Ready to Build a Profitable Gamified Marketing Program? – Part II

Jerry Epstein

How to effectively engage in a crowded digital marketing landscape

As gamification takes its place as a vital component in forward-thinking digital marketing strategies, companies realize that there is no end to the ways that they can apply this approach to broaden their markets and strengthen consumer connections and bottom-line results. We tackled the basics in my previous article, How to Effectively Engage in a Crowded Digital Landscape.

In Part II, let’s look at the steps needed to get you there.

There are a lot of ways that casinos can use gamification to make their digital marketing programs more profitable. In this article, we’ll explore five best practices to building profitable, digital gamified marketing strategies, with real-world examples of how these strategies produced exceptional results.

Step 1 – Set Clear Goals & Objectives

To avoid becoming lost in the dizzying array of gamified marketing products, you should first ask the question: “What business objective do I want gamification to accomplish?” For example, do you want to:

  • Promote, inform, or educate people about your property, its amenities, and promotions?
  • Drive more property traffic on an ongoing basis or during seasonal downtimes?
  • Reactivate former customers?
  • Drive new customer acquisition?
  • Boost social media engagement?
  • Liquidate perishable inventory?
  • Increase engagement on your website or mobile apps?
  • Enhance brand loyalty and build brand ambassadors?

With clearly defined business objectives and the right system in place, you’re much more likely to get the results you want than if you use a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Ideally, you want a system that is highly customizable, one that engages your audience both demographically and psychographically. It also shouldn’t take a lot of internal resources to build or maintain. Look for products that integrate into your current website, mobile apps or social media campaigns, and that are flexible and robust enough to produce repeatable results.

Step 2 – Create an Ongoing Digital “Experience”

A report by Harris Interactive stated that 70-79% of people will determine which brand to align with, and ultimately which business to visit, based on a website’s strength of engagement. “Gamifying” your casino’s website content can be a powerful way to transform it from a static digital reference library to a dynamic engagement experience that increases your brand loyalty and profitability.

How well does it work? One casino implemented a digital gamified marketing program in 2016 that incorporated “edutaining” games and activities that engaged players daily. By using segmented incentives, badges, trophies, free rewards, discounts and BOGO offers, they increased online traffic by 543%. That, in turn, helped generate more than $16 million in Total Theo, and nearly 12,000 incremental visits a year. That’s some seriously profitable fun!

Step 3 – Gamify On-Floor Promotions for Maximum Impact

So you’ve developed a broad strategy and built an engaging, gamified digital experience. It’s time for the good times to roll, right? Not quite. Now it’s time to ensure that your returns will operate at peak proficiency by integrating online gamified marketing into your on-property promotions. You’ll save valuable advertising dollars while significantly boosting your promotion’s reach, awareness, interest, and participation. One property used gamification to transform an insured on-floor promotion into their most successful online program ever, as well as their most profitable Sunday in many months. Here’s how:

  1. All gamified website activities were themed to match the on-property promotion.
  2. Players engaged online to earn drawing entries and a chance to be a finalist in the $100,000 grand prize property drawing. They also received special incentives online that drove incremental property visits.
  3. Once at the property, players received a bonus code with a bounce-back incentive that they could only redeem on the website. This created an online-to-on-property redemption cycle that kept players engaged with the promotion on a regular basis while making them “brand ambassadors.”
  4. The casino gave a select group of online participants the chance to be finalists; this special group was not chosen from all the casino’s carded players, but rather from online participants who had activated their entries at the casino kiosks prior to the grand finale drawing.

This “play, redeem, repeat” revenue and engagement cycle kept the promotion top of the players’ minds for six weeks, generating 18,000 casino visits and nearly $2.5 million in Net Theo Win during the life of the promotion. Most notably, by gamifying the promotion online, the casino generated nearly 2,000 incremental visits and $150,000 uplift in revenue on the day of the final event.

Step 4 – Gamifying Your Social Media Strategy for Supercharged Results

When you integrate gamification into your social media strategy, you’ll find that your players voluntarily, eagerly, and actively participate in spreading the word about your events, promotions, and amenities. This gives your social media and social casinos a buzz boost, and creates a miniature engagement cycle that keeps your customers moving happily between your digital products.

Take another casino that asked customers to share a Facebook post promoting a concert. By implementing the request as a challenge that rewarded customers for spreading the word, this gamified social activity generated more than 3,000 reposts without any advertising spend, resulting in one of the quickest concert sell-outs in their history.

Step 5 – Building Profitable Loyalty and Brand Awareness for the Long Term

A traditional “pay to play” approach is at the heart of most gamified loyalty programs. However, the new “play first and pay second” paradigm has become prevalent in many social games (like Candy Crush) and social online casinos, where it is proving to be highly successful.

When given the opportunity to participate in fun, rewarding activities for free, players are more likely to spend money in the long run — especially when the program is designed to be a “subtle sell.” According to a 2016 MMRC focus group, this “reverse” type of gamification was described as being a “… subliminal motivator impacting and increasing awareness, visitation, and loyalty … that elicits greater share of attention, leading to increased engagement and a greater share of the patron’s gambling wallet.” Bottom line? Free, fun and rewarding gamification strategies can help increase profitability and not only retain customers, but convert them to passionate brand ambassadors.

Gamified Marketing Delivers Winning Results

A well-defined digital gamification program that educates, entertains, and motivates customers to visit and spend more can be a big marketing winner for both players and casino operators. As one marketing executive put it, strategic gamified marketing “… delivers on its promise. Most importantly, it provides a significant ROI that we can measure. It pays for itself and much, much more.”

Jerry Epstein