Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are a relatively new way to fund start-ups and projects. Similar to an IPO, an ICO is a way for a start-up or an established company to raise capital, and a vehicle of investment for potential investors. Usually, capital and “shares” in cryptocurrency start-ups and projects are represented by tokens. In an ICO, the companies seeking funding sell their cryptocurrency tokens in exchange for financial investment or other contributions; the funding is executed using Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.
2017 witnessed a significant high in ICOs (Initial Coin Offering). More than $5.6 billion was raised in ICOs; there was on average 3 ICOs per day with $12.7 million raised per ICO. This mercurial rise in popularity for the ICO fund-raising model has led many industry observers and evangelists to take notice. They have increased 40 times more from 2016.
According to data collected by Coindesk, the first three months of 2018 already raised $6.3 billion in ICOs a figure that is 118% more than what was raised in 2017. The tide is tilting towards ICOs, and more and more companies are now thinking ICOs.
However, a closer look at the remarkable ICO statistics reveals critical insights. Only 48% of the ICOs in 2017 was considered successful, and only 10 ICOs accounted for 25% of the whole amount raised in ICOs: there is fierce competition in the ICO space.
Start your marketing plans months before you launch your ICO. In your planning stage, it is essential to get involved with the crypto community. You will need the connections for the success of your ICO launch. Therein lays the opportunity to glean information critical on improving on your ICO as well as your marketing strategies. Find out what projects and aspects of projects excite the crypto community more. Find out what marketing strategies resonate well with your community.
Find out what works and what does not work. Engage more with your target audience to fine-tune the matching of their pressing crypto-community needs and your blockchain solutions. This stage offers the opportunity to build mature accounts on various media platforms that you will need during the launch.
Your website is the landing point for most of the traffic. It defines your shop and is the focal point for all your marketing strategies; you cannot afford to get it wrong. An untidy, slow, unappealing and clattered website for your website will send off everyone including potential investors for your ICO; it is the difference between a ‘click through’ and an ‘ignore.’ Your website’s layout, design, ease of navigation and content must be tailored to your audience’s tastes and preferences. Precise and clear information on your ICO like ‘how to invest in the ICO,’ and your offering for the ICO must all be laid out. Have your whitepaper, team members and all the necessary details about your project laid out.
With more and more restrictions being applied on crypto and ICO advertising, it would be wise not to overlook SEO. It is important to have your website SEO optimized, have a well-researched key-word and work on a grand content strategy. Undertake organic and intelligent link building, branding and online reputation management. SEO optimization ensures that your ICO presence is felt long after you are done with it.
Email marketing can form an effective part of your ICO strategy. While e-mail marketing is excellent, it is important that you only send emails to those that have approved of it. Take time to build your email list rather than buy contacts. Taking short cuts in email marketing may bring in quick results but there exists the clear potential to cause more long-term harm than good. Agencies provide a solution with their own email lists with people that ‘opted-in’ and it is possible to perform some sort of email marketing on a smaller scale by yourself. In all cases, it is important to build your own email marketing list, optimizing your interest base.
This is an incentive-based rewards methodology that you can leverage to attract investors. Bounty programs provide compensation and incentives that can be used to attract investors and other stakeholders to your ICO. Most ICO marketing campaigns operate some form of bounty program, with for both pre-ICO and post-ICO offers available. Ideally, your bounty program should start as soon as possible and end near the pre-sale.
Airdropping is gaining popularity as a bounty program style offered in ICOs. The concept of distributing free tokens has been implemented in the majority of ICOs, although there needs to be a clear and planned strategy. By airdropping too much and giving away too many tokens, it should ring alarm bells to some investors.
Content is king in today’s information age. The right content availed in the right crypto forums would go a long way in boosting your ICO. The Medium community is one of the largest for crypto communities that is also informed and engaged. It is an excellent source of information and a great place to connect with the crypto-world. Steemit is also popular among crypto enthusiasts. And since both have the ‘up-vote’ functionality for content; your ICO’s content must be ‘a must read’ piece that would have readers share. It should share solutions and not just a description of your ICO.
