Gamification Strategy Tips For Your Rewards Program

Gamification Strategy Tips For Your Rewards Program

Share on:

"Gamification," "gamifying," "gamified"... What do these terms mean?

Derived from the word "game," gamification can be described as applying games, game mechanisms, and game-thinking to non-game activities.

There are many reasons for using gamification. Gamification is often applied to academic curriculums, training sessions, orientations, professional workshops, sales team goals, and even fitness classes. Recently, gamification has entered the digital marketing world to help businesses spread awareness about their brands, increase online engagement, and drive website traffic.

Gamifying an academic lesson ensures that students will retain lesson information.

Gamifying sales techniques can motivate team members as they strive to reach their sales goals.

Gamifying aspects of a brand's online presence increases user engagement, brand awareness, and overall virality.

Take any non-game activity, turn it into a game, and people will flock to join the game and play.

A customer loyalty rewards program, when taken at face value, is not a game. However, you can transform aspects of your loyalty rewards program into games. By gamifying your loyalty program's points-earning and points-burning opportunities, you will motivate your loyalty members to engage more with your program. When loyal customers associate your loyalty program with playing—and winning!—a fun game, they'll be eager to wager their loyalty points. Using their points to play will then trigger a healthy cycle of perpetually earning and burning points, which means more shopping, more spending, and more fun.

Gamification can make your loyalty rewards program:

●     Fun & Engaging

●     Easier to Use

●     Effective at Driving Customer Behaviors

How can you gamify your customer loyalty rewards program so that loyalty member engagement increases as well as your overall revenue? We have the best gamification strategy tips for your rewards program. These advanced tips could require some additional moxie on your end, but the results will excite your loyalty members and add value to the rewards program you're offering.


When you have a customer loyalty rewards program that allows you to customize your points structure, you will also be able to custom build a layer of gamification over whichever points structure you choose.

Have you implemented a straightforward punch card points structure? Gamify how your loyalty members receive punches by offering opportunities to gain bonus punches for completing specific actions.

Have you implemented a tiered rewards system where loyalty members must earn a set number of points in order to make it to the second and third tiers of your loyalty program? Gamify how your loyalty members can earn extra points that will help elevate them to the next tier by creating a gamified competition where participants must refer friends and family to join the program using a referral code. Whoever enrolls the most people within a defined time frame wins.

Have you implemented a non-monetary rewards structure? Gamify how your loyalty members can earn the non-monetary reward you're offering by hosting an in-app contest or sweepstakes, wherein loyalty members can earn one special item that isn't even for sale in your store yet or one high-end service that will be coming out at your location next year.

No matter what specific "game" you apply to your loyalty rewards structure, be sure to follow these essential tips for adding gamification to your customer loyalty program strategy:

Set Goals

If you don't know where you're going, how will you get there? Before you gamify your loyalty program, analyze your program's current performance. What percentage of your loyalty members are actively engaged in the program? How many inactive members do you have? Have you conducted any survey to gain feedback and insights about what your loyalty members think of the rewards program? By understanding where your program currently stands, you can develop reasonable goals.

Know Your Audience

There are more games out there than stars in the sky, but not everyone loves every game. It's important to know who your loyalty members are and what they like in order to offer them the kind of loyalty program gamification they will appreciate and want to play. Some customers might love to spin a wheel to win a prize, whereas others might consider that kind of game boring. Study the demographics of your loyalty program and segment your members into groups. Once you do, you can develop unique loyalty games that will engage each group.

Become a Storyteller

If you've been keeping up with the Loyal~n~Save blog, then you understand that presenting a memorable brand involves sharing your "story." Your unique business has a story to tell and that story includes your company's ethos and mission. Just as you have used your brand's story on your website and in your marketing materials, you can integrate your story into your gamified loyalty program. This can be done easily. Have you ever played Angry Birds? During the 30 second intro, players quickly learn why those birds are so angry, and that "story" sticks with the players. 

