Using games to educate your customers

Shannon Forbes - Digifianz Marketing Analyst

Written by Shannon Forbes - Digifianz Marketing Analyst

 On 8/9/19 3:55 PM

 Cartoon of a woman using a touchscreen to learn about Plinq showing how you can use games to educate

When you hear “video games” and “education” in the same sentence you might think of teaching kids about biology through edu-games.  While games have been shown to be an extremely effective tool for getting students interested in various subjects, from math to languages, we’re talking about using games to educate your customers!

Even the most successful companies still need to prove that their products are necessary, rather than demanding that customers believe it to be so.  To prove their value, you need to educate your customers about your product or services and your brand.  Advergames, or advertising games, are the perfect vehicle to teach your customers about your company.

This post is part of our 100 days of games for growth project.  In this post, we’ll focus on using games to educate, but if you prefer traditional email, you can subscribe to a series of weekly emails here:

Learn about Advergames!

The unexpectedness of the approach is part of its appeal.  How often do you learn about a company’s values or mission through something as entertaining as a game?  We’re used to being talked at by companies, not engaged by them.  Advergames bring your customers into the thick of the action and involve them in completing your mission.  

This solidarity not only creates positive associations with your brand, it is also a highly effective means of teaching your customers about what you stand for and what you have to offer, all packaged in the appealing format of a game.  

Barclay Bank’s Barclaycard Waterslide Extreme advergame built on the educational work of their entertaining commercial of an office worker commuting home via waterslide.  Rather than just promoting their contactless payment technology as the best, they gave customers the chance to feel the freedom of touchless payment.  Using the experience of flying down a giant waterslide as a metaphor for the ease of payment, the game subconsciously affirmed the benefits of the card, all while providing a fun experience that hooked players. 

Barclay bank waterslide advergame man sliding down waterslide avoiding ducks using games to educate


Games pull people in

How many times have you crafted the perfect marketing campaign to engage your customers and educate them about your brand or products, only to have less than ideal engagement?  

It’s frustrating to put work (and funds) into a campaign, only to not have it resonate with your customers.  The issue might not be your message though, It could simply be the way it’s packaged. After all, 70% of people dislike mobile ads.  If you’re using ads to educate your customers, you may be creating more of a barrier than value-added engagement. 

It might be time to upgrade your CTA, or Call to Action.  If customers are sick and tired of the same ‘ol same ‘ol, advergames are your chance to wow them. 

The appeal of virtual waterslides created a highly successful CTA; to this day, Barclaycard Waterslide Extreme is likely the most downloaded branded game in history!  It has reached 55,000,000 downloads since its launch in 2009 and was the #1 app globally in the iTunes store for 2 weeks.


Figuring it out is rewarding

Part of the appeal of games is the rewarding sense of accomplishment when you “figure it out.”  What do we mean by that? Whenever you play a new game, part of the challenge (and fun) is figuring out the five W’s (who, what, when, where, why, and how).  Not only does each game offer unique characters, gameplay, and goals/challenges, each time you play a game you have a different experience. 

Just take a look at how games can be used to involve students in typically difficult or unpopular subjects: “In the best games, you are learning a subject like algebra in a way that you don’t really know you’re learning it. Students end up actually enjoying algebra because it’s like a puzzle. You’re untying a knot and there’s something pleasurable about it.”

The same logic applies to educating customers about your brand.

Plinq game cartoon factory slicing products for prizes using games to educate

Games are an appealing means of educating your customer precisely because they have to work to figure it out.  When you’re talking at your customers, you’re hitting them over the head with your message.  But people actually like to work, and figuring something out themselves is more rewarding than simply being presented with the information.

Games are the perfect medium to educate your customers in a way that truly involves and engages them.


Actual reward system

Give your customers the chance - and challenge - to win their own rewards.  Though it sounds counter-intuitive, people actually value a prize more if they have to work for it.  

When your customer wins a prize in your advergame, they feel that they deserve it because they “worked” for it

Plinq game modifiers for football helmets shoes personalize using games to educate

Don’t worry, you don’t have to burn through discounts or prizes in order to capitalize on this phenomenon - people also love virtual rewards.  Amazingly, virtual items are a $50 billion industry!  Players get a kick out of customizing their gaming experience. 

Using an advergame to educate your customers allows you to give out discounts and/or prizes in an extremely effective manner, thereby upping engagement and customer satisfaction, as well as increasing knowledge of your brand. 

Fun makes the world go 'round

The best way to teach is through play and fun.  When you’re having fun you don’t even realize that you’re learning.  You can utilize this principle to teach your customers about your products and brand in a delightful way!

Games keep people coming back for more, and all the while they’re learning about your values and mission. 

Take advantage of the playful element of games to educate and engage your customers like never before!


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