How to Improve Your Loyalty Program With Gamification Elements
Want to add a unique touch to your loyalty programs to increase customer interactions? Learn how to use gamification elements to enhance your loyalty programs from this ultimate guide.
Last Updated:  December 13, 2021
Everyone loves playing games, so why not utilize this when creating your loyalty program? The aim of applying gamification elements is to increase user engagement, happiness, and loyalty. Gamified loyalty programs are intended to leverage people’s natural desire for competition, achievement, and socializing. Early gamification strategies used rewards, like points, badges, or virtual currency. Although these elements are still present today, there are many more sophisticated methods for gamification. Let’s see some examples.
How Can Gamification Positively Impact Both Your Business and Your Customers?
In case you were wondering whether you should consider creating a gamified loyalty program, check out the following market outlook, which says that the global gamification market is expected to reach $40 billion by 2024. Crazy, right? By adding gamification elements, you will be able to reach customers through a variety of activities, engaging them outside the buying cycle as well, thus increasing their lifetime value.
It will also help you to:
Encourage customers to repeat actions and foster habits
Incentivize interactions that boost your brand
Maximize customer attraction
Engage customers beyond transactions
Stimulate friendly competition among your customers
Gather useful data about customers and their preferences
However, bear in mind that, like everything, gamification has its drawbacks as well. You have to be careful not to make it too complex. Otherwise, it will be hard to explain to customers and will require additional communication efforts on your part. Regular updates also have to be performed in order for customers to not become bored by the program.
Areas Where Gamification Elements Come in Handy
There are countless ways to implement gamification in your loyalty program. It is only the imagination that sets the limit. Let’s see a couple of areas where it can help enhance your loyalty program.
1. Engage Customers via Social Media
Connect with your customers by offering them points for sharing on social media and following your brand. You can set up a “take-a-photo” contest on Instagram and reward them with an attractive prize to get more user-generated content. Harness the power of word-of-mouth with the help of influencers. Content coming from them and other customers are considered more authentic. You can also add a social wall to the digital screens at your store to make the UGC more visible and instill social proof in your customers to create more social media content for you
2. Build a Loyal Community of Like-Minded Customers
Create a loyal community to bring customers with similar preferences and interests together by creating competitions and challenges for them, or implement a leaderboard that will appeal to their competitive spirit. Offer collectible badges for completing a series of actions. Design a VIP club where the privileged receive valuable benefits and feel a special sense of belonging.
LuisaViaRoma, the Italian luxury fashion retailer, created a limited-access club, called the Sneakers Club, in which access to high-end sneakers is the reward. Members who pay the 2,000-point membership fee receive early access to the hottest sneaker drops.
3. Brand Engagement Through Preferences
Empower customers to leave feedback on your products to help other customers feel more confident when buying them. Incentivize customers to write product reviews by offering them rewards in return. You can also ask them to decide which items are closest to their hearts by voting and rating. This way, you will be more aware of their preferences. Encourage customers to read your blog posts, visit landing pages, and watch your videos.
4. Rewarding Daily Life Activities
Reward your customers for actions they do in their everyday lives, for something they enjoy and would be doing anyway, such as sports activities. You can also support sustainable behavior like recycling, bringing back clothes, tracking product wear with smart chips, or incentivizing using your store’s wishlist feature.
The Nike Run Club app is not only a run tracking app. It provides users with guidance and inspiration, coaching plans to reach their goals, and custom distance challenges. The app also gives encouragement from elite athletes, nonstop motivation from friends, and the possibility to challenge them to compare results and score.
Here are a couple of features to make your loyalty program stand out:
1. Challenges & Badges – Bring Your ‘A’ Game!
They provide customers with a playful incentive to log in to their profile frequently, sign up for your newsletter and perform other activities. Badges are defined as a visual representation of achievements. They indicate how the customers have performed. Offering challenges and badges encourage customers to keep interacting with your brand.
2. Treasure Hunt – Let The Search Begin!
The thrill of discovery and the satisfaction of prizes can be provided for customers online and in-store as well. Both ways encourage customers to spend more time either on your website or in your brick-and-mortar store and give them the opportunity to discover what you have to offer more thoroughly. Hide a few bonus objects, and when customers come across the hidden treasures, you can reward them with a prize.
3. Gamified profiling – Playing Favorites
Learn about your customers’ product preferences, likes, interests, and more with the help of quizzes and surveys. Show them a curated selection of photos and ask them which one they like the best. Gamified profiling will feel more fun and engaging. Also, the data collected this way can be used for better personalization and targeting.
4. Leaderboards – Play Your Way Up!
Motivate your customers to interact with your program more often by implementing a leaderboard. Track and compare their progress through the points they earn. Leaderboards are a great way to encourage healthy competition between your customers. They also allow you to identify your most loyal customers and incentivize them to perform actions that will get them ahead of the rank.
Loyalty program members of World of Beer, the American craft beer restaurant chain, can collect badges for drinking different types of beers and completing exclusive challenges, and compete for the top of leaderboards in their hometown and around the globe.
5. Prize Wheel – A Turn of Luck
Bring some surprise & delight into your loyalty program by getting your customers’ attention with a prize wheel in-store or online. The concept is simple. Members can spin the wheel to receive a random reward or benefit. In order to redeem their prize, they will have to enroll in your loyalty program. Customers will love the idea of the excitement and anticipation.
6. QR Codes – Attracting Customers to the Store
A touch-free solution like QR Codes inside your store is an excellent incentive for customer retention. They can be a great way to enroll customers in your loyalty program as well. Upon scanning the QR Codes, customers are directed to a landing page where they receive a reward in exchange for signing up for your loyalty program.
Starbucks is an enthusiastic QR Code user. The multinational chain frequently promotes its products via this technology. By placing the codes on leaflets in-store and in magazines, they drive downloads of their mobile app.
When customers scan the QR Codes, they are redirected to a mobile landing page where they can learn more about the company’s various coffee products, how they taste, and what food goes best with them.
Their loyalty program, My Starbucks Rewards program, is also a great example of implementing gamification. Members earn “stars” with every purchase. It also provides quests to receive extra stars. The more customers use their app, the more it will get to know them and their orders, and its algorithm will offer them targeted quests.
NFC technology allows retailers to connect quickly and easily with customers at every step of the customer journey. Spice up your in-store customer engagement by putting an NFC tag on a TV screen so customers can interact with it via their smartphones and immediately join your loyalty program.
To create excitement around their new branded Originals store in Vancouver, Adidas used NFC technology when creating their Hype Key Contest promoting the store.
They invited their loyal customers to a particular location for a surprise. The first 150 customers to arrive received NFC-enabled Hype Key Cards. On opening day, contestants were asked to visit the store, and with the help of the provided NFC tags, they could interact with the kiosk to see if they won the contest. As a result, 50 customers won special edition Adidas shoes, creating an immersive brand experience.
Implementing gamification elements in your loyalty program will make your customers feel more involved and accomplished. It provides customers with an incentive to purchase more frequently, buy more, interact with your brand regularly, and use their loyalty points. It also allows you to grow your customer base and profits, and collect vital data about them that you can utilize for better personalization.
Zsuzsa is the Head of Partnership and Marketing, Co-founder of Antavo, the Gartner and Forrester-listed pure-play loyalty technology provider. She was listed by Forbes as one of the top 100 female founders in tech in Europe. She is a former journalist and was awarded the Young Journalist Award by the European Commission.