Strategy

Boost Email Engagement: How to Use Gamification in Your Email Campaigns

Yemi PelumiCharlotte Evans

By Yemi & Charlotte

use of gamification in email Campaigns to engage subscribers

Humans love playing games!

Remember the Pokemon Go craze? How about the struggle to get to the last level of Candy Crush? Or, the millions of people on the PlayStation network?

People love the thrill of leveling up and snagging a virtual prize. From physical games to mobile and video games, we get hooked and engaged for hours on end.

The good news is that gamification isn’t only for games anymore.

You can gamify anything these days; even your household chores – 10 points for taking out the trash, bonus points for recycling correctly, and achievement badges for dodging raccoons.

So, why not gamify your email campaigns to get your subscribers hooked?

With email gamification, your emails will be more fun and engaging. The game elements added to your campaigns will turn passive subscribers into active participants and, ultimately, help convert them into customers.

Continue reading and you’ll learn how to use gamification to make your email campaigns exciting, and keep subscribers engaged and coming back for more.

What is Gamification?

As you can guess from the name (and that bit about chores), gamification is the act of turning things into a game.

It’s about using the elements that make games engaging to make non-game activities more fun. These game elements include points, challenges, badges, rewards, and leaderboards.

Hence, email gamification involves using these elements in your email campaigns to motivate subscribers to engage with your emails and take your desired actions.

Think of it as turning your email marketing into an interactive experience where your subscribers get to play and be rewarded while converting into customers.

And it’s not just about the fun – gamification leverages some powerful psychological triggers.

As humans, we have an innate desire to achieve things and be recognized. Game elements like points and rewards satisfy this desire.

Plus, email gamification encourages repeat interactions. When people know something exciting will be in your next email, they’re more likely to keep an eye out and engage with it.

Now, let’s dive into the massive benefits of gamifying your email campaigns.

Benefits of Using Gamification in Your Email Campaigns

Email gamification is a strategic tool that improves your marketing efforts. Let’s explore how gamifying your emails will boost engagement, drive conversion, and build loyalty.

Increase open rates

Gamified emails use game elements to intrigue subscribers. With subject lines that spark curiosity, they’ll be enticed to open your emails to see what’s inside, thereby increasing your open rate.

For instance, a subject line such as “Take Our Quiz and Win” or “Unlock Your Mystery Prize” will attract subscribers’ attention and compel them to open the email.

Boost engagement rates

Gamification makes your emails interactive, which boosts engagement. It gets subscribers to actively participate in activities, click through links, explore your offers, and take your desired actions.

So, you can expect your engagement rates to skyrocket with gamified emails. For instance, subscribers will eagerly scratch off a digital card in your email to reveal their prize (e.g. a special discount code).

Build customer loyalty

Gamification triggers the desire for achievement and reward. So, subscribers will be eager to participate in your email games to earn points and win. This creates a strong connection with your business and builds customer loyalty.

Plus, when subscribers are rewarded, they’re more likely to stick with your business and continue to engage with your emails. For instance, a fitness brand can reward subscribers with fitness gear discounts for participating in a workout challenge to gain ongoing engagement and loyalty.

Collect valuable data

Gamifying your emails allows you to collect subscribers’ data more easily. With game elements like quizzes and challenges, you can gather insights into their preferences and behaviors.

This valuable data can then be used to personalize your future campaigns to be more targeted and effective. For instance, a skincare brand sending an email quiz about subscribers’ skin type will be able to send personalized product recommendations in the future.

Drive conversion

With increased engagement rates, customer loyalty, and personalization data, gamified emails will surely convert more subscribers. However, gamification also creates a sense of urgency and excitement that compels people to take action.

Hence, adding game elements like exclusive rewards and limited-time challenges will drive conversion. For instance, an ecommerce store can gamify its 24-hour Flash Discount to increase sales by asking subscribers to play a game to unlock additional offers.

