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This is the most comprehensive guide to ICO (Initial Coin Offering) marketing out there.
Why did we create it?
Since we got into the crypto world, we’ve noticed the lousy reputation that ICOs receive because of low-quality content and lack of proper marketing strategies.
We want to help blockchain projects and ICOs all over the globe to improve the quality of their ICO marketing campaigns.
In short: If you run an ICO, or care about marketing, this guide is for you!
ICO marketing is about gathering a community around your project. Letting people see the vision you and your company are aiming to bring, and building trust not only among crypto enthusiasts but also with investors and companies outside the blockchain sphere.
How is ICO Marketing different from traditional online marketing?
As someone who ‘enjoys’ both worlds, digital marketing, and ICO marketing, I can tell you with confidence that ICO marketing is a lot more challenging.
It requires you to constantly change your marketing strategy to suit the ever-changing crypto market environment.
With this in mind, it’s no wonder that most ICOs fail within the first months from the moment they launch.
What many ICO’s don’t know is that you can’t rely on a specific marketing channel like Facebook or Google, for example, because they can one day suddenly decide they are banning ads related to cryptocurrencies.
In addition, because many ICO companies proved to be unreliable in the past, marketing campaigns nowadays force ICOs to prove to their communities that they are a reliable company they can trust.
It makes running a blockchain marketing campaign very challenging.
ICO Marketing Checklist
There are many things that a company needs to do in order to run a successful ICO marketing campaign.
In this marketing guide, I’ve put together everything I’ve learned from working with more than 30 ICOs in the past few years.
A white paper is prepared prior to launching a new currency. It details everything you need to know about the currency before making up your mind if you want to invest, purchase, or use it.
This includes commercial, technological, and financial details of a new coin in a language that can be understood by someone who is not an expert in the space.
This tutorial will help you write an excellent white paper for your ICO.
If it wasn’t obvious, to build a product that can make a change you need a team, and it better be a good one.
Many people who invest in ICOs check the team members and their background in order to make a smarter investment decision.
Https shows your visitors that your website is secure. It’s also important for SEO, and for your potential investor’s confidence. You can use Cloudflare, and their basic package is free.
Simplify Your Idea
Try to explain your idea to one of your non-technical friends. Did they get it? If the answer is NO, work on it until it becomes YES.
You will need to make people understand your idea in a manner of seconds when they visit your website. It doesn’t matter how technical your project & idea are. Make it easy for everyone to understand.
In the last few years, we were approached by hundreds of different blockchain companies.
Many of them had a great vision: making a change in a certain industry using blockchain.
But most of them didn’t have a great presentation.
Talking about changing the world while having a badly designed site can make your company lose credibility.
I recommend having a designer on your team. You can get inspiration from the top ICO designs on bechance. In case you don’t have a designer and need some help, you can send me a PM and I will try to connect you to the right professionals.
A blog will help you get organic traffic to your website, improve your brand awareness, and give value to the crypto community.
Most companies are using blogs wrong. They hire a freelancer on Fiverr/Upwork and most of the content is poorly written, without going in-depth or following any SEO strategy.
For Blockchain companies, I recommend creating a Medium publication. Use Medium to launch your announcements but make sure to launch it first on your blog and use a canonical link on Medium to let search engines know that the article was originally published on your company’s blog first.
Try to release new articles often. Aim for content that your community wants to read and not content that only speaks about how awesome your project is and how you are going to change the world with your idea.
ICO marketing should be about quality, not quantity. Brainstorm with your team, try to figure out how to deliver your message in a better way while giving the community something refreshing.
Besides being active in different communities and telling people about your project, going to conferences is a great way to meet new companies in the blockchain ecosystem, get some news coverage (if you know who to talk to within the conference), and even to find potential investors.
At GuerrillaBuzz, we’ve worked with many ICOs that have spent insane amounts to send a whole team to a conference that led to zero ROI.
Make sure you arrive with a calendar fully booked with meetings with people in the conference, and send only the people in your team you believe have a good chance of getting to know people and getting your potential clients.
I urge you to send as few people as you can to a conference and use the money you save by not sending a whole team abroad on the marketing or development of your platform.
What is SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.
It’s also one of the most important things that most blockchain companies have never even heard about.
By doing professional SEO research and implementing the insights you find on your website and in your future content, you:
1. Increase the chance of getting a high rank on search engines.
2. Ensure a cost-effective long-term source of targeted and interested traffic.
3. Significantly improve your branding.
4. Let the crypto community and potential investors know that you are here for the long run and not an ICO that simply wants to raise money and disappear.
