Blockchain GamificationGamification is a strategy that has been used often by businesses in recent years to obtain better results from their marketing, employee recruitment, goal-tracking, and brainstorming efforts. Among its other pertinent applications, companies also deploy gamification principles to attract the internet’s numerous distracted denizens. These internet surfers are bombarded by more competing stimuli than ever before, and so redirecting their focus towards areas that they wouldn’t otherwise engage with is a challenging task. However, by applying game-design principles to the real-world business problems they struggle with, companies can successfully grab (and keep) the attention of their audience with one simple concept: fun.

From education platforms that gamify students’ challenging work and assign them distinctive badges, to gamified content management systems that single out and reward high-performing employees, the strategy has changed how firms motivate their stakeholders everywhere on the value chain. In retail, blockchain’s participatory nature and its incentives for those who sustain its network can help create new, measurable ways for merchants to encourage purchasing, and for users to spend more time in a gamified ecosystem that rewards them for their contributions.

Why Gamification Works

The reason that gamified ads or platforms work better is the same reason why someone would rather play a quiz game against friends than answer multiple choice questions alone. Gamification naturally appeals to the competitive impulses harbored by most individuals and offers them two things: the ability to play a game and to distinguish oneself from others. This simple concept of recognition and reward is the impetus behind successfully gamified products like the Nike+ Fuel Band line, which makes exercise into a game where users can compare themselves against past results, track their progress towards goals, and publish progress online.

Obviously, the benefits of exercise are self-explanatory, but by adding game elements into the equation, Nike encourages more people to get out and run, lift weights, and practice healthy habits. The same principles can generally be applied to anything for which audience participation is key. Accordingly, businesses have found countless suitable uses for gamification, and the smartest of them recognize that blockchain technology and cryptocurrency are mediums in which gamification will thrive.

The blockchain’s decentralized infrastructure and immutable digital ledger give greater prominence to individuals, who must be relied upon to support the network itself and to transact on it. Cryptocurrency is used both to reward participants and to engage with a blockchain’s underlying service. For instance, a coin can be used to buy space on a decentralized cloud storage network and pay those participants who are essentially the hosting the service. The transactional nature of this technology is perfect for creating systems for trading value between merchants and customers, but the latter must be enticed to participate, which is where gamification enters the equation.

Gamifying the Discount Economy

By adding game elements into retail marketing funnels, companies are learning that they can achieve a marked increase in customer engagement, and accomplish a feat that has long been elusive—bringing in foot traffic from the internet. Existing solutions for such an endeavor are not robust enough to gain traction with businesses or consumers. Groupon, for example, gets businesses to pay them to acquire new customers, who themselves are lured with the promise of retail discounts. However, these customers have no incentive to return (outside of good service or product satisfaction) because the coupon works only once. For businesses, gaining patronage by utilizing this strategy is not very profitable over the long-term and fails to generate lasting relationships.

Gamification can address the problem of getting online customers to engage with offline retailers, and blockchain helps make this process more measurable and valuable for all stakeholders. With innovative platforms like HotNow, merchants can use engaging (yet valuable) participatory media like mini-games, quizzes, reviews, and social media bounties to naturally pique the crowd’s interest. Those who interact meaningfully with the brand are both spreading awareness and being paid for their services with HoToKeN—a cryptocurrency that can be used to redeem discounts at retailers’ brick and mortar locations. HotNow is uniquely positioned to bring gamification to the retail industry with cryptocurrency, as the company’s leadership share a deep background in game development. The system they’ve built shores up the weaknesses with the Groupon model by guaranteeing that participants provide publicity to a business while also creating new customers.

Another benefit of the blockchain for a gamified environment is transparency. For HotNow specifically, the company can track which users are the most active via their usage of HoToKeN, and allow them to borrow bulk amounts of the token to get bigger, better, subsidized deals on the merchandise they’d otherwise use cash for. Accordingly, the end game isn’t just to get more social media followers or likes, but to nurture real brand advocates and create mutually beneficial relationships with them.

Blockchain and Gamification Complete the Puzzle

Gamification is great for helping businesses distinguish themselves, but blockchain is the ingredient that will keep customers interested. Those using blockchain must also understand that it is reliant on its participants to function. A decentralized network with no users isn’t a network in any sense of the word, and so businesses will need to build alluring services or else risk a non-functioning user experience. When they get the recipe right, however, companies will enjoy self-sufficient marketing funnels that keep customers walking through the front door.

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