Improve brand image

Adding game elements to your emails provides an enjoyable experience for your subscribers. It also makes your business seem customer-focused and sets you apart from competitors with less interactive emails.

By making your marketing campaigns more appealing, gamified emails enhance your brand’s image. Let’s say you’re a travel agency; you could give points for sites explored at a destination and reward subscribers with exclusive travel deals.

Increase brand awareness

When your subscribers enjoy your gamified emails, they’ll share it with their friends and followers without being asked. This organic sharing has the potential to create a viral buzz that will increase your brand visibility.

Plus, you can gamify your emails to get subscribers to share your emails or products with others. For instance, rewarding subscribers with something tangible for every referral made will encourage sharing.

Here are some email gamification statistics that demonstrate the benefits of gamifying your email.

  1. Stripo gamified its Valentine's Day email campaign and got an open rate of 37.5% and a click-through rate of 11.1%, compared to 23% and 1.1%, respectively, for non-gamified emails.
  2. Promodo, a digital marketing agency, increased revenue by 400% by gamifying their clients' Black Friday emails with a spin-to-win game.
  3. Smile.io used point-reward campaigns to help Topps increase its conversion rate by 15% and customer lifetime value by 48%.

11 Game Elements To Gamify Your Email Campaigns

There are numerous exciting game elements to gamify your email campaigns. Let’s explore how you can apply several of them in your emails to create anticipation and captivate your subscribers in unique ways.

Before we dive in, note this – you’ve got two options to apply game elements in your email campaigns:

  • Embed the game directly into your email with tools like MailModo and Stripo
  • Share the details and link to the page where they can participate in the game

Now, let’s explore:

Interactive Quizzes

Quizzes are the simplest game element to get your subscribers to interact with your brand. You can send emails with trivia questions about your products. Or, a fun personality quiz to gain more insights into your audience’s preferences.

Let’s say you’re an online fashion store. You could send a “Find Your Style” quiz email, where they’ll answer fun questions about their style preferences. Then, you can make them a personalized product recommendation in the end.

Here’s an example of a quiz email I received after attending a sales training. When I click to type my name, it takes me to the Typeform quiz page.

Gamified email quiz

Point-reward system

This is probably the most popular way many businesses gamify their email campaigns. It essentially involves assigning points for different actions taken by subscribers. And then, redeeming the points for various rewards.

It works particularly well as part of an ecommerce email marketing strategy. For instance, you could give points for each purchase, or when subscribers refer someone to your business. And offer rewards ranging from free delivery and complementary products to exclusive offers and brand swag.

Marketing Brew does this nicely by offering various prizes depending on the number of people a subscriber refers.

Point reward gamified emails

Challenges

Who doesn’t love a good challenge? Most people do and will participate to show off their capabilities. You can challenge your subscribers to do something and offer rewards as an incentive to participate and accomplish it.

For instance, if you’re a fitness brand, you could create a “30-day Step Challenge.” Then, send an email weekly for subscribers to share their progress and compete for a grand prize. You may also encourage them to post on social media with a hashtag to gain more visibility.

Canva did this with their “Design With Layers” challenge, asking subscribers to share their designs on social media with a hashtag.

gamified email challenge

Contests

A chance to beat others to win a prize? Sounds exciting! Many subscribers will enter to compete and win, especially when the contest doesn’t require too much effort. Even better if there can be multiple winners.

For instance, it could be as simple as asking subscribers to share their best photos using their product on social media. And the first, second, and third persons with the most likes will win different prizes.

Hyperfury did this with a contest where 4 participants with the most viewed content had the chance to win $250.

Gamified email contest

Scratch Cards

Use scratch cards in your email campaigns like lottery tickets. It taps into people’s curiosity to discover the reward hidden beneath. Been there, done that. The first time I tried scratching a digital card, I was just curious about how and if it worked.

You can offer a single digital scratch card with an exclusive coupon code. Or, multiple scratch cards with different discount deals for subscribers to choose from. Heck, you may even gamify it further by allowing them to pick only 1 of 3 cards to scratch.

