6 Simple Ways to Grow Your Bottom Line with Game-Based Marketing


Game-based promotions are a cut above most other marketing tactics when it comes to driving engagement. After all, who doesn’t like the idea of winning something, right?  

As marketers though, we need to remember that we don’t run promotions just to give away prizes; we need a return on our promo investments.

Getting consumers engaged is only half the job. Our promos need to motivate consumers to buy stuff.

Here are some ways to do just that!

1) Coupons

I know what you’re thinking.  “Oh yeah, using coupons to drive sales, no sh*t sherlock!”  And you’re right, the effectiveness of coupons is well documented.

The twist I’m suggesting is using coupons as instant win prizes. It’s a cheap way to acquire prizing and it ensures you get something in return for your generosity.  What’s more, if you use unique coupon codes you can measure the lift generated by your promo.

Tip:  Offer a small number of high value coupons (think 80% off!) and a whole bunch of lower value vouchers. That way your copy can read; “You could win up to 80% off your next short sleeve suit!”  See what I’m talkin’ about?!

2) Game Codes

Game codes can be used to drive sales and to convert shoppers into members (more on that in a sec!). There are a few ways you can integrate game codes into your promo.  One tactic is to gate your promo so folks can only win if they enter game codes. Codes on packaging are best, but you could also put them on receipts, posters, etc.

While code-gating your promo ensures all entrants will have bought something (or visited your store) it does create attrition at the point of entry.  If the experience is a simple hit-and-run promo (i.e. it features no interactive content) this tactic can be a good one.  

Conversely, if your promo does feature engaging and educational interactive content, you may want to avoid adding any barriers to entry.  In this case you can offer participants additional chances to win for each game code they enter. That means people who don’t purchase are still engaged and you can motivate them to buy.

Tip: Game codes only work when you’re promoting inexpensive products like packaged goods. Nobody rushes out to buy a lear jet to increase their odds of winning a year’s supply of twinkies! Just sayin’…

Game codes can also be used to convert shoppers into members of your email list or social communities. To do this effectively though you need to amp up your message in-store so that people’ll grab their smartphones and register right then and there!

3) Collection Games

There’s a reason McDonald’s runs their monopoly promo every year.

It rocks for driving sales.  

For people who actually care about what they eat, or anyone who’s been living under a rock for the last ten years, here’s how it works: diners earn a monopoly property each time they make a purchase at McDonald’s during the promo period. The objective is to collect sets of properties to gain entry into that set’s associated draw.  

The tactic works for two reasons: first, the promo features great prizes which motivate people to visit Rotten Ronny’s during the promo period.

Second, it’s a game that appeals to our basic desire to collect. As we’ve seen with coins, player cards, and Gene Simmons’ deplorable scrapbook of women he’s slept with, people are highly motivated to collect. McDonald’s leverages that desire in order to get people to wolf down more cheeseburgers and guzzle more Coke.

Tip: Collection games cost more than your run of the mill promo so if you’re going to run one, make it an annual event.  Build a brand with your promo and improve it every year by offering better prizing (which you can get through partnerships as your promo becomes more iconic). That way consumers’ll remember and look forward to it!

4) Reviews

Industry research shows that reviews prompt consumers to buy stuff.  We’re not talking about those lame brand-written reviews though.  

We’re talking about genuine, consumer-written feedback about a product or service.  

The sad fact is, we’re all lemmings and if some other dude says it’s good, we’re more likely to buy it. The challenge with reviews lies in motivating people to write and submit them.  

One way to light a fire under shoppers is to offer reviewers a chance to win in exchange for their time.  We’ve seen review volumes increase 10-fold using this tactic.

Tip: It’s not enough to just offer a chance to win in exchange for a review.  You need to let people know about the program. Consider handing out promo cards in-store, and incorporating the CTA right into the final screen of your online checkout to raise awareness of your program.

5) Educate

While this tactic doesn’t have a direct, trackable tie to sales, educating consumers is one of the more powerful ways to drive sales.

If you’re flogging food & beverage products, educating consumers about new ways to use your stuff can help move more units.  

A great example is potato chips.  Most of us see them as that irresistible munchie we scarf down during movies or long car trips. But if we knew how great they can be when used as a crust for cooking fish, or to add texture and flavor to our fried rice, we might just buy 'em a little more frequently.

It’s not just food brands that can affect purchase decisions by educating consumers.  All brands, be they automotive, electronics or musical instruments, can educate consumers about their features and benefits.  

We’ve all experienced how effective those fancy smartphone features are at influencing our purchase decision, despite the fact we’ll never use half of them!

6) Email & Loyalty Opt-Ins

In addition to driving an immediate lift in sales, you can use digital promo to build the top end of your sales funnel.

Industry research shows that email is still the number one digital tactic for driving sales. And digital promos are one of the most effective tactics for acquiring subscribers -- on average a digital promo will convert participants into subscribers at a rate of 70% or higher.

With smartphones at most of your shoppers’ fingertips, you can use your email list to tap into the mobile movement and keep your cash registers ringing!

Game-based promotions are also an effective way to increase loyalty memberships. Consider running promos that are loyalty-card gated or tied to purchases made through your loyalty program. For folks who aren’t members, reward them for registering into your program as they enter the promo.

Now you’ve established a long term relationship with the consumer so you can keep them in loop about new products, sales, promos and more!

The Bottom Line

For marketers who are looking to drive immediate sales, game-based promotions could be just the ticket.  The trick is to make sure you implement the tactics that work best for your product category and integrate well with your retail, POS or loyalty systems.  

Plus you can use digital promos to build long term relationships with consumers so your pipeline stays healthy over the long term.  

Take that TV commercials!


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