few common gamification techniques that you can incorporate into your email campaigns to create a better experience for your subscribers:
  • Quizzes and surveys: This technique is excellent for driving engagement while allowing you to collect valuable data and helpful insights into your subscribers’ preferences. Quizzes and surveys incentivize your readers to spend more time with your content, which is exactly the desired result of any successful email marketing campaign.
  • Contests and challenges: This technique encourages your customers to actively engage with the content of your emails and your brand. The possibility of being rewarded or winning a prize creates excitement and motivates your subscribers to participate. Something as simple as a photo contest where users share their experience using your product can not only boost engagement but also help you collect user-generated content. To learn more, see our article: What is user-generated content & how can you use it in email marketing?
  • Rewards and points systems: The prospect of being rewarded creates an extra incentive for your customers. By creating a system where subscribers can gain points by completing small tasks such as opening emails or clicking on links, you can boost engagement. You can then allow your subscribers to redeem their points for discounts or free products, encouraging them to interact with your content further.
  • Interactive elements: Adding a game-like experience to your email marketing campaigns through interactive tools can be fun for your subscribers. Some examples are scratch cards or spin-to-win wheels, which can capture your subscribers’ attention and push them to engage with your emails more often. It sounds simple, but sometimes all you are missing is an element of surprise.
Using gamification has the potential to completely transform your email marketing campaigns by creating a more playful and fun experience that your subscribers will surely appreciate. Gamification can also provide valuable insights into your customers’ preferences, allowing you to further tailor and personalize your future marketing campaigns.

If you’ve read this far, then you are equipped with all the basic knowledge you need to start planning your next successful email marketing campaign. We wish you the best of luck!

Did you find this article helpful? Don’t hesitate to click the thumbs-up button below! And if you still don’t have an email account with, What are you waiting for? Sign up for free today!

Images: 1&1/Shutterstock

16 people found this article helpful.

Related articles

What is user-generated content & how can you use it in email marketing?

What is the future of email?

Funny email sign offs – courtesy of Gen Z