2010 was a huge year for social gaming, but it looks as if 2011 is shaping up to be even bigger. In fact, online marketing research firm eMarketer predicts that the industry will surpass $1 billion in revenue this year. According to a recent survey profiling American internet users from ages 18 to 44, roughly half engage in social gaming on a daily basis. Apparently this is a trend that spans across multiple platforms, as the research also shows that the group of daily players includes over 50% of smartphone users and two-thirds of tablet owners.

The growing popularity of social games means opportunities for brands, so let’s take a look at how email marketing providers can get in on the action.

Name That Game

Brands are learning that games are effective tools for engaging an audience and encouraging them to interact. The bigger the phenomenon grows, the more we will see it coupled with marketing. We have even heard that games will play a role in the 2012 Presidential Election as Tim Pawlenty, a Republican candidate and former Minnesota governor, is gearing up a campaign with a strong social gaming component reminiscent of elements from Farmville and Foursquare. The possibilities are endless, but email marketing providers must first determine what type of games will best suit their brand image, mission and audience. While you obviously want something that engages, what you don’t want is something that conflicts with your brand identity.

Establish Your Economy

It would be nice is you were able to incorporate games that keep your users busy with activities outside of email marketing. However, it would be even better if your strategy leads to experiences that enable you to monetize your efforts. What will drive the economy of your gaming platform? Maybe it’s discounts for some of your add-on products or services. It could be points toward your loyalty program. With a good strategy you could even create your own currency similar to what Facebook has going on with its Facebook credits. Study the social gaming market to figure which payments players prefer and what might work best.

Get Discovered

Apps in the digital age have a viral quality by nature, and games are among the most appealing of them all. From classics like Pac-Man to next generation online hits like GoodGame Heroes, numerous titles have captured the imagination of the masses and built loyal followings. Your titles could potentially make a similar impact by ensuring that they are easily discoverable. Take the initiative to learn what types of games other brands in the industry are leveraging to engage their audiences, and which methods they are using to aid in the discovery process. Partnering up with a third-party channel could possibly generate more hype than the company website or blog alone.

As email marketing service providers, we are constantly looking for ways to create the best experiences for our users. With the web continuing down its path of social evolution, now may be the perfect time to figure out how games can fit into the picture.