CRM Automation & Gamification Platform

Updated on July 19, 2023

Gamification in Customer Loyalty Programs: Building Stronger Relationships

Gamification in Customer Loyalty Programs: Building Stronger Relationships

Over the years, loyalty programs have gained significant popularity among business owners. It is widely known that retaining existing customers is much more cost-effective than acquiring new ones, and a substantial portion of a brand’s revenue is derived from its most loyal customer base, comprising approximately 8% of customers.

Given the importance of customer retention, it comes as no surprise that there is intense competition to keep customers engaged in loyalty programs. Customers now expect a personalized, relevant, and emotionally connected experience from these programs.

So, how can businesses introduce fresh ideas to enhance customer engagement? One potential solution is gamification. Nowadays, an increasing number of business owners are incorporating gamification into their loyalty programs as a unique and appealing element.

But what exactly is gamification, and how does it relate to loyalty programs? Can it truly be effective in boosting customer engagement?

Gamification is a term derived from the word ‘game’. It refers to the process of applying game elements and principles into non-gaming contexts, to encourage engagement and participation. In the context of loyalty programs, gamification is used to enhance user interaction and customer retention. 

A popular example of a tool used for this purpose is the free-play games tool that serves to keep customers engaged and passionately committed to a brand. While there are many aspects to consider in loyalty service marketing, applying gamification effectively is crucial for a business to build lasting bonds with its customers. Furthermore, studies show that coupling gamification with loyalty programs can indeed lead to a noticeable boost in customer engagement and brand loyalty.

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What is Gamification Good for? 

What is Gamification Good for?

The primary objective of implementing gamification in a marketing context is to stimulate active engagement among individuals with a specific activity, product, or service by leveraging their intrinsic motivation for competition, achievement, and recognition.

By infusing tasks or activities with elements of fun, challenge, and rewards, gamification has the potential to amplify motivation, enhance engagement levels, and foster customer loyalty.

In loyalty programs, one prevalent form of gamification involves the utilization of point systems to incentivize customers to complete certain actions. These actions may include making purchases, sharing content on social media platforms, or referring friends to the program. Accumulated points can subsequently be exchanged for a variety of rewards, such as discounts or exclusive experiences. 

Why Customer Engagement is Crucial

Why Customer Engagement is Crucial

Customer engagement refers to the process of building strong relationships with customers to foster loyalty and increase brand awareness. It plays a pivotal role in the success of a company, influencing various aspects such as:

  • Increased Profitability: Research shows that customers who are genuinely engaged with a company contribute 23% more profits compared to those who feel less connected. By actively engaging customers, businesses can drive financial growth and long-term success.
  • Enhanced Customer Retention: Engaging customers beyond transactional interactions strengthens their emotional connection to the brand. This leads to improved customer retention rates, as customers feel a stronger bond with the company. Retaining existing customers is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones.
  • Heightened Brand Recall: Successful customer engagement ensures that your brand remains top-of-mind for customers when making purchasing decisions. By consistently engaging customers, businesses increase brand recall, making customers more receptive to marketing efforts and more likely to choose your brand over competitors.
  • Active Customer Participation: Customers who are not actively engaged tend to have passive interactions with a company. They may only visit your website or engage with sales emails when prompted by specific incentives. On the other hand, engaged customers prioritize your brand without requiring explicit incentives, fostering sustained and proactive engagement.
  • Long-Term Customer Loyalty: While quick sales and promotional offers can attract new customers, engaged customers develop a genuine belief in your brand’s mission, products, and promises. They are more likely to remain loyal and continue spending money on your brand for years to come, contributing to long-term revenue growth.

Tried-and-Tested Strategies for Customer Loyalty Gamification 

Tried-and-Tested Strategies for Customer Loyalty Gamification

Implementing effective gamification strategies can greatly enhance loyalty programs. Here are some of the best strategies for using gamification in loyalty programs:

1. Define Clear Goals and Objectives

Establish specific goals and objectives for your loyalty program. Determine what behaviors or actions you want to incentivize and align them with your overall business objectives. Clear goals provide direction and focus for your gamification efforts.

