Gamification in marketing: Experts’ view

Gamification: Everything you need to know

Gamification, the idea of applying game design techniques and mechanics in real-life situations, was started in 1896 as a marketing strategy where the retailers used to give reward stamps, which could later be converted into gifts, to their loyal customers. Besides marketing, gamification, today, is being used in almost every aspect of people’s lives.

Objective of Gamification

The term ‘gamification’ was coined by a British Computer programmer, Nick Pelling, in 2002. It has picked up, like fire ever since. The characteristics, such as challenges, rewards, competitions, and promotions, based on the individual’s performance skills, are being used via gamification in general settings. The main objective of gamification is to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals, especially in the workplace.

The Basics of Gamification

You’ve probably come across the term “gamification”, but do you really know what it means?
It’s way more than “just integrating game mechanics” into a website or an app

Gamification is a process where you take the essence of what makes games so “fascinating and irresistible” and integrate them into non-game experiences.

When doing this, you add elements to your site or app like rewards, challenges, and much more. This will trigger a sense of achievement and make use of the competitive nature in people, encouraging them to use the app/website even more, because they’ll enjoy it.

They’ll feel like champions, who wouldn’t like that?

Using gamification will ensure you long-term engagement, loyalty, and valuable results for your business. Game elements that you can add are points, leaderboards, ratings, virtual currency, virtual elements, and much more.

Why does Gamification work?

  • You create a fun experience for your audience, which will lead to a longer and more engaging relationship.
  • It motivates your customers to participate: there are chances to be rewarded, to win something or to gain recognition.
  • It gives you an emotional connection with your customers, increasing the possibility that they’ll also become more loyal to your business.
  • It’s for “all-around” uses since you can add game elements to different areas. Think project management, recruitment, marketing, and more.

The pros and cons of adding Gamification to your marketing

Gamification sounds fun and all, but is it good for your enterprise? Some thoughts to keep in mind:


  • It increases the engagement of customers, prospects & partners. Rewarding them (it doesn’t have to be something materialistic, it can also be recognition or even valuable content) can increase their loyalty and positive feeling toward your business.
  • It speaks to the sense of achievement & competition of the people. People want to be noticed and get rewarded. Performing better than their peers will leave them with a sense of achievement.
  • It will help your prospects identify each other. Having gamification tools can help you segment your prospects, so you can make them a more personalized offer.


  • Gamification can sometimes be applied in a generic way. Some enterprises think that by adding leaderboards and badges to some processes, they’re creating a fun experience. It’s more than that, it’s important to have a balance between collaboration and competition.
  • Playing along shouldn’t be mandatory. If enterprises force their employees to play along, the fun in it would be gone.
  • Games at work can get tedious. You sure remember Candy Crush or Farmville. It’s a challenge for developers to keep games innovative, fun, and motivating.

Gamification in your marketing strategy

Gamification is not a traditional tool in the marketing world (yet!). It can be applied to many products, services, or any stage of the customer journey and it’s easily adjusted to any budget. So, what’s the impact of gamification on your marketing strategy?

When a company innovates, people will think about that company as a more forward-thinking company, it will impact the virality of your campaign. Moreover, it stimulates conversations with your clients that will result in people being more motivated for a longer period of time and more engaged with your content. All because you created one memorable campaign!

Getting started with Gamification in your marketing strategy

  • Get a good overview of what you believe could use a little help from the gamification magic. Think about your goals, more traffic, and more engagement when you do this.
  • Pay attention to what your audience wants, it’s important to keep your audience in mind when you think of a game. What’s going to work for them and what will appeal to them the most? A game will not be the same for an older audience as for a younger audience.
  • Don’t go big when you are just thinking about implementing gamification, don’t go overboard, instead start with little steps. Start with a simple game to see how it goes. Let your customers have little challenges and quizzes to reward them. Like this company did with mobile quizzes during an event.
  • Have in mind what you want to give as a reward. It has to be clear what you’re considering giving as a reward, these can be monetary or non-monetary rewards.
  • Make it fun! It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re running, try to make the experience as fun as possible.
  • Be a daredevil & take risks after you’ve played with a little of gamification, don’t be afraid to take your game to the next level and implement fun stuff like Augmented reality.

15 experts share their most inspiring gamification examples

Dive into this list of gamification favorites from some of the leading experts in the gamification world, to learn more about the mechanics of gamification AND to find your very own inspiration.

