Author: On Yavin, Co-Founder & CMO at Cointelligence
In the first two months of 2018, there were nearly 50 ICOs (initial Coin Offerings) raising over $1.1 billion by the end of February. Compare that figure to the $5.6 billion raised via Initial Coin Offering in 2017 and you get a good picture of just how important and popular ICOs will be in 2018.
Last year saw a total of 902 Initial Coin Offering projects. From that amount, 142 ICOs failed before their offerings, whilst another 276 ICO projects failed even after raising their funds. Just under half of all the ICO’s in 2017 – 435 ICOs, or 48% – were regarded as a success. From the $5.6 billion raised, 25% of which was raised by just the ten largest ICOs.
Given this trend, and the fact that the Telegram ICO planned for later this year has already raised $850 million of its expected $2 billion, 2018 promises to be a bumper year for ICOs. However, with increased competition and a tightened regulatory environment; the line between success and failure of an ICO in 2018 will be even finer.
How your Initial Coin Offering is marketed will have a huge impact on its success. Get the ICO marketing strategy right, and your ICO will raise the necessary funds and be a success long after the initial offering. Get it wrong, and your ICO will be consigned to the dustbin of history. Therefore, so many ICOs are now wisely employing the use of ICO marketing firms, or an ICO marketing expert, to deliver an optimized and successful ICO marketing campaign. ICO marketing agencies are not cheap, but if you want your ICO to be success, you require a multi-faceted approach to marketing your ICO. The right agency will know how to optimize the many varied traditional and non-traditional marketing channels. Planning an ICO marketing strategy from Day One is essential and should include the following items:
The Website – Your ICO’s Shop Window
The website is the foundation of your Initial Coin Offering project. As with any structure, the foundation is the most important and you must ensure that you have something that is strong and lasting. Without a strong website, your Initial Coin Offering can crumble and collapse at any moment.
The website is likened to a shop window in which your Initial Coin Offering will be judged. First impressions are important and for most, your website will provide the first impression and the level of trust needed, for your ICO to be a success. Your website should:
- Include a well-written white paper clearly conveying your ICO project’s message.
- Be designed so it is easy to navigate with all the necessary information presented in a clear and concise manner.
- Contain a short professionally-made explainer video.
- Have accompanying graphics and creatives that are compliant, eye-catching, and encourage further interest.
- Include a clear call-to-action (CTA) which attracts potential investors.
- Contain a transparent lead capture. After all, the person who signs up for email updates today can turn into a potential investor tomorrow. Be SEO optimized.
- Include an introduction to the team. The more transparent your project is via the website, the more trust can be built. Letting people get to know exactly who is behind the project builds that trust.
- Feature a roadmap, vision and schedule of events
SEO Strategy for Long Term Success
For your Initial Coin Offering to be a success, you need an ICO marketing strategy that goes beyond the actual offering. A well-researched and intelligent SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy, both on-page and off-page, ensures your ICO has a strong, long-term source of organic and targeted traffic.
The SEO strategy should be an essential part any ICO marketing strategy, but is all too often overlooked or not given enough attention due to the immediacy of an ICO, limited resources, or just a poorly planned marketing strategy. An effective SEO strategy that encompasses both on-page and off-page SEO includes important aspects, such as branding and online reputation management (ORM), which combined with quality content generation and a smart approach to back-linking, will deliver results long beyond your launch. Remember, around 50% of all failed Initial Coin Offerings in 2017 failed after the offering. With a professional SEO strategy, you are not optimizing your ICO project’s long-term visibility, but also ringing alarms bells to potential investors who do not see a long-term strategy in place. This will likely convince them to simply will not invest, thus dooming your project to failure.
As more advertising restrictions on ICOs are put in place, the need for a well-thought out, professionally-enacted SEO strategy has never been more important. SEO can be attempted in-house, but with it being such a key part of an overall ICO marketing strategy, it is definitely one channel that should be left to the professionals. A good SEO strategy ensures cost-effective visibility and viability long beyond any initial offering.
PR and Outreach – Getting Your ICO Out There
Once the website is up and the SEO strategy is in place, it’s time to get your ICO and its message in front of the right people. A conventional but still very effective channel is through Press Releases and articles on popular media outlets.
First, you need a professionally written press release. These can be done in-house, but paying for the expertise and relationships that marketing agencies offer means you are optimizing a very effective ICO marketing channel. There are top-tier websites that publish press releases, but unless there is a relationship with the top-tier sites in place, it is more than likely that a premium amount will need to be paid to publish your press release. There are free sites and cheaper alternatives than top-tier, but the coverage and impact is far less.
Another great method of maximizing exposure and articulating your ICO message is through having your articles published in popular and relevant websites. Getting an informative, well-written article published on top-tier site can be free or paid. This is an excellent way of getting your ICO in the public domain and also for getting backlinks which boost your SEO strategy.
PR and Media outreach can be conducted on a DIY basis, but again, without the expertise and contacts a marketing agency offers, you will pay more than you should be paying and not optimizing a key ICO marketing channel essential to the success of your ICO
An effective method of maximizing exposure is getting your ICO listed on crypto sites which specifically list upcoming ICOs. There are free sites, but as with most outreach campaigns, the top-tier sites charge a premium to list your ICO.
Getting your ICO listed is important and should form a part of your ICO marketing budget. There are ICO marketing firms that provide top-tier ICOs as part of an ICO marketing package, and ICO listings are an integral part of the outreach campaign that must not be ignored.
