gamification_marketing_strategyMore and more businesses are using gamification to create brand awareness and drive user engagement. Gartner, Inc. predicts that more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application by 2014. In the last few years, the number of companies that deliver gamification services and solutions including has risen significantly.

In April this year Debbie Hemley published an interesting article on, presenting 20 elements you should be aware of when you consider a gamification marketing strategy for your business:

#1: Understanding Player Types

Understanding the ways in which people may interact with a game can be essential information for designers. Many discussions of gamification include references to Richard Bartle‘s four player types: Achievers, Explorers, Killers and Socialites.

#2: Badges as a Reward

Kevin Warhus writes: “Since the dawn of Foursquare and a variety of other social check-ins, rewards and badges have become all the rage… Companies big and small have long ago realized that it is a great way to connect with customers and reward them for the use of their service… people naturally enjoy being praised for their actions and collecting proof of their invested time and energy to show off to their friends.”

#3: Challenges

A recent gamification study conducted by Stephanie Hermann found that game challenges must be tailor-made to address desired target groups. “One must consider the context of the underlying application and the user’s state within the player life cycle to sustain user engagement.” Furthermore, her research suggests that challenges within gamified applications cannot be generalized and no one-size-fits-all exists.

#4: Demographics

An important consideration for businesses as they think about integrating games into their brand experiences is to know the demographics of gamers. Statistics from the 2011 Los Angeles Games Conference revealed that: “50% of gamers are reported as being female, 30% are over 45, and in the U.S. there are 40 million active social gamers (who play at least 1 hour a week), and there are over 200 million gamers on Facebook.”

#5: Flow Theory

The flow theory was proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, who says that in flow, emotions are not just contained and channeled, but positive, energized and aligned with the task at hand. Flow is also described as a deep focus on nothing but the activity—not even oneself or one’s emotions.

#6: Gifts (Game Mechanics)

Gifts are one of several types of mechanics used in games to motivate users. While some games may utilize real-world gifts in the form of money, gift cards, etc., many games motivate players with virtual gifts; e.g., flowers, badges.

#7: Having Fun Is not the opposite of work

Mario Herger says that in his work in the field of gamification he has come up against many negative responses to businesses “gamifying” a user’s experience. Mario‘s opinion is that fun and serious work are not mutually exclusive.

#8: Incentivizing Online Activities

Perhaps one of the essentials of gamified applications and websites is incentivization, where companies incentivize certain activities and then award credits and gifts for desired behaviors. As discussed in demographics, to know about your users may give you good ideas for how to best incentivize their activities, help keep them in the game and make them loyal customers.

#9: Leaderboards

Leaderboards are one of the major features of games. They are defined on the Gamification Wiki as:

“A means by which users can track their performance subjective to others. Leaderboards visually display where a user stands in regards to other users. The desire to appear on the Leaderboards drives players to earn more achievements, in turn fueling deep engagement.”

#10: Motivational Design

It’s essential to consider what motivates players when you think about creating an effective and successful design for a game. Gabe Zichermann writes, “Good gamification design seeks to understand and align an organization’s objectives with a player’s intrinsic motivation (an innate drive to do something, or your pursuit of activities that are rewarding in and of themselves). Then, through the use of extrinsic rewards and intrinsically satisfying design, move the player through their journey of mastery. This journey requires elements such as desire, incentive, challenge, reward and feedback to create engagement.”

#11: Organizational Goals

From the organizational standpoint, games should contribute to an organization’s goals; e.g., getting foot traffic into a brick-and-mortar store, demonstrating the personality of your brand and demonstrating your core values. Thinking about the organizational goals of your game will make it a win-win for everyone involved.

#12: Progress Bar (Game Mechanics)

Believe it or not, the profile completeness bar on LinkedIn can be seen as an example of game mechanics. By seeing how much more complete the profile needs to be, many people will be driven to take steps to 100% completion with the promise of being able to take advantage of LinkedIn’s more advanced features.

#13: Quantifiable Outcomes

Through gamification analytics you’ll want to track things such as user participation, daily activities and users by achievement and levels. And ultimately, you’ll want to know if you have impacted the consumer’s relationship to your business in a positive way.

#14: Rewards

Kris Duggan has some important insights into rewards. He writes, “Status and virtual rewards are only as valuable as the community in which they are awarded and displayed. Smart gamification requires a deep integration of a rewards program across a brand’s entire user experience, whether that be on its main homepage, mobile app, community, blog or any other digital touchpoint with the brand.” Make your community a valuable user experience where users will be proud to participate and as a result will be more inclined to value your rewards.

#15: Tactics and Gamification

Identitymine‘s recent post sums up tactics and gamification: “Marketing tactics within gamification are the incentives that drive the audience to move towards your strategic goal, which can be to create awareness, make sales or identify new leads. The point is not to make a game but to incorporate game mechanics into a marketing effort.” In other words, not a game for the sake of playing a game but making sure you’re always cognizant of the reasons you’ve employed games.

#16: Users’ Needs and Goals

There are a number of motivational drivers and Dustin DiTommaso recommends four key factors:

  • Achievement of goals or enjoyment of experience
  • Structure and guidance or freedom to explore
  • Control of others or connecting with others
  • Self-interest in actions or social interest in actions

#17: Virtual Environments and Engagement

As Kristen Bourgault points out, games like FarmVille and World of Warcraft have millions upon millions of players each month. She asks: “What is it that attracts so many people to become so deeply engaged...?” Maybe it has something to do with the human need to play? A way to try to master our worlds and our experiences? Or maybe it’s about our desire for distraction or our need to find a way to relax from the usual demands of our day?

#18: Website Invigoration

Douglas MacMillan says that gamification has been invigorating stale websites: “Video game designers have spent the last few decades perfecting the art of making their products addictive. Now traditional companies are building loyalty for their websites using so-called gamification techniques. Tactics such as leaderboards, which encourage users to compete against one another for points, are becoming common across the Web.”

#19: Why Do You Want to Gamify?

Dustin DiTommaso recommends you ask a series of questions:

  • What is the reason for gamifying your product or service?
  • How does it benefit the user? Will they enjoy it?
  • What are your business goals? How do get the users to fulfill those business goals?
  • What actions do you want users to take?

The more information you have, the better the chance you’ll have at designing an effective and relevant gaming experience.

#20: Zeitgeist at the Appropriate Time

Whether you love the term or concepts of “gamification” or not, it’s clear that in a few short years, it has caught on. As Gabe Zichermann writes, “The term has entered the popular lexicon… as with most powerful tech neologisms, it’s probably not going anywhere, and no small part of its success is that it genuinely is the first viable term to encapsulate the concept of using game concepts outside of games. It has also hit the zeitgeist at the appropriate time.” (Source: