gamification marketing

Gamification is the application of game-like elements for non-gaming activities. Essentially, it is the process of making otherwise boring activities fun.

Gamification works effectively because of our psychological tendency to play games. We are naturally inclined to learn, compete, achieve, and express ourselves in a game-like setup.

People are more willing to participate in activities containing gamified elements because they receive a sense of accomplishment after completing gamified activities.

Games and gamified elements are not exactly similar, but both are applied extensively in marketing, sales, education, web development, health, finance, and more.

The successful application of gamification improves user engagement, productivity, learning, retention, user experience, user interface, health, and more.

This article will outline the use of gamification in marketing or gamification marketing. Also, I will discuss the history of gamification and different ways to gamify your WooCommerce store.

What Is Gamification Marketing?

Gamification marketing involves blending gamified elements into your marketing activities to improve users’ engagement and retention and encourage them to purchase your product and services.

The idea of gamification is rooted in the fact that playing games, both digital and physical, is a rewarding experience. It releases the feel-good neurotransmitters known as dopamine.

So, gamification marketing is essentially reward-based marketing. It appeals to our natural inclination to compete in activities to earn rewards, achieve status, and overcome challenges.

Gamification is not limited to marketing. The major fields like education, recruitment, health, crowdsourcing, military tactical training, technology, etc., also use gamification techniques.

I will discuss these with suitable examples in the later sections.

The amalgamation of gamification and marketing opens all doors for creativity. Gamification marketing campaigns use game-like elements and even actual playable games (both digital and physical) to sell products and services.

I have talked a lot about these game-like features or game elements, but what exactly are those? And their use in online and offline marketing.

It all comes down to offering rewards to motivate your customers to complete purchase decisions. For online businesses, it’s much easier to implement because of the higher scope of automation and cost-effective design upgrades.

Here is a list of popular game elements to add to your online business.

  • The Progress Bar
  • Reward Points
  • Badges
  • Contest
  • Performance Graph

This list contains the most-used gamification marketing concepts. However, the application of gamification marketing is much more creative and fun. As I said earlier, with gamification, the possibilities are endless.

Let’s dive into it.

Quick History of Gamification

This concept of gamification has been in use for ages. It is a time-tested method of driving user engagement.

So, let’s look at the history of gamification.

In 1908, the Boy Scouts adopted their badge system. It later became their noted symbol.

In 1973, Charles Coonradt wrote a book titled the Game of Work, one of the first written mentions of the gamification concept. He explained that the feedback loop of sports and recreational games is a key element that keeps people motivated.

In 1987, Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle created MUD1 (the first Multi-User Dungeon game with a text-based UI). It was the first game to spark online socialization and cooperation.

In 1981, American Airlines launched Advantage, the first frequent flyer program. It is now the largest loyalty program globally, with 67 million members as of October 2011. It also serves as an example of large-scale gamification marketing.

Soon after, Holiday Inn (1983) and National Rental Car (1987) launched the first reward programs in their respective industries.

By 1990, thirty percent of American households had a Nintendo console.  Essentially, gamification became popular through the popularization of games.

In 2002, the Woodrow Wilson International Center of Scholars began the “Serious Games Initiative” to create games that would help to educate people on politics, environmentalism, health, and other crucial subjects.

[Source: The Origins and Future of Gamification]

The dawn of Gamification

In the same year, Nick Pelling, a game designer developing a game-like interface for ATMs and vending machines, created the term Gamification.

In 2005 Bunchball was founded. It provides cloud-based software as a service gamification product to help companies improve customer loyalty and online engagement using game mechanics.

In 2011, the first GSummit (Gamification Summit) was held in San Francisco. At the summit, Jane McGonigal’s book “Reality is Broken” was released, which discusses the use of gamification for social changes.

Present: After all this, gamification became mainstream. Almost all online & offline stores rely on gamification marketing.

gamification marketing startegies

[Source:- Precedence Search]

The global gamification market is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.99 percent during the forecast period. The global gamification market size was estimated at USD 10.5 billion in 2021 and it is expected to reach around USD 96.8 billion by 2030.