1. Vasilis Gkogkidis

The Magnum Pleasure Hunt

“One of the most complete takes on gamifying a marketing campaign was designed by Magnum in 2011. They called their game Magnum Pleasure Hunt and you needed to gather pieces of chocolate while traveling through the Internet.

Magnum Pleasure Hunt was part of a worldwide online campaign launched by Unilever to promote its Magnum ice cream products. In terms of reach, the game was considered highly successful, with more than 7.000.000 players and an average engagement of 5 minutes for each user.

The campaign propagated virally on several social networking sites and its hashtag was one of the Twitter trends the day of its launch.”

2. David Mullich

Apple’s Macintosh marketing

“Gamification has been used in marketing for decades before the term was invented.

For example, I have very fond memories of my mother collecting Blue Chip Stamps with each grocery purchase so that we could earn prizes.

Then there were McDonald’s scratch-off games and limited-offer sales in stores.

I like any gamification technique that doesn’t simply rely on points, badges, and leaderboards. But I think my favorites are the ones that rely on making customers feel like they are doing something meaningful by using their product, and I have to say that the best example of that is Apple’s marketing of the Macintosh over the past three decades.

Ever since they introduced the Macintosh with their 1984 ad, they’ve been encouraging people to be different and think differently by using their product. It’s a narrative that’s worked extremely well all throughout their branding and advertising.”

3. Dominique Mangiatordi

The NIKE+ app

“Nike innovated when they launched Nike+, and today they have this very powerful owned media, the app, that connects the brands with the challenges, the achievement of its clients (and not yet clients).

I like to see when things are connecting obviously. Of course, this example has to be softened: It uses an intrinsic motivation (running) as a relay for performance gaming.

Make sure to read my theory about the gamification curve and the difference between gamification in an intrinsic or extrinsic context.”

4.Ercan AltuÄŸ Yilmaz

The Starbucks game

“Marketing is a customer engagement focus area and it mostly stays on a « loyalty » level like earning points. But some companies add level systems and the curiosity for it makes it work really well. The Starbucks Game is a good example. It has a level system with stickers that support curiosity.

For gamifying a marketing campaign, I can give only one piece of advice: don’t focus on points, stars, and money kind of rewards. Think about intrinsic rewards too. There are 8 core drives that stimulate people to engage with your campaign:

  1. Epic Meaning and Calling;
  2. Development and accomplishment;
  3. Empowerment of Creativity and feedback;
  4. Ownership and possession;
  5. Social Influence and relatedness;
  6. Scarcity and Impatience;
  7. Unpredictability and Curiosity;
  8. Loss and avoidance based on Octalysis Gamification model.”

5. Pete Jenkins

Contrex water surprise

Nestle Contrex Commercial: “Ma Contrexperience”

“I’m a big fan of a marketing video done by Contrex Water, in which there are people cycling together to power some lights to make firefighters strip off.

What I like about it is that gamifying marketing makes people work together as a team even though they are complete strangers. I like stuff where the game makes people get into new teams and new social groupings.

Whenever we do any sort of gamifying in marketing it has a much better anecdotic feedback. People who’ve done that, are much more responsive to the follow-up emails. They reply in much more detail and we get a much better interaction with them.”

6. Pau Yanez

Unlock your inner “007”

Unlock the 007 | Skyfall | Coca Cola Commercial

“Marketing has been one of the first industries to use gamification techniques to increase sales.

I always remember the campaign “Unlock the 007 in you” from Coca-Cola for the launch of the James Bond movie “Skyfall”.

They created an experience where several game techniques engaged visitors of a shopping mall to participate in a challenge to get free tickets and, at the same time, create brand loyalty.”

7. Toby Beresford

A bubbly list of top influencers

“One of my favorite stories is Christopher Walkey’s who works for a start-up called Glass of Bubbly that goes about champagne and he created a top 100 list of champagne producers and posted it on his website.

He didn’t know any of these guys, but as soon as he put this list on his website, his traffic expanded by 500%. All from that small region around Paris, France where all the champagne producers come from, they were all fascinated by it.

As a result, he built new relationships with each of the champagne producers. They started to contribute to his blog and he created a whole new business on the back of that simple leaderboard.

Now he produces the A Glass of Bubbly magazine that is held in very high-end hotels & he also organizes events for the champagne industry. It’s been amazing how just from one simple leaderboard of the top 100 champagne producers, he’s actually created a whole new business.”

Note from the author: I especially love this example, since it’s such a simple and easy idea. Something you could easily come up with without spending big corporate budgets.

