How to use gamification to encourage participation, engagement, and customer loyalty

March 28, 2022 | 4 minute read
Todd McGee
Founder and Global Business Development Officer
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Games have always been a part of my life. I remember the day my father called us all into my mom’s craft room and had us gather around our family’s black-and-white TV. It did not have a remote, so you still had to turn the dials by hand. It was super bulky, and the screen was small.

He pulled out a strange device with knobs and buttons. He then proceeded to show his tech expertise by spending the next 20 minutes attempting to plug it into the TV, an activity that was foreign at the time.

Once everything was in place, what looked like sticks appeared on each side of the screen, and a dot moved back and forth. It was called Pong. We could move the sticks up and down by turning the dials. Our minds were blown. We were competing on a screen against each other. We would spend hours turning the knobs in hopes of winning and earning family bragging rights.

I never imagined that decades later, I would start CataBoom, the first SaaS gamification platform that allows you to build games in minutes. Whether it’s a simple game like scratcher or a quiz or a more complex game like video trivia or a collect-and-win, the goal is to allow brands and companies to use gamification to drive specific behaviors and engagement for a positive ROI.

What is gamification?

People ask me all the time what gamification is. Many people immediately think of spinning a wheel to win, but it is far more than that. Gamification uses gaming techniques to create an interactive experience that encourages participation, engagement, and customer loyalty. Ultimately, we are tapping into that part of your brain that loves to win and makes you want to continue that behavior over and over, just like my experience with Pong.

Gamification is now a part of our everyday lives. Many times, we don’t even recognize that we are participating in gamification. For instance, when you place an order using the Starbucks app, you probably also look to see if the order earns more “Stars.” If you’ve been on the dating app that has you swipe left or right to get a match, that is the gamification of dating. And, of course, that buzz on your wrist when you reach 10,000 steps on your Fitbit is just so rewarding.

There are more obvious gamification examples, including McDonald’s Monopoly and the games we create for T-Mobile Tuesdays, but the results are the same:

The key to getting these types of results is:

  1. Use gamification as a strategy and not a tactic. Throwing up a wheel spin may work, but there is usually a more strategic way to drive higher results.
  2. Create a program that engages consistently. CataBoom made that easy by automating the ability to create the games.
  3. Define the right game experience with the right rewards. Gather data to better understand your customer and what makes them tick.

Four reasons to use gamification

Gamification has many marketing applications. But there’s no easier or better way to improve lead acquisition or attract more survey responses.

A good marketing strategy includes a wide range of tools and practices, and a gamification platform should be an essential tool in your marketing arsenal.

Here are four reasons why.

1. Generates customer loyalty

Gamification lets you reward your customers for completing actions or exhibiting certain behaviors. The rewards build customer loyalty and place your brand at the center of your customers’ lives.

2. Offers better insight

Data about your customers is incredibly valuable. But with the increased worry about digital privacy, that data is increasingly difficult to obtain. Gamification helps you get the data you need. People are more likely to give their contact information (number, email address) to participate in a game or contest than to sign up for an email newsletter. This way, you can gather richer information about more of your customers. How your leads and customers respond to the experience is far more revealing than how they respond to the tone of a marketing message. If you find that certain games create more engagement from website visitors, you may choose to frame your entire brand around that kind of experience.

3. Increases brand awareness

A good game can spread like wildfire, especially if it has a great deal attached. In this way, gamification can promote word-of-mouth marketing, where your followers tell their friends about your great game. And on the off chance that your game goes viral, your awareness can enjoy an indefinite increase.

4. Provides a better brand experience

You probably don’t want your marketing plan to bore your customers away. Unfortunately, many brands’ half-hearted marketing strategies do just that. 

Meanwhile, gamification creates a fun and inviting experience to share your brand messages. If you can sell your gamification as a short dose of escapism, customers and leads will be much more willing to join in.

When executed well, gamification provides a fair trade—a little fun in exchange for information. Gamification can educate, provide great experiences, and inspire emotional engagement. For the bold, innovative marketer, gamification can provide users with a virtual escape. That’s a powerful gift to your customer.

We’ve come a long way since Pong, and as my team and I continue to build out gamification and innovate our platform, I can’t wait to see where it takes us!


To learn more, check out 3 ways to gamify your loyalty program with Oracle CrowdTwist.

CataBoom is the top SaaS gamification platform globally. Although we work on marketing and email campaigns, ad units, POS experiences, employee programs, and B2B programs, one of our main focuses is amplifying results with loyalty programs. Our ability to create ongoing engagement through instant and consistent gratification is the perfect complement to a customer loyalty program that rewards people over time.

Todd McGee

Founder and Global Business Development Officer

Todd McGee is a highly respected technology and new media entrepreneur, specializing in Internet and gamification strategies, Internet marketing, and mobile Internet solutions since 1994.  Mr. McGee is a founder or co-founder of more than half a dozen successful startups to date. As Founder and Global Business Development Officer of CataBoom, Mr. McGee is credited for the initial vision of the CataBoom platform, the top SaaS gamification platform. Mr. McGee also continues to support the overall strategic direction for the platform as well as the sales and marketing of the solution. Additionally, Mr. McGee focuses on building partnerships and relationships with key players in the loyalty, email, app development, advertising, social media and other industries who are looking for ways to influence customer behavior in the digital space for themselves or the brands they represent.

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