As you can see, several elements of gamification were already in use, even before the term gamification was coined. So, adapting gamified elements and using them for non-gaming contexts is a win-win situation for all.

Bottom line: Gamification is the future of marketing.

Application of Gamification Marketing Ideas With Examples

Gamification is applied by both introducing gamified elements into marketing and using real games as a marketing tool.

Sometimes, established games feature real-life elements as a part of a gamification marketing campaign. And sometimes, digital games are created to promote physical products. The list goes on.

Trust me when I say; gamification marketing is a series of creative anomalies.

So, let’s look at these creative anomalies and understand effective gamification strategies.

1. Gamify Tasks With the Progress Bar

The progress bar is a graphical element that allows users to track their progress in achieving predefined targets. Many websites, online stores, and social media giants apply this gamification marketing idea to their platforms.

These goals can range from adding information to their profiles to interacting with other users on the platform. Every website has its criteria for achievement and user involvement to measure the progress of its users.

The progress bar works on the following psychological factors:

  • The need for competence
  • Desire to achieve and win
  • Compulsions to complete

These three factors reflect the effectiveness of this simple gamification design. It appeals to our instincts and motivates us to engage with the system.

The profile strength bar is the most commonly used form of the progress bar.

For example, LinkedIn is an American business and employment-oriented online service that operates via websites and mobile apps. It uses a gamified profile strength bar to encourage users to set up their profiles.

gamification in marketing

[Source:- LinkedIn]

It has two profile stages, INTERMEDIATE and ALL-STAR, which further reinforces the desire for achievement.

Meanwhile, LinkedIn also promotes premium profile plans. So, users interacting with this gamified setup feel encouraged to complete their profile & purchase one of the premium profile plans.

An excellent gamification marketing strategy.

2. Gamification Reward Points

Have you ever wondered why Mario keeps bumping his head into the blocks? He does so to earn rewards.

If you have played the classic game even once, you know that the blocks have some pretty creative rewards. That is one of the reasons why the Super Mario game became so popular.

Anyway, out of the virtual plane, things aren’t much different either in the real world.

People are more likely to complete a task if they are to receive a reward for it. And the rewarding task doesn’t have to be as concussive as hitting a block with your head.

Prominent online stores offer reward points or coins to their customers for performing various gamified tasks such as sign-up, product purchases, referrals, social shares, etc.

This sets up a basic gamification rule: The greater the engagement, the bigger the reward.

The Indian eCommerce giant Flipkart is the perfect gamification marketing example. It allows its users to earn SuperCoins on product purchases. COD payments are also accepted in the gamified reward program.

customer loyalty program

[Source:- Flipkart]

Flipkart Plus customers receive more rewards along with SuperCoins. They get double the SuperCoins than non-Flipkart plus members and a few other benefits.

Flipkart’s customer loyalty program encourages customers to purchase more products to earn SuperCoins and pushes them to become plus members.

It’s a simple yet effective gamification marketing strategy to earn customer loyalty, increase brand awareness, and boost sales.

But a gamified reward system doesn’t necessarily have to be point-based. You can also set up a referral program for your online business and offer discount coupons and gift cards as rewards.

I will explain how to set up a customer loyalty program on your online store in the later sectors of this article. So, stay tuned.

3. Badges: Gamified Proof of Achievement

A badge is a visual representation of achievements within a game. Badges signify skill sets, merit, and rank. Thus, targeting users’ drive to achieve and show their status.

An essential feature of games is now extensively used in marketing, social media, and e-learning. And using badges as trust badges is one of the best applications of gamification marketing ideas.

Trust badges are like digital seals that legitimize a website and are used to promote trust among users. They denote the data security and protection compliance of a website.

Trust seal and certification providers assign these trust badges to websites.

Even if not a well-known organization or entity assigns the truth badges, it still manages to persuade visitors.

Most eCommerce websites showcase these trust badges during the checkout process to instill a feeling of trust and security in their customers, thus increasing their conversation rates.

gamification badge system

[Source:- WP Swings]

We, at WP Swings, display our trust badges on our Website’s homepage and all checkout pages.

what is gamification in marketing

[Source:- Google Cloud]

In the Google Cloud Training program, Google also assigns skill badges to learners for completing various skill-based courses.

