Digital marketing trends

11th May 2016

How gamification gives businesses a competitive edge

One of the most influential digital marketing trends right now is gamification. It pops up again and again across the top websites and social media platforms. And its popularity is showing marketers the power of gaming psychology. With a few clever game design tactics, the user becomes putty in marketers’ hands.

Here’s an example: After our holiday this year, my partner decided to write a review on TripAdvisor. At first she was just going to write one. Something short and sweet about our hotel. But then she had an email, “Nice review! Write four more and you’ll earn your Senior Reviewer badge!”

I was geared up for a movie and takeaway. Instead, she spent the next four hours writing reviews. Just so she could earn a small (and arguably worthless) badge.

That’s gamification at a basic level. We’re drawn into chasing after meaningless rewards. And sometimes we don’t even realise were doing it! All with the aim of getting more points, achievements and badges.

What is Gamification?

Gamification uses game design elements and principles in non-game contexts. It can be incorporated into almost any different form of application or service. From physical exercise, user interactivity and recruitment, to shopping, driving, eating and even sleeping.

 The level of gamification used by brands varies. But what’s clear is that it’s fast becoming one of most effective digital marketing trends.

Who’s using gamification?


TripAdvisor have top reviewer badges. Influencing its user base to add more reviews in order to get badges. This gets the website increased interaction, content and conversion.


LinkedIn have many forms of gamification. Including the profile strength bar. They state “Users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through LinkedIn.” This influences users to add more content to their profiles. And so the site becomes more content-rich, driving engagement from recruiters and businesses.

Nike Running

Nike introduced coloured “levels” to encourage people to run, using their app. The levels are pretty self-explanatory. But just having the additional, visual encouragement, pushes users to challenge themselves. So they keep using the app and feel proud when they achieve a new level. They can then share this milestone on social media, promoting the app.

How will gamification effect future digital marketing trends?


Insurance looks to be a large industry that’ll tap into the benefits of gamification. In the future we may find ourselves providing exercise related data to our insurers. All for the chance to grab a lower premium. People who live unhealthy lifestyles will end up paying more towards their insurance. Implementing some sort of gamification related “score board” may influence users’ decisions to exercise more.

Some examples of this already:

  • Pact lets users “pledge” a certain amount of exercise and healthy eating. Meeting the pledges rewards cash.
  • Vitality Health offer 50% off gym memberships with Virgin Active, as well as rewards when you log activity.

Car Insurance

In recent years, car insurance companies have introduced apps and services that grade driving performance. Then users get better discounts for driving well.

Ingenie fit a telematics box into the driver’s car, which returns real time data back to their mobile app. The service is aimed at younger drivers, to make insurance more affordable. Grading uses colours. Green being very good, through to amber, red and finally black (which is as bad as it gets). The greener you get, the less you pay.

Aviva insurance have launched a similar service called “Drive” which takes things a step further. They reward users with “badges” for a good performance while driving.

How can you use gamification in your business?

We’ve got a few ideas.

You could use gamification to make users want to:

  • Rank higher than other users – Like with LinkedIn, you can encourage users to simply beat their own ranking. You could boost users’ rankings for just about anything; giving you more information, sharing content, inviting friends to join or downloading your app. Higher ranking users could have access to gated content or special offers and rewards.
  • Be the smartest/most involved –Yahoo! Answers recognise users who consistently get voted ‘Best Answer’. These users are more trusted and get to ask more questions than other users. If you have a product or service, you could promote users to ‘Top Reviewer’ for reviewing the most or for reviews that get the most engagement.

What you offer in return can be completely abstract to start out with, like levels/rankings. But you can build up to tangible goals, like discounts or free products/content.

What do you get out of it?

  • More users and better-involved users
  • More data captured
  • More user-generated content
  • Good feedback = advocacy
  • Bad feedback = starting point for improvements
  • Social media amplification

Little pieces of gratification will encourage your users to reach any goal you set. And these will feed into your own business goals. Whether it’s increased conversion, engagement or quality lead interaction.

Want to know more about digital marketing trends?

Our team of digital marketing gurus and strategists follow all the latest digital marketing trends. We keep track of how big brands use them and the take note of the benefits. This is the kind of know-how we can pass on to our customers. So you can profit from the best, most effective digital marketing trends. And avoid jumping on any old bandwagon.

We’re one of the UK’s leading digital agencies. If you want to know more about digital marketing trends that could benefit your business, we’d love to chat to you. If you’re on the road to digital transformation, we can help. We’ll help you build a connected digital strategy to reach your business goals quicker and easier.