Technical progress is moving on, faster and faster. Since the very beginning when mankind invented email and started to use it for many purposes including business, this communication channel has changed drastically.
We turn emails into “agencies” of our websites by adding AMP blocks. We call upon artificial intelligence to personalize communications so deep that emails look like they are really written personally. We embed videos, collect feedback, and do many other cool things in eCommerce mailings. Even the utilitarian triggered notifications are not supposed to be formally dull anymore.
The set of email features is constantly expanding. According to that, email marketing itself is developing into a complex science. It consists of multiple practical methods of new trends implementation. We guess you are already familiar with lots of these methods and tricks. So you could notice the common concept behind them — all our efforts and creativity are intended to engage clients.
During the latest years, gamification of commercial bulk mailings has steadily stayed in the top 10 of email marketing trends. Moreover, it’s not going to retreat. That’s good. Because gamification is a powerful tool to engage leads: it adds fun and vivid mood into our strategies.
So let’s explore it a bit deeper today.
But first of all, some bizarre things
We can see something worth attention in the pic below. A wheel of fortune, it rolls, maybe it’s even interactive…. Looks pretty unusual for an email newsletter, right? A simple question: would you use this element in the further email campaign? Or maybe you stick to classic email marketing ways, so big amounts of useful content and value offers are better for you than new-fashioned tricks…
Don’t be afraid, we are here not to blame you for any answer. The choice and decisions are purely on your behalf. Answer depends on your brand identity, its unique image and voice. Maybe you have serious reasons to prefer the classical approach, so you will pick other practices for marketing strategy.
Though we would choose gamification as we consider it reasonable, at least from the purely practical point of view. Experts from Promodo claim that embedded games are able to boost the return of investments up to 300%. Solid enough to make experiments with gamified campaigns.
But there’s a weird fact. We asked people this question, and respondents mostly support and cheer gamification. Isn’t it strange that playable emails are still so rare? It’s a proven fact, enough to look at your inbox folder. Are there hundreds of game-equipped emails? I doubt.
The reason is kinda illogical yet it’s true. Even despite the detailed posts and manuals like this dedicated article published by SendPulse, there is still a psychological barrier. Seems that the functionality and attractive visual appearance of embedded games caused a stereotype: such campaigns are too expensive and complex to build.
That’s why we mess with all this. We investigated the core of an actual issue, explored a row of successful cases, busted some harmful myths, and provided experiments with predesigned gaming mechanics. Having obtained the load of insights and outcomes, we’ve found a row of practical solutions. And now we will kindly share what we found to provide you with a fresh piece of inspiration. Because these challenges are worth accepting.
Well, let’s get started
Regarding respective information, there are some robust sources to find inspiration. In particular, we studied a glorious publication called “Making emails fun” (Chris Vasquez, Nicolas Garnier). We are familiar with Jane McGonigal’s “Reality Is Broken”.
Their team is undoubtedly a company of the pioneers who discovered these paths first. Stripo was one of the first tools that implemented game mechanics and solutions which are available in their functionality now. In addition to the aforementioned publications, they have investigated these innovations practically in their campaigns. No wonder that we’ve chosen their newsletters as illustrative examples for our post.
This is their first email game for an Easter campaign. Rules are simple: collect numbers behind the Easter eggs, sum these numbers up, then enter your answer and enjoy your personal discount. Obviously, it must be a correct answer 🙂 Otherwise, a “Try again” reply pops up.
Outcomes and further experiments
Their first newsletters with embedded mini-games caused active discussions in lots of dedicated communities. And discussions affirm the hypothesis: gaming elements applied to email marketing strategies are good tools to set and grow the brand virality. Also, no doubts are left: people will surely join and play purely to have joy and fun. Even just for lulz if no real awards are offered for participation.
The next sample below is another experiment to test the practical potential of gamified mailings.
Improving embedded games
The results of that practical experiment were quite good as well. Fortunately, AMP 4 Email removed most problems related to practical implementation of embedded games. So the next experimental campaigns dealt with concepts and principles of these mechanics.
The team faced a critical lack of insights on the internet, so they needed to produce fresh ideas in brainstorm mode. Look at the sample below.
(Enjoy the website game here).
This isn’t a single gamified mailing but one email taken from the long-run quiz arranged as a series of emails. Recipients have to solve riddles to win the Agency tariff.
Again, the whole series received warm feedback from the clients. Some people were so fascinated that they played many times and entered incorrect answers just to discover what would happen in this case 🙂
Summing up the outcomes of Stripo team experiments we can say that results were impressive. However, there was still a serious problem back then. Regardless of the certain mechanics and technical principles, email games were too expensive. Companies had to hire skilled coders or even involve third-party agencies to code the game. Is it acceptable at all?
I guess not. So let’s explore the issues, requirements and principles of gamification in more acceptable ways. As it was stated in the blog post published by BeeFree experts, gamification is a practice for special cases, not for frequent use. But even in this case, expensive games are no good.
According to that, two basic requirements were figured out to determine the further strategy.
Basics of gamification:
- Embedded games must be reusable, it’s a key condition to make gamified messages return invested costs. One-off games are obviously unsustainable: spending weeks on designing is kinda like “mountain brought forth a mouse” situation in eCommerce case;
- All the games should be segmented in groups according to mechanics they are based on. That’s why we are looking for the wide set of versatile solutions.
Multi-use gaming mechanics
You’ve just read the basic things about gamification, and I guess you probably noticed that the latter principle clearly comes from the first. In email marketing, there should be an opportunity to make reusable games. Or, at a bare minimum, to make the development process simpler and faster. The solution is found: multi-use mechanics.