2. Incorporate Rewards and Incentives

Design engaging rewards and incentives to motivate customers to participate actively in the loyalty program. Offer tiered reward systems, exclusive discounts, personalized offers, or redeemable points. Ensure that the rewards are desirable, attainable, and aligned with your customer’s preferences.

3. Progress Tracking and Milestones

Create a visual representation of customer progress within the loyalty program. Implement progress bars, badges, or levels to show customers their advancement. Celebrate milestones and achievements to provide a sense of accomplishment and encourage continued engagement.

4. Introduce Challenges and Competitions

Foster friendly competition among customers by introducing challenges, contests, or leaderboards. Encourage customers to compete with each other, achieve specific targets, or complete certain activities. Recognize and reward top performers to drive engagement and create a sense of excitement.

5. Personalization and Customization

Tailor the loyalty program experience to each customer’s preferences and behaviors. Offer personalized recommendations, targeted offers, or exclusive content based on their past interactions. Customization makes customers feel valued and increases their engagement with the program.

6. Social Interaction and Community Building

Integrate social elements into the loyalty program to encourage customer interaction and foster a sense of community. Allow customers to share achievements, participate in discussions, or refer friends. This not only increases engagement but also helps to amplify the program’s reach.

7. Gamify Onboarding and Education

Gamify the onboarding process and educate customers about the benefits and features of the loyalty program. Use interactive tutorials, quizzes, or challenges to familiarize customers with the program’s mechanics. This enhances their understanding and encourages active participation from the start. 

8. Real-Time Feedback and Notifications

Provide real-time feedback and notifications to customers about their progress, rewards, or upcoming opportunities. Send personalized messages, push notifications, or emails to keep customers engaged and informed. Timely communication builds anticipation and encourages continued participation.

9. Mobile-Friendly Experience

Ensure that the loyalty program is optimized for mobile devices. Most customers engage with loyalty programs through mobile apps or mobile websites. Create a seamless and user-friendly mobile experience to make it convenient for customers to participate and access program features.

10. Continuous Optimization and Data Analysis

Regularly analyze customer data and program metrics to identify areas for improvement. Use data-driven insights to optimize the program, refine gamification elements, and tailor the experience based on customer behaviors and preferences. Continuously monitor and iterate to enhance program effectiveness. 

Measuring the Impact of Gamification on Customer Engagement Strategies

Measuring the Impact of Gamification on Customer Engagement Strategies

To evaluate the effectiveness of gamification in your customer engagement strategies, consider the following metrics:

  • App Engagement: Assess the time customers spend on your loyalty app. Longer durations indicate that customers enjoy the gamified challenges, which can provide valuable customer data and demonstrate their interest in your brand.
  • Registration Numbers: Monitor the number of sign-ups to gauge the success of your program. Engaging games can incentivize customers to refer the program to others, potentially attracting more registrants and expanding your customer base.
  • Social Media Interactions: Examine the number of likes and shares on social media posts related to your gamification program. Higher engagement metrics indicate customer interest and satisfaction. Customers sharing program-related content on their own social media accounts also demonstrates their enthusiasm and can attract a wider audience.
  • User-generated Content: Look for user-generated posts or reviews on social media platforms that highlight your gamified program. Customers sharing their positive experiences indicate their enjoyment and endorsement of your program. User-generated content serves as social proof, influencing others to participate.
  • Conversion Rates: Analyze the impact of gamification on conversion rates, such as the number of customers who complete desired actions, make purchases, or reach specific program milestones. Increased conversions suggest that the gamification elements effectively drive customer behavior.
  • Retention and Repeat Participation: Measure customer retention and repeat participation rates within the loyalty program. Gamification should encourage ongoing engagement and loyalty. Assess whether customers continue to participate, complete challenges, and earn rewards over time.
  • Feedback and Surveys: Collect feedback and conduct surveys to gather direct insights from customers. Inquire about their experience with the gamification features, their level of enjoyment, and their perceived value. This information can help refine and improve the program based on customer preferences.