This gamified email Gwynnie Bee sent subscribers to try their luck at winning one of 3 scratch card deals is a great example.

Gamified email scratch card

Source: Mailmodo

Spin-to-Win

Spin-to-win games aren’t just great for building email lists. You can embed the wheel directly into your email or link to a page where it’s hosted to gamify your emails. In any case, subscribers will spin the wheel to try their luck for instant rewards.

Plus, it allows you to limit your discount cost. Say you can’t afford to give lots of subscribers a 50% discount. A spin-to-win game will engage all subscribers and give them a chance at a prize, but only a few will win the biggest prize – the 50% discount.

An example is this roulette wheel newsletter Karcher made with Stripo that produced a 17.5% CTR.

Gamified email roulette

Leaderboards

Leverage your subscribers’ competitive spirit with leaderboards. You can challenge subscribers with puzzles, brain teasers, or riddles and showcase top participants on a leaderboard. Or, simply create a leaderboard for an activity related to your business.

The recognition and status of having their names on the leaderboard will push subscribers to engage and participate. For instance, setting up a leaderboard for the top referrers who have brought in more subscribers or customers monthly.

Badges

Achievement badges provide a sense of accomplishment. And, you can gamify your emails by sending subscribers badges for specific actions, such as sharing content, making a purchase, or accomplishing a goal.

Each badge becomes a milestone that encourages further engagement to earn the next badge. For example, you could send a “New Shopper” badge to a subscriber who just made their first purchase. Or, if you’re a course creator, award badges to participants for every stage of the course they complete.

An example is Grammarly gamifying their weekly Grammarly Insights email by sharing details of how subscribers are doing better than others, and giving badges when they unlock a new achievement.

Gamified email badges

Calculators

Gamify your emails with calculators for a personalized experience. With interactive calculators in your emails, you can engage subscribers, as well as educate them, and show the value of your service.

This game element is especially great for businesses that deal with numbers. For instance, if you're a financial coach, you could send out a monthly savings calculator email. And, ask subscribers to enter their expenses to find out the changes they can make to save more.

Scavenger hunts

Take your subscribers on a quest to unlock rewards. You can create a treasure hunt with multiple pages for subscribers to explore and uncover hidden special offers or exclusive deals. The thrill of the hunt will keep them engaged and excited for more.

For example, you could create an Easter Egg Hunt email campaign, where subscribers find hidden eggs with offers in each email. Or, create a decision tree game, asking subscribers questions and guiding them through different paths, each ending with a unique offer.

Gamified email scavenger hunt

Source: Really Good Emails

Word games

Word games are not just a mental exercise; they're a source of fun and entertainment. Games like crossword puzzles, word searches, or even Wordle can be embedded into your emails, offering a fun challenge with the promise of a prize.

Word games also help reinforce brand knowledge. For instance, ask subscribers to find words related to your business hidden in a grid image in your email to win a special discount or a free product.

Here’s an example of how Wordle can be embedded in a gamified email.

Wordle gamified email

 

Source: Mailmodo

7 Email Campaigns To Consider Gamifying

Gamification can be applied to various types of email campaigns, even newsletters. Here are seven types of email campaigns I suggest every business gamify to increase engagement and drive conversions.

Holiday campaigns

There’s no better time to send emails with fun games than the holiday season. Subscribers are often in entertaining spirits, and you can stand out from the millions of regular holiday promo emails in their inbox.

Create a Halloween scavenger hunt email, sending subscribers hidden “treats” in your emails. Or, send scratch cards in a series of emails leading to Christmas day, with each card revealing a new offer or discount code.

Gamified holiday email

Source: Really Good Emails

 

Product launches

Email gamification can help you build excitement for your new product. Send a series of emails with clues revealing details about the product, until the final unveiling. You can get subscribers to engage by asking them to solve the clues to guess what’s coming.

