4 Marketing Lessons From the Video Game Industry You Should Know

By Jared Atchison,
business.com writer
|
Jun 19, 2020
Image Credit: scyther5 / Getty Images

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

The video game industry shines as an example of a thriving business with a strong community. As of 2019, it has crossed $10 billion dollars in revenue, and it's projected to continue growing. 

There are several key factors that contribute to its massive success. And business leaders can learn from the industry and apply its winning principles to their own business. 

I am going to explore some of the top marketing lessons by understanding the way the gaming industry works. 

Today, 31% of all online purchases are for video games. They form a significant portion of today's online purchases, and it's evident that there is a lot that the gaming industry is getting right. 

Are you ready to check out the top lessons we can get from the gaming arena? Let's get started!

Create a story

Video games are a different type of storytelling. They are immersive, highly interactive, and engage users in a visual and auditory way. 

Just like the gaming industry, businesses can also use storytelling to engage users. This isn't new to marketing; it's a frequent practice to use stories to sell products that might otherwise disappear in the ranks of their competitors. 

For example, Dove has taken its moisturizing soap product above and beyond a generic cosmetic product. Today, we associate it with high quality as well as a brand that questions the traditional beauty standards that have been applied to women. 

Stories have the power to engage people and teach them too. When thinking of a story, put yourself in customers' shoes and imagine the role that your product or service can play in their lives. 

Build a story that engages their senses and touches on their values. This doesn't mean that you have to keep your story serious. Humorous, poignant or simply fun and charming stories work well. Think of Red Bull's "Red Bull gives you wings" campaign or Old Spice's brilliant ad series "The man your man could smell like."

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

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 the game with patches. 

This is a great example for businesses to follow in several ways. 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 sending out survey and feedback forms.

Next, make sure that your content is updated to reflect the changes in technology, trends and even laws. 

For example, when the GDPR act was implemented, businesses immediately had to make privacy policy changes and add popup forms to get explicit consent to gather information on websites. 

Another example is when WordPress created a new update to its core software by creating the Gutenberg block editor. This affected millions of sites and businesses 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 content marketing, is not a one-and-done activity. It’s important to track your old blog posts and pages and make sure that old content and images are updated. 

Foster discussions and community

While the games themselves form the core of the gaming industry, there's another element that makes gaming incredibly engaging: 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 by adding forums into the platform itself. 

This sense of community is another reason why gaming works as well as it does. It helps connect millions of people around the world around a shared interest. 

Businesses can also benefit from making communities around their brand. Large businesses like Lego, Starbucks, Nike and many more already have enthusiastic brand communities that they actively engage. 

What are the advantages of making an online community? Let's see:

  •  People often ask specific questions in community forums that other members can answer. These specific questions and relevant answers often make it to the front page of a search result, which means more traffic to the brand's website

  • An online brand community can foster a sense of belongingness 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 them 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, Discord and any other area that makes sense for your business. Set up a group in such places so that you can moderate the discussion early on.

Remember that whether or not you actively build a community, a discussion will happen online. You can be proactive, get involved and guide how a community grows by engaging with people more. 

Add gamification

At the heart of video marketing is a system of creating goals and offering rewards to users. This creates a feedback loop where 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 in use in marketing, too. It's called gamification, and it's a way to offer users rewards for carrying out actions you want. These actions can be subscribing to your blog, sharing content on social media, buying your product and more. 

A common example of gamification in action can be seen in loyalty programs. Brands like 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 using a spinning wheel as a popup 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. 

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. 

Learn from the video game industry and grow your business

The gaming industry is a monolith that is unique due to its use of storytelling together with technology. However, when it comes down to the bare bones of it, it deals with a product and has to look after its customers like any other business.

There's a considerable overlap in experiences that you can benefit from. Use the solid lessons from the gaming industry mentioned here to help you give your business a push towards growth. 

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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