Go Mobile

We really can't stress enough how important it is to offer a loyalty app as part of your customer loyalty rewards program. Consumers spend more time using their mobile phones than they do desktop computers. When it comes to contacting your loyalty members, you're probably familiar with sending out email campaigns, and that's great. But emails are not where games are played, so if you want to gamify your rewards program, you're going to need to launch a loyalty app. Mobile apps enable loyalty members to engage with the program in ways that would be impossible if not for app technology. This same technology makes gamifying your program easy.

Use Transparency

The great thing about games is that they trigger healthy competition. When participants see their competitors playing well and scoring, it ignites their passion to play even better and score even higher. You can easily gamify your loyalty program by simply making your participating loyalty members visible to each other. Using this kind of transparency can inspire members to engage in the program. You can even structure your rewards levels in a way that allows members to view each other's progress as everyone strives to win a prize.   

Reward Participation

Depending on the specific gamification you include in your rewards program, there could be dozens of participants all going for the same prize at once. If so, you'll definitely end up with one lucky winner, but that could be at the expense of dozens of unhappy losers. You never want earning rewards to seem too difficult. If members start to feel like they're always getting the short end of the stick, they're not going to engage with your program for very long. However, you can eliminate this risk by awarding the participants rewards points simply for joining the game.

Gauge Difficulty Level

Any good customer loyalty rewards program will provide points-earning opportunities that enable members to steadily increase their points balance. If earning points takes too long, members will stop engaging with the program. If points are assigned too great a monetary value and are very easy to attain, then retailers will end up losing money. Keeping your program in balance so that members find it challenging and you find it financially beneficial is the key. The same can be said for calibrating the chances of "winning" your loyalty rewards games. Your participants should feel like they have to work to win, but winning can't be so difficult that they quit.

Include Surprise & Delight

"Surprise and delight" is a marketing term we introduced many blogs ago. Typically, surprise and delight is the act of surprising an individual with an unexpected reward. The reward itself could be big or small, expensive or inexpensive, random or personalized. The reason surprise and delight is an effective marketing approach that builds brand awareness and enhances interactions is because this method is unforgettable. When a business gives you a valuable product for free, you tend to remember them, and you'll probably like them so much as a result that you decide to do business with them in the future. You can surprise and delight your loyalty members with bonus points they can use to engage with your loyalty games at no risk.


Now that we've covered how to apply gamification techniques to your customer loyalty rewards program, let's look at the specific gamification strategies you can use in your program. Depending on your loyalty program platform, you may be capable of trying all of these. Or if your program is pre-designed, you might be limited in terms of what you can do. Either way, we recommend that you pick only one or two gamification strategies that are the most relevant to your loyal customer demographic and see how those games go.


A leaderboard is a scoreboard that shows the names and fluctuating scores of the leading players or teams in a game. The purpose of using a leaderboard is to show all of the players, as well as the greater audience that's observing the game, where each player ranks within the game. Try implementing a leaderboard to show the top ten loyalty members who are close to earning their position in the next "tier" of your rewards program. This will boost a sense of competition and motivate members to do more to "win."

Prize Wheel

If you've ever watched the popular game shows, The Price Is Right and Wheel of Fortune, then you know how thrilling a prize wheel can be for the contestant spinning the wheel. A prize wheel is a round wheel that contains many different types of prizes that are allocated to sectioned-off wedges around the wheel. Once spun, the wheel's "needle" will eventually stop on one of the wedges and whatever prize is written on that particular wedge will be given to the person who spun the wheel. The trick to gamifying your loyalty program with a prize wheel is to offer bonus points, 10-percent-off coupons, and one-time free shipping as "prizes" on those wedges. Never include "losing" wedges that say "better luck next time."

Reward Calendar

Gamifying your customer loyalty rewards program by including a rewards calendar is an excellent way to generate customer excitement about upcoming products, services, and special deals and discounts. Why? Rewards calendars are similar to Christmastime Advent Calendars, which countdown the days to Christmas. Each calendar day can be "unlocked" to view a special treat inside. In the same way, your rewards calendar can "unlock" special deals, discounts, and opportunities to receive bonus points. As the days go by, loyalty members can use a few points to "unlock" the "deal of the day."

