Email Gamification: A Game Changer for 2024

email gamification with a game controller

Email gamification is the process of incorporating game design elements into email marketing campaigns.

With the help of this feature, you can achieve superior engagement statistics and have subscribers eager to access your emails. But it’s not as simple as adding a quiz or roulette wheel to your emails and hoping readers will click on it. It takes both planning and strategy.

In this piece, we cover the A to Z of gamification in email marketing — including its benefits, how to implement it, and the best ways to get the most mileage.

What is Email Gamification?

Email gamification refers to the practice of applying game design elements and principles to email marketing campaigns and strategies. The goal is to increase engagement, motivation, and interaction with email content. This is done by making the experience more enjoyable, rewarding, and game-like for recipients — a great example of email marketing psychology.

Common elements of email gamification include:

  • Assigning points, badges, or rewards,
  • Creating progress bars or levels for readers to complete,
  • Having leaderboards and competitions for higher spots,
  • Sending challenges, quizzes, or puzzles,
  • Establishing storylines or narratives,
  • Implementing email personalization and customization.

Email Gamification in Action: How Does it Work?

Gamification breaks the monotony of a boring brand email by encouraging the reader to get involved.

Why do we play games? For a small dose of serotonin, of course. 

In email marketing, you can do that by awarding points, handing out virtual badges, or offering rewards to subscribers for performing desired actions.

Another option is to display progress bars or levels subscribers can advance through by completing specific tasks or engaging with the emails. You can add another layer by creating leaderboards or competitions. This lets subscribers see how they rank against others and compete for rewards or recognition.

It’s also important to develop storylines or narratives that unfold over multiple emails — this will encourage subscribers to continue engaging to see how the story progresses.

The idea behind gamification in email marketing is to tap into people’s natural desires for achievement, competition, and fun. This makes the email experience more engaging, interactive, and rewarding for them. When done well, it can increase open rates, click-through rates, and overall subscriber engagement.

Benefits of Email Gamification

Gamification isn’t just about sending entertaining emails to your subscriber base; it helps you greatly with your marketing goals. Let’s review the tangible and intangible benefits of gamified campaigns.

Increased Engagement

Games are inherently appealing, and incorporating them into emails can make them more fun and interactive. This can lead to email subscribers spending more time with your messages, opening them more frequently, and clicking on your calls to action (CTAs).

Higher Conversion Rates

By making emails more interactive, gamification can encourage subscribers to take the actions you want them to take. These actions can include making a purchase, signing up for a free trial, or referring a friend. Gamified email marketing campaigns have been shown to boost conversion rates, as we explain further below.

Improved Brand Loyalty

When subscribers have a positive experience with your emails, they’re more likely to develop a positive association with your brand. Gamification can help create a more enjoyable and memorable email experience, leading to stronger brand loyalty.

Enhanced Customer Retention

Gamification can help keep subscribers interested in your brand and prevent them from unsubscribing. By providing rewards and incentives for continued engagement, you can encourage subscribers to stick around for similar experiences in the future.

Boosted Brand Awareness

If your gamified emails are successful and subscribers share their experiences on social media, it can generate buzz and spread brand awareness. It can also encourage people to discuss your brand with people they know.

Valuable for Data Collection

Gamification can be a way to gather data about your subscribers. Through their participation in games and challenges, you can learn more about their preferences and interests, which can be used to improve your future marketing efforts.

Overall, gamification can be a powerful tool to make your emails more effective and achieve your marketing goals.

Does Email Gamification Work? The Stats Say Yes

If you want data to back up the effectiveness of gamification in email marketing, here are interesting stats to look at:

  1. Distinctive: DemandGen Report: 81% of email marketers believe interactive content helps you stand out compared to regular emails.
  2. Competitive edge: From the same report, 88% believed interactive emails helped brands differentiate themselves from their competition.
  3. Open rates: According to Nethunt, email gamification can spike your open rate by as much as 30%.
  4. Engagement metrics: Gamified emails can lead to better engagement rates — up to 48%, as per Web Tribunal.
  5. Growing adoption: Businesses are betting big on gamification; the market size is expected to hit $30 billion by 2025.
  6. Conversions: Want to see your conversions multiply by 2.5x? Gamification is key, according to Stripo.

People clearly love email gamification. Excited to give it a try? This next section tells you how.

Implementing Gamification in Your Email Campaigns

If you’ve been seeing weak engagement or just want to work on your sender reputation, gamification can help. It can transform your emails from boring reads to engaging experiences. This guide will equip you with the knowledge and tips to implement email gamification like a pro.

