There’s something exhilarating about a prize wheel and watching the colors speed by while wondering what we might win.
Whether they’re called roulettes or prize wheels, spinning wheel games have a long, illustrious history. No matter the form of the spinning game, this concept was destined to become a classic because of its addictive gameplay elements. Keep reading to understand how spin-the-wheel marketing has evolved and why it’s still a popular form of engagement today.
The Evolution of Spinning Wheel Games
Spinning wheel games have a long history under a variety of different names. Roman and Greek soldiers passed the time between battles by spinning their shields or chariot wheels. They drew symbols on the wheels and then guessed which one the wheel would stop at.
The prize for the winner is lost to history—although it probably wasn’t a get-out-of-battle pass. Either way, it was an opportunity to escape their real life and relieve some stress.
The Roulette Wheel
Fast forward to 1655, when the roulette wheel was officially invented by Blaise Pascal, a French physicist trying to create a perpetual motion machine. However, it wasn’t until 1842 that zero was added to the wheel, making it the game it is today.
King Charles III of Monaco requested a roulette wheel with a zero on it to better the house’s chance of winning so that the kingdom could earn money—which it desperately needed. The spinning wheel game quickly became the hottest thing in the kingdom and surrounding areas, making Monaco lots of money.
From there, the popularity of roulette games spread across Europe and America in the late 18th century and continues today. People love this game because it’s full of anticipation, and there are many ways to win and lose.
No two games are the same.
Do slot machines come to mind when we’re talking about spinning wheels? They work because of three spinning wheels with different symbols representing different prizes.
Charles Augustus Fey is considered the inventor of modern slot machines, creating his version in 1894. His most popular slot came in 1899 and featured five symbols: diamonds, spades, hearts, horseshoes, and the Liberty Bell.
Getting three bells meant you won the highest prize. Fey never patented the machine, so many companies quickly copied it, spreading the game far and wide.
People play slots over and over because they’re so easy to use and offer the potential for future prizes. A loss just meant a player needed to try again. And, of course, the odds meant persistent users would win eventually.
The Prize Wheel
It’s hard to pinpoint when spinning wheels appeared in carnivals and circuses. Modern circuses traveled across Europe in the 1770s, with big names like P.T. Barnum entering the scene in 1871.The roulette wheel was so popular at this point that it’s not surprising that circus owners put their own “spin” on the idea, creating the prize wheel. this fad has never gone away.
The prize wheel was ready for primetime in 1950 when a spinning wheel was featured on a TV game show called You Bet Your Life. At this point, the wheel made a cameo appearance; it wasn’t a prime feature on the show.
Fifty years later, both shows are still going strong—and so are their prize wheels!
Modern-Day Spinning Wheel Games
Spinning wheel games are enjoying a new role in today’s society: An expert tool in gamification marketing. Businesses today use online spin-to-win games like the King of Monaco did to get customers to spend more money.
Though, the way they do this can change vastly. Some businesses offer discounts, while others use them to build better online engagement with social media users.
No matter why they’re used, the anticipation and chance to have some easy fun have never left spin-the-wheel games.
Why the Prize Wheel Works
So, why is the prize wheel so powerful? That’s easy—it appeals to our emotions.
We’ve already talked about this, but playing with a spinning wheel fills us with anticipation: What color will it land on? What prize will I win? Will I land on the reward I really want?
All these questions run through our minds as the wheel turns. Time slows down, and our hearts race until the mechanic slows down to a stop. People love to chase that feeling.
Who doesn’t become happy after winning a prize? Consumers will play again and again to get another taste of the feeling that comes with winning.
Because most prize wheels have a prize on each slice of the wheel, players are more motivated to spin again and again. They want to see what kind of prize they win and, in many cases, don’t really worry about the disappointment of losing.
Benefits of Spin-the-Wheel Games in Marketing
There are more than a few benefits inherent in spin-the-wheel marketing:
When a person visits your site, they’re invited to play an online spin-the-wheel game instead of being bombarded with sales and products. Having a prize wheel as a pop-up encourages people to stay on the site while rewarding them for engaging with your brand.
In fact, spin-to-win pop-ups can convert 30% of website visitors into customers.
Brightsun tried a spinning wheel on their home banner with prizes such as discounts and merchandise to turn visitors into leads, and it worked! It boosted their sales, improved customer loyalty, and more.
Better Customer Engagement
Making your brand more approachable through gamified marketing makes people more likely to keep engaging.
CataBoom partnered with Best Western to create a travel-themed slot machine for customers and employees. Whenever someone checked into Best Western’s app, they won loyalty points, with a grand prize of 150,000 points.
This campaign got double the engagement compared to typical campaigns.
Natural Data Gathering
People are more protective of their data than ever before. But if you give them something in return, many become more willing to give that information away. For example, ask them to provide their email address for a chance to instantly win a prize from spinning a wheel.
CataBoom partnered with American Home Shield for a spin-to-win marketing campaign to increase Facebook engagement and collect information about their audience. This single campaign saw:
- 70% of play sessions from referral links
- 25% increase in subscribers
- 20% increase in Facebook engagement
Let’s be honest; we’re all more likely to shop when given a discount. Having a campaign where customers have a chance to win while unlocking a discount for every player makes consumers more likely to engage while driving impulse purchases.
Jewelry brand Isabelle Grace understood the power of discounts, so it used a wheel offering 10–20% off and free shipping. When someone won, the discount was automatically applied by pressing the “Continue and Use Discount” button at checkout.
CataBoom Can Add Timeless Engagement to Your Industry
The power of spin-the-wheel marketing has been building for decades. We’re big fans because adding this mechanic to any campaign means you don’t have to “recreate the wheel” in consumers’ minds!
If you want to add fun “spins” to your gamified marketing and promotions, contact us today to schedule a demo!