Gamification in Email Marketing: Examples, Strategies, & Best Practices


Every agency talks about the incredible ROI of the strategy of email marketing—current estimates put it at around $36 profit for every $1 spent

But many agencies DON’T tell you is how hard it is to get your audience to open an email. As of 2022, 65% of small businesses have an average open rate of just 11–50%. When fewer than half of your audience is opening your emails, it can be tough to see that 36:1 ROI.

Still, there’s no need to abandon an email strategy just yet. The key to successful email marketing is enticing content, and the best way to create enticing content your audience will want to open and read is through gamification.  

Below, we’ll detail the benefits of gamification in email marketing, highlight a few best practices, and list several gamification email examples that brands—both large and small—have tried with great success.

Why Use Gamification in Your Email Marketing?

The biggest challenge with email marketing is oversaturation. Everyone who uses email has numerous companies trying to infiltrate their inbox every day. And gamification in email marketing can be the best way to entice email opens and clicks where other brands have failed. 

Here’s why:

Gamification helps your emails stand out from the competition. Not only do gamified elements in an email entice customers to click, but they also leave them wanting more. 

Gamification attracts new customers. Papa John’s UK launched the Score Twice Half Price email campaign, where soccer fans could win 50% off a pizza if their chosen Premier League team scored two or more goals in a week. The campaign continues to be a tremendous success, partly because of how passive it is; customers simply sign up, choose a team to support, and the rest is automated.

Gamification encourages loyalty. How? Through rewards! While consumers appreciate “points for purchases,” a recent survey found 75% of customers want rewards for actions like watching brand videos or taking a survey.

Gamification strengthens customer relationships. 61% of customers report rewards are an essential way brands can interact with them. Inspire customers to make repeat purchases, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy bottom line.

Gamification motivates customers to act. Another study found 60% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand if they enjoyed playing a game associated with it. 

Gamification generates higher revenue. Zizzi, a UK-based restaurant, incorporated a board game into its email engagement strategy. Using a virtual game board, the restaurant awarded players dice rolls every day they played. Spaces on the board included food prizes, meal vouchers—even spa days and a holiday trip to Sardinia! These rewards were sent to the users’ email addresses, along with several other promotions.

Gamification and Email Marketing Best Practices

But how do you craft a winning email marketing strategy? Here are some email marketing best practices to follow regarding gamification:

Keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate the game—if a player needs to read through two paragraphs of rules to understand the experience, they’ll be done before they’ve even started.

Always test your games before sending them out to the public. Technical glitches lead to soaring unsubscribe rates. Also, make sure there aren’t apparent loopholes players can exploit.

Make your games fast paced to keep your users’ attention. Remember that the average human attention span is about 8.25 seconds, so your games will always need a quick and easy start.

Consult with experts to ensure your games are the technologically superior—no sense reinventing the (spin) wheel when the experts already know what works. A gamification pro, like the team at CataBoom, can tell you which kind of game would work best for your industry and specific brand goals. 

Successful Gamification Email Examples

We’ve already discussed some of the best email marketing strategies. To further inspire you, here are some popular examples of email gamification:

Scratch Cards. Digital scratch-offs are a simple way to offer various discounts and deals with a touch of gamified flare. You can also use this strategy in other marketing campaigns and platforms. CataBoom integrated a scratch-and-win game onto the Game Show Network’s app for their Wheel of Fortune Game, a campaign that increased daily return traffic by 30%.

Slot Machines. Pizza Hut added a jackpot slot machine feature to their emails, giving all subscribers the chance to pull the lever and win big with 10–50% discounts on their next order.

Puzzles. Jigsaws, word puzzles, and match puzzles can quickly captivate your audience for some quick rewards. Email on Acid, a software company, launched a simple word puzzle in their emails to encourage participation and offer discount codes.

Quizzes. Quizzes can test your audience’s knowledge of your product or educate them on what you offer. ModCloth, a fashion and style company, created a fun quiz in their emails to help users discover the style that fits them best. 

Get Your Audience Engaged with Your Emails!

The best way to give emails the boost they need to get noticed is by partnering with CataBoom. Our experience in gamifying every aspect of digital marketing makes us the perfect ally to tackle your email needs while engaging your audience.

Never send a boring email again—CataBoom’s creative email marketing strategies work. Contact us today to learn how!