Crypto communities and social media management are critical elements for a successful ICO. ICO managers should leverage these avenues so as to gain the trust of the public. It would be prudent to get active on these platforms way before you introduce and launch your ICO. Consider Reddit, Telegram, Quora Discussions, LinkedIn groups, YouTube, and specialized forums among others.
But it’s also noteworthy to understand the good and bad of social media, when it comes to marketing ICOs. Once cryptocurrencies became buzzwords in daily conversation, the social media giants began to wake up. In early 2018, Facebook announced that it would be banning ICO-related advertisements, and Twitter followed suit. As a result, the cryptocurrency community has started looking toward more stable and verified ICOs and has become increasingly more critical of those who do not embrace transparency.
Startups looking to crowdfund via an Initial Coin Offering should strategize more towards being listed and verified than garnering likes on Facebook. There are listings such as Top ICO List, ICO Alert, Bestcoins, etc. which offer their services to ICOs and the community; these listings weed out ICOs that show signs of a potential scam and creating prerequisites to ensure that the companies they list have strong foundations.
Once your website is done, and your compelling content is ready, it is time to roll out your public relations campaign. Press releases are among the most useful options in this regard. Top tier websites could also publish your press releases as long as you have a relationship with them.
Articles published in the most popular crypto media outlets are another great way of getting you’re your ICO in the public domain. There are some outlets that have no problems with publishing well written content for free, but most of the top outlets charge a premium for this.
The world of cryptocurrencies is largely subjugated by public perception and confidence, which is not always steadfast. This means that marketing within the cryptocurrency space requires teams to continuously stay updated on the latest trends, cases, and rulings to determine how they can effectively distinguish themselves from an increasingly crowded market without impeding on any legal gray areas.
In fact, according to Ivan Goldensohn, Chief Marketing Officer of Dispatch Labs, and I quote-“ Moving from implementing marketing for more established (if not necessarily traditional) industries into cryptocurrency presents a new suite of unique challenges. Unlike established industries, the ramifications of marketing challenges within the cryptocurrency space go beyond ROI, and can result in legal action or subpoenas as evidenced by a slew of case, including Munchee’s now infamous ICO.
Additionally as so much of cryptocurrency value is based on hype and public perception, good or bad marketing can change the value of a crypto asset by millions or even billions of dollars. As such, marketing leadership becomes a role involving a lot more than just marketing, it requires an ongoing and constantly maintained knowledge of all aspects of the industry, precedents within the space, and a lot of legal review.”
Events and conferences centered around the crypto and blockchain industry are being held globally every week. Attending, sponsoring, and even hosting crypto events are great ways of networking and communicating your ICO to interested parties. If you are sponsoring one, it is important to ensure that you offer content that is clear, scarce and valuable. On top of valuable content, be sure your offer is irresistible to your potential investors. This is because a clear, well-presented message and product will increase the chances of stakeholder investment.
Now the ICO is over, it’s time to put your focus on finishing the project. Meeting your deadlines and delivering on promises is important, but marketing doesn’t stop when the fundraising ends! Your investors will have questions about the project’s progress. Quiet social media channels, un-updated blogs and unanswered messages, for instance, can lead to rumors of an exit scam. Additionally, it’s important to keep engagement up so that when you do have a finished product or other exciting news, your posts get seen. Keep people talking while you’re working to ensure you don’t lose the benefits of all the hard marketing work you did during the ICO.
The marketing strategy for ICOs has been changing ever since the term was coined and this means startups will have to up their game-plan when it comes to building a solid ICO strategy. For example, ICOs are now required to pay closer attention to potential legal ramifications of their claims. Government agencies have been taking notice of cryptocurrencies and ICOs in particular. Careful wording has become a key component in any advertising campaign.