How to Use Gamification in Your Local Marketing Program

Michelle Moreno | February 15, 2024

The other day, my daughter was trying to use her Animal Crossing account on the computer. When I told her she may have to use her brother’s login, I heard an earful.

Apparently, she had earned enough points to create things, buy a house, and build the necessary museum and she’d have to do that ALL OVER AGAIN if she had to start from scratch.

Which got me thinking about incentive programs and marketing gamification.

Gamification in marketing is the use of game-like achievement levels and rewards to increase the use of a non-game product, service, or program. It plays to our competitive nature and drive for the dopamine rush that we get when we win.

According to Zippia Research, “Companies that use gamification are seven times more profitable than those that don’t.” Zippia also found that gamification increases productivity and employee engagement. But when the program doesn’t have the right rewards or ease of use, it can feel childish, unattainable, or can actually result in zero or negative profit.

So how you set up your program is extremely important.

When it comes to local marketing, there are many ways you can use gamification to drive results.

Take co-op spending, for example. Our State of Local Marketing Co-Op Funds Report indicates that 64% of affiliates don’t take full advantage of their co-op funds, and 9% of partners don’t use ANY of their funds. This is often due to marketing programs that are confusing or too difficult to use.

So, why not gamify it?

Ways to gamify your local marketing program

Giveaway quest

You’ve seen these many times in the form of, “Follow my page and tag a friend below for an entry to win.” These types of giveaways must have a reward that is appropriate to the thought and time required by the quest.

For example, if you’re giving away 5 prizes with a $500 value each, you could consider something a little more challenging like, “Read our December newsletter and follow the instructions to sign up for our texts. Follow the link sent to you via text to complete your entry to win.”

For an added boost, send a text or email to each person entered with a coupon for their next purchase. Everyone wins and is motivated to buy!

Easter eggs

Encourage local affiliates and customers alike to read by occasionally adding hidden hyperlinks in them. These are hyperlinks without special hyperlink format like “Click_here to enter for a free XYZ with purchase.” Note that the hyperlink is still present on the “Click here” text there but you’d have to actually be reading the message to find it. It doesn’t stand out to someone who’s just skimming the text.


Tap into affiliates’ competitive drive by displaying all available badges but only colorize those that are complete.

Each time they log into the site and see that they still have 4 more badges to earn before they are a program expert, they feel the push to complete the next tasks. There’s little to no cost to use badges as motivators but marketing managers can use the badges to create their own monthly or quarterly incentive programs.


Make sure the badges and prizes won by participants are visible to others for bragging rights. This will drive word-of-mouth amongst local affiliates and create FOMO (fear of missing out) in those who don’t have prizes on the leaderboard yet.

Also, check out these examples of successful marketing gamification that may resonate the next time you stop at Starbucks or go for a morning run. Zippia’s research on gamification found that poor planning was a primary reason for program failure.

Ways to optimize your program for success


Make the gaming elements easy to locate. If you’ve offered a contest in your newsletter, promote that newsletter via email, text, social media, and in-person interaction. If you’re issuing badges to local affiliates as they complete tasks on their marketing dashboard, show the completed and incomplete badges as soon as the affiliate signs on.


The greater and more relevant the reward, the better. If you can only give away one large prize, consider a coupon for everyone else. Take caution, however — this is the element that could cause you to see negative or zero-sum results. Think “extreme couponing” — carefully ensure that your offer can’t be manipulated into more than just face value. But also make sure it’s enough to motivate your targets.

One highly successful reward is customized swag. Local affiliates love specialty swag that can’t be bought, especially if it signifies their distinguished achievements.

Type of game

The possibilities are endless, but the type of game must be relevant to the audience.

Offering a badge program without telling the customer or affiliate how they earned the badge or how they can earn other badges isn’t going to motivate future participation. But sending a push message congratulating the participant on their new badge and explaining the rewards and benefits of achieving the next badge is a great way to keep that person excited about the program and craving that next dopamine rush.

Sharing additional co-op funds for the completion of marketing site tasks is only going to be effective if the affiliate knows how to use these dollars.

The case for gamifying your local marketing

I’ll leave you with one final thought: About half of American workers are also gamers, according to Zippia research.

And if my kids and their friends are any indication, that’s likely to increase as newer generations enter the workplace. If companies want to effectively engage these consumers, employees, and affiliates, it’s time to expand gamification across the board. Are you in?

Get local marketing support from the experts

Crafting the perfect local marketing program that motivates affiliates to market can be a challenge. Partner with BrandMuscle to optimize your program and empower your local partners to promote your brand like never before.

Get in touch with one of our experts to learn more.

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