ICO Marketing – An Actionable Guide for 2023
Since the end of 2020, the interest in cryptocurrency has risen significantly, and we now see a new wave of cryptocurrencies looking to approach the market. Therefore a strong ICO marketing plan can help you get the word out about your project and draw in clients by the thousands.
But marketing an ICO (or any other crypto project, for that matter) is a bit different than regular projects.
Let’s see the essential aspects of the ICO marketing strategy and how we can use them to jumpstart your project and bring in more results.
How is ICO Marketing different?
First and foremost, when it comes to marketing, every industry behaves differently. Different categories of products from the same industry come with different outcomes.
This happens because there are very distinct niches in which the public has particular mindsets and expectations. Therefore, your average all-purpose marketing agency may fail to promote your ICO the way you want simply because they lack an understanding of the cryptocurrency market.
The market is dispersed around the world and can be reached only through a few touchpoints. The community mentality is embraced and endorsed by a large part of the market, but the focus is on privacy.
Furthermore, cryptocurrencies are far from mainstream, and even though governments are rolling out regulations, cryptocurrencies and ICO marketing have multiple restrictions.
ICO Marketing has restrictions
Nowadays, all the cryptocurrency digital marketing restrictions associated with ICOs are so much more real and painful. The companies that are launching ICOs can’t use Google or Facebook freely to market their blockchain-based projects. They must first receive confirmation for eligibility and, even afterward, may have trouble launching their ads.
That’s where blockchain businesses, which are looking forward to creating lasting exposure and hype, will conveniently resort to the airdropping strategy. Through airdrops, businesses will create a buzz around their project in no time. And if airdropping is done properly, the buzz will likely be more effective than the ones developed by any campaign on Google, Facebook, and the like.
Reaching out to mainstream media for exposure isn’t an option either. Although having your project popularized by a major media outlet may sound like the way to go, unfortunately, such tactics may not bring you much results.
That’s because mainstream media has a general audience that doesn’t really pay attention to the crypto market. Furthermore, the outlets generally have a poor understanding of how cryptocurrencies work and are more likely to only popularize the negative news.
Who are the cryptocurrency investors?
Select the right audience, and you’re halfway there. There are generally two types of investors in an ICO:
- Private investors;
- Institutional investors.
Private investors are physical persons, crypto enthusiasts that decide to invest in a crypto project they heard about.
A person generally goes through 5 steps to become a crypto investor:
- Hears of cryptocurrencies;
- Decides that investing in them can be profitable;
- Explores the most popular cryptocurrencies and invests in them;
- Discovers ICOs and starts gathering information;
- Starts investing in new crypto projects in their early stages.
Private investors generally spend small amounts but come in large numbers. They are the ones that help tokens and coins make up vast communities. And a large community helps in reaching decentralization and vast distribution.
Institutional investors include crypto hedge funds, financial institutions, retailers, and other companies.
Naturally, their numbers will be fewer than private investors, but they invest large amounts of money.
As a matter of fact, institutional investors are one of the most important factors in a cryptocurrency’s growth, and failing to attract them in some cases may bring stagnation or even decline.
However, institutional investors usually come in a later phase of the cryptocurrency project, which will involve a post-ICO marketing strategy.
How to market an ICO?
In 2017, on average, an ICO campaign closed successfully in only 3 days. But those times are long gone.
Now, the crypto community is finally forgetting about the concept of “garage-style ICOs.” Instead, it focuses on how this innovative crowdfunding can possibly restructure fundraising forever.
In addition, branding and a well-designed website can make a difference when it comes to convincing people to trust your idea. You should take a minute to check our article on how to build trust through your website.
Reach out to private investors
When it comes to private investors, include in your pre-ICO marketing strategy the following:
- A well-made whitepaper;
- Community building & Social Media Marketing;
- Display ads;
- Press release campaigns;
- Articles on crypto media (blogs, news websites, and other publications) ;
- Content marketing;
- Influencer marketing;
- Email marketing.
Reach out to institutional investors
When it comes to institutional investors, there are fewer communication methods that involve more effort:
- A well-made whitepaper;
- Events and conferences;
- Press releases;
- Direct marketing.
Now you know what you need for your ICO marketing. But If you have reached this point, you may also want to know how these tactics work.
Put effort into your whitepaper
The whitepaper can boost your ICO marketing efforts or make them futile.
A whitepaper is a well-documented report that helps readers make an informed decision.
It should serve as an educational tool that explains how your project works, addressing questions such as:
- What problem are you solving for your customers?
- How are you solving that problem?
- How likely is your project to succeed?
- What makes you better than your competition?
- What is your tech architecture?
- How will you solve potential legality issues?
Here are some things that you can do to ensure that your whitepaper is relevant to the readers.
