Less than a quarter of all emails get opened.

Unless you’re a governmental institution sharing some urgent news, of course. Then, you might enjoy an open rate of 28.77%. (Source: Mailсhimp)

Still not enough? We feel you.

Us, mere commercial enterprises, have to fight hard to get our emails noticed and opened. Too often, mailing list subscribers can’t be asked to go through yet another pile of boring emails. To convince them otherwise, we need to stand out.

The best solution for this in 2020 is email marketing gamification. Excited? Game on!

What Is Gamification in Email Marketing?

Email marketing gamification is one of the hottest trending email marketing techniques. It refers to the process of using a ‘gaming’ approach to solve ‘non-gaming’ tasks, i.e. adding games to your emails as a part of your email marketing strategy.

The three main principles of email marketing gamification:

  • engagement;
  • award;
  • competition.

The combination of three creates the perfect email marketing game: it’s enjoyable, there’s a reward for those partaking, and there’s a sense of competition that incentivises customers to join the party.

There are different reasons to gamify your email marketing campaigns. In fact, the sky (your imagination and creativity) is the limit when it comes to email marketing gamification. You can experiment with the technique and incorporate it into your marketing strategy however you want.

The most common application of gamification in email marketing:

  1. Occasion Email Marketing
    Whenever you’re feeling festive and want to share your spirit with your mailing list, gamification is the right technique to use. To bring joy to your email subscribers and congratulate them with holidays, just drop a gamified email. Regardless of whether it’s an international holiday such as New Year or Easter, the 4th of July or a special occasion to celebrate your business’ anniversary - fire away those email games!
  2. Feedback Surveys
    If you’d like to encourage your customers to leave more feedback, incorporate game mechanics into your emails. You can easily add elements of the game into your surveys and entice the customers to provide high-quality feedback.
  3. Customer Loyalty Programs
    Gamification works wonders to ensure long-term customer engagement when utilised as part of customer loyalty email programs. Gamified emails draw more referrals and drastically increase the number of forwards your emails get.

Email marketing gamification is most useful for B2C sales. However, you can adapt some gamification concepts for your B2B business, too. Why not? It’s an incredibly flexible tool and can be bent to fit to the needs of your particular company.

Why Should You Gamify Your Next Email Marketing Campaign?

Even though gamification is not as widespread as other, more traditional email marketing techniques, it is still a powerful tool for marketers to implement! The fact that it’s less common among marketers is an advantage in itself. Implementation of games into your email marketing campaigns gives you a competitive advantage. Being able to produce more engaging and entertaining email marketing campaigns effectively differentiates you from your competitors.

Other benefits of gamifying your email marketing campaigns include:

  • It boosts customer engagement. Generally, games are very appealing to people. Even if they aren’t initially interested in a game, they click on it just to see what happens. It’s hard not to. This increases the time your customers spend interacting with your emails and increases the levels of customer satisfaction. A win-win situation!
  • It builds brand awareness. Successful gamification can draw attention to your brand. If you manage to wow your email subscribers, they will share their experience on social media, creating a discussion around your brand name.
  • It helps to drive cross-channel engagement. Depending on the type of email marketing gamification you use, there’s a chance for stimulation of other channel activity. For example, you can ask your subscribers to share their quiz results on social media and tag you to claim the prize; you will see a social media KPI increase.
  • It strengthens relationships with customers. Rewards, no matter how big or small, amp excitement and make winners feel more ‘exclusive’, with a tighter bond to the business. This is further enhanced if your gamification strategy involves competition.
  • It boosts email open rates. Email gamification cultivates a habit in your subscribers. If you are adding gamification features to your emails regularly, it gives them an incentive to pay close attention to your emails. This makes them less likely to skip your updates.

