Mansfield Inc.

Anyone who plays video games can tell you how engaging they can be. By incentivizing players with goals and rewards and creating competition with between friends, they encourage players to succeed.

So, how can digital marketing companies or brands use these features to reach audiences and keep them engaged? It’s called gamification, and it taps into the desire for competition, collaboration and recognition through rewards, badges or points—turning campaign touch points into game-like interactions to stimulate engagement in a digital campaign or rewards programs. By incorporating competition, contests and achievements in an outreach campaign, advertisers can motivate their audiences to meet goals, compete to win and become more engaged in their brands.

Here are a few ways to incorporate fun and competition in a digital campaign:

Prizes and Rewards for Social Sharing

Share on social, win a prize. By offering your audiences rewards for sharing your promotions and services on their social networks, your brand is automatically invoking competition. Some basic examples of brands employing this technique includes Uber offering your first ride for free when you share their app with a friend.

Download the Uber app and get your first ride free

Download the Uber app and get your first ride free


In Convince and Convert, author Kristen Matthews outlines how Delta Airlines leveraged their flight attendants, known as ‘Red Coats’, into influencers by hiding their red flight attendant coats all over New York City. For six weeks, people used clues released through Delta’s social media posts to be the first person to find the red coat. Winners were given a free trip on a chartered and catered flight from New York to L.A. and shared their progress on their own social channels bringing more digital awareness for Delta’s promotion.

In the end, Delta had reached over 70 million people via Twitter and had over 180,000 direct interactions.


Delta got real people talking about their brand with their gamification program

Easter Eggs

Easter eggs include things like unexpected rewards, inside jokes, a hidden message, or a secret feature that are unexpectedly given out or discovered by users. The sentiment behind this is that people aren’t expecting anything and get rewarded anyway, bringing them a positive impression and making them search for ways to find more.

Google is well known for programming in-jokes, games and references into the search bar function. In Business Insider, Jeff Dunn’s article lists 21 Easter eggs availablethrough the Google search bar, all accessed by entering various phrases into it. Users can play games like Atari Breakout, Pacman tic-tac-toe all within the search page. By adding these tricks, Google gives users a reason to visit even when they’re not searching for something. Use this Wikipedia article for a full list of Google’s Easter eggs.

Play Pacman directly from your browser with Google

Incentives and rewards are a crucial piece in the engagement puzzle. With proper and thoughtful design, they can be effective in providing optimal motivations for driving engagement.

In other words, gamification incorporates fun and a degree of competition into a marketing strategy. It also works with all brand fans and people who want to participate—not just the ones with large numbers of followers.