1. Provide relevant analyses
A strong project analyzes its market, customers, and competitors. And while some of your general customers might not care about this information, potential investors definitely will.
Make sure you include non-biased data in your whitepaper, as it will help you stand out from the mass of cryptocurrency projects that need funding.
Legality is another crucial aspect of a crypto project. Explaining how you will tackle any potential legal issues that might arise will offer more credibility.
2. Be concise but explicit
Don’t write more content just for the sake of writing. But don’t skip information that a reader might find interesting, either. Explain how your tokens are distributed and how the technology behind your project works.
3. Make it reader-friendly
Reading a whitepaper shouldn’t be a burden. Make sure to use images to better explain your information, and emphasize your most valuable information using headings, bold, or italics.
Whether a person will read your whole whitepaper or just skim through its content, they should be able to take away key information that will help them understand what your project is about.
And don’t forget about the font.
Nothing ruins a whitepaper like a bad font (or a bad font pairing). Make sure your whitepaper looks professional and unique but at the same time readable.
Some typography pairings that you can use:
- Playfair Display & Source Sans Pro
- Bebas Neue & Montserrat
- Raleway Heavy & Roboto Condensed
- Lato Bold & Lato Light
Creating a table of contents will also help your users easily find the information they’re looking for.
Don’t forget to add hyperlinks from the table of contents to each chapter and subchapter of your whitepaper for easier navigation.
4. Create a relevant roadmap
A roadmap that briefly talks about your project’s history is a bad roadmap.
Simply stating that you successfully launched your token in May 2021 won’t do. Name concrete accomplishments and SMART goals that you have planned for the future.
This will not only prove that you are on your path to success but that you are also capable of efficient planning.
SIDENOTE. SMART is an acronym that guides the creation of better goals. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.
Build a Strong Community
A strong community can be the best way to advertise your brand.
Whenever you’re researching a product, what’s the first source of information you go to? People who have already bought or used the product.
By creating your own community, you can directly engage with the people who use (or are interested in using) your product. And they can provide you with critical information that can help your project succeed – feedback.
But where should you start?
A while ago, we looked at 682 crypto projects to see what communication channels they use and how they manage the communities around their brand.
Some of our top findings were:
- The top 5 communication channels used were: Twitter (92.8%), Facebook (73%), Telegram (67.9%), LinkedIn(42.1%), and Medium (41.2%);
- On average, crypto projects have 5 communication channels;
- Channels such as LINE, Vk, BiYong, Weibo, and WeChat are very popular in the Asian markets.
Despite its advertising ban, Twitter remains one of the powerhouses of social media. And crypto brands are taking full advantage of it.
Twitter is one of the best channels that you can use to inform your audience and keep them updated with everything that happens with your ICO. And you don’t have to make it too professional.
Numerous massive brands used (and are still using) Twitter for light-hearted and funny campaigns, and fans love it.
That doesn’t mean that you have to turn yourself into a Twitter buffoon. But a fun approach will definitely help your fans fall in love with your brand.
Released in 2013, Telegram is today the most famous social network in the cryptocurrency market. In January 2021, Telegram reached a user base of more than 550M monthly users, and it’s no secret that most ICOs and even numerous cryptocurrencies have their own Telegram channels.
A Telegram group can have a great positive impact on your ICO. This will allow your (potential) clients and investors to interact directly with your team. At the same time, you will also be able to efficiently receive feedback directly from the people that matter to your business.
Just like Telegram, Reddit is a very powerful platform that can help you build a strong community.
While Twitter is ideal for keeping your fans updated with what’s happening with your project, and Telegram is optimal for engaging directly with your followers, Reddit is a mix of both.
But before you go and start building a subreddit to promote your brand, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
- Don’t spam. We all hate spam. But nobody hates spam as much as Redditors do. Don’t post content just to advertise your brand and your products shamelessly. Instead, try to help the community and provide value.
- Listen to your community. Reddit is a democracy, and the voting system can help you understand what’s truly important for your community. You can greatly improve your product and the experience of your customers simply by paying attention to what your community wants.
- Don’t encourage toxic behavior. People can easily stay anonymous on Reddit, and some may take advantage of it for the wrong reason. It is important to try and make it up to a customer who’s angry, but never engage/waste your time with a troll.
Airdrops still bring an impact on ICO marketing
Most successful marketing campaigns usually deliver freebies to prospective customers/investors.
Well, crypto airdrops are built on a similar concept. In the ICO space, an airdrop happens whenever a blockchain-based startup delivers free tokens to its potential customers.
In the past, many businesses successfully airdropped their tokens; some of the prominent airdrops were done by Aktie Social, Eligma, and Bunny Token.
The lowdown on most airdropped tokens is often conveyed to the targeted audiences via social media posts and popular forums such as bitcointalk.org.
