Should You “Gamify” Your Email marketing?

Gamifying involves applying gaming techniques and concepts to a non-game interaction. Companies use gamifying when they want to encourage a desired audience behavior.

While the idea of making email marketing more engaging is not new, gamifying takes the fun factor to a completely new level. This new approach adds reward-based incentives to elicit the desired visitor or subscriber outcome.

You can use games to build visitor loyalty under the guise of play. To design a winning game strategy, you should:

  1. Define the behavior you want to encourage (sign up for a enewsletter, visit the site more often, browse a web page, view a Webinar at length, refer friends, “like you” on Facebook, etc.)
  2. Decide the value of the behavior. Think about your sales funnel. What leads a visitor to make the final purchase? Place a higher-value on the activities closer to the bottom of the funnel. A visitor signing up for a demo is probably worth more than a visitor downloading a PDF.

    If you want to get more engagement for your email newsletter, you could encourage user-generated content. Ask readers to submit a case study or event based on your industry. Post the submissions on your website and ask visitors to rate each entry. If you sell customer service software, for example, you could ask folks to submit the oddest customer support question they ever received. You could ask viewers to vote on the best “odd” story.

  3. Think about the potential prize. What will you give for the desired behavior? Example: encourage people to refer friends to signup for demo and offer the folks with the most referrals a coupon, credits toward purchase, a free (valuable) ebook.
  4. Determine the games mechanics. The best gaming tactics allow players to see their game progress and score. For example, award points for properly taking a short quiz at the end of a Webinar. Post top scores on the game page and send reminder emails to keep players in the game. If you run a game for several months, you can publish updates in each weekly or monthly e newsletter.

A Gamifying Example:
A local TV station in Washington, DC continuously promotes a “like us on Facebook” contest. Each week the station announces a new contest. Last Sunday they offered to give away an iPad in a random drawing of viewers who newly “liked them” by Friday. During the 6pm broadcast, they announced the winner on the air.

While you may not have the reach of a metro-market TV station, you do have regular touches with your market place. Once you launch your game, announce the contest and awards in multiple places (your email signature line, website pages, blog, twitter account, etc.)

Keep it simple and make it fun.

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