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Using Branded Games for Content Marketing

Gamified content helped car manufacturing giants Ford Motors to increase their revenue by $8million and generate 600% more likes on Facebook.

Verizon’s decision to gamify it’s website resulted in 30% more logins among its user base. The campaign was highly successful, with nearly 50% of Verizon’s 108 million subscribers participating in the games.

Content Marketing – What Is It?

Content Marketing, like its name, is a marketing approach that relies solely on content and its ability to engage and retain users. Instead of traditional ways of pitching your product to a user base, you use sensory material to attract and retain customers as a content marketer. These mediums can be images, videos, games, blogs, printed material, etc. In addition, shareable and interactive content takes this form of marketing even further, beyond conventional demographics.

Content Marketing Institute defines it more elaborately – “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

Content Marketing has been born out of the need to engage customers more effectively and at the higher cost of traditional marketing. Recent improvements in technology have created fierce competition in the realms of custom content-based marketing. While traditional content marketing generates about 300% more leads while being 62% cheaper, market leaders have already moved to the next step : gamification. Leveraging gaming principles in content marketing, organizations have reduced banner blindness, attracted and retained more users, and dramatically increased their brand value. Branded games have increased brand recognition for a lot of small, medium, and large organizations worldwide.

As a business leader, wondering how your content-based marketing can benefit from these branded games? Here are two examples for you to consider:

How Can Branded Games Increase Your Content Marketing Potential?

Branded games can spruce up your content marketing potential in many tangible ways, gathering about their interaction patterns much easier. User data collected can be used to customize your product further to suit your user base.

Some Examples of Content Marketing Gamification:

Many of the world’s most successful and unique marketing campaigns have included gaming principles to differentiate them from their competition. Some of them include:

  • American fast-casual restaurant chain Chipotle released a memory-based game, “A Love Story”, in 2016. Intended to be a follow-up after their animated short film of the same name, this game was immensely popular. Not only this, Chipotle also rewarded participants with an online-only buy-one-get-one-free entree offer that players could cash in at any Chipotle outlet in the U.S. or Canada.
  • In 2010, M&M’s Eye-Spy Pretzel game, released on Facebook, gathered 25,000+ likes, 6,000 shares and 10,000 comments. This low-cost, gamified content marketing campaign was created in tandem with the release of their pretzel-flavored candy.

The phenomenal, almost absurd success of Netflix’s Squid Game has taught us many lessons about content marketing. Effectively utilizing social media platforms like TikTok is not enough – creating custom, gamified content across the webspace is essential for your product to stand apart from others. The most successful marketing campaigns of recent years contained some form of gamified content – Starbucks’ Rewards Program is perhaps the best example. Even Google had to give in to the lure of gaming-centric content marketing in Chrome every time it showed you that a website was down. Creating your branded game creates a fun and engaging way for users to interact with your product and creates better word-of-mouth marketing for your brand. 

The question has shifted from if to when is gaming-based content marketing taking over the world – are you all in?Some of the most important ones are:

  • Increased User Engagement:

The biggest and most immediate effect of gamification in content marketing is better user engagement. Games have a universal appeal, and using their principles in your marketing material lessens the chances of banner blindness – a situation where users idly scroll through banner-style marketing content. In addition, gaming-based marketing is interactive, which makes users engage with the material and participate more.

  • Better User Retention:

Gamification in your content marketing campaign rewards users when they complete milestones, or at times even for participating. This instant gratification converts users into customers. Rewards are also seen as a thank-you gesture from your business to your customers, making them stick to your product for longer terms.

  • Improved Brand Awareness and Loyalty:

Branded games not only create awareness for your brand, the overall transcendence of games beyond certain age groups makes the reach much more comprehensive. In addition, well-rounded gamification campaigns deliver your messages to a larger audience – an essential first step towards building brand loyalty.

  • Better Customer Relationship:

Better user engagement and retention improve customer relationships when you use gamification in your content marketing. Your marketing campaign incorporates badges, leaderboards, reward points, and loyalty bonuses to create a sense of bonding between your customer and your product. The more they use certain features, the more milestones they cross and the more rewards they unlock. This cycle ensures long-term relationships are created and maintained.

  • Useful Data Gathering and Customization:

Gaming content is relevant, accessible, engaging, and shareable. Leveraging games in your marketing campaign can significantly increase user participation and make data gathering about their interaction patterns much easier. User data collected can be used to customize your product further to suit your user base.

