How to Promote a Serious Game to Learners

If you’re about to launch a serious game in your organization, you’re probably pretty excited about it… and rightfully so. Games are often more engaging and effective than many other learning solutions, so learners should be in for a treat. You might even think that because your game is fun, or at least more fun than the webinars and instructor-led sessions learners are used to, that people will flock to it and start playing.

If you build it, they should come, right? Wrong… unless you promote it.

Yes, the L&D department has to also double as an internal marketing team when it comes time to roll out a new learning solution. Even if learners will benefit from playing a serious game, or even genuinely enjoy it once they start playing, it’s still a new task or set of behaviors you are trying to encourage.

We share the example of Knowledge Guru user ExactTarget frequently because of the bang-up job they did when they first launched their MobileConnect Guru game company-wide. ExactTarget (now a company) specializes in digital marketing, so they know what they are doing when it comes time to get the word out and get players involved.

ExactTarget did many things right when they launched MobileConnect Guru, which is a big reason why hundreds of players logged significant time in the game… and drove real business results for the company. Let’s take a look at some of the methods they used to promote the game to learners. Consider using some or all of these methods within your own organization to get a serious game off the ground.

Make a Scene

Do you have TV monitors around your office that display company news? What about a bulletin board? Whatever you have, use it! ExactTarget displayed advertisements like the one below all over their offices during the first round of gameplay to turn the game into a big event. They also furnished prizes to the top scores, investing a few hundred dollars in providing incentives people would actually want. Use whatever resources you have available to make your serious game a big deal.


Integrate it into the workflow

ExactTarget has its very own internal social network called 3sixty that’s used for training and communications. Instead of just sticking a hyperlink to the game somewhere deep within 3sixty, you can see how ExactTarget placed the game front and center, integrating it with the rest of the product training. ExactTarget even added a cute “Meet MobileConnectGuru” section and added the weekly leaderboard to the home screen. Nice!


Keep it Consistent

Like a well-planned curriculum, a marketing campaign has to have a long tail with plenty of reinforcement. Rather than posting a banner ad or sending out a single message promoting the game, ExactTarget created multiple banners and internal advertisements to promote MobileConnect Guru for the duration of the game play experience. You’ll see that the advertisement below, while similar to the first image we showed, is different. Think of ways you can get creative and do more than the bare minimum when rolling out your game.


Don’t Forget About Email

Most professionals still live and die by the inbox. That’s a good thing for ExactTarget (they do email marketing!), and also a good thing for you when you want to promote a serious game. Another tactic ExactTarget employed to get players to register for the game and start playing was email messages. The email below is a simple HTML message, reminding people about the game and the prizes available. It’s simple and to the point.



If you don’t have an email client available for use internally, consider setting one up with a free provider like MailChimp. MailChimp is free to use for up to 2,000 email addresses, so chances are you can use it to send some mass messages to your team. If you are using Knowledge Guru to create your serious game, the internal email tool lets you email players once they have created an account.

Reinforcement is key

No matter what serious game you are launching, or what resources you have available to market it internally, think through how you will remind players consistently that the game is available to play. Try to plan at last 3 or 4 different emails spaced out over time, and consider using other internal tools and communications platforms to get the word out. Get managers and supervisors involved early and remember to focus on the fun.