Before you begin, remember these 3 points:

  1. Ensure the game reflects your brand voice and image.
  2. Not everyone enjoys games; only send gamified emails to relevant segments.
  3. Don’t let the game overshadow your core message.

Ready to get started? Here’s step one!

Set Gamification Campaign Goals

Clearly define what you plan to achieve by using gamification. 

PurposeDesired objective 
Boost engagementIncrease open rates, click-through rates, and time spent with emails.
Drive more conversionsEncourage desired actions like purchases, sign-ups, or downloads.
Enhance brand recognitionCreate positive experiences that build stronger brand connections.
Gather feedbackUse games to collect valuable data about subscriber preferences.
Email gamification: Goals

Once you know what you want, it’s time to decide what type of game can help you achieve it.

Choose Your Game and Plan the Game Mechanics

Progress bars won’t help you collect feedback, and roulette wheels won’t tell you anything about recipient preferences. Depending on your goals, you must choose the right type of game.

Consider these gamification options:

Gamification methodsHow they encourage interaction
Roulette/Spin the wheelThis one is a crowd favorite and can be addictive for recipients as they hope for bigger, better prizes.
Points systemAward points for completing actions and offer badges as milestones.
Progress bars or levelsVisualize progress towards a prize with a filling bar or level-based system.
Slot machineThere’s a reason they’re so popular in Vegas! Slot machines build anticipation and encourage repeat playing.
Quizzes and triviaPeople love to test their knowledge, and winning them can be a high. Get readers hooked by strategically planning quizzes.
Scratch cardsThis game has been around for ages and even in a digital format, is still really attractive to recipients.
PuzzlesEngage subscribers with brain teasers or simple puzzles to solve.
Email gamification: Game options

Consider the simplicity of the game and also evaluate if you will be able to collect accurate data using the method of choice.

Get the Design Right

Time to add your game to your email! This is where you must also test it extensively to ensure it works the way you want it to.

Here are all the design aspects you must keep in mind while creating your email:

Design considerationsWhat they mean
Seamless integrationThe game should complement your email design, not overpower it.
Mobile-friendlyEnsure the game functions flawlessly on all devices, especially smartphones.
Clear instructionsProvide easy-to-understand rules and guidance within the email.
Focus on UXMake the game intuitive and enjoyable to avoid frustration.
Designing gamified emails correctly

What Does the Subscriber Get?

While games are fun, you can sweeten the deal by offering your email subscriber a little something at the end. In fact, it may even influence their decision to participate at all!

The kind of rewards you can offer include: 

What the customer can winMake it appealing to the customer by:
Discounts or couponsOffering exclusive discounts or coupons for completing the game.
Early/exclusive accessProviding early access to new products or special sales for winning subscribers.
FreebiesGifting downloadable content, ebooks, or samples for game completion.
Bonus points or additional entriesAwarding points/contest entries for game participation. People love higher chances of winning.
What customers can win by participating in your email gamification campaign

Tracking Performance

Without tracking your campaign metrics, you’ll never know if your gamification effort paid off.

Here’s how to assess how your gamified emails are doing:

Do thisTo understand this
Track engagementCheck how many subscribers participated and completed the game.
Measure Click-Through Rates (CTR)See if the game drives clicks to your desired landing pages.
Analyze conversion ratesMeasure how many conversions were achieved from gamification.
Conduct A/B testingTest different game mechanics and rewards to see what resonates best.
Tracking the performance of gamified emails

By following these general guidelines, you can measure how your gamification campaign is performing.

When to Use Email Gamification

If you’re convinced about using gamification in your email campaigns and are eager to implement it, your next question should be “When?”

These are excellent opportunities to use gamification:

  • During the holiday season: People are more receptive to fun and festive elements during holidays and special occasions. A gamified email campaign can capitalize on this cheerful mood.
  • Pre-product launch campaign: Promotional emails with gamification can drum up excitement and anticipation among recipients before a product launch.
  • Re-engaging inactive customers: A gamified campaign can be a way to rekindle the interest of inactive subscribers. A chance to win a discount or freebie might entice them to come back.
  • Building a rewards program: Points, badges, leaderboards, and rewards can incentivize subscribers to engage more frequently and advance their status or earn rewards.
  • To generate referrals: Offering incentives or rewards for subscribers who refer friends or share your gamified emails can help grow your email list organically.
  • During lead generation: To capture leads and encourage sign-ups, gamified opt-in forms can be embedded within emails.
  • To collect feedback: To incentivize recipients to provide feedback or complete email surveys, gamification can come in handy.
  • Event promotion: Gamified invitation emails can drive registrations and increase attendance when promoting events such as conferences or workshops.

