Marketing has come a long way since the days of traditional advertising methods like billboards and TV ads. With the advent of technology and the rise of digital media, marketing has evolved to reach new heights—and businesses have capitalised on this. From SEO to social media, businesses have found more ways to reach and engage with their audience than ever before. 

However, while there are now more ways to reach your audience, there is also more competition. As a result, consumers have to contend with an unprecedented amount of people vying for their attention and are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing an option.

So, when it comes to event marketing, how do you stand out from the crowd and get their attention?

What are the benefits of using gamification in events?

Gamification is a powerful tool when incorporated into a marketing strategy—enabling businesses to create a dynamic and interactive experience that will retain visitors and improve overall marketing success. The idea behind gamification marketing is that people are naturally drawn to games and enjoy the challenges and rewards they offer (thanks to those good old dopamine receptors). By incorporating these elements into marketing activities, businesses can create a more unique and engaging experience for their customers, with benefits such as:

Gaining the user’s undivided attention

By challenging and entertaining the user, gamification allows businesses to cut through the noise and reach their audience uniquely and effectively. Helping increase the user’s engagement with the content, encouraging active participation and focus versus mindless scrolling.

Networking and collaboration

Gamifying your event can foster networking and collaboration among participants. They can make fantastic icebreakers and create opportunities for interaction and relationship-building among your attendees. There is also the potential (depending on the style you implement) to encourage users to work as teams and have leaderboards targeted towards certain outcomes or a point-scoring system with a prize at the end to give a sense of achievement and satisfaction.

Live feedback

Another benefit to gamification is opening up the possibility for live feedback and progress tracking. Receiving real-time feedback can enable the team to make immediate improvements and fixes throughout the event if needed, which will ultimately lead to a higher attendee satisfaction score post-event. The feedback can also provide valuable insight to the team for future events.

In-depth data

By incorporating gamified elements into your events, your team can collect valuable data on attendee behaviour, engagement levels, and preferences. Armed with this information, businesses can make data-driven decisions to optimise future events, by tailoring content, and creating personalised experiences that resonate with attendees on a deeper level. Additionally, the data collected can contribute to overall marketing strategies by informing targeted campaigns and messaging based on attendees’ preferences and behaviours.

Increased brand awareness

Gamification helps to bring awareness to your brand by incorporating branding elements within games or challenges, promoting brand recognition and loyalty. In addition to this, it can create quite the social media buzz and word-of-mouth promotion as attendees share their experiences and achievements online, increasing their share of voice and coverage of events.

Enhanced learning and retention

Thanks to the novelty and focus required, gamification in events enhances learning and retention. By incorporating interactive games, quizzes, and challenges, participants are more likely to absorb information. This boosts the educational value of the event and ensures that attendees retain key messages and concepts long after the event is over. Presenting a great opportunity to plant the seeds of your brand as well as your services!

Gary VAynerchuk playing a game of basketball at his 2022 Veecon event.

Putting event gamification into practice

While gamification can be a powerful tool for engaging customers and driving sales, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. Firstly, it’s important to make sure that the game elements you’re incorporating are relevant to your brand and products. Secondly, it’s crucial that any activities used are appealing to your customer demographics. Nobody wants to play a game that is too difficult or boring, and if people don’t want to engage with it, then it defeats the entire point and your marketing efforts will have been wasted—and nobody wants that! So, how exactly do you put event gamification into practice?

Know your audience

Take time to ensure you know your audience demographic and customer personas well—and use these when mapping out your gamification strategy. You can categorise your audience by factors such as age group, occupation, potential skill level, or anything that you feel will be important—so utilise that customer knowledge and use what interests and motivates them!

Define your goals

It’s one of the most important steps and will determine the type of gamification in events that will generate the best results for you. Consider what your end goal is. Is it to increase audience engagement? To boost brand awareness? Or is it a unique way for you to generate leads? As with any marketing strategy, you need to know exactly what you want to gain and how you will be achieving it.

Plan your game thoroughly

Crystal clear communication will increase engagement and avoid any confusion. So, once you have come up with a gamification strategy, you need to ensure you have very clearly defined rules of play so everybody knows what to expect. This should cover not only the rules, but any other relevant information such as how to physically play the game. For example, how to earn points, obtain rewards, and ultimately how a player wins.

A picture of a team scoreboard.