8. Nicolas Babin

Contrex water surprise

use fun to make people exercise
use fun to make people exercise

Nicolas’ favorite example is the same as Pete Jenkins’s (great minds think alike).
“I like it because they use fun to make people exercise. Brands that use gamification in advertising are the ones that engage the most.

Gamification is not a miracle solution, it helps predominantly with engagement. So the KPIs that are going to be the most impacted are time spent on a campaign, result rates, truth of results.”

9. Zachary Fitz-Walter

The piano stairs

Piano stairs –

“The Fun Theory website, which was an initiative of Volkswagen, has to be one of my favorite examples.

It was run as a competition, allowing the submission of fun ideas for social causes (e.g., help reduce speeding, encourage recycling). The Piano Stairs were one of the outcomes and they have to be one of the most used examples in the gamification space.”

“Another favorite was a promo for the Winter Olympics in Sochi where commuters could do 30 squats in order to get a free ride on the subway.

I really like it when companies look beyond badges, leaderboards, and points and instead create more memorable, unique experiences that stand out and look fun.”

10. Jose Carlos Cortizo

The Pink Nation app

“There are a lot of awesome examples of Gamification in Marketing, but one of my favorites is the Pink Nation app by Victoria’s Secret.

This app included several game mechanics that aimed users to interact more with the brand, and it included a game mechanic that I loved: an Omni-Channel Scavenger Hunt.”

“Each week, the app aimed their users to look for a specific letter (P, I, N, K…) of their name in their online store and in their retail store locations. When the users found that letter, they should make a photograph of that letter. Once they found every letter (for several weeks) they were able to obtain a discount or a prize.

This mechanic is fantastic as it helped the brand to drive « free traffic » to their online store and their retail store locations while creating a fun experience for their users.”

11. Martin Smith

Complete LinkedIn profiles

“Remember when LinkedIn told us our profiles were “88% complete”? What does “complete” even mean?

Since they know gamification, LinkedIn defined “complete” and then spurred millions to add pictures and text to their profiles. The reward? LinkedIn understood their Type A business people.

Not being “complete” would frustrate their audience enough “completion” and so new engagement with the site was assured. Brilliant gamification marketing.”

A few other examples that deserve an honorable mention:

  • Fitbit: This helps you reach your goals by seeing progress notifications and celebrating milestones with achievement badges.
  • Redbull: ‘Summer Swag’ used a ‘scan and see what you’ve won’ concept to generate demand for the new flavors and engage consumers with the brand. Customers swiped the coupon at a SwipeStation to see what they had won. Prizes ranged from food to festival tickets. More info here
  • Quora: The “voting up” idea is a game mechanic. It inspires gameplay by asking your friends to vote for your question so it appears higher in a list, bringing new members into Quora daily.

12. Sabrina Bruebwiler

Nine Inch Nails treasure hunt

“I do love the use of Treasure Hunts. I used to be a scout and that boosted my imagination with roleplay and hunting for clues, encoding maps, and finding hidden pirate chests. Later on, I started doing LARP, Live Action Role Play, where you play your personally created Avatar in an alternate reality within a set theme and topic, for example, Fantasy or Medieval.

These are experienced Game Techniques I still use today when it comes to gamification in marketing. These are great examples of the Unpredictability & Curiosity Core Drive (the main force behind our fascination with experiences that are uncertain and involve chance), and the Core Drive called empowerment of creativity and feedback while building a community (Social Influence and Relatedness).”

This core means creating long-term positive emotions and it has the ability to continually engage us at all moments in our lives.

“One of the most inspiring treasure hunt examples to date is the alternate reality game “Year Zero” from the Band Nine Inch Nails, playing in a dystopian future in the year 2022, advertising their new album with the same name.

Fans all around the world were chosen to join the resistance and save the world from the apocalypse while finding clues to new songs and lyrics by participating in concerts and solving riddles with the community.

A great example of using another Core Drive Epic Meaning and Calling (This is the drive where people are motivated because they believe they are engaged in something that is bigger than themselves.) in combination with creating Relatedness and Curiosity, making this a highly intrinsically motivating experience.”

13. Karl Kapp

McDonald’s Monopoly

Advanced McDonalds Monopoly
Advanced McDonalds Monopoly

“I think McDonald’s does a wonderful job of using elements of the game Monopoly as a method of marketing their product. Mcdonald’s was able to deconstruct the traditional board game and create an entirely new experience that motivates players (customers) to keep returning to Mcdonald’s to collect the pieces to try to win.

