The Ultimate Guide on Using Gamification in Loyalty Programs

Gamification in loyalty programs is fun: use a prize wheel for a thrilling reward experience, or collect data through treasure hunts.

The cover picture of how gamification can enhance loyalty programs

Who doesn’t enjoy games? Reward-seeking behavior, a natural competitive spirit, and the classic fear of missing out all contribute to the popularity of gamification in loyalty programs. Based on the 2021 Gartner Consumer Values and Lifestyle Survey almost 60% of Gen Z and Millennials play video and other electronic games at least once a week. This is a great opportunity for marketers to leverage gamification in order to connect with customers and build loyalty.

Gamified loyalty programs have the amazing ability to keep experience-driven customers engaged for a long time and to build relationships and communities among participants. Gamification encourages customers to interact with your brand more regularly and purchase more frequently and gives you the opportunity to collect vital customer data. Let’s see how gamification in loyalty programs can increase customer engagement in store and online.

To receive a complete walkthrough to design, launch and manage a loyalty program download our in-depth guide.

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Why Gamification in Loyalty Programs Improves Customer Loyalty

Game-like elements and mechanics in a non-game context is the definition that best describes gamification. Due to the demand for enriched customer experiences, the global gamification market is projected to reach $40 billion by 2024. Spicing up your loyalty program with elements of fun can make it much more effective, significantly improve customer engagement and brand awareness, as well as grow customer lifetime value. Brands that incorporate gamification into their customer engagement strategies see a 47% rise in engagement, a 22% rise in brand loyalty, and a 15% rise in brand awareness.

Gamification in loyalty programs also makes loyalty more engaging and adds a more personal touch to your loyalty program. It especially helps you target Millennials and Gen Z, who grew up using smart technology. At the same time, these groups are said to have a strikingly short attention span, so relying on traditional loyalty features alone most probably will not work for them. Not only is gamification a great way to learn about customers’ product references, lifestyle and favorite brands, it can also help you obtain valuable feedback. Plus, it can help you encourage recurring behaviors, incentivize specific actions, and promote engagement beyond transactions.

The logic behind gamified loyalty programs
Companies should keep in mind that, in order for customers to want to participate in their gamified loyalty program, they need to offer enticing rewards in exchange.

How to Use Gamification in Your Loyalty Program

When adding gamification elements to your loyalty program, there are a few rules you should consider. First of all, you need to set goals. Answer this question: what are you hoping to achieve? Then, you need to understand who your customers are and what kind of games they are most likely to engage with so you can tailor your gamified loyalty program accordingly.

If your core customers check their phones frequently, it is a good idea to make the gamified loyalty program available to them in an app as well. Encourage members to engage in social sharing. You can also create badges and leaderboards, because when customers can see how others are progressing in the program, it builds a sense of competition. To better understand your customers’ preferences, engage them with a likes/dislikes quiz or show them a selection of images so they can select the option that is closest to their hearts. All the information gathered through gamification can then be used for segmentation and better targeting, helping you offer more personalized rewards.

Antavo’s Loyalty Management Platform provides clients with a variety of gamification elements.
Antavo’s Loyalty Management Platform provides a variety of gamification elements and makes it easy for clients to set up their gamified loyalty program.

The Best Gamification Features in Loyalty Programs

The sky’s the limit when it comes to gamification options that make shopping more fun than ever, let’s see some examples!

1. Challenges & Badges – Game On!

Drive recurring behavior by giving your customers a sense of accomplishment for completing challenges. Customers can unlock rewards by completing a task or challenge or receive a badge that delivers an extra benefit. Challenges and badges are widely-used gamification elements that create the feeling of being skilled, while strengthening the customer’s connection with the brand.

Two smartphone screens showing how the badges work for a loyalty program.
Badges are easy-to-visualize achievements, which are awarded to customers who reach predetermined milestones. They foster repeated behavior and generate brand loyalty.

Best practice: Bergzeit Club

Bergzeit, German multichannel mountaineering products retailer, rewards its customers for daily activities. Within the company’s loyalty program, Bergzeit Club, members can earn points by completing sporting challenges thanks to an integration with Strava.

Bergzeit’s loyalty program rewards members’ hiking activities via the Strava integration.
Bergzeit Club rewards its members’ hiking activities via the Strava integration.
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Why it works:

  • Having milestones in your loyalty program ensures there is always something for the customer to work towards.
  • In addition to building a like-minded community of hiking enthusiasts, the company also set out to increase brand engagement with the help of gamification.
  • Bergzeit not only rewards customers for having an active lifestyle, but also for making repeat purchases, writing product reviews, and inviting friends, too.

