Fun and games: The first step to more sales from email marketing

In a post-GDPR world, Dave Corlett, New Business Director at Ready, explores how effective email marketing can be by introducing a gameplay element.

According to a recent Econsultancy report, email remains the most effective marketing channel available to marketers.

Despite our collective grumbles about overflowing inboxes and endless spam, it seems the right offers at the right times still tempt us in.

However, the introduction of GDPR has made it more difficult for consumer brands to attract new email sign-ups. Not only do customers have to opt-in to receive email communications, but many have become more cautious about where their data goes.

But don’t switch to carrier pigeons and smoke signals just yet. There is a way for marketers to repopulate their databases at scale, with customers who are genuinely interested in their brand and their products.

Online games and gamified competitions are an extremely effective method of acquiring quality data for email marketing. 

How so? Well, the simple reason is that people are more willing to provide their data in exchange for an incentive, such as the chance to win something appealing.

But turning the experience into a game offers many more benefits besides…

  1. Reward your audience

When we achieve something, our brains release a little hit of dopamine as a reward. It’s essentially the same process that reinforces healthy behaviour by “rewarding” us for essential tasks, such as drinking when we’re thirsty.

Psychologists have found that the reason we love to play games is down to this sense of achievement and reward. It’s one of the underlying reasons that gaming has become the multi-billion-dollar industry that it is today.

This means that branded games can reward customers two-fold. There’s the psychological reward of playing and succeeding. And, if they get lucky, the value-driven reward of winning something.

It also means that even if you don’t convince them to submit their data this time, they’ve still had a bit of fun interacting with your brand.

  1. Stand out amongst the sub-standard

Let’s face it. There’s a lot of mediocre content out there. And that’s being polite.

However, when done right, games and gamified experiences are content that doesn’t feel like content. People interact with them because they look fun, they’re a little bit challenging, and they offer something as a reward.

We’re naturally enticed in by the prospect of winning something, as the previous section alluded to. Even more so when it involves a challenge to try and master! As a result, people actively choose to engage with this kind of content, rather than scrolling past it.

It’s content that is often shared between friends too. Especially if they’re a competitive bunch!

  1. Get your message across

Introducing a gameplay element to campaigns allows brands to communicate key product and brand messages in a fun way.

Got a fresh variant with new ingredients? Make them the heroes of the game. Does your product help customers address a particular need? Replicate this scenario as a game, where winners achieve whatever benefit your product provides.

We launched a Facebook-based game last year for skincare specialists Bioré. Their products remove blackheads, so we built a version of the classic whack-a-mole game where users had to “whack” the blackheads that popped up on a virtual face. Simple, yet really effective at giving the audience a live, interactive demo of their USP.

Additionally, the data you capture has been voluntarily provided by someone who has consumed this messaging. You’ve educated them, and they’re interested in finding out more.

  1. Reach the mobile-first generations

Long gone are the days when you’d have to be at home, plugged into a machine to play your favourite games.

Our phones are more powerful and connected than ever before. They’re essentially games consoles in our pockets. And that’s what many of us are using them as, too. 80% of global mobile app downloads are games.

It’s not just pubescent kids playing Angry Birds either. The average age of a mobile gamer is 37, and they are more likely to be female than male. Observers put this down to the popularity of games like Candy Crush and Words With Friends, which appeal to any age and gender.

The start of something beautiful…

Of course, as the title of this post suggests, acquiring a bunch of new sign-ups is just the first step to growing sales via email. The quality and frequency of the communications that follow – now that’s where the real battle will be won.

However, marketers can spend all the time in the world creating the perfect email strategy, supplemented by stunning emails that Michaelangelo would be proud of (if he’d devoted his artistic talents to MailChimp rather than the Sistine Chapel). If the audience isn’t being increased, sales won’t be either.

There is an insatiable appetite out there for game-based content built for mobile devices. More brands really should be tapping into it to boost their mailing lists with quality customer data.

Bath-based agency Ready creates bold promotional and tactical campaigns for clients including Soap & Glory, Quidco, Kiddylicious, and Burt’s Bees.