Airdropping is evolving as one of the niftiest ICO marketing moves of all time; this will definitely create the next tokenized wave, as everyone loves laying their hands on crypto freebies.
In 2021, there were quite a few projects employing airdrops within their ICO marketing strategy, like Venus, Ampleforth, SORA, and 1inch.
And as 2022 proceeds, the trend will continue.
Promote your ICO with Paid Advertising
Paid advertising is by far the fastest way to create a network of followers for your ICO. However, one of the main issues with paid advertising is the growing list of rules and regulations that we mentioned earlier.
But that doesn’t mean that ICO advertising didn’t find a way.
Numerous crypto advertising platforms exist that can help you promote your project and reach your target audience through various types of advertising, such as native or display.
Creating a display advertising campaign for brand awareness is one of the fastest ways to set your project on its path to success. No matter how good your project is, if people don’t find out about it, it will end up just another project.
When choosing your ad network, there are several things you should take into consideration, such as:
1. The size of its publisher network
The more publishers an ad network has, the more outreach potential you will have. However, high numbers are usually eye candy. So make sure you don’t just pay attention to the size of the network but also to the quality of the publishers.
Gaining access to websites such as Investing.com, Steemit, or CoinMarketCap will prove to be a huge plus.
2. The available campaign creation tools
Targeting your audience by country or device, or optimizing the zones in which your banners are displayed on a website, can minimize your costs and maximize your results.
Probably the most important part of creating a display campaign is targeting your audience.
Looking at your user data from Google Analytics can help you determine which types of users convert better, enabling you to maximize your conversion rates.
3. The available ad formats
The available ad formats are only limited by the ad network you use. While some ad formats perform better than others, we usually recommend testing several formats to decide what works best for your campaign.
Some websites display only certain ad formats, and if your audience is present there, it is always a good idea to include it in your campaign.
4. The statistics you will have available
By having direct access to your campaign’s performance, you can easily test multiple variants and optimize your campaign on the go.
Clicks, impressions, CTR, and costs are all metrics you should look at while your campaign is running in order to ensure optimal performance.
5. The support offered
Let’s face it.
Sometimes we create a campaign, and things go south. Maybe a bug won’t allow you to deposit additional funds. Or perhaps you want to consult with a specialist about your campaign. Or you might just have a few questions and need some answers.
A designated support manager can help you fix issues as soon as they pop up, thus ensuring a smooth advertising process from start to finish.
A well-planned crypto PR campaign will improve your ICOs reach
Press releases can help you generate brand awareness and improve your brand image by associating yourself with high-profile publications.
But getting a major crypto publication to talk about your business might require quite an investment. So before you actually start investing, take some time to do your research. Look at how similar projects launched their product:
- What websites did they use?
- Did they raise enough funds to support their project? If the answer is yes, how fast?
- Did they hit their hard cap?
Additionally, take a look at the market and see what USP (Unique Selling Point) you should promote to have the highest chances of converting new audiences into customers.
Once your research is complete, start crafting your press releases, making sure to position your ICO in a unique manner.
SIDENOTE. The Coinzilla Marketplace platform can help you make this process much faster and quicker. You can browse through a large selection of crypto publications, choose the ones you like, and leave it all to the platform.
But a good PR campaign goes behind simple press releases. Hold a press conference or an event, conduct interviews, become a guest on a podcast, and showcase any awards your ICO receives.
A PR campaign is your best chance to talk about your ICO, so don’t waste it.
There have been really memorable ICO campaigns in the past. For example, Bancor raised funds worth USD 153 million in the space of just 3 hours; likewise, Stox managed to raise a whopping amount of USD 33 million in just a matter of 34 hours.
So what did these ICOs (like Cryptoflix, Iryo, Cloudmoolah, Bunnytoken) do to successfully close their crowdfunding? Well, they never ignored the value of having a public relations strategy.
Content Marketing for ICOs
While you may not be allowed to promote product ads on Facebook, Google, or other major networks, you can promote something much more important – content.
Content marketing is a powerful tool that you can use to grow your business and gather leads.
While Facebook doesn’t allow cryptocurrency token sale ads, it allows the promotion of events, education, and news related to cryptocurrencies, as well as blockchain technology information. It also allows the promotion of crypto trading platforms, cryptocurrencies, and hardware/software for crypto mining, but only if you get permission.
A Lead Generation report shows that only 4% of users are ready to convert on their first visit to a website, so constantly pushing relevant content to potential customers is crucial. At the same time, 92% of B2B buyers convert as a result of reading a trusted review.
Furthermore, a report conducted by DemandMetric found that 82% of consumers feel more positive about a brand after reading their content, and 70% of them feel closer to the brand.
Creating qualitative content can help you position yourself as an industry leader, and the more people will learn from your content, the more they will trust you.