2. Social Interactions – Sharing Is Caring

Nowadays, it is essential for companies to be present on social media in order to strengthen their bond with customers. By giving customers a voice, you can receive valuable feedback, insights and inspiration in return. Customers love exchanging experiences and sharing ideas with each other so, why not harness the power of word-of-mouth? Turn your customers into brand advocates by rewarding them for recommending products and services to friends, or set up a hashtag contest on Instagram to drive user-generated content.

Setting up a hashtag contest on Instagram.
User-generated content is considered more authentic by customers, thereby holding more influence over their buying decisions.

Best practice: Simply Be Perks

With the aim to highlight body positivity, Simply Be, the go-to digital destination for fashionable size 12-32 women, created a loyalty program that rewards customers for who they are and how they interact with the brand. They encourage members to upload pictures of themselves wearing their favorite clothes or opening their monthly gift box.

Sign up page for Simply Be’s loyalty program
Simply Be’s loyalty program provides hyper-targeted reward experiences to its members.
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Why it works:

  • The aim of Simply Be’s membership program is also to increase purchase frequency and brand loyalty, so they incorporated Surprise & Delight elements in the program, coupled with contests, social sharing, and friend referrals.
  • Their rewards program also encourages greater word-of-mouth around the brand.
  • Simply Be has competitions where members can participate to get on the VIP list at special events.

3. Gamified Surveys & Quizzes – Getting to Know Customer Preferences

Customers engage more with content that is fun, which is why surveys and quizzes are a great tool for profiling. Create engaging visual quizzes, show your customers a curated selection of pictures and ask them to choose the one they like best, or let them decide whether they like or dislike the image presented.

A mockup of Antavo’s gamified profiling module, showing three different screens.
Customers can get so engaged with completing surveys and quizzes they might not even notice the amount of time they’ve spent doing so. Meanwhile, with these formats, customers tend to share a lot more information about themselves.

Best practice: Victoria’s Secret Pink Nation

Victoria’s Secret created an app called PINK Nation and gives customers points for signing up for a “Fashion Show Sweeps” contest, where they can win a trip to the company’s fashion show.

Victoria’s Secret membership program is called Pink Nation.
Pink Nation members receive outfit inspo, style hacks, mental health tips and workout playlists. 
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Why it works:

  • Loyalty program members receive additional points by playing daily trivia games and sharing on social media. 
  • The company’s app also features polls and quizzes, stickers and wallpaper for their members. With the help of the app, Victoria’s Secret not only gathers a great deal of customer information but also increases website visits.
  • Surveys and quizzes allow the brand to get to know its customers and their preferences, for better personalization.

4. Online and Offline Treasure Hunt – Let The Search Party Begin

Surely, you’re familiar with “Where’s Waldo?”. Make customers feel like kids again — give online and in-store customers the thrill of discovery and the satisfaction of prizes. In a treasure hunt, customers need to search for marked products and when they find them, they get a prize. While looking for the hidden treasure, they may very well find other products they like and discover parts of the store they may have otherwise overlooked.

In-store treasure hunts encourage customers to discover every area of your store.
App Clips can also be used to incentivize customers to visit your store and enter an in-store treasure hunt. By using an App Clip, you allow your customers to quickly access and experience what your app has to offer.

Best practice: Virgin Red Loyalty App

When launching their loyalty app Virgin held an epic treasure hunt. Involving 17 Virgin brands, ‘V marks the spot’ saw more than a million coins of various forms, physical and digital, each featuring the face of the founder, hidden in various locations around the UK and on websites. The coins featured a code that unlocked points when entered in the Virgin Red app. However, there was an element of mystery — members didn’t know how many they would get until they entered the code. The points could be used to unlock vaults with prize draws and offers.

Virgin Red Loyalty App
The grand prize in Virgin loyalty app’s treasure hunt was a flight to Necker Island and a real-life treasure hunt with Richard Branson with a chance to win additional prizes.
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Why it works:

  • A treasure hunt gives customers the opportunity to discover what else you have to offer.
  • Treasure hunts are a great way to shine the spotlight on your latest releases, or make old stock relevant again without any additional marketing.
  • Creating mystery around the number of points customers could win increased customers’ anticipation even more.

5. Leaderboards – And the Winner Is…

People like keeping score. That’s why leaderboards can be a great way to motivate users to interact with your program more often, spend time competing, and earn new rewards. Customers can earn points and ascend the ranks by performing actions like buying products or leaving reviews. Leaderboards allow customers to see how they are doing compared to other customers.

