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How startups can leverage gamification to boost customer loyalty in e-mail marketing

Ayush Wadhwa, Founder, Owled Network, writes that by personalising content, implementing loyalty programs, running contests and challenges, offering rewards and personalised recommendations and surveys, startups can create engaging experiences to retain the attention of their audience

Ayush Wadhwa

In today's competitive business landscape, startups face numerous challenges when it comes to acquiring and retaining customers. One powerful tool that can help them stand out and build long-term customer loyalty is email marketing. However, with the increasing number of promotional emails bombarding people's inboxes, it has become crucial for startups to find innovative ways to capture and maintain their audience's attention. Long gone are those days when bulk mail to everyone on your list used to be the norm. Now with people living on the edge, no one has the time to go through marketing emails.

According to a survey by MailChimp, a mere 21% of all emails are opened which falls down to 17% for marketing and advertising emails, which shows how many emails go unread. With short attention spans and the time crunch, it becomes almost impossible to catch a user’s attention through emails unless you are ready to up your email game and add interactive features to it. Gamification involves incorporating fun interactive elements into email marketing campaigns to enhance and ultimately boost customer loyalty. With changing habits of consuming content by readers, it becomes imperative to look at innovative ways to reach your target audience.

Engage customers on a personal level

To grab the attention of customers, startups can personalise their email marketing campaigns and make them interactive. By leveraging customer data and preferences, startups can create tailored email content that resonates with their audience.

For example, a fitness app startup can send personalised workout challenges to subscribers, tracking their progress and rewarding them with points or badges for completing specific milestones. The interactive nature of such campaigns encourages customers to actively engage with the brand, fostering a sense of loyalty and satisfaction.

Gamify rewards to foster customer engagement

Startups can introduce loyalty programs with gamified elements to incentivise customer engagement and repeat purchases. By implementing game mechanics like progress bars, levels, or virtual currencies, startups can make their loyalty programs more exciting and engaging. The sense of progression and rewards encourages customers to remain connected and loyal to the brand. Using gamification in your emails increases the likelihood of users opening your next email by 15%.

For instance, Airbnb uses gamification techniques in its referral program, where users earn travel credits for referring friends to the platform. The more referrals a user makes, the higher the rewards they receive. This approach not only drives customer acquisition but also cultivates a strong sense of loyalty and encourages customers to continue using Airbnb for their travel needs.

Create excitement and build a community

Running contests or challenges through email marketing campaigns is an effective way for startups to engage customers and promote their brands. Contests create a sense of excitement and friendly competition among customers. Contests and challenges not only foster a sense of community among customers but also generate user-generated content that can be leveraged for further marketing efforts.

A classic example is Duolingo, a language learning app that uses gamification to engage users through its email campaigns. They organise challenges where users compete with their friends to earn points by completing language lessons. This gamified approach encourages users to stay motivated, track their progress, and ultimately build loyalty toward the Duolingo platform. Gamifying your email content can enhance the total user’s browsing time by 30%.

Drive loyalty through exclusivity

Startups can enhance customer loyalty by offering unlockable rewards and exclusive content through their email marketing campaigns. By segmenting their subscriber list based on customer preferences, startups can tailor personalised offers and provide early access to new products, exclusive discounts, or bonus content. This strategy not only makes customers feel valued but also creates a sense of anticipation and encourages them to remain engaged with the brand.

According to various reports it has been observed that using games in emails multiplies the ROI three times. Sephora, a popular cosmetics retailer, employs gamification in its email marketing campaigns by offering Beauty Insider rewards to customers. By accumulating points with each purchase, customers unlock different tiers of rewards, including birthday gifts, exclusive product launches, and access to beauty classes. This gamified approach not only boosts customer loyalty but also increases customer spending as they strive to reach higher reward tiers.

Tailor experiences for maximum engagement

By analysing customer preferences and purchase history, startups can send targeted recommendations for products or services that align with individual interests. Additionally, startups can gamify the survey process by turning it into a fun and interactive experience, where customers can earn points or rewards for completing surveys. This not only helps in understanding customer needs but also fosters a sense of involvement and loyalty.

Netflix employs personalised recommendations and surveys in email marketing to provide tailored content suggestions and gather valuable feedback for improvement. By analysing viewers' preferences, Netflix delivers custom content recommendations that align with their interests. Additionally, they utilise surveys to actively engage customers and collect insights for enhancing the user experience. This approach enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty by delivering relevant content and continuously improving their service based on customer feedback.

Incorporating gamification elements into email marketing campaigns can be a game-changer for startups looking to boost customer loyalty. By personalising content, implementing loyalty programs with gamified features, running contests and challenges, offering unlockable rewards, and providing personalised recommendations and surveys, startups can create engaging experiences that capture and retain the attention of their audience. By fostering a sense of participation, achievement, and exclusivity, startups can cultivate strong customer loyalty, leading to long-term success in the competitive business landscape. With the right combination of gamification techniques, startups can transform their email marketing campaigns into captivating experiences that build lasting relationships with their customers.


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