Prize Machines

You've seen them at arcades—prize machines are also referred to as "claw cranes." Players mechanically operate a giant "claw" to try and "pick up" a prize of their choosing. Prizes often include soft stuffed animals, candy bars, and other toys. Create a digital prize machine for your customer loyalty rewards program. This particular gamification strategy works best for loyalty program apps. Playing the prize machine game should cost the participant a number of earned points, and the prizes can range from bonus points, to Swag Shop items, to exclusive discounts on their favorite products and services.

Gamified Quizzes

This gamification strategy definitely delivers "win-win" results and here's why. When your loyalty members take quizzes or participate in gamified surveys, they will automatically provide you with valuable customer data you can leverage in your future marketing campaigns. Every time a customer takes a quiz in the hopes of earning prizes or bonus points, you will gain personalized insights about their product preferences, lifestyle, and even their pain points. Just be sure to design the quiz in a way that maximizes interaction. For example, reward loyalty members with one point for every question they answer so that they feel rewarded and encouraged as they go.

There are so many more specific game ideas you could incorporate into your customer loyalty rewards program. No matter which gamification strategies you choose, however, be sure to remember the following:

●     Amping Up the Competitive Stakes Will Increase the Fun

●     Exclusive Games Create VIP Opportunities

●     Rewards Motivation Builds Brand Recognition

●     A Fun Experience Can Be The Reward

●     True Value Is Measured by the Ability to Win

●     Random Rewards Equals Loyal Customers

How can you ensure that gamifying your loyalty rewards program will lead to an increase in program engagement as well as business revenue? In the next section of this article, we'll put it all together for you.


You may have noticed a recent rise of digital loyalty programs, which should tell you that offering your loyalty members anything less than a loyalty app is not going to fly. Having a digital approach to your loyalty rewards program will help you retain a better level of control over your promotional campaigns and how those campaigns reach your loyalty members.

Loyalty mobile apps provide customization and personalization, ensuring that you deliver the right promotion to the right customer at the right time. This leads to a faster turnaround from rewards earned to rewards redeemed. When your loyal customers receive personalized points-earning opportunities in the form of games, they will be more likely to play, "win," and continue to shop at your store.

Choosing the right loyalty rewards solution can safeguard your business from undesirable gamification failures, which is why we built Loyal~n~Save's loyalty mobile app with gamification in mind. Our digital rewards platform provides instant gratification to loyalty members, because our built-in games are fun and fair. If you're looking to leverage gamification as a marketing tool to increase customer retention, contact our loyalty strategists today!

Disclaimer: This article shares tips that are meant to inform the reader of gamification strategies, though Loyal~n~Save does not necessarily offer all of the gamification models mentioned in this article.

This article was written by Loyal-n-Save, an omni-channel customer loyalty solution for retailers looking to increase customer retention and new customer acquisition.
Share on:
Douglas Nolan
Written by Douglas Nolan

He believes in solving real problems with realistic technological solutions that stand the test of time. Seeing his clients struggle to retain consumers, Douglas decided to help his clients by offering affordable and top-class loyalty solutions. Doug loves transforming the lives of his employees by assisting them to develop a solid blend of TQ (Technology Quotient) & SQ (Spiritual Quotient) to excel in their professional & personal lives.

Subscribe to Our Loyalty Newsletters!

We'll keep you posted about our innovations, exclusive offers on our subscription plans, and latest updates, articles and blogs about the loyalty industry.

Suggested Blogs

Read our blogs and stay informed about the latest updates for the loyalty management industries and how consumers are reacting to the new developments.

Say Goodbye to Traditional Rewards and Level Up Your Loyalty Program

How to Keep Your Customers Loyal and Engaged with Gamification in B2B Loyalty Programs

A Reflection on the History of Loyalty Programs and the Next Wave of Loyalty