Ways to implement gamification at your event

From Nike’s fitness rewards to Apple’s activity rings to McDonald’s hugely successful Monopoly campaign, the proof is in the pudding, that when gamifying a brand experience is done right, it can yield fantastic results. We are already surrounded by companies who are taking advantage of this powerful marketing technique, so if you want to join them, here are some ways that you can get started:

Give your registration process a boost

Incorporate game-like elements into your event registration process to make it more interactive and engaging. For example, you can use a progress bar, levels, or a virtual passport that attendees can complete by providing specific information or completing tasks. This helps generate anticipation for your event as your audience looks forward to seeing what other unique experiences await.

Supercharge your social media with contests

Social media contests are a tried and tested way to engage customers and generate buzz around your brand. Leverage platforms and run gamified contests or challenges before, during, or after your event. Encourage attendees to share content related to the event using a hashtag personalised to your competition, brand, or event—and offer rewards or recognition for the most creative or engaging submissions!

These contests can also be used to gather customer feedback, promote new products or services, or even support a charitable cause. Some great examples of this are Goldfish Crackers’ #GoForTheHandful duet challenge and the Starbucks festive #RedCupChallenge. With a creative and well-executed contest, businesses can build excitement around their brand or event and generate valuable engagement and customer feedback. 

Level up your loyalty program

Retention > Acquisition. Everybody knows it’s the best way to keep your ROI high and your costs low, yet so few invest in customer loyalty programs. Stores such as Boots and TESCO offer incentives, such as discounts and vouchers for purchases, but with gamification you can take it one step further. For example, Starbucks have gamified their loyalty programs by enabling customers to earn stars from purchases or go on quests to receive extra stars which can then be used for free coffee, treats, or even merchandise.

Explore interactive scavenger hunts

Organise scavenger hunts within the event venue, where participants can search for hidden clues or objects. This can be done virtually or in person with technology such as QR codes or mobile apps helping you to guide participants and track progress. Something which can also be beneficial for event sponsors—as you can use it as a way to encourage attendees to visit certain booths to level up or win a prize.

Make your event app experiential

Creating a mobile app for your events is another effective way to incorporate gamification into your marketing strategy. When it comes to gamifying your event app, the possibilities are endless. But an easy way to implement this is by creating a trivia game that challenges customers to answer questions about your business or industry. This can be a fun and educational way to test their knowledge while also raising awareness of your brand and offerings—and for those that partake, you can offer rewards such as discounts, free products, or other prizes to incentivize participation and create a sense of competition. Another unique idea is to utilise surprise alerts during your event that only app users will receive, allowing them to receive exclusive information, gifts or news of special guests…

Gamify your networking

Create opportunities for attendees to connect and network through gamified activities. For instance, you can organise speed networking sessions where participants have limited time to meet and exchange information, very similar to the concept of speed dating! You can also look at using game mechanics like icebreaker questions or networking-themed challenges to facilitate engagement and inject a little friendly competition. 

Go live with polls, surveys, and quizzes

Incorporate live polling or quizzes throughout your event to keep attendees engaged and encourage active participation. You can use technology platforms that allow attendees to submit their answers or vote in real time to add a sense of urgency. Consider displaying a leaderboard with rankings to add a competitive element!

Experiment with interactive adverts

​​Interactive ads are an increasingly popular type of gamified marketing that allows customers to interact with a brand in a fun and unique way. Rather than passively watching an ad, customers can actively engage with the content, which can lead to a deeper connection with the brand. This could involve an ad which allows customers to customise and design their products, such as selecting the colour, adding different features, or seeing the product in different environments. This is particularly useful for exhibitions and conferences, where those launching new products can do so in an immersive way.

Utilise new technologies

Apps and gamification don’t need to be the end of your exploration into the world of tech. There are many other forms of event tech that you can integrate to heighten the experience of your event, from kinetic energy walkways and drones to VR headsets and projection mapping.

Gamified breakout sessions

Organise social activities such as team-based challenges, mini-games, or competitions during networking breaks or social events to promote interaction, teamwork, and friendly competition among attendees. You could also implement a leaderboard system to recognise and reward top performers with prizes, badges, or special privileges!

Introduce a virtual reality

Virtual reality is a technology that has been gaining popularity in recent years and has the potential to be a game-changer for marketing. These virtual worlds enable businesses to offer customers a unique and immersive experience that allows them to interact with their brand in a completely new way—from product demos to interactive adventures that promote a brand’s values or mission.

The future of gamification in events

As technology continues to evolve and more businesses are discovering the benefits of incorporating gamification in events, the industry is set to become even more immersive and personalised, with companies using advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence to create more engaging and tailored experiences. And with more events moving online or adopting hybrid formats, gamification marketing is likely to play an even more significant role in this. But, it’s important for businesses to remember, that whilst it’s important to keep up with trends and best practices—ensuring that strategies align with your audience’s interests and intentions is the real way to make every moment count.