Email marketing gamification is responsible for a 30% increase in the email open rate.
(Source: Econsultancy)

  • It attracts new subscribers to the mailing list and helps prevent mailing list degradation. The more interactive and engaging your email gamification is, the higher the chances are that your mailing list subscribers forward them to their friends and colleagues. This introduces you to a broader range of potential mailing list subscribers and keeps them keen on sticking with your business.
  • It works as content for email marketing campaigns. This is particularly useful for those businesses that are lacking content to share with their mailing list subscribers but want to remain consistent with their email marketing efforts. If you don’t have a blog to send out blog newsletters, don’t run sales too often or sell the product that rarely gets updated, a gamified email can be a great way to remind your mailing list subscribers about your business and offer them some value.
  • It works as an effective Call-To-Action. Games make it easier to prompt your mailing list subscribers to act. It’s great for generating sales if you use vouchers as the game prizes.
  • It’s affordable. Email marketing gamification is a relatively inexpensive technique to implement; there are numerous free tools for it available on the market. Alternatively, if you’re familiar with CSS and HTML, you can code the games yourself.

According to studies and A/B tests, gamification can increase your ROI by 300%.
(Source: Promodo)

How to Gamify Your Email Marketing Campaigns: The Hottest Email Marketing Gamification Techniques of 2020

Email gamification is a relatively new form of email marketing, which means there are very few rules to follow. You can experiment with different approaches, tools, and design your own creative solutions.

However, if you’re hungry for some pro tips, NetHunt is willing to share our knowledge.

Keep Your Games Interactive

81% of marketers believe interactive content is more attention-grabbing than its static counterpart.
(Source: NeverBounce)

There’s evidence to suggest that images in motion are more appealing to people because they trigger different parts of our brains. We react to the stimuli better and take a little bit longer to process the information received. Not only does that increase the time your subscribers spend interacting with an email, but it also enhances their experience. No one wants to waste their time on boring things, so make sure to provide some value.

Don’t Overdo It

Everything done in moderation. While email gamification can be an exciting thing to implement into your email marketing campaigns, you shouldn’t only ever be using it. It gets old after a while and loses the wow effect. You should always leave room for anticipation. If your email recipients know for sure what’s going to be in the next letter they get, they won’t be half as excited to see it.

Pay Attention to Visuals

There’s lots of controversy surrounding the topic of images in email marketing. Some say that adding too many pictures into your emails can lower the open rate since they can take ages to load. The others believe that including high-quality, custom-made and relevant images is the only way to stand out among the competition. There’s no feasible way to end this discussion, since everyone has their approach to traditional email marketing.

In email marketing gamification, a picture is worth a thousand words. If you want to add a game to your emails, you might as well make sure it’s pleasant to look at. No one is going to pay attention to a poorly-made piece. To get your subscribers hyped up about your content, you have to ensure they’re having a great time playing the game. No matter how simple it is, if it runs smoothly, it creates a positive emotion.

“Using GIFs in emails can increase open rate up to 6% and revenue up to 109%.”
(Source: Drip)

GIFs alone are always a good idea; they’re engaging, interactive and trendy. But imagine adding well-designed dynamic elements to your games! Bellissimo!

You can even use a QR Code Generator to get creative and add QR Codes to your emails to gamify them and increase audience engagement.

Plan Your Gamification Email Marketing Strategy

If you don’t want to be annoying and sporadic with your email marketing gamification process, you need to keep things organised. Before you start introducing games into your emails, you need to ask yourself a set of preliminary questions to structure your gamification better:

  • What is the goal of gamifying my email campaigns?
  • Which metrics do I want to improve by implementing email marketing gamification?
  • Am I going to send gamified emails to segmented audiences or send them in bulk?
  • Am I going to gamify only parts of my email marketing campaign or build a separate campaign around email marketing gamification?
  • How often will I be sending emails?
  • What am I going to offer as a reward for my clients?
  • Are my interactivities supported by all the main email clients? If not, what will those users, whose email clients do not support it, see?