And while it may be a long-term strategy, it’s definitely worth it.
Videos – some information is best explained visually
The popularity of video content has been exploding for several years now. On platforms such as Facebook, videos perform better than any other type of post because they are naturally engaging.
Moreso, 54% of consumers stated that they want to see more video content from the brands and businesses they support.
But how do you go around producing great video content that users actually want to watch?
1. Make a grand entrance. If you don’t capture the viewer’s attention in a few seconds, they will just move on to the next video. Start your video with a jaw-dropping statistic, or use an upbeat soundtrack that hooks viewers in.
2. Adapt to the platform you’re using. Videos that get posted on video should be designed differently than those posted on YouTube.
On Facebook, around 85% of videos get played without sound, so visuals should be your number one priority. However, that doesn’t mean you should neglect the music. If a user decides to play the video with sound on, make sure the experience is worth the hassle.
3. KISS – Keep It Short & Simple.
Leveraging YouTube and influencers to market ICOs
Some of the most complex ICO-related details can be easily explained visually, also making it easier to remember. And that’s exactly where the value of YouTube comes into play.
Creating a YouTube channel and having a great influencer marketer won’t deliver results until there’s a robust marketing strategy in place. This is why many influencers plan a roadmap for the promotion of an ICO on YouTube.
For instance, many influencer marketers release the first video explaining the use of the coin or token in the real world – the problem that it’ll be solving here and now.
Afterward, the following videos can cover how the tech behind the project works, other details related to the token sale, etc.
So, in a way, we can say that the power of an influencer marketer quadruples with a rock-solid YouTube strategy.
Influencer marketers add trust to ICOs
Today, investors don’t trust an investment commodity from the word go. Nothing in the world of investments is taken at face value – and ICOs are certainly no different.
Therefore, investors want a credible team behind every TGE. This team should deliver believable blockchain-based business ideas to the masses.
SIDENOTE. TGE – Token Generation Event
In such cases, an ICO using influencer marketing can definitely raise its project’s practicability and feasibility to a whole new level.
Influencers, in simpler words, are the top thought leaders who are respected and celebrated for delivering expert opinions. And these days, ICO influencers are being leveraged to improve a blockchain project’s reach.
Generally, these talented crypto investors use leading video channels such as YouTube and Vimeo to build project buzz and trust among prospective investors.
So by incentivizing these influencers properly, a business can expect its ICO to be closer to a runaway success.
Stay Connected with your Customers via Email Marketing
Email marketing is still one of the strongest tools that you can use in your campaign. But only when done properly.
Did you know that email has an average ROI of $38 for each $1 spent? That’s higher than almost any other digital channel.
Here are some things you can do to ensure that your next email marketing campaign will be more successful.
1. Strategize around your goal
What do you want to achieve via email marketing? Drive people back to your website? Increase revenue? Improve brand reputation?
Set your objective and then create your whole strategy around it.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself while creating your strategy:
- What tools will you use? One of the best email tools we have worked with so far is MailChimp. But there are many others out there, and we strongly encourage you to test them and see what works best for your business.
- How will you segment your audience?
- What variables will you test? A/B testing is crucial for the success of a campaign. One of the most important parts of your email is the subject line, so we encourage you to start with that.
- How will you personalize the content? According to MarketingSherpa, personalized subject lines increase open rates by 29.3%.
- How often will you send the emails?
- What will your goals be for each email?
2. Provide something in return for their subscription
People are becoming more and more cautious with their online information. And you can’t expect them to just give away their email for free.
Everybody hates spam, remember?
By providing your website visitors with an e-book, a discount, or access to a course in return for their email address, they will be more likely to subscribe.
3. Stay relevant
Always have a clear goal in mind when sending an email, and make sure that you provide valuable information to your subscribers.
Otherwise, you will just annoy your customers, and you’ll become another spam email in a list of spam emails.
Tracking & Optimization
Your job doesn’t stop once your campaign is live.
Always measure your success and adapt your campaign and your strategy according to the data. If you don’t, how would you know if you’re spending your budget on relevant channels and not just sending it down the drain?
Google Analytics is perhaps the best tool that you can use to track your website.
If set properly, it can help you determine how effective are each of your traffic sources, which brings in more revenue, or which is a waste of time and effort.
However, do not start ‘optimizing your campaign’ after one hour.
That’s simply because you need to add sufficient data before coming to a relevant conclusion. Generally, you should wait to deliver at least 10-20% of your campaign before adding modifications.
The only thing you should check in the first hour is if the campaign started running correctly.
But if a week has passed and your ads were not shown enough to reach 10%, go check the budget or the audience, then see what you can work on.
Marketing an ICO can be tough. But it’s not impossible.
By putting together a solid strategy, maximizing your efforts, and investing in the right places, you can turn yours into a case study for success.