Two Gamification Tactics to Try. One to Avoid.

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Games. I love them, sometimes too much. Almost everyone likes games of some sort, whether it’s chess, video games, football, or American football. Gamification is a “new” buzzword for taking normal business offerings and wrapping a game into or around them. Games have been proven to incite people to complete miraculous tasks and sometimes even impossible feats. Bringing that kind of power to your business and customers can make a world of difference to your customers and your bottom line. We go over 3 different ways you can implement game mechanics into your business to gain customer engagement, motivation, and loyalty.

Gamification Use: Unknown Factor

Aw, the wild and free unknown. The thing we humans fear and crave so much. When it comes to gamifying your business, we want to focus on the latter. Unless your run a haunted house or some other horror business. Adding unknown factors can make things exciting for customers. Instead of giving customers 2 doors to choose from and both being known, throw in the spicy 3rd unknown door. That extra door no matter how good or bad excites tons of emotion. People HAVE (and we mean HAVE) to know what it is. It’s like when your friend says “I have a secret to tell you”, then says “Nevermind, I can’t tell you”. There is no going back, once it’s out there we must know the secret.

Unknown Factor in use

A good example of this can be the add-to-cart to see the price. It gets customers one step closer to checkout and reveals a great deal all in one. Allowing customers to make a quick impulse buy. Another example would be a mystery sale or product release. Teasing out there that something new and hot will be coming out soon and giving some details but not them all can be a huge enticer to make people interact with them.

One bad way to use this is to hustle them into making bad choices. The below video from Family guy shows you an extreme version of this gamification tactic at work. Avoid this extreme and with everything in business finding a win-win for both customer and business is better than a win-lose situation.

Definitely do not do this to customers…

Gamification Use: Randomization

Another good gamification tool is randomization. This factor is a little harder to implement than the previous 2 and is sort of a combination of the 2. With randomization, you want to give rewards at randomly planned intervals. Random & planned are not meant to be next to each other in a sentence but stay with me (we’re almost done). If you give your customers points for going shopping, let’s say 1 per $1. Then you randomly give them an additional 10-point bonus every so often, say every $20 on average. On average is the big key, it doesn’t mean every $20 they spend but on average.

Randomization in Use

One example I used in my business was offering a sale where instead of giving customers 25% off they would roll 7 six-sided dice and get that percentage off. A six-sided die averages out at 3.5 per roll so if you are rolling 7 at a time the average is 24.5%. This gives the customer the same discount overall but they could get 42% off! The excitement of possibly getting 42% off is exciting. Almost all took the dice roll for the chance to possibly save 42%. You can also implement this with a spinning wheel or some other randomization tool. Just make sure you adjust your odds and payoffs accordingly. If you have questions on how to implement this or want someone to check your math, feel free to reach out! I love probability.

This is a simple version and you can add in unknown factors to make this even stronger. You can take the same example with dice and when the customer rolls the dice if they get a certain combination they can win a mystery prize instead. This could for example all ones. The odds of this are 1 in 1000. This could be a great prize with those odds but VERY exciting for a customer to take part in.

Gamification to Avoid: Frequent Buyer Programs

This is the simplest form of gamification and is heavily used. Rewards can be, free coffee or discounts. This gamification tactic does work to keep some people coming back but generally, you are not gaining loyalty from customers but instead having repeat customers. They are the bargain shopper that is coming just for that cheap or discounted item. This strategy by itself is too shallow and cannot be used in a strategic way to better your business without giving up margin. This is why I suggest that you avoid this gamification tactic, in general. Instead, maybe try some other tactics that can entice people to come back.

One good example is the use of a loss leader. A perfect example of a loss leader is chicken at Costco. A whole chicken may cost more or close to the $4.99 Costco sells them for, but it gets people in the door and to the back of the store. This tactic could be transferred to a frequent buyer model to get people in the door and have them purchase other items.


In closing, these tactics can help with making current offerings a little more enticing and fun. By taking the extra effort in your marketing to add gamification customers can become more engaged and motivated. When your customers become players in a game they are much more likely to complete the reward systems you put in place and enjoy doing it, even if that means spending more money. The bonus to all these gamification models is that it is also exciting and fun for the business owner. Watching your customers get excited over rolling dice and deciding for or against the mystery box is lots of fun. If you’re having fun with your customers you are both winning in the long run. That is the true goal. A great and engaging experience for customers!

How have you implemented gamification in your business?

Gamification Recap:

  • Offer unknown to entice impulse buys and excite customers.
  • Use randomization to have fun and play the odds of sales and promotions.
  • Avoid frequent buyer models that only reward repeat customers.
  • Make sure your gamification tactics fit into your strategic goals and mission.
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