Another idea is to run a pre-launch contest where subscribers can participate in mini-games to win early access or special discounts on your upcoming product. Overall, gamifying your product launch campaign will build anticipation.

Recently, I experienced an interesting product launch campaign by The Digital Storyteller, Parker Worth. He launched a template product and offered rewards based on when subscribers purchased it. The first two rewards were gone in less than 8 hours.

gamified product launch email

Sales and promotions

If you don’t use email gamification elsewhere, use it here. Sales and promotions email campaigns are the easiest to gamify. You can incorporate numerous game elements in this type of email, from scratch cards to scavenger hunts.

The possibilities are endless. Whether it’s running time-limited challenges for flash sales. Or, asking subscribers to spin to get discounts or win freebies. Or, creating interactive quizzes to promote specific products.

You could even gamify your upsells, like True Classic does, by highlighting a reward subscribers will receive if they buy one more thing.

Gamified upsell email

Source: Harry Dry Marketing Examples

Customer loyalty campaigns

Email gamification strategies like the point-reward system can keep subscribers loyal to your brand. Simply assign a point whenever they make a purchase and allow them to redeem it for rewards like free shipping.

Another example is creating a point-based challenge to encourage subscribers to become VIP subscribers. Then, offer VIP rewards such as special discounts or early access to new products.

gamified customer loyalty campaign

Source: Really Good Emails

Referral campaign

Use email gamification to spread awareness about your business. The point system is popularly used in newsletters to get email subscribers to refer new subscribers in exchange for rewards.

You could also gamify your referral campaign by creating a contest or challenge to attract new customers' attention. Or, offer discounts to encourage subscribers to promote your brand actively.

Gamified referral email

Source: Really Good Emails

Re-engagement campaign

Bring subscribers back with fun games in your re-engagement emails. Gamifying your emails with game elements and offering exclusive rewards can reactivate inactive subscribers' interest in your business.

For instance, you could send an email inviting subscribers to spin-to-win or scratch cards for discounts, freebies, or exclusive offers. The potential for a reward will make your email irresistible and encourage subscribers to engage.

Feedback campaigns

Make giving feedback fun by gamifying your survey and feedback request emails. Offering a reward in exchange for answering surveys or feedback questions will encourage more subscribers to participate.

A raffle draw works well as an incentive for these types of emails. Simply offer to enter subscribers who complete your survey into a draw to win a prize or perk that they care about.

Gamified survey email

Source: Really Good Emails

Email Gamification Best Practices: Tips To Design Effective Gamified Email Campaigns

Gamifying your email campaigns isn’t complex. But, it isn’t as simple as throwing a game into your emails and calling it a day. Here are the best practices to follow to ensure your gamified email campaigns run smoothly and effectively.

Set clear goals

First things first – know your gamified email goals.

Do you want to increase your open rate, boost clickthrough rates, or drive more sales? Or you simply want to collect subscribers’ data? Or, maybe improve brand visibility and awareness?

Whatever your goal, making it clear will guide you in choosing the right game and creating an effective gamified email campaign. Clear goals will also help you stay focused and measure your success accurately.

Let’s say your goal is to increase brand awareness and attract new subscribers. A spin-to-win game won’t work as well as a point system where existing subscribers get rewards for referrals.

Understand your audience

Your audience are the players in your game.

And a game only works if the players find it fun. So, you must understand your subscribers to create gamified emails that will engage them.

Collect their demographic and psychographic data. What are their age, gender, lifestyle, interests, and values? Are they thrill-seekers who love the adrenaline rush or do they prefer calm, strategic games?

Taking the time to get to know your subscribers will give you the insight to create gamified email campaigns that resonate, making them more likely to engage.

Segment and personalize

Avoid creating generic and boring gamified emails.

Not all your subscribers are the same. So, use email segmentation to group them based on shared characteristics, such as age, interests, and purchase history. Then, you can tailor your gamified email campaigns to fit each group’s preference perfectly.