Real-World Examples of Gamification in Loyalty Programs

Real-World Examples of Gamification in Loyalty Programs

Starbucks Rewards

Starbucks utilizes gamification elements in its loyalty program to engage customers. By earning stars for purchases, customers progress through different levels, such as Green, Gold, and even exclusive tiers like “Starbucks Reserve.” These levels unlock various rewards, personalized offers, and challenges, encouraging customers to visit frequently and earn more stars.


Nike’s loyalty program, NikePlus, incorporates gamification to motivate members to achieve fitness goals. Customers can track their activities using the Nike Run Club or Nike Training Club apps and earn virtual badges, achievements, and milestones. They can also participate in challenges with other members, fostering competition and a sense of community.

Sephora Beauty Insider 

Sephora’s Beauty Insider program incorporates gamification through a tiered system based on points earned from purchases. Members can redeem points for exclusive rewards, access limited-time experiences, and participate in interactive quizzes or challenges on the Beauty Insider Community platform. The program’s gamified elements encourage exploration, engagement, and brand loyalty. 


Duolingo, a language-learning platform, gamifies the learning experience through points, levels, and streaks. Users earn points for completing lessons, unlocking new levels, and maintaining streaks by consistently practicing. Gamification elements like leaderboards and achievements drive engagement, encourage daily learning habits, and provide a sense of progress and accomplishment. 

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott’s loyalty program, Bonvoy, incorporates gamification to enhance the travel experience. Members can earn points for stays, dining, or other qualifying activities. By accumulating points, members progress through different elite status levels, such as Silver, Gold, Platinum, and beyond, unlocking exclusive benefits and perks like room upgrades and access to lounges.

My Coke Rewards

Coca-Cola’s My Coke Rewards program gamifies the process of redeeming codes found on their products. Customers enter codes to earn points, which can be exchanged for various rewards like discounts, merchandise, or sweepstakes entries. Customers are motivated to collect and redeem codes, creating an interactive and engaging experience. – Your One-Stop Gamification/CRM Automation Solution

When it comes to Gamification, is a trusted and globally recognized leader in the field. And while it has a tight focus on the iGaming, Casino, and Sports Betting industries, can be integrated with and help any business reach new levels of success. is a leader in providing state-of-the-art Gamification and CRM automation software solutions. Its CRM tool combines player analytics data with machine-learning algorithms to help businesses of various industries gain a deeper understanding of people and their needs while also providing valuable data insights to ensure retention, loyalty, and much more. – Your One-Stop Gamification/CRM Automation Solution

As a leading Gamification & CRM Automation solution, Smartico offers the following:

  • Various intuitive challenges and gaming techniques.

  • High-value incentives that encourage long-term loyalty and retention, elevate player value, strengthen engagement, and boost user acquisition.

  • Multi-Currency/Language/Deep Brand Support.

  • Missions – Engage players with fun real-time solo or multiplayer tasks.

  • Points – Encourage players to keep coming back through point-based incentives and unlockables.

  • Badges – Stand out from the rest with sleek badges and earn free spins for each earned badge.

  • Levels – Players gain experience and special perks after each successful level or tournament completion.

  • Incentives – Motivate players to come back for more with unique rewards and bonuses.

  • Marketplace – Players can actualize their points by cashing them in for free game spins or other awards, such as online shopping vouchers.

  • Minigames – Players can reset their senses through short, award-earning games.

  • Tournaments – Set your own qualification rules and offer your customers a powerful endorphin rush with Smartico’s special tournament system.

  • Leaderboards – Set daily, weekly, and monthly prizes and watch your user engagement skyrocket.

  • Bonus Engine Integration – Cash bonuses, free spin bonuses, and more.

And that’s just a small sample of what’s on offer.

No matter what kind of Gamification solutions you may be interested in, can help you meet your short and long-term goals by supplying the solutions needed to bring customer engagement and employee/learner motivation to a whole new level. 

To start building a more successful business through Gamification, join the winners club and book your free demo today at: 

The team wishes you the best of luck on your business journey forward.


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