Make sure at least one member of your marketing team has knowledge of SEO and content marketing.
What to consider when running an ICO marketing campaign
From only having a quick look at this list of dead blockchain projects, you can understand that thousands of companies have tried to launch their idea and failed. And that’s just over the last year.
There are thousands of projects that still exist but struggle to survive.
I was lucky enough to work with a few blockchain companies that have successfully raised funds and are still up and running, giving some great value to their community.
I want to share with you the approach that many successful ICO and blockchain companies are following.
By following each one of the steps above, you will increase your chances of running a successful ICO.
Let’s dive into each one of those steps so you can implement them in the right way.
Be Transparent About Your Progress
If you’re a marketeer who just got into the crypto world, this sentence might seem obvious to you, but for many projects who failed at telling their investors the truth, that’s a tip that could be the difference between failing and succeeding.
In ICOs, your company has a certain amount of time to generate a lot of buzz on the internet to drive investors.
To do that, companies might not have been too transparent about their progress, to encourage people to invest in their idea.
At one point the ICO will end and you will become a company. You will still have to keep your investors and community tuned and if they will notice information you gave them while running the ICO not matching your current status, you might face serious consequences.
Being transparent with your community and investors along the way will actually help you gain respect and authority.
Since you’re running an ICO people can expect you’re a new project, so you don’t have to picture your company as an established tech firm when you’ve only just started.
By being transparent along the way you will gain trusted followers and investors.
Don’t create a fake community
One of the most popular ways to create hype around ICOs is by buying fake Telegram members.
I find it strange that many companies spend a lot of money to buy fake members. In this case, this Telegram group has 93,107 members but no-one is talking in their chat. Which makes it obvious that it’s a fake community.
The investors you’re seeking can detect fake Telegram/Twitter followers and might take it as a sign that they shouldn’t be investing in your ICO.
Remember this:1000 real supporters are better than 100,000 fake ones.
Of course, buying fake followers on Twitter, Telegram and other social media channels is the fastest and easiest way to show you have some online presence.
But by doing it you’re not being honest with your real community members and investors.
Building something from scratch takes time and effort. Your new community members and investors will surely understand that.
Make sure you share your company’s progress as often as you can, be active on those channels, communicate with them, and find ways to make them spread the word about your company.
That’s the right way to grow a real active community.
Keep your ICO Marketing PR costs low
Getting mentioned on different news sites will help you to mark your company as an industry leader and improve your credibility within the blockchain ecosystem.
You’ve got a few ways to get your company mentioned in a news article.
The most common way is to pay a site for a sponsored article. This is usually written by one of the site writers.
Those articles are marked in most cases as sponsored articles and most readers avoid getting their information from this kind of article since it’s biased.
The most recommended way is by running an ICO PR campaign and use a marketing agency that can pitch your idea to dozens of news sites and use their connections to get you mentioned in high authority publications.
When pitching journalists from different publications, a marketing agency can get your company mentioned in a natural way in the content rather than getting only into sponsored content.
Before spending most of your marketing budget on your ICO PR campaign, I want to share with you one insight that can save you thousands of dollars.
Articles on premium websites (Cointelegraph, Inc, investing . com, etc… ) can cost a fortune (around 1 BTC).
The exposure on these websites is high but not as high as it was back in 2017-2018.
When hundreds of ICOs pay these websites for articles it kind of loses the effect and the impact of the article isn’t as great.
It also creates inflation in how respected this article is in the eyes of the investors and traders community.
Don’t get me wrong, You should be listed on a few websites, but don’t get crazy with the number of websites you’re listing your articles on.
If you want more information on the best ICO PR guidelines, visit our page.
Become active in cryptocurrency communities
The goal of all your marketing efforts, whether it’s a PPC campaign, banners, or PR, is to acquire new users or investors and increase your brand awareness.
What if I will tell you that the crypto industry is unique compared to other industries?
What Makes a community active?
From looking at parameters such as ‘Who are Bitcoin users?’, ‘How old are they?’, ‘What do they do?’, it becomes clear that these people are active online.
From my experience, most of the crypto holders I spoke with over the last few years are active on Reddit, Steemit, Bitcointalk, and Twitter.
There are more popular communities and social media but those 4 are the most important ones.
By being active on those channels, sharing your progress with the crypto community, and doing it in the right way, you can increase your chances of running a successful ICO.
But how can you know what’s the right way to use Reddit for your ICO?
