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Updated May 16, 2023

4 Marketing Lessons From the Video Game Industry You Should Know

Learn how the video game industry's practices can boost your marketing.

Jared Atchison, Community Member
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The U.S. video game industry had an estimated revenue of $97 billion in 2022, Statista reported, and the market is expected to continue growing. Small businesses can learn a lot from the gaming sector. Below, we cover four successful gaming industry tactics that small and midsize businesses can use.

Marketing lessons from the video game industry

To boost brand awareness, generate more sales and build customer loyalty, consider incorporating one or more of the following techniques into your company’s marketing mix.

Create a story.

Video games are immersive and highly interactive, and they engage users in a visual and auditory way. The audience is involved in the story from the start.

Just like the gaming industry, businesses can use storytelling to involve consumers in their brand story. This isn’t new to marketing; it’s a common practice to use stories to sell products that might otherwise disappear in a sea of competitors.

For example, Dove’s storytelling has taken its moisturizing soap above and beyond a generic cosmetic product. The well-received and evocative “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign helped portray Dove as a high-quality brand that questions the traditional beauty standards that have been applied to women.

Stories have the power to engage and educate people. When you’re thinking of a story, put yourself in customers’ shoes and imagine the role your product or service could play in their lives. [Read related article: A Guide to Creating a Customer Journey Map for Your Brand]

Build a story that engages people’s senses, embodies their values and builds an emotional connection. This doesn’t necessarily mean keeping your story serious; humorous, poignant or fun stories work well. Think of the Red Bull Stratos ad showing Felix Baumgartner’s 125,000-foot plunge to Earth, or Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad series.

Creating stories helps you come up with creative advertising concepts while conveying information. You can use these stories to breathe life into your brand from the customer’s point of view.

TipBottom line
Your About Us page is one of the most important parts of your website. It’s where people go to discover your brand story, which helps build trust and confidence in your company.

Update your content and marketing strategies.

Many great video games take years to develop and perfect. Even then, it’s normal and expected for glitches and other problems to arise. Developers work hard to listen to the feedback from the gaming community and to improve games with patches.

This is a great example for businesses to follow, for several reasons. First, it’s important to keep testing and finding mistakes. You should also listen to your audience’s feedback by using social media listening tools and by sending surveys and feedback forms.

Next, make sure your content is updated to reflect the changes in technology, trends and even laws. For example, when the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was implemented in 2018, businesses immediately had to make privacy policy changes and add pop-up forms to get explicit consent to gather information on websites.

Another example is when WordPress updated its core software by creating the Gutenberg block editor. This change affected millions of sites and businesses, and users needed to ensure that everything functioned as usual. Tutorial sites for WordPress also had to go back and change hundreds of pages or create new ones.

Your marketing strategies, especially for content marketing, should be ongoing. It’s important to track your old blog posts and pages and to make sure you update and repurpose existing content and images.

FYIDid you know
If your company does business with European Union countries or citizens, you must comply with the GDPR, which governs which data you’re allowed to keep, how you can use it and where you must store it.

Foster discussions and community.

While the games themselves form the core of the gaming industry, there’s another element that makes gaming incredibly engaging: the community.

Games can be compelling and complex enough that they naturally lead to discussions online. Gaming platforms also support discussions and the sharing of images, videos and text via forums. This sense of community is another reason gaming works as well as it does; it helps connect millions of people around the world.

Businesses can also benefit from creating communities around their brand. Large businesses such as Lego, Starbucks, Nike and many more already have enthusiastic brand communities that the companies actively engage.

Here are a couple of the advantages of building an online community:

  • A free customer service and technical team: People often ask specific questions in community forums that other members can answer. These questions and relevant answers often make it to the front page of search results, leading to more traffic to the brand’s website.
  • A space for people who identify with your brand: An online brand community can foster a sense of closeness to and identification with your brand. Your core audience is more likely to share your content, participate in events and bring more attention to your content on social media.

There are several ways you can start building your brand community. It helps to start early, since it can be a long process. Here are a few practical ways to build a thriving community:

  • Create social media groups and pages that your audience can join or follow.
  • Build a membership site exclusively for your audience, and provide these loyal fans with gated content and forums to have conversations. This will build a feeling of group association that creates value for your members.
  • Engage on other platforms, like Reddit and Discord, and any other area that makes sense for your business. Set up a group in such places so you can moderate the discussion early on.

Remember that regardless of whether you actively build a community, a discussion will happen about your business online. Instead, be proactive, get involved and guide your community’s growth by engaging with people.

Add gamification.

At the heart of video game marketing is a system of goals and rewards. This creates a feedback loop in which users return to gaming as a way to relieve stress and to experience the dopamine hit that comes from achieving a gaming goal.

This system is called gamification, and it’s a way to reward users for carrying out actions you want them to — for example, subscribing to your blog, sharing content on social media, or buying your product. Customer loyalty programs are a common example of gamification. Brands such as Sephora, Starbucks and many others give users points, badges and other rewards for buying from them.

You can offer something similar by creating points that are redeemable on future purchases. Another simple way to add gamification is by adding a pop-up form where users can “spin” an online wheel that lands on a prize. They can then access the prize, like a discount or free trial, by adding their email address. 

Gamification is a proven and effective way to achieve your marketing goals. Look for inspiration from video games to improve your audience’s engagement with your brand.

Did You Know?Did you know
Many companies now use gamification to improve staff productivity. For example, in our review of Five9 call center software, we explore how users can choose their own avatars to compete for prizes while seeing how other team members are doing.

Learn from the video game industry and grow your business

The gaming industry offers many lessons that businesses in any sector can apply to their marketing efforts. By engaging your customers through interactive storytelling, building an active community, creating customer loyalty programs, and ensuring your brand and content remain relevant, you’ll be taking steps to improve your marketing and ultimately grow your business.

Mark Fairlie contributed to this article.

Jared Atchison, Community Member
Co-Founder of WPForms, one of the largest WordPress contact form plugins in the market. I have been programming for over a decade and enjoy creating plugins that help people create powerful web designs without touching code.
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