These gamification badge systems validate and congratulate the efforts of individuals/organizations and give them a sense of accomplishment.

4. Contests: The Oldest Gamification Marketing Idea

Organizing contests is an age-old gamification marketing strategy. The most basic being the lottery contests and lucky draws. It works so well because the stakes are low, and the rewards are high. You can easily replicate and implement these game elements into your online store.

It is also known as Contest Marketing.

Contest marketing is a marketing strategy that uses contests, giveaways, lotteries, or lucky draws to gamify your business, get quality leads, and create brand awareness.

The majority of these contests are free to participate in; thus, it attracts numerous customers to your online store.

For example, in 2016, Starbucks organized the Red Cup Art contest.

In the contest, Starbucks released a limited edition plain red holiday cup and asked customers to create unique art using those cups as the canvas, and post it on social media with the hashtag #RedCupArt.


[Source:- Social Campaign]

Starbucks officially shared their favorite submissions and gave a shout-out to their creative customers. Social media fame was the reward customers received.

This also shows how big brands use social media marketing to boost brand image and get quality engagement.

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Enhance your social profiles and effectively engage users on social sites just by getting an IDEA out of our best social media branding tips and tricks here…

Let’s take another example.

Imperial Sugar is a major sugar producer in the United States. They gamify their online store by organizing recipe contests every year during the holiday season.

imperial sugar

[Source:- Imperial Sugar]

The prizes they have offered till now included:

  1. A year’s worth of free sugar to hundred families.
  2. A KitchenAid Classic 4.5-quart Stand Mixer for five different families.

Let’s do a little bit of math here to understand contest gamification for marketing.

An average American family consumes about 152 pounds of sugar per year.

The cost of an Extra Fine Granulated Pure Cane Sugar 10-pound Bag is 84 dollars.

So, the total annual cost to provide sugar for an average household is 1,277 dollars. Multiply that by a hundred, and we get 127,680 dollars. That seems like a lot of money, but it’s a mere fraction of the company’s annual revenue.

A year’s worth of sugar is a big deal to an average American household. This is the kind of reward people would fight for, let alone submitting an online form.

It generates massive leads for Imperial Sugar as the contestants have to submit their entries through emails.

In both of these examples, the companies only invested an insignificant amount of their overall revenues and attained numerous leads and increased brand awareness.

5. Performance Graphs for Gamification Marketing

Performance graphs are a defining element of games where users can track their progress and skill level, quantifying the result of their efforts. This gamified element is used extensively in eCommerce, health and fitness, e-learning, etc.

Self-improvement is impossible without self-evaluation. And Gamification marketing strategies capitalize on the need for self-improvement.

Social media websites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook allow users to track the performance of profiles and posts to encourage them to purchase promotion plans.

Here is how it works:

Everyone wants to be famous. Normally, individuals or businesses create an elaborate social media profile and implement some form of social media marketing strategy to promote themselves. But soon, they get tired and fail to maintain their consistency.

So, these social media websites offer to handle the promotion of users’ content and their profiles. And these promotions are essentially paid ads.

For example, advertising services alone generated $3.2 billion, or about 86%, of Twitter’s revenue in 2020.


[Source:- Twitter]

Twitter provides a View Tweet Activity option for all tweets. You can see your tweet’s performance upon clicking it.

tweet analytics

[Source:- Twitter Analytics]

Next, the Tweet Analytics box pops up and shows the total number of Impressions and Total Engagements.

total engagements

[Source:- Twitter Analytics Settings]

It gives a deeper look if you click on the Total engagements and shows exactly the kind of engagement your tweet received.

Now, if you noticed, there is a button in the Tweet Analytics pop that says “Reach a bigger audience”. That’s a CTA to Twitter’s paid advertising services.

Twitter’s implementation of performance graphs does exceptionally well. Thus, adding even a basic gamified element can be a game-changer for your business.