Some Examples of Content Marketing Gamification:

Many of the world’s most successful and unique marketing campaigns have included gaming principles to differentiate them from their competition. Some of them include:

  • American fast-casual restaurant chain Chipotle released a memory-based game, “A Love Story”, in 2016. Intended to be a follow-up after their animated short film of the same name, this game was immensely popular. Not only this, Chipotle also rewarded participants with an online-only buy-one-get-one-free entree offer that players could cash in at any Chipotle outlet in the U.S. or Canada.
  • In 2010, M&M’s Eye-Spy Pretzel game, released on Facebook, gathered 25,000+ likes, 6,000 shares and 10,000 comments. This low-cost, gamified content marketing campaign was created in tandem with the release of their pretzel-flavored candy.

The phenomenal, almost absurd success of Netflix’s Squid Game has taught us many lessons about content marketing. Effectively utilizing social media platforms like TikTok is not enough – creating custom, gamified content across the webspace is essential for your product to stand apart from others. The most successful marketing campaigns of recent years contained some form of gamified content – Starbucks’ Rewards Program is perhaps the best example. Even Google had to give in to the lure of gaming-centric content marketing in Chrome every time it showed you that a website was down. Creating your branded game creates a fun and engaging way for users to interact with your product and creates better word-of-mouth marketing for your brand. 

The question has shifted from if to when is gaming-based content marketing taking over the world – are you all in?

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What Squid Game Can Tell You About Gaming and Life


According to Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos, “There’s a show on Netflix right now that is the number one in the world. Like, everywhere in the world. It’s called ‘Squid Game,’”.

Sarandos is not exaggerating. Squid Game is Netflix’s most-watched series to date. At this point, to call it a viral sensation is actually an understatement. Unsurprisingly, this series about a deadly game has resonated with viewers because of exaggerated and fantastic metaphors for particular life experiences. Additionally, the fact that it exploded in popularity despite very little marketing also gives us a little insight into how things really work in the real world. 

So what does this show about a game (that we hope no one ever has to play) tell us about gaming and life? 

Let’s find out. 

Lesson 1: If people like something enough, you won’t have to spend on marketing

When compared with other popular shows, Squid Game has virtually no real marketing support beyond Asia before appearing on Netflix. And yet, it has become an entertainment icon. Word of mouth was more than enough to make it a wild success.

When designing your product, be it an app, website or even a consumable product, keep this in mind. Focus on making the customer happy, and the marketing will take care of itself. A large part of Squid Game’s popularity was generated by the memes that cropped up after it appeared on the platform. People loved it so much they just had to spread the love. And said love spread all the way until it turned the show into a household name.

Turns out, an easy way to get people to like your app/website/campaign is to gamify it. Make it fun for them to engage with what you’re offering, and they will like it enough to spread the word and boost your product’s popularity.

Lesson 2: Think Outside the Box

In the Honeycomb game, players licked the honeycomb so that it became easier to cut with a needle. Sounds like a creative solution? That’s because it is.

In life and especially in gaming, innovation pays off. With users bombarded with content every time they look at their smart device, your product needs to find ways to stand out, distract, enchant and engage. Gamification of apps and websites can contribute to this significantly, given that game elements are designed to provide users with excitement, anticipation, escapism and good ol’ fun.

Lesson 3: Your weakness can help you winn

In the tug-of-war contest, each competitor was assigned a role based on their strength. The losing team had 10 strong men while the winning team hada, among others, three women and an elderly man. So how did they win?

They took advantage of their opponents’ underestimation of them. The 10 strong men did not expect that the other team would be a challenge, and this notion is what caused their defeat.

In life, do exactly the same. If someone underestimates you, use it to up your games and achieve a surprising victory. Winning is always easier and more satisfactory when no one expects you to win.

Lesson 4: You can finish last and still win

Think of the Glass Bridge game. It was only possible to win it after watching how everyone else played, and avoiding their mistakes. This is a valuable lesson for life.

When it comes to life and gaming, watch those who come before you. They might be racing ahead at the moment, but if they make mistakes and endure failures, you will have the advantage of knowing what went wrong, and avoiding those mistakes.

For example, during a gamification project, do the research. Study what your predecessors did, what your competitors are doing and where they may have previously failed. Don’t offer discounts if a certain target audience has been shown to not care about it (such as people in very high income groups), even though gamification manuals use discounts as a major reward.

By not repeating mistakes made by others, you will be saving yourself time, effort, money and other resources. Once you know what doesn’t work, you can focus on what works.

Lesson 5: Slow Down

In the show, whenever anyone is in a hurry to get through the ordeal, they lose or at least, end up regretting that decision. This is just as true of real life.

