What the Heck are Game-Based Promotions?


Glad you asked.

Game-based promotions are a form of game-based marketing that use prizes and game tactics (gamification) to drive user actions.

In other words they're digital promotions that have been turned into a game in order to drive specific consumer behaviour (purchase, app download, etc).

Some examples would be...

  • Spin to Win Promotions

  • Advergames

  • Collect & Win Promotions

  • User Generated Contests

  • Matching Games

  • Puzzle Games

  • Trivia Games

  • Pretty much any kind of game you can think of.  (Except maybe Call of Duty.)

Basically, they take your boring brand/product content and make it fun for consumers to engage with.

And that has a big benefit to you, since people who enjoy your game are more likely to spend time playing it and think positively about your brand.  (Or in marketing speak: it’ll increase user engagement and create positive brand experiences.)

It all sounds pretty simple, but getting game-based promotions right can be tricky.  Without a solid understanding of both gamification design and strategy your cool new promotion will go from gamification to ‘lamification’.

This article will help fill out your knowledge of game-based promotions. So when your boss asks “we’re building a what?” you can blow her away with sweet facts about how game-based promotions drive better results and measurable ROI (don’t worry, we’ll cover this).

PS: make sure to bookmark this page, so you can come back anytime you have a question.

Gamification: The Basics

To change your consumers’ behaviour you have to motivate them. And that means first understanding what they really want. Not just adding points or badges.

We get into a bit more detail about effective gamification design in another post, but I’ll cover the basics here.

There are 3 key parts to an effective gamification strategy:

  1. Understand your customers. You need to know how and why customers typically interact with your brand. Then you can create solutions that either fit into how they already engage with you, or make it easy & rewarding to interact in new ways.

  2. Know your business goals. We don’t run promotions to give away prizes. We run them to achieve our business goals. Make sure you have a clear sense of the specific goals you want to achieve — whether that’s increasing app adoption, or driving sales.

  3. Identify the behaviour you need to change. Often our marketing goals require behaviour changes from customers. For example, if you are trying to increase app adoption, do you need to increase app usage — or increase app downloads? Those are two specific behaviours you’ll need to change to achieve your goal.

Once you know how your customers currently engage with you, what you’re trying to achieve, and the behaviours you need to change, you can look at how to use game tactics and gamification to motivate customers to change their behaviour.

Prizes: Why They’re Important & What to Choose

We’ve talked about how gamification and game tactics can encourage behaviour changes, but first you have to get customers to register.

Unless they really like filling out registration forms, the motivation, as you might have guessed, is the grand prize.

I see you rolling your eyes at the screen. I know it seems obvious. But it is important to note.

Choosing the right prizing is one of the most important decisions you’ll make during the planning process for contest or sweepstakes promotions.

It’s easy to say “let’s give away a trip” or “$5000” or (worst of all) “a free iPad.”  But unless those prizes are aligned with your brand and target audience, they aren’t going to drive real results.

Choosing prizing has to be a strategic decision. Here are some best practices to consider:

  1. Pick prizing that relates to your brand. An easy way to do this is to pick prizing related to your company. For example, if you are a bank you might offer a GIC as a reward.

  2. Pick prizing that has wide-appeal. If you offer a lot of products, or target a wide variety of demographics pick prizing that’s appealing to a wide variety of people. We’ve found over the years that the most appealing prize is cash (who couldn’t use some extra cash?). Vacations and cars are also popular prizes.

  3. Ensure your prizing is valuable enough to drive action. Beyond demographic appeal, you also need to ensure your prizing has enough value to change your customers behaviour. Keep in mind, different actions have different barriers to entry — and you’ll need to adjust the value of your prize accordingly.

Game-Based vs Traditional Promotions

Let’s get into the numbers: what kind of results can you expect from running a game-based promotion?

We’ve also broken down the key differences between game-based and traditional promotions results in the infographic below.

  1. Increase brand engagement. Game-based promos drastically improve your brand engagement by giving customers a reason to stick around after they register. We’ve seen average time-on-site hit over 9 minutes on game-based promos — with some promos hitting over 14 minutes. Compared to the average 2m30s consumers spend engaged with traditional promos — that’s a lot of extra brand exposure!

  2. Improve opt-in rate. One of the most goals for promotions is to increase opt-ins — whether that’s for email lists, loyalty programs, or social following. Game-based promos help increase the percentage of registrants that opt-in by rewarding them with perks or extra game-plays when they sign up. By giving people a reason to join, we’ve seen average opt-in rates of over 70% (compared to the average 50% a traditional promo generates).

  3. Measure impact on sales. With traditional promos it’s extremely difficult to measure the impact the promo had on sales. You typically have to look at the run dates for the promo and see if sales spiked. If you run a game-based promo however, you can reward consumers in-game for making a purchase. This does a couple things: 1) it can drive additional sales by giving people an extra incentive to purchase, and 2) gives you a measurable tie to sales. You’ll be able to see in your analytics exactly how many people made purchases and, depending on how you reward for purchase, you could even see the value of those purchases. This gives you real data to prove the ROI of your marketing efforts, instead of guessing about its impact.


Next Steps

Hopefully this article has given you a basic understanding of what a game-based promotion is, how it can change customer behaviour, and the kind of results you can expect.

If you’re ready to start planning your own game-based promotion check out this guide to get step-by-step advice on how to plan for success. Learn how to build a promotion that’s not only fun — but also profitable.

And of course, if you’d rather we built your promo for you, you can reach our strategy team here.