You can easily identify your most loyal customers on a leaderboard.
You can easily identify your most loyal customers on a leaderboard. Top players can become an inspiration for the community, driving more valuable actions.

Best practice: Tmall App

During the pandemic Tmall, the Chinese website for business-to-consumer online retail, launched an avatar game on their app where users can customize their 3D characters and complete daily challenges to earn points.

Tmall launched an avatar game on their app.
The Tmall App also allows users to take pictures with each other’s avatars and post them. Plus they can earn extra points for completing different tasks.
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Why it works:

  • The game also includes a social component: if customers send feedback or write reviews, they can earn better titles and secure a higher position on the leaderboard.
  • Leaderboards are one of the most effective ways of getting users to engage with each other, helping companies build communities of customers with similar preferences and interests.
  • Customers also feel good when they see themselves steadily moving closer to accomplishing their goal.

6. Prize wheel – Spin to Win!

Who doesn’t enjoy spinning a wheel to earn points or prizes? Since the pandemic, touchless solutions have gained even greater traction. Luckily, prize wheels are ideal for mobile apps and in-store devices. Having an in-store prize wheel immediately gets customers’ attention and it is a fun, engaging way to build anticipation.

Antavo's Prize Wheel.
Antavo helps companies bring surprise & delight to their loyalty program with a new, configurable Prize Wheel, which experience-driven customers are sure to love.

Best practice: Brightsun Travel

Brightsun Travel, a British travel agency, used a Prize Wheel in order to convert website visitors into leads. Apart from converting visitors into qualified leads, the brand also boosted sales, better positioned their brand, and improved customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Brightsun Travel prize wheel.
You can include bonus points, coupons, discounts, one-time free shipping, exclusive access and more, giving you the possibility to dish out a wide range of rewards.
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Why it works:

  • Prize wheels randomize the reward experience and give it a thrilling quality. 
  • Customers have to enroll in order to spin the wheel and receive their reward, which, in turn, allows you to identify them.
  • Adding a prize wheel to your loyalty program is a great way to incentivize enrollment or reactivate lapsing customers as well.

7. QR Codes – Get a Clue

QR codes on brochures or on signage in different areas of the shop, on the counter, or in dressing rooms, is a great way to increase awareness of your loyalty program. Consider putting a dynamic QR code on the tags or packaging of your most popular products, so when customers scan it with their phones, they’ll be directed to a landing page and offered a reward in exchange for signing up for your loyalty program. The use of QR codes is also a great way to encourage the use of your brand’s app and create an extra touchpoint with customers.

Join The Mall Club
Use QR codes to hide clues, like an image or an object. Upon scanning the code, a reward is revealed to members.

Best practice: Starbucks Rewards

Starbucks is an enthusiastic user of QR codes. The multinational chain frequently promotes its products using this technology. When customers scan the QR codes, they are redirected to a mobile landing page where they can learn more about the company’s various coffee products, how they taste, and what food goes best with them.

Starbucks’ app even sends notifications enticing customers with personalized recommendations and bonus stars
Starbucks’ app even sends notifications enticing customers with personalized recommendations and bonus stars.
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Why it works:

  • By placing QR codes on leaflets in-store and in magazines, Starbucks drives mobile app downloads.
  • Starbucks Rewards is a great example of gamification in loyalty programs. For instance members not only earn “stars” with every purchase but they can also go on quests to receive extra stars. 
  • The more often customers use their app, the more it will get to know them and their orders, and its algorithm will offer them targeted challenges.

Get Your Head in the Game

The thrill of competition, the excitement of winning and being the best: these characteristics are reasons why implementing gamification in loyalty programs work wonders to engage customers. It’s a smart and exciting way to create a fun, interactive experience for customers. The goal is to encourage customers to interact regularly with the brand and form new habits. 

If you are interested in learning what Antavo’s Loyalty Management Platform has to offer, don’t hesitate to book a demo & invite us to your RFP.

Meanwhile, download our guide to better understand the process of creating a successful loyalty program.

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Headshot of Barbara Kekes-Szabo Loyalty Program Specialist at Antavo

Barbara Kekes-Szabo

Barbara is a Loyalty Program Specialist at Antavo and a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional - CLMP. She is also a writing expert with several years of experience in marketing and also in the information technology industry. In her free time she likes traveling the world, reading crime stories, and doing crossword puzzles.

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