Game-Based Promotion FAQs: Your Top 10 Questions Answered


Thinking about running a game-based promotion? You probably have a few questions.

How can I achieve my goals? What are the best practices? Will this be expensive?

To get you started, we thought we’d answer some of the questions we're often asked about game-based promotions.

Have a question we missed? Post it in the comments, or ask us on Twitter.

1) We’ve already done sweepstakes with poor response… what makes a game-based promotion different?

Here at Launchfire, we call traditional sweepstakes “hit & run” promotions. A hit & run promo consists of a splash page (where you show off your prizing) and a registration page to collect participants contact info. That’s it. You hit consumers with about 30 seconds of (boring) messaging and then they take off.

What a waste.

The problem with this kind of promotion is twofold:  (1) there’s nothing to keep consumers around long enough to engage with your brand. And (2) there’s no opportunity to engage consumers in different ways. You can’t get them to do anything other than fill out the entry form.

That means the only thing you get out of a hit & run promo is a few email addresses, and increased “brand awareness” — which you can’t measure.

A game-based promo is different because it engages consumers for a lot longer. This increases the time users spend exposed to your brand messaging, improving brand awareness.

And you can get users to complete actions that help you achieve other marketing goals, like:

  • joining your email list

  • opting into your loyalty program

  • sharing on social media

  • referring friends

  • or watching interstitials

You just need to incentivize those actions with rewards that are redeemable in-game.

Not to mention the obvious added benefit that games are fun. Your customers will enjoy — and remember — their experience, helping keep you top-of-mind.

2) Am I too small to run a game-based promo?

The size of your company isn’t a great metric to evaluate whether a game-based promo is right for you. Instead, ask yourself (1) who am I trying to reach, and (2) what’s my budget.

You might be a small company, but if you're targeting consumers across the country a game-based promotion could be a great digital marketing campaign for you.

3) I need to find new ways to integrate my digital marketing in-store. Can I do this with a game-based promotion?

Absolutely. We actually wrote a whole post about this, which you can read here: 6 Ways to Boost In-Store Sales with a Game-Based Promotion

Just remember to give yourself some lead-time to coordinate with all the other channels.  

4) I’m launching a new product. Is there a fun way to feature it within the game?

Definitely. There are a couple of ways you can do this. First, you can integrate the product right into game. For example, you could build...

  • A quiz style game that asks players about product facts

  • A scavenger hunt game where your product is the ‘treasure’

  • For food products, a recipe collection style game

Or you can add product collateral to any game you want.

Your vendor should be able to recommend some options for showing off your new product depending on your goals, the product’s desirability, and your budget.

5) I need to grow my email list. Will this work better than a typical sweepstakes promo?

While both game-based sweepstakes and hit & run promotions can grow your email list, game-based promos return higher quality subscribers.

Here’s why: consumers that join your email list after playing a game-based promotion have already had a positive brand experience. There was something in it for them to engage with your brand — they had fun, maybe they even won something.  

That means they'll approach future communication from a much more positive place. And they'll be much more willing to engage in an ongoing dialog.

On the flip side, hit & run promos don't offer consumers that positive experience. Those consumers won't be as open to future communication. In fact, they've likely forgotten all about the promo — and your brand — by the next day.

6) How far in advance do I need to start planning? Does a game-based promo take a long time to develop?

Game-based promotions on average take about 12-16 weeks to plan, develop, and launch. But it’s always best to start early — especially if you want to integrate your promotion with your POS, loyalty program, or in-store assets.

7) Are game-based promotions expensive?

Game-based promotions are a unique kind of marketing, but they’re most often compared to TV ads. So let’s look at the how the two compare.

National TV ads cost, on average, close to the $340,000 mark for 30 seconds of exposure. [1] And that’s just for the media spot. You’ll spend anywhere from $60,000 to upwards of $1 Million to actually film and produce your ad. [2]

I’ll wait for you to pick your jaw up off the ground.

The main justification for this cost is TV ads reach millions of viewers in a variety of target markets. Yet the impact of that 30 seconds of exposure on brand loyalty and sales is next to impossible to measure.

Game-based promotions might not have the same reach as TV ads, but they engage consumers for longer periods of time. And they produce results that you can actually measure. For example, a promotion we ran reached about 2.5 million people on one social network. But it engaged nearly half a million people for an average of 10 minutes.

Those half a million people drove over 7 million website visits, 250,000 facebook page likes, and a significant lift in sales.

So if we were to do a direct (or as direct as possible) comparison, we could say a TV ad costs about $10,000 per second of exposure to reach several million people and (potentially) improve brand awareness.

On the other hand, game-based promotions can reach several million people, engage hundreds of thousands of them for up to 10 minutes at a time, drive email list opt-ins, improve loyalty acquisition, and drive sales lift.

All for a fraction of the cost.

8) What types of digital marketing goals can I achieve with a game-based promo?

There are a ton of goals your game-based promotion can support. The trick is to know which ones you want to achieve before you start planning. That way you can optimize your promotion for the right KPIs.

Some goals worth pursuing include:

  • Educating Consumers

  • Social Sharing & Engagement

  • Email Opt-ins

  • Loyalty Acquisition & Engagement

  • Store Visits

  • Sales Lift

9) Do “games” really make that big of difference?

Yes. On it's own, your brand messaging isn't interesting enough to drive engagement for longer than a couple seconds. Sorry, but it's true.

While prizes are a great way to attract consumers, they aren’t enough to keep them around for long. Without a game there’s no reason for your consumers to stick around. There's nothing in it for them.

The game part of your promo is also how you motivate consumers to engage in ways that drive business results. By offering an incentive, you can get consumers to opt into your email list, share on social, refer a friend, or even join your loyalty program. None of which would be possible with a simple hit & run promotion.

Plus games are fun for consumers, so their brand experiences are ultimately more memorable and positive than just filling out a form.

10) We already have multiple marketing agencies. Why should we go with a specialty shop for a game-based promotion?

Great question. The main advantage of going with a specialty shop over your AOR boils down to experience.

Game-based promotions have more requirements than a typical marketing campaign — from designing great user experiences, to legal requirements, to developing the game itself. There are a lot of areas where it can go wrong — and quickly — if you don’t know what you’re doing.

A specialty shop will have best practices for driving maximum ROI — and you benefit from all their years of experience. They’ll know what pitfalls to avoid and how to get results.

Plus specialty shops often take care of residual tasks like prize procurement and fulfilment. And they can offer advice on promotional strategies, and help you find partners to reduce prizing costs.

All of which means better results and less work for you.