Digital Sales Promotions: To Gamify, or Not to Gamify?

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Digital sales promotions are usually big campaigns run at important times of the year — like back-to-school and the holidays. But often the types of promotions retailers run isn’t optimized to deliver the best return on their marketing spend.

Too often I see what we call “enter-to-win” promotions, and it always makes me wonder: if you’re going to spend all the time, effort, and money required to drive people to your promotion, don’t you want that promo to deliver more than just their email address?

That’s why today I thought I’d chat about the key differences between classic enter-to-win promos, and their modern evolution: game-based promotions.

First, let’s quickly cover the main differences between the two.

What is an Enter-to-Win Promo?
An enter-to-win promo is your basic sweepstakes or contest. There’s typically only a couple pages: the splash (where the prizes are displayed), the reg form (how you collect info), and the ‘thanks for entering’ page.
What is a Game-based Promotion?
A game-based promo has all the same components of an enter-to-win (splash, reg, thank you), but after a consumer registers they are directed to a game experience where they play to earn extra prize entries or perks.


4 Key Differences Between Enter-to-Wins & Game-based Promotions

Now that you know the basic difference between the user experience of each promo, let’s get into the differences in terms of impact. You can also check out the infographic at the end of this post for a quick overview of some key stats.

1. Reason for Registering

When you run an enter-to-win promotion, the only reason consumers enter is for a chance to win the prize. This impacts the potential registration rate for your campaign in two key ways:

1) your prizing has to be excellent, and

2) you miss out on consumers who assume they won’t win. There’s no other reason for them to enter, so unless the *really* want the prize — most won’t.

A game-based promo, on the other hand, offers more incentive to enter. Yes, there is the chance of winning a prize (and your prizing should still be on point), but there is also an intrinsic motivation for entering: a fun experience and the challenge of “winning” the game.  This helps reach those people who don’t think they’ll win — they may just enter for the chance to play a fun game.

2. Length of Engagement

When you run an enter-to-win promotion, consumers only engage with your promotion long enough to enter. Once they’ve registered, there is no reason for them to stick around.

In contrast, a game-based promo keeps consumers engaged for not just longer on that first visit — but keeps them coming back repeatedly until the promo closes.  That means you can drastically extend the length of time consumers spend engaged with your brand, just by adding a fun game-like experience after reg. We’ve seen average time-on-site hit over 9 minutes on game-based promos — with some promos hitting over 14 minutes. That’s a lot of brand exposure!

3. Average Opt-in Rate

One of the main reasons to run a promotion in the first place is to grow your email list. Enter-to-win promos typically do this with a checkbox on reg.

However, with a game-based promo, you can increase the percentage of registrants that opt-in by rewarding them with perks or extra game-plays when they opt-in. By giving people a reason to join, we’ve seen average opt-in rates of over 70% (compared to the average 50% an enter-to-win generates).

4. Impact on Sales

One of the most important differences between an enter-to-win and a game-based promo is the impact it has on your bottom line. With enter-to-win promos, it’s challenging to measure the effect the promo had on sales. You typically have to look at the run dates for the promo and see if sales spiked.

However, if you run a game-based promo, you can reward consumers in-game for making a purchase. This does a couple of 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.

The Bottom Line

If you’re going to spend all the time, effort, and money to direct people to your promotion — make sure that promotion is designed to return the best ROI on your spend.

Game-based promotions improve the time consumers spend engaged with your brand, increase the opt-in rate for your email list, and give you a measurable tie to sales.

Not too shabby right?

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