It’s so good because many people are familiar and comfortable with Monopoly so it works on that level, many people have played Monopoly as a child so it brings back childhood memories. There is the aspect of the collection and the sense of winning.

There are small victories in terms of winning food items and a big victory in terms of cash and prizes. And it brings attention and customer to McDonald’s every time it’s played and because it’s not played all year around, it really does bring a great deal of attention to McDonald’s.”

14. Oscar García Pañella

Virtual calls for a phone service company

“We did a project for a client, they were delivering phone services for people who came a long time ago to Spain and wanted to maintain the connection with their families in their homelands like Cuba for instance.

There are a lot of companies that offer phone call services and everything. So, this company wanted to empower its webpage to become the number one and so also be preferred by people. They wanted to gamify their webpage, not only by delivering a better service but by providing different activities that could be accomplished on the webpage, so many people would visit it.

We created a collection of activities. With virtual callings, with these virtual callings, they could gain real money from the phone calls but they could also get other benefits, like social benefits for instance, and be really promoted in terms of status, on social media and stuff. That was really cool.”

15. Salvatore Mica


How SuperBetter Works
How SuperBetter Works

“My favorite example of the experimental design is The SuperBetter website and app were designed to make you stronger physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. It’s a guide that helps you identify an epic win, create a secret identity, recruit allies, and choose pre-loaded experiences or create your own adventures. A mentor reminds you every day to complete quests, activate Power-Ups, and battle bad guys to increase resilience scores, mental, emotional, social & physical.

This game increases the ability to stay strong, motivated, and optimistic even in the face of difficult obstacles. Playing this game makes you more capable of getting through any tough situation and helps you achieve the goals that matter most to you.

The user plays the part of the game designer and player, so he or she is investigating his or her life to see what will feel better. Users identify what makes them feel better and share that with doctors or friends and family.

I think that a gamification approach and mindset could improve results in marketing, loyalty, retention, referral, and so on.

16. Rob Alvarez Bucholska

Make your own meal by 4Food

“One of my favorite gamification examples in marketing is by 4food. With the possibility to create your own meal, as you want it, they cater to the creativity of their customers.

Then, the fact that you can share your preparation on the website makes it also become a social experience, which is topped by the fact that the preferences of other users for your and other combinations are shared in real-time on a leaderboard.
All that makes the design a pretty well-rounded gamification experiment as a brand and experience.

It is important to have very specific and measurable objectives right from the start, so you can shape your design to achieve those results, rather than going just for making the experience “fun”, which is almost impossible to measure in a way that all stakeholders would agree.”

1. Augmented reality & Virtual reality

AR is becoming more accessible as you can interact with physical locations and products. It’s a great way to promote products. You can easily scan your products not only for a short video but for a “pokemon go” kind of story. The use of VR and AR makes the experience more immersive. For example, Ar advertising on bus stops in London from Pepsi.

2. Gamification data

Capturing data and information from players and those engaging with the brands to accelerate at a scary level. For example, Google collects data from many different areas of your online life and then uses analytics to create a profile of you as a consumer. Gamification data points are going to be additional pieces of information that will feed into that profile and become extremely valuable to brands.

3. Score science

Score science is the analysis, distribution, design, and management of scorecards. Doing score science right would help you to not just send people off in the wrong direction or get them in the wrong behavior as Wells Fargo did. It’s about ensuring the participants have an equal chance to score well. Scorecards keep everyone growing and improving.

4. Mobile technology

The use of social networks and mobile apps for engaging users on the go. Think about tourist walks that work with beacons to send you information straight to your mobile phone for example.

5. Blockchain

Recently, blockchain technology has been making a great complementary technology to gamification. Blockchain’s ability to provide secure record-keeping and ease transactions using crypto tokens makes it a great match for gamification. The game CryptoKitties shows how blockchain can be used to allow ownership of digital items. It shows how blockchains are helping promote honesty and trust in gamified activities.


There are numerous inspiring examples of gamification in marketing. I hope they did inspire you!

Gamification is used more widely each year and, as time progresses, you’ll see more of it being integrated into the marketing strategies of companies of all shapes and sizes. Gamification isn’t magic, but when done right and following the right approach, it does promise a way for those willing to increase the engagement level in their companies. Put in the work, think about adding value rather than just adding “something fun” and you’ll get the results.

What’s your favorite example of gamification in marketing? Share it with us!

Originally published at by Diana Garcia.

Image source: Freepik Premium

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