Email Marketing and ICOs
Email marketing should form a part of your overall ICO marketing strategy but should be carried out very carefully. Sending marketing emails to individuals without their consent can damage your reputation, incur financial penalties, and limit your future email capabilities.
Building your own email list takes time but in the long term there is no better interested and targeted audience. For most ICOs, this is not a practical or timely ICO marketing solution. Short cuts in email marketing may bring in results short-term, but in the long-term you are doing more harm than good.
An ICO marketing agency can provide their own ‘opted-in’ email lists. Additionally, despite bans in place with some email providers like MailChimp, there are other email service providers out there that make it is possible to perform some smaller scale email marketing by yourself.
Email marketing of your ICO is certainly harder in 2018 than in 2017, but it is an effective method if done professionally and avoiding the ‘spam’ route.
Social Media and Community Management
One ICO marketing channel that is growing in importance in 2018, is in the community and social media management. Exactly how your ICO is marketed in this channel can really make or break an ICO. The crypto communities are knowledgeable, powerful, and widespread. Fail to win over the crypto community and the chances of success diminish very rapidly. There should be an allocation of your ICO marketing team dedicated to this very important channel. It needs to be monitored and updated at all times and cannot be ignored or under-resourced. The most popular and powerful free channels that should be optimized are as follows:
Facebook: A popular method of advertising in 2017 which is no longer available in 2018. However, there are many popular pages and groups that discuss all things crypto. These should be tapped into. Facebook also offers an effective channel to build and your own community and keep them regularly updated.
Quora: Well-read threads, such as https://www.quora.com/topic/Initial-Coin-Offerings-ICO, can provide good, targeted exposure.
Specialized Forums: There’s a wealth of specialized forums and internet discussions that can optimize coverage. Specialised forums, such as https://bitcointalk.org/, gives you the ability to communicate your ICO to an interested and knowledgeable audience.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn has a number of groups that cover blockchain, ICO and cryptocurrencies. Groups such as https://www.linkedin.com/groups/6580131/profile, with tens of thousands of members, give you free and direct communication with your targeted audience.
Twitter: As with Facebook, Twitter banned ICO advertising this year. However, Twitter is a very popular medium within the crypto community. There are Twitter influencers that can be targeted who have hundreds of thousands of followers.
Telegram: Telegram is essentially regarded as the new kid on the block, as far as social media goes. However, Telegram’s importance and influence grows each day. The whole blockchain and crypto community took to Telegram from the very outset and it remains an increasingly important marketing channel offering a wide scale and interested audience.
Events – Old School Face-to-face Communication.
There are a growing number of global blockchain and cryptocurrency conferences and events that should be attended. There is no better method of marketing than communicating your ICO in person. The cost of attending or sponsoring conferences and events can be high, especially if there is travel involved. However, the ROI that these events offer cannot be ignored.
The founder(s) should attend as many of these events as physically and financially possible. Communicating your message in a face-to-face environment can be considered one of the most effective methods to build trust and actually close deals. Deals are signed at these conferences and events, and non-attendance means that your ICO is not given the best opportunity to succeed. By not getting yourself out there and in front of people, your ICO cannot succeed.
PPC – Harder in 2018, But Not Impossible
Following the ICO advertising bans on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, Google’s ban on PPC (pay-per-click) advertising will come into play in June 2018. PPC is still possible with a plethora of crypto sites, news sites, blogs, and networks offering banner advertising. However, the shrinking market combined with increased competition will make 2018 much more of a challenge for PPC advertising of ICOs than was seen in 2017. More creative, out-of-the-box thinking is needed. Additionally, more outlets need to be explored. It is precisely for this reason that PPC should be carried out through a marketing agency with specific knowledge and experience of the crypto world.
The Bounty and Reward Systems
Increasingly, ICO Bounty programs are playing a key role in successful ICO marketing strategies. Offering ‘bounties’, i.e. rewards and incentives, are an effective technique to get the interest of investors pre-ICO and to keep stakeholders interested and engaged post-ICO.
‘Airdropping’, or free tokens, are a great way to garner interest and investment. However, any airdropping should be handled very carefully. Offer too little or no rewards at all and you run the risk of truly optimizing your campaign potential. Give away too much will not only impact your ICO’s financial viability, but could scare away potential investors who will view your project as a scam.
Getting the ICO Marketing Strategy Right in 2018
There’s no doubt that marketing your ICO is comparatively more difficult than in 2017. Increased regulation, reduced marketing channels, and far greater competition make the task of successfully marketing your ICO much more difficult than last year. However, more companies are using ICOs instead of IPOs (Initial Public Offerings), and more money is being raised through ICOs.
To be a success, your ICO project must utilize the specific ICO marketing services offered by an experienced ICO marketing agency. Your product may well change over time, but the first impression your project conveys is a great deal harder to change. There are plenty of ICO marketing sites offering ICO marketing tools and ICO marketing tips, but ICO marketing guidance will only take you so far. If you want to ensure that your ICO is given the very best chance of success, you need the help of the professionals who can provide the ICO marketing solutions to give your ICO the attention it deserves and propel your project towards success.
Author: On Yavin, Co-Founder & CMO at Cointelligence, a platform for monitoring and analyzing real-time crypto-economy market data. On is a serial entrepreneur and an angel investor with over 20 years of experience in the tech industry. On is an expert in the field of online marketing, with deep hands-on experience and knowledge of SEO, PPC and ORM. On has a law degree (LLB) and is also a certified Advocate by the Israeli Bar Association.