Also, you want subscribers to feel like you designed the game just for them. So, use email personalization to make your subscribers feel special. Add personal touches like ensuring the quiz questions or rewards align with their past behaviors or preferences.

Keep it simple

No creating elaborate games, even if you think it’d be fun.

Simplicity is your best friend. Your subscribers are busy (and so are you!). They don’t want to spend their free time figuring out the complex rules or confusing interface of an email game.

Make sure your gamified elements are easy to understand. A simple spin-to-win or a quick quiz with clear instructions will always beat a complicated game that leaves subscribers scratching their heads.

Make it user-friendly

Avoid complicating your simple game.

Use simple instructions, bold visuals, and engaging prompts. For instance, a spin-to-win game should have vivid colors and a clear button to spin. The easier it is to participate, the more likely subscribers will.

Also, make sure your gamified emails are intuitive and mobile-friendly. Most people check their emails on their phone. So, your gamified emails must look great and function perfectly on mobile screens.

Offer tangible benefits

Gamification isn’t just about having fun.

Playing games without earning rewards isn’t that motivating. Not to mention, the reward should be something of real value, such as product discounts, special prizes, useful content, or exclusive access.

Offer tangible benefits to keep your subscribers motivated and eager to participate. Make sure that the rewards are worth the effort they will put into the game.

Promote it on other channels

Don’t leave your gamified emails to do all the work.

Even though you’re gamifying email campaigns, you still need to promote the gamified offer on other marketing channels for full impact. Share it on social media, mention it in your blog posts, or include it in your customer service interactions.

The more you spread the word about your game, the more participants you’ll attract. For instance, a teaser post on all your social media profiles can create anticipation and drive more subscribers to open and engage with your gamified emails.

Test, test, test

Testing helps fine-tune your gamified emails.

Test before sending to make sure that everything renders well, especially if you’re embedding the game directly into your email. Is the touch interface responsive? Are the texts easily readable? Is the design optimized for engagement?

Use A/B testing to determine the best gamified emails. Try different types of games, vary the designs, and offer different reward systems to see what gets more engagement with your subscribers.

Use Analytics

Reviewing your analytics will help you stay on top of your game.

Keep a close eye on your analytics. Track metrics like open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and time spent interacting with your gamified emails. These numbers will help you figure out what’s working and what’s not.

Then, use the insights to refine your approach. For instance, if your subscribers are engaging more with a particular game type or reward, you might want to use it more frequently.

Conclusion

Email gamification isn’t just a buzzword. With gamified emails, you’re not just sending emails, you’re creating an interactive experience that will engage your subscribers and keep them coming back for more.

Plus, you have numerous options for applying game elements to your email campaigns. From quizzes and challenges to spin-to-win games and leaderboards, the possibilities are endless. The bottom line is to keep your games simple, engaging, and rewarding.

Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know to gamify your email campaign, you can create fun and rewarding gamified emails to capture attention, boost engagement, build loyalty, and drive sales.

Note that amp emails are what make it possible to gamify email campaigns. Read about amp emails here to learn the technical steps to set up your gamified email campaigns.

Good luck!

Let us know how it works out in the comments, and if you need more help, feel free to schedule a consultation call with us.

The authors

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Yemi Pelumi

Hi, I'm Yemi! I drink tea every day, and I've written almost every day since I started writing in 2017. Now, I help coaches, course creators, and online business owners capture and convert leads with email marketing. Plus, I love sharing my knowledge and experiences at EmailTooltester to help businesses like yours.

Charlotte Evans

Content Manager

Hey, I'm Charlotte! I've always been enthusiastic about helping others. After working for various tech startups and eCommerce businesses, I developed a strong passion for email marketing. Now, at EmailTooltester, I'm putting this knowledge to good use by recommending the very best digital tools for your business.

Learn more about us

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This article has been written and researched following our EmailTooltester methodology.

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