These mechanics are not fully functional games yet, they are rather “templates” to generate a variety of games based on their foundations. It’s quite similar to email templates: we pick the required mechanics (or more precisely, gamified email template), fill it with our content, work on design, configure settings… And voila, the brand new game is ready to impress the target audience.
Notice that new games are really unique with this approach: the principle is the same, only content and design are totally different.
Have you seen the “Find your look” newsletter a bit above? Yep, where users can find the flawless match of clothes. Well, you may laugh but these two games, “Find your look” and “kitty in a labyrinth” above are both based on the same mechanics. Unbelievable but true.
Today we can use prebuilt gamified templates that most popular email builders provide. They actually optimize the entire development process. Though mechanics themselves aren’t a guarantee of 100% success.
We need something else.
Proper game parameters
We analyzed tons of gamified campaigns to define the common rules of efficient gamification.
Notice those two sets of parameters for recipients and businesses. Why? Because they are actually different groups: users and brands. With different requirements for a good game.
Successful email gamification from users’ perspective
A certain real or virtual result motivates users to strive for. Consequently, goals should be clear, catchy, and accomplishable.
A description of how to complete the objective. Removing too easy ways we make participants generate original solutions and show creative approach.
(Source: Really Good Emails)
Keep players updated. People need to be reported how successfully they run through the gameplay. Add something like a progress indicator or score table.
A character that acts through all the campaigns adds entirety and consistency to your games. And to your brand image in general.
(Source: Really Good Emails)
Let your clients compare their progress to other players’ ratings. If your game is a long-time challenge arranged as a series, share the participant’s average score in follow-ups comparing it to others’ ratings.
Yes, we want all our contact databases to join and play. We are aware of people’s passion to play and win. But someone is over-busy this day or tired, or maybe just in a bad mood. Therefore we cannot make participation obligatory, it’s unethical, even rude. Add the option for those who want to decline: let people click and continue shopping on the landing page of your site.
Let recipients discover the effect of different action and choice. What if the character runs left, or returns back? What notification appears when player don’t find all coins, or the contrary, collects them all?
Add the effect of chaos and randomness.
(Rejoice the web version)
Successful email gamification from business perspective
The evaluation depends on many factors and ratios. How many hours your staff spends on gamified email crafting? How reusable this game is planned to be? How many dollars will return, and what profits are forecasted depending on resources invested in development?
Terms of implementation
The sooner gamified element is developed and built into a new campaign, the better. Decisive criteria of ready-made mechanics: it should contain the full kit of respective components. The mission of email marketers becomes pretty simple — insert custom content instead of default visuals, add text, work a bit with configurations/settings. And then embed, test, and send.
Marketers need all the possible options to track, measure, and then analyze email campaign rates.
You’re definitely the lucky one if your coders are so ingenious that any task is a piece of pizza for them. Like developing complex gamification mechanics. Still, it’s much better when email marketers easily craft a gamified newsletter without anyone’s assistance. Btw, it makes gamification strategy really cheaper.
Again, the game must be reusable.
There should be an opportunity to apply the mechanics to various businesses, industries, and spheres: B2C, B2B, etc. New games are generated just by adding respective visual/content elements.
Now we are aware of the basic rules on how to craft successful, profitable, and engaging games both for companies and their audiences. You can also check the “6 Rules of Gamification” post for more skills/knowledge.
Now let’s talk about prebuilt game mechanics that are ways to victory from brands’ aspect. We compiled a mechanics kit, so we can share the best solutions to encourage you. Hey, I’m serious, don’t hesitate! Give the top trend a try right now.
Prebuilt mechanics to implement immediately
1. AMP carousel without notification
Players just click the arrows and turn pics to choose the proper design.
To craft a similar game, just take the AMP carousel block. It’s really easy and simple as in the GIF above. Less than 10 minutes are required to build the gamified carousel.
2. AMP carousels with notifications
Players have to rotate picture fragments to solve the puzzle. When you done it, a notification appears. It may be cheers, a date/time of the upcoming event, discount size… It depends on your goals.
Ask participants a row of questions and give them variants of answers. People will click the answer they consider correct. And find out if their answer is correct or not. All that is done right in the gamified email.
You may use colors and visuals to highlight right/wrong answers. How many options we can propose? Their number is unlimited.
4. “Discover what will happen”
The mechanics’ mission is to create a promo message where users are offered to answer some questions. Then, we offer the product/service that fits them perfectly according to the answers. A good choice for personalization.
Well… to be honest, I initially planned to enrich this post with some examples for your inspiration. But unlike the number of answer options in the previous paragraph, post volume is limited. So just take a look at this practically useful, bright, and appetizing example. Good for food delivery brands. Choose the stuffing for pancakes, pizza, etc, and then order it. Yummy! The imagery is so bright and vivid that I literally feel the taste of what I’ll eat soon.
If you’re interested, we will share more examples in our future publications 😉
Studies and research prove that gamification works great. It gives you virality. It increases ROI up to a stunning 300%. Though what is most important, your clients relax and enjoy themselves. It helps to build strong long-lasting relations.
So how to implement game elements in your business? Now it’s easier than before. Just find a modern template constructor tool that provides clients with such templates, pick any predesigned one with an embedded game included. And work a bit with content, visuals/design, and configurations/settings. Well done!
Adding some fun to email marketing has never been as simple as today 😉 It’s not a diehard level anymore. So don’t be scared. Try this!
If you want to ask any questions, or maybe have original ideas to share — you’re welcome to leave comments. Feedback is always appreciated!