Gaming the System: 6 Ways to Increase Email Engagement through Gamification

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Blog post By Paula Chiocchi on 2017-08-02

Experienced B2B marketers know that the key to email campaign success is engaging with prospects to generate awareness and trust and, ultimately, to nurture the buying process. One creative way to initiate engagement – and reach jaded but video-game obsessed Generation X, Y and Z customers – is through gamification.


Gamification is simply the application of game principles and elements into non-gaming contexts – such as your email campaigns -- to drive desired behaviors. Done well, gamification can enhance the user experience, encourage reward-based engagement, and even be fun for the participants – and perhaps even for B2B marketers themselves.


Here are six ways to increase email engagement through gamification:


  1. Rewards: One obvious way to encourage active email recipient participation is to reward them for certain desired activities, such as clicking, liking, tweeting, commenting, sharing or forwarding your email. The rewards can include discount coupons that can be redeemed for products or services, or perhaps special recognition, titles or awards on social media. You might also incorporate interactive campaigns, such as a scratch and flip email, to reveal prizes to winners.


  1. Scoreboards: To generate longer-term interest in a perhaps larger, more valuable prize, B2B marketers can create a scoring system to reward subscribers for email activity, and help keep them interested, invested and active in your campaign. In addition, perhaps subscribers can earn points for clicking on an email that earns them a reward on the other end of the click.


  1. Quizzes: Creative marketers might create a quiz or a “top 5 challenges” email with the recipients’ responses triggering recommended products or services as a solution. For example, one creative technology company implemented a Halloween email promotion that highlighted their products based on subscribers’ answers to their quiz, which was themed “What IT challenges haunt you at night?”


  1. Surveys: Including game mechanics in surveys can increase completion rates and even make them fun. For example, showing a simple, visual graph of the necessary survey steps and percent of the survey completed might make it appear less daunting and time consuming to participants. Perhaps you tally responses at the end or as they go, and gauge users’ aptitude based on their answers, encouraging them with automated comments such as “You’re an all-star!”


  1. Photos: For those with more of a creative aptitude, interactive email designs can be used to promote a photo contest of your customers using your product in a unique or amusing way. You can post the winning photos on your social media sites, and get people to share, comment or vote on them.


  1. Clues: Have a special announcement, such as the location of your next user group meeting? Instead of just telling your audience, perhaps give hints and clues as to the setting, and keep them in suspense for a while, or have them guess the location (first one to uncover the meeting location answer gets free admission?) One way to do this is to provide a picture of the host city in puzzle pieces that your subscribers have to put together to learn the location.


Of course, marketers always need to test their gamified emails to ensure they render properly on various email platforms and mobile devices. Some of the layouts, graphics and programming might require more advanced professionals to ensure the content looks good, is engaging and runs properly. Like other email campaigns, a best practice is to always include a “view in browser” link to ensure subscribers enjoy the gaming experience you want them to see. Finally, don’t forget to fuel your campaigns with high-quality email data for optimum reach and results.


In case you haven’t noticed, gamification is on fire today, almost to the point that it’s growing into a marketing discipline unto itself. The incremental engagement and subscriber activity it creates for email marketing provides the opportunity for campaigns to not only stand out, but to also be sought out by email recipients -- and that’s something any marketer would be game to achieve.


Outward Media’s accurate, targeted email data can help you achieve better email marketing ROI, and convert more prospects into customers. Ask us how. Also, take a look at our complimentary e-book on building a successful B2B email marketing database.


At OMI, we believe good things happen when you share your knowledge. That's why we're proud to educate marketers at every level - in every size and type of organization - about the basics of email marketing and the contact data that powers it.

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