The most important thing you need to know about these communities: They hate marketing.
Don’t try to post links to your home page or landing pages. Besides getting downvoted your domain might get banned.
Instead, you should focus on creating high-quality content on your blog (articles on Medium/news sites can also be a great solution).
Make sure to not talk about how great your project is, instead raise hot topics and issues that your target audience might find interesting.
Write in-depth content that shows your company’s credibility in this niche and make sure to link to your site in a natural way.
The best kind of marketing I know is to give your target audience value without asking for anything in return.
You’ll be surprised how much people appreciate it, especially when all the other ICOs only try to convert them at any given time.
Let’s briefly go over each one of those networks (Reddit, Steemit, Bitcointalk, Twitter) and how to maximize your reach there.
There are plenty of different social media channels out there. When there are so many choices, choosing the right one becomes difficult.
Over the past few years, we’ve helped dozens of ICOs and blockchain companies to distribute their content on different social media channels.
Trial and error is the key to understanding which platform is suitable for your ICO, but since time is something precious for any ICO, let me show you what we’ve learned from working on many of those social media channels.
In this chapter, I will share with you insights about the most useful social media for your ICO and what’s the best way to approach your target audience.
Reddit is without a doubt one of the most important websites for your ICO marketing campaign.
With more than 1.5 Billion visitors each month, and the largest crypto community in the world in one place, Reddit should be the most important social media channel for your ICO.
Tip: You can create a subreddit for your company in a few easy steps.
You should look at your Subreddit like your Facebook page. Post your content there, update your community and try to get feedback from your followers.
Important crypto-related subreddits:
- /r/bitcoin (1,473,000 members).
- /r/cryptocurrency (1,038,000 members).
- /r/ethereum (466,038 members).
- /r/cryptomarkets (217,197 members).
- /r/ethtrader (233,232 members).
You can also use this tool to find many more related subreddits.
How to use reddit the right way
- Being active on those subreddits and gain karma for your company users
- Participating in discussions that might be relevant for your company. In the right context you can insert a link to your site/blog posts/articles/whitepaper.
- Posting in-depth articles about your project. Make sure you are not posting link to a landing pages/affiliate. Low quality content won’t work on reddit so don’t even try.
Once you’re a member of a subreddit you have 2 main ways to spread the word about your project: Post a link or a discussion post.
So how does it actually work?
Choose a link you think the community in this subreddit will love. Each subreddit has its own never-ending competition.
By getting upvotes from the community (in a short period of time) your post will get higher in the rank and hopefully will get a high location on the hot page.
If your post will reach 1-3 top places it will get to other people’s main feed and not only people who happen to look at the subreddit you posted at.
Getting to 1st-3rd place in the subreddit will significantly increase the exposure of your post.
- One of the most popular websites in the world.
- Can drive an INSANE amount of traffic!
- Helps to enhance your branding and credibility.
- The core of the crypto community is there. Once a post becomes popular, it will get exposed to dozens of other trading groups/related websites.
- Promoting on Reddit will force you to create high-quality content that will ensure real value to the community and not only mention how great your ICO is (a common mistake that most ICOs are doing).
- Lousy content won’t help you get any exposure. The Reddit upvote & downvote system makes it almost impossible for low-quality content to get to the front page.
Twitter is the first place where you should update your community (that you are going to build) and interact with crypto influencers & brands.
Make sure that besides tweeting only company updates, you also ask your community questions and interact with them.
Take a look at this example.
Many indie hacker tweets are questions to their target audience.
They use twitter to interact with their followers and mark themselves as a leader in the entrepreneur and founders space.
The other example shows a tweet of an ICO that’s using Twitter to just mainly talk about how their product is gonna change the world.
Most of their tweets get close to no engagement.
- Great platform for announcements within the crypto community
- You can leverage Twitter by communicating with companies in your niche.
“Bitcointalk is an Internet forum dedicated to the discussion of bitcoin, blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. The forum was initially created by Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin on Nov 22, 2009.”Wikipedia
With 2.28 million visits per month, Bitcointalk is still one of the largest crypto communities on the internet.
Over the years the core community shifted from Bitcointalk to Reddit (nevertheless, there are still some bitcoin adopters who are still active there).
Nowadays, ICOs are using the Bitcointalk forum to find bounty hunters and to create a highly detailed announcement post for the community (known as ANN Post).
- One of the best places to find bounty hunters for your ICO
- One of the earlier things you should do in your ICO marketing is to make an ANN post (Announcement) on Bitcointalk
- Here is an excellent example of a high-quality ANN post
- Compared to Reddit and Steemit, the exposure that a post can get is extremely low.