The first step on your path to success is identifying and measuring the metrics you want to improve with gamification. The most effective way to do this is by automating the process. Find the right insights and identify gamification objectives by analysing your CRM’s reports.

Only once you know what you want to achieve and which metrics to track, you can start putting together your email marketing campaign. A great way to organise email marketing gamification is by setting it up as a drip campaign.

Offer Rewards

There’s nothing more enticing for subscribers than if there’s a reward at the end. There are different ways in which you can arrange this. Either you tell them straight away what’s in it for them or you don’t tell them the exact reward, just mention there is one to tickle their pickle.

If you’re a business in the hospitality industry, you might offer vouchers at your restaurant or hotel as a reward. That way, you don’t only develop motivation to participate, but also get a chance to increase your sales. Customers are more likely to redeem the vouchers they are rewarded than those they obtain in any other way.

Ensure the Tasks Are Achievable and Clear

Higher sales are stimulated by customer satisfaction. When it comes to email marketing gamification, the formula is simple:

Customer satisfaction = Engagement + Reward

Take one thing out of the equation, and you won’t get the desired results. If the task’s too difficult, there’s a high chance of your mailing subscribers just skipping the game without completing it. People just can’t be asked to waste their time trying to understand what you want from them. Your goal is not to puzzle your email recipients, but to make them feel good about themselves. Let them feel good about themselves.

To ensure this, you need to outline the goals of the game clearly. Give a short backstory and a clear description of what you want people to do.

The Best Game Ideas for Email Marketing Campaigns

Email marketing gamification is all about creativity and being able to design and develop unique, engaging solutions. However, you shouldn’t be reinventing the wheel. Sometimes, it’s good enough to use an existing concept and alter it to fit your brand.

Below are the most successful games for your email marketing campaigns in 2020.

Roulette (Wheel of Fortune)

(Source: GAP)

A classic is a classic. The Wheel of Fortune that offers you to ‘spin to win’ is one of the most widespread and popular games among marketers. It is widely used for email list building on websites, but can also be implemented into your email campaigns.

The top three benefits of roulette are:

  • It’s easy to design and implement
  • It’s supported by most email clients
  • It is effective for increasing web transactions

Customers who played the game inside an email with the subject “Roulette” ended up making a purchase on a website, leading to a web transaction increase by 15%.
(Source: Promodo)

Immediate Prizes - Lottery Ticket

(Source: Gwynnie Bee)

Another simple email marketing gamification solution is scratch-cards. Despite coming across as a little bit lazy (you only need a couple of basic elements), they are well received by customers.

Scratch cards offer customers an instant reward for their participation, which triggers them. As a result, we get an effective email gamification tool.

Quizzes and Tests

(Source: HubSpot)

Quizzes and tests are always a hot idea for email marketing gamification. They are easy to implement and they stimulate clicks. When combined with a CTA (for instance, ‘go to our website to find out the correct answer’), quizzes can multiply your website traffic.

The one thing to remember is that you shouldn’t include difficult questions. Unless they’re fun facts that you’re not supposed to know anyway, having to answer questions too complicated can discourage customers from participating.

Easter Eggs and Quests

(Source: LitMus)

Arranged as a drip email marketing campaign, ‘Easter Eggs’ and quests can kill two (actually, three) birds with one stone. They increase open rates for your emails, boost sales and encourage cross-channel engagement.

Spotting stuff in different emails of a sequence can prompt your email recipients to pay closer attention to the content you share with them. If you make it a bit of challenge to do that, it can even spark a discussion on social media.

(Source: Fabiani)

Scoreboard Strategy

(Source: Email Monks)

Not all email games need to be aimed at boosting sales and having a clear CTA. Every now and then, it’s okay to send out emails simply for subscriber entertainment. Scoreboard games are a great way to arrange that as they encourage clients to spend more time interacting with the email and are overall fun to play.

This is a great example of a scoreboard game. Subscribers simply need to catch the egg by pressing on it with the cursor.

That’s all. Game on.

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