6. Advergames or Gamified Advertisements

Introducing game elements into your online store or website is an easy job. But applying gamification for brick-and-mortar stores is tough.

However, many business owners have found a way around it. Instead of adapting game elements into their business, they created actual games for their products. Such games are called Advergames.

The sole purpose of an advergame is to promote a brand, product, or service.

For example, Pepsi launched a game called “Pepsi Man” exclusively in Japan on 4th March 1999. It’s a single-player game in which Pepsi Man has to avoid different obstacles throughout the game.

Domino’s Pizza also designed a gaming app called Domino’s Pizza Hero and increased sales revenue by 30% by letting customers create their pizza with this app.

Advergames always create buzz for brands and work better than traditional advertising. People, especially teens, get easily hooked on these games and ultimately want to try the actual product.

7. Brandification

Brandification is the application or introduction of real-world elements into games for marketing and promotion. This gamification marketing method focuses on in-game advertisements.

For example, Counter-Strike, one of the most popular multiplayer first shooter games, lets advertisers promote movie posters on the walls within the game. It is one of the first games to promote in-game advertisements.

Next up, we have Tesla, an American electric vehicle and clean energy company.

Tesla introduced its cars Purple Model 3 and Model X in the ‘Game Of Peace— China’s version of PUBG.

As Tesla is trying to expand its business in the Chinese market, it launched a robust marketing campaign with EV maker and Tencent.

I know I’m only supposed to present the gamification marketing or eCommerce gamification examples, but take a look at this.

In October 2008, billboard advertisements were purchased in 10 swing states by then-US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama in numerous Xbox games.

Who says you can’t use gamification for political campaigning?

Don’t take this lightly. Games have a colossal user base. Xbox One and Xbox 360 have a combined installed base of 147.4 million units.

But you can’t find more examples like these, which proves that the potential of Brandification is still untapped.

8. Gamified Popup

Gamified popups are playable games that pop up while browsing a website. It utilizes actual games to increase engagement and user retention.

Two psychological factors are at play here. (pun intended)

  1. The Element of Surprise: Nobody expects a game to pop up while shopping or browsing. Gamified popups create a strong enough impression to hold the users’ attention.
  2. Fear of Missing Out: People don’t want to miss out on the free stuff. The Gamified popups offer a reward that players can receive only after winning the game.

That’s why eCommerce gamification strategies include gamified popups. It always works.

For example, Amazon used a ‘spin and win’ wheel on its eCommerce store to increase customer engagement. It offered various lucrative rewards that customers couldn’t resist.

But only registered customers could spin the wheel and try their luck.

So, people asked their family members or friends to register on Amazon to try the popup game to increase their chances of winning.

spin win wheel

[Source:- Amazon]

Amazon’s goal was to create brand awareness and attract more users to its eCommerce website. It was an excellent eCommerce gamification move.

How Can WP Swings Gamify Your Online Store?

Here is a fact for you, dear readers.

You can customize and add gamified elements to your WooCommerce store and take your business to the next level.

WooCommerce offers limitless customization, which proves helpful while adding gamified elements to your online store. Plus, there are thousands of gamification plugins on WordPress to help you implement the best game elements.

So, how do WP Swings come into all of this?

Well, we have over 50+ WordPress/WooCommerce extensions, offer several custom eCommerce solutions as per client requirements, have maintained an impressive profile, and contribute readily to the open-source community.

Bottom line: We have the expertise to gamify your WooCommerce store.

Here is the list of our plugins that will gamify your online store.

1. Gamification Marketing With Points and Rewards for WooCommerce

par banner

Gaming program helps merchants to add the element of fun. It also makes the mundane task of purchasing on the website interesting for the customers. Several companies have actively started incorporating this into their existing loyalty programs.

WooCommerce points and rewards help you implement this element into the loyalty programs effectively.  Let’s unravel together…

gamification infographic

With our loyalty plugin, merchants can boost engagement in their online stores. This interactive feature introduces a “win-wheel” experience that captivates customers and drives participation, while rewards for engagement foster loyalty and repeat visits. Complete customization control, from wheel design to engagement frequency, ensures that the experience aligns seamlessly with your brand. By offering a unique, memorable, and tailored engagement, merchants can not only keep customers on their websites for longer but also benefit from word-of-mouth marketing as excited customers share their experiences, ultimately leading to increased sales opportunities and a stronger online presence.