- The website lost its glory in the last four years. The core bitcoin community moved from Bitcointalk to Reddit.
With more than 540 million views per month, Quora is the most popular Q&A website in the world.
Even though many ICOs are not using it, I strongly feel that Quora can be one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Which answer is your target audience looking for on Google?
In many cases, Quora will be among the first results. By giving a high-quality answer and linking to your site in a natural way, you will improve your brand awareness and might get new supporters.
For the demonstration, I searched for ‘What’s the best ICO for 2020’
Quora is the 2nd result on Google.When clicking on it that’s the first answer I see.
Seems like they understand the benefit of Quora.
- Hundred of different questions related to your niche you can begin answering right away.
- High domain authority. Quora is usually perform high on google on different questions. By providing high quality answers on many different questions related to your niche, you can improve your brand awareness.
- Compare to Reddit and other social media channels, the traffic you will get from Quora will be lower.
Decentralized Reddit? Steemit is a blockchain-based blogging and social media website, which rewards its users with the cryptocurrency STEEM for publishing and curating content.
I’m personally not a fan of Steemit because of the low content quality there, but I do know that it’s a strategic place for ICOs.
There are more than 8 million page views per month and they have a pretty active community with a good understanding of cryptocurrencies.
You might be surprised by the amount of buzz and attention these competitions can create.
- If you want to use Steemit you have to open a wallet. It means that most of the community members actually hold or use crypto.
- More than 8 million visits per month!
- Low competition compared to Reddit. Your content have higher chance to hit the front page if you understand Steemit and write high quality content.
- Since Steemit reward users for comments/upvotes it seems like many people are not into what you publish and more into what they earn in return for their activity.
How to measure your ICO marketing success
That’s the most important question for every ICO marketing campaign (second only to ‘What’s the cost’).
Startups outside the blockchain ecosystem can measure their ROI in a much easier way since they can launch ads on Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other platforms. This is different than ICOs, which are not allowed to run ads on different social medias.
Startups can use the Google ads advanced dashboard to understand how much X they made for spending Y.
But hey, let’s not lose hope. There are still various ways you can measure your success. You should do it by defining a few KPIs and then monitoring them to see if you’re doing well or not.
ICO Marketing KPIs
- Traffic to your site
- Activity on your social media channels (Telegram group, Twitter, Subreddit)
- SEO (getting higher on search engines for several relevant keywords in your niche). In the blockchain world SEO is underrated but in fact it’s one of the most important aspects of building a company even after your fundraising comes to an end.
Let’s dive into each one of the KPIs to better understand how to measure them!
Traffic to your site:
When you start monitoring your site traffic there’s no way back. It’s addictive and when it comes to traffic, there’s never enough!
It’s important to monitor your site traffic from the beginning. It will give you an overview of your current situation and the progress you’re making.
You can use Google Analytics or if you care about your privacy you can find a few alternatives.
Social Media Activity:
I said it a few times already in this guide and other articles on our blog, but having 100k followers on Twitter is worth nothing if your tweet gets 1 like.
You should aim to build an active community rather than a large community. Your social media activity is the best way of understanding how active your followers are.
To measure traffic on different channels you can use:
If you have a community on other platforms, make sure you connect your page to their analytics tools (most of them will have it active by default).
That’s my favorite part of every ICO or blockchain company we are working with. It seems like the blockchain space is the only industry that doesn’t care about SEO for some strange reason.
“SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”
If you will have a look at the most successful ICOs you will find a similar pattern when it comes to traffic
During the ICO and even a few months after the traffic is sky-rocketing. Then it goes down significantly together with the project’s popularity.
If your traffic is based only around hype, you’ve got a problem.
To make sure your traffic will grow over time you should give more attention to your content strategy and your SEO.
Do some content research to understand what kind of articles your target audience would love to read.
Then run a quick check using an SEO tool like Ahrefs and see what you need to do to get ranked high for that keyword.
To have an overview of your current position on Google make sure you connect your site to Google Search Console.
To run a high-quality marketing campaign for your ICO or Blockchain company, you need to have a talented marketing team or hire a marketing agency.
If you decide to run an in-house marketing campaign, follow the different guides on our site and make sure you produce only high-quality content, with SEO strategy in mind, and don’t go crazy with your spends on PR.
Build your community, don’t buy it. And every step of the way keeps in mind that your followers, investors, and community are your most important assets.
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