Don’t rush through anything, especially important decisions and tasks. You’ll end up making mistakes, overlooking significant requirements and providing shoddy results. Real life isn’t fun and games (and neither is the show) which means you’ll have to approach it with a calm, turbulent-free and analytical mind. If you don’t, things don’t usually turn out too well.

Squid Game’s popularity is not just the result of a great script and excellent cinematography. It reflects important issues plaguing human life today (debt, capitalism, economic divide). The struggles of the characters and especially the protagonist ring true for millions of viewers, mainly because Squid Game is quite a treasure house of lessons about the complicated games we must play to live. 

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What is Gamified Marketing?

The term refers to utilizing strategies and components from games within marketing campaigns and instruments. This process seeks to play on fundamental human impulses that seek challenge, accomplishment and rewards, in order to capitalize their attention, interest and hopefully, their purchasing power.

As early as 1896, S&H Green Stamps  sold stamps to retailers who used them to reward loyal customers.The method has stood the test of time, and is probably one of the most effective ways to communicate creatively with potential customers. Unsurprisingly, marketers across industries are ever eager to use gamification-driven techniques to supercharge their campaigns and get the most out of their investments. 


Benefits of Gamified Marketing

Why does Gamified Marketing work? It’s easy to answer this question once you look at the many advantages provided by this phenomenon.

·  Makes things fun: The entire point of a game is to be fun. No game, in all of human history, was played just because it was informative or educational. We come to games for fun.

Gamified Marketing zeroes in on exactly this intent. Human brains are wired to seek out pleasure, fun and rewards – fundamental components of every game. Gamified Marketing makes marketers think of people as purveyors of games, and thus designs campaigns to be as enjoyable as possible.

Above all else, fun is marketable. By making a campaign enjoyable, it has a much higher likelihood of actually cutting through the noise and being seen and heard.


·  Fosters engagement: Given that users actually have to participate with games, they require a level of engagement that cannot be matched by text or video. Furthermore, a game cannot just barge into a user’s feed and try to get their attention. Users actually have to actively play the game, which means that their engagement will be proactive and intentional.

When you gamify marketing campaigns, you interact with people who are focused and looking forward to the next stage in the game. Brands and businesses can display their messages throughout the game to already interested users. They don’t have to worry about people looking away, as they do during TV commercials or skipping intrusive ads before Youtube videos.

Gamification offers people a few moments of stimulating activity, an escape from an otherwise mundane day. By associating a brand with this good feeling, marketers can create positive product and brand awareness – the first step towards inciting an eventual purchase.


·  Wide, multi-generational appeal: The mobile gaming industry alone made 77.2 billion U.S. dollars in revenue for 2020. There’s been no sign of any slowdown in 2021.

Additionally, 35.4% of gamers in the US are in their late 20s and early 30s. The 18-24 age group counts for 24.9% and the 35-44 age group counts for 23%. About 80% of smartphone users play games on their phone. 50% of them play for about 1-2 hours each day.  That means people in key spending groups are deeply invested in games, which makes their attention highly desirable for marketing campaigns.

As mentioned before, when playing games, people are engaged in a way they are not when watching video or reading something. They have to constantly participate to progress, which means they are not zoning out. Consequently, brand messaging in games is more likely to be perceived positively and with more attention. This also stands true when you actually gamify the campaign itself.


·  More effective data collection: In the digital realm, data is gold. The more marketers know about their target audience, the more they can appeal to their preferences in order to sell a product.

However, collecting data that actually matters can be difficult if users are not actually interested or engaged with whatever digital avenue they are handling. Therefore, by generating interest through gamification, marketers can inspire users to engage. By building positive brand association through gamification (ideally through some kind of reward), users are more likely to give accurate and useful data, which helps with better understanding them.


·  Increased conversion rates: As users continue to interact with gamified elements of a brand, there is a much higher chance of clicking on or responding to a CTA. Traditional banner ads and other common marketing methods are known for being notoriously ignored. However, creative and interactive gamification strategies give users a real reason to take action. Needless to say, this will improve conversion rates.

Imagine that you are offering a 20% discount on a brand-new product if users take a quick 2-minute quiz about themselves. Users are far likelier to answer those questions, grab that discount and actually use it. So, not only will marketers get information about them, but will also end up making a sale.

To gamify campaigns is to empower them in unique ways. By using techniques that make games endlessly fun and addictively engaging, gamified marketing has the ability to supercharge it’s impact and gain results unimaginable by traditional marketing tactics. 

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