Wish to learn more about the workings of this feature?

Key features of the Points & Rewards Plugin:

  • Gamification
  • User Level & Badges
  • Earn Referral Points
  • Per Currency Points
  • Points Log Report
  • Build Membership
  • Assign Product Points
  • Rewards On Birthday

Ready to Level Up Your Engagement Game With Gamification?

Curious about the implementation of this feature…

Just like the prominent online store, you can also implement a gamified reward-based system and increase the brand loyalty, customer retention, and conversion rate of your online store.

2. Coupon Referral Program for WooCommerce


Referral Marketing is a marketing tactic in which online stores utilize the existing customer base to promote their products and services to grow their business and add new customers.

Its effectiveness lies in the fact that people trust the recommendations of their family and friends over most forms of advertisement.

In this type of gamification marketing, the referrers earn discount coupons as rewards for referring new customers to your online store. It is essentially a reward-based loyalty program.

You can implement a coupon referral program on your WooCommerce store with our plugin.

Coupon Referral Program for WooCommerce

Are your website’s offerings i.e. coupons not utilized in the way you desired, don’t worry get this one and make these woes to lose out into nothing.

It has several amazing features, such as

  • Reward on referring new customers
  • Sign-up discount coupons for all customers
  • Referral coupon customization
  • Detailed coupon report
  • The shortcode for the referral button display
  • Reward points instead of coupons

And this list goes on. Read the Referral Plugin for WooCommerce to learn more about this plugin.

3. Gamify Your Payment Process With Wallet System for WooCommerce Pro

wallet banner

Wallet System for WooCommerce plugin creates a digital wallet system in your store. It allows registered users to make eCommerce transactions using their wallet balance.

Only registered customers use the wallet system and add money to their wallets through the available payment methods. As the admin, you can also see the list of wallet transactions, bulk credit or debit, etc.

With this gamification plugin, you can offer cashback rewards to your customers Cart-wise or Category-wise. Moreover, customers can earn wallet credit on Daily User Visits, Commenting Positive Reviews, and Sign Up.

It’s a faster alternative to conventional payment methods with popular gamified elements that positively reward favorable actions and encourage shopping behavior.

Features of the Wallet System for WooCommerce

  • View wallet transactions (credit/debit).
  • Transfer wallet amount to other users.
  • Earn wallet cashback on purchases.
  • Receive notifications on wallet top-up, wallet credit, and wallet amount deduction.
  • Make withdrawal requests to merchants.
  • Works as a complete and partial payment method.
  • Use the shortcode [wps-wallet] to display the user’s wallet.
  • Restrict wallet features for users individually or in bulk.
  • View all wallet recharge orders in a separate order list in the WooCommerce section.
  • Compatibility with

And so much more. Digital Wallet Plugin to read about the WooCommerce Wallet System in detail.

Are You Excited to Gamify Your Payment Method?

Get a Gamified payment method using the wallet system and localize your customers with exciting rewards & cashback.

These were the three plugins by WP Swings that will gamify your WooCommerce store. These gamification plugins will work wonders for your business, but if you need further gamification, contact us.

On A Final Note

Engagement is the key to conversion. Gamification marketing is the most scientific marketing method to increase user engagement and retention. The top businesses of our time are using gamification.

In this article, I’ve discussed what gamification is, its profound history, and how it is applied in marketing. I’ve also shown you the different applications of gamification marketing and explained how to gamify your online store.

Apply these gamification marketing techniques to boost user engagement, productivity, retention, UI & UX, and more.

And hey, check out our other blog articles if you want to learn more about the best eCommerce practices.

About the Author: Aditya Srivastava

Aditya Srivastava is a poet, writer, and avid reader. He lives to write and writes for a living. Coffee is his elixir, and books are his best friends. To him, passion and profession are equal. Like most writers, he is also a potent thinker, but he only thinks with his pen.
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