There are plenty of ways you can make the best of email gamification. Check out how these brands did it.

Great Examples of Email Gamification

Before you get started on designing games or hiring game developers, find some inspiration in these email gamification examples we’ve compiled. 

Chick-fil-A Uses a Word Finder Game to Promote an Item

chick-fil-a email gamification
Chick-fil-A uses gamification to launch a summer product


This gamified email is a prime example of getting customers involved in a fun game. The goal is to share information about new items on their menu, and they share a simple word puzzle to get readers involved. There is also a CTA to help track engagement and the email also contains a product they wish to promote. 

A Home Appliance Brand Uses Gamification to Grow Email List

Comfy Email Gamification
The roulette wheel is a popular gamification method

In this example, the brand (Comfy) used gamification to convert website visitors into subscribers. This game invited new website visitors as well as their existing customers to participate in a game of roulette. All they had to do was spin the wheel and wait for a discount coupon or win the grand prize. 

Doordash and Starbucks Use Email Gamification to Boost Sales

Doordash Gamification
This gamified email encourages the customer to keep up their streak

Nothing like a progress bar to get customers excited about spending money. This is an amazing example of using user data and sharing an easy goal to achieve conversions. To further encourage the recipient, a discount is added. The premise is simple and the visuals are compelling. 

Bose Scratch Card Email

Bose Email Gamification
Bose invites subscribers to participate in a discount offer by scratching a card

Everyone loves to win by scratching a gift card! That was what Bose was going for here with this gamified email. Additionally, they also added significant discounts below, to further entice recipients into scratching the card for a huge prize. Roulette Wheel Campaign

Stylus ua Gamification
This email offered 3 attempts to win discount codes on mobile phones and accessories

This brand used a roulette widget to entice readers to participate in their email gamification campaign. This led to an additional 35% in revenue for Black Friday when the emails were sent.

Points to Consider Before You Use Email Gamification 

Gamification in email marketing might sound like a great idea and easy to execute, but it can be a challenge.

Think about these potential obstacles before you begin creating your game:

  1. Technical challenges: Creating interactive elements within emails can get technical. Depending on the complexity of the game, you might need coding expertise or a developer to implement it effectively. Additionally, some email clients might not display gamified elements properly, limiting their reach.
  2. Must integrate well: The game needs to be seamlessly integrated into the email design while remaining user-friendly. It shouldn’t be so complex that it frustrates subscribers or overshadows your core message.
  3. Needs constant creativity: The novelty of gamification can wear off if subscribers get used to the same type of games. It’s important to come up with fresh and engaging game mechanics to keep them interested over time.
  4. Monitoring metrics can be tough: Tracking the effectiveness of your gamified emails can be tricky. You’ll need to think beyond just open rates and click-through rates to measure engagement within the game itself. This might involve a clever strategy to encourage clicks.
  5. Brand consistency: Make sure the gamification elements fit your brand identity and target audience. A childish game might not resonate with a professional audience, for instance.
  6. No mass appeal: Some subscribers might find gamification gimmicky or annoying. It’s important to understand your audience and segment your email lists accordingly. Not everyone needs to receive gamified emails!

By being aware of these roadblocks and planning accordingly, you can increase your chances of successfully implementing email gamification and reaping the benefits it offers.

Gamification at Campaign Refinery

At Campaign Refinery, we’re huge fans of gamification! We believe it’s a healthy, organic way to increase subscribers’ interest in your emails and achieve high engagement metrics. 

Thanks to our gamification feature, we’ve tracked open rates of 76.37% and clocked click rates of 72.76%. And this was combined with a 0% complaint rate! 

We’re confident you will be able to generate up to 8X more engagement compared to your current configuration.

Think of how great this feature is for your sender reputation. Mailbox providers track these engagement metrics and assign you a high sender score, which means more of your emails land up in the primary inbox.

And not to brag, but — we’re quite literally the best at inbox placement. 

Our deliverability rates are the highest in the industry and here’s how we do it: 

  • We carefully screen customers before onboarding them — this means you’ll never share this platform with spammers.
  • By intelligently using our shared IPs, we enjoy an excellent reputation among email providers and the shared volume means our platform is considered a trusted source.
  • Our list-cleaning tool automatically detects and removes invalid emails — sending messages to such addresses can be terrible for your sender reputation. 
  • Our segmentation tools help you refine your targeting to the point where you only send relevant emails. 
  • Concerned about integrations? Our platform can connect to thousands of popular third-party apps, including click funnels and survey tools.

Campaign Refinery is your ticket to achieving sky-high engagement. 

Apply to become a customer today!

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