In the past, web3 projects have had to navigate their way around restrictions which include blocking of ads by Google, Facebook, Twitter & YouTube as well as unfavourable algorithms making it hard for projects to be found. This ultimately resulted in alternative marketing channels being built and used to reach target audiences.
More recently, the threat of regulation has taken a hold of the web3 space, with crypto advertising regulations coming into play during October 2023. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK introduced new crypto marketing rules that are reshaping the landscape for advertising crypto-related projects. This is regulation is broad and can affect many web3, blockchain, NFTs and crypto projects in the space.
Marketing channels and regulation aside, the audiences with the web3 World can be are somewhat different than more “traditional” or web2 industries. This can be a common misconception when web3, crypto, blockchain or NFT projects are looking to go to market. A different audience requires a different means of promotion and targeting within the crypto space.
Here we explore the main differences between crypto and traditional companies when it comes to digital marketing in terms of channels, audience and marketing strategy.
A History of Blockchain, Crypto & the Web3 Space
Before we dive in and look at the differences in digital between crypto and traditional markets, it’s only right that we take a quick look at how we got here.
The history of blockchain, cryptocurrency, and the Web3 space is a testament to the transformative power of decentralised technologies. After Bitcoin’s inception, which primarily focused on digital currency, the introduction of Ethereum in 2015 marked a significant milestone. Ethereum’s blockchain brought the revolutionary concept of smart contracts, enabling developers to build decentralised applications (DApps) that could execute code without the need for intermediaries. This innovation ignited the expansion of the blockchain ecosystem, with various platforms and tokens emerging to address specific use cases.
As the Web3 space continued to evolve, the focus shifted from simply transferring value to reimagining the entire internet infrastructure. This vision of Web3 seeks to enable decentralised identities, data ownership, and peer-to-peer interactions. Projects like IPFS (InterPlanetary File System) and Solid, championed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, aim to create a more user-centric, privacy-focused web where individuals have greater control over their digital footprint.
DeFi (Decentralised Finance) platforms have further leveraged blockchain technology to disrupt traditional financial systems by providing accessible, borderless, and permissionless financial services. NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) have also gained widespread attention, revolutionising the ownership and transfer of digital assets, from digital art to in-game items.
The Rise in Utility for Blockchain Technology
Over the last few years, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in crypto and other blockchain related assets such as NFTs. This is new ground and the unprecedented demand required new and cleaver promotion tactics which understand the industry.
The rise in utility for blockchain technology has also extended to the world of digital assets. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have gained widespread adoption and recognition as alternative forms of currency and investment. Blockchain technology underpins the trust and security in these digital currencies, enabling peer-to-peer transactions without the need for traditional financial intermediaries.
Moreover, blockchain is being harnessed for identity verification and data security. Individuals and organisations can maintain greater control over their personal and sensitive information, reducing the risk of data breaches and identity theft.
In the realm of governance, blockchain’s transparent and immutable ledger is being explored for voting systems, offering the potential to enhance electoral transparency and security while minimising fraud. This has the potential to revolutionise the way democracies conduct elections.
Audiences in Web3, Blockchain and the Crypto Space
The Web3, blockchain, crypto, and NFT (Non-Fungible Token) space has a broad and dynamic range of audiences, each with distinct interests and roles within the ecosystem. Here’s an overview of the various audiences within these interconnected domains:
This group is interested in acquiring and holding cryptocurrencies as digital assets, aiming to profit from price appreciation. They often closely follow market trends, news, and analysis to make informed investment decisions.
Blockchain and Web3 ecosystems heavily rely on developers who create and maintain the infrastructure and decentralised applications (dApps). These professionals are instrumental in advancing the technology and expanding its use cases.
Entrepreneurs and Startups:
The blockchain and Web3 space has given rise to a plethora of startups exploring innovative business models and applications. Entrepreneurs are seeking opportunities in decentralised finance (DeFi), NFTs, and other emerging sectors.
Institutional players, such as hedge funds, asset managers, and traditional financial institutions, have increasingly entered the crypto space, contributing to its maturation and wider adoption.
The NFT space is a unique subset of the ecosystem, attracting artists, musicians, and content creators who tokenise their work as NFTs. Collectors, on the other hand, acquire NFTs, often driven by a passion for digital art or a belief in their long-term value.
These are individuals who use decentralised applications (dApps) for various purposes, including DeFi, decentralised social networks, and NFT marketplaces.
The audiences in the web3, blockchain, crypto, and NFT space are interconnected and dynamic, collectively shaping the future of decentralised technologies. Collaboration and interaction among these diverse groups play a significant role in advancing the adoption and evolution of these transformative technologies.
The Importance of Developing Web3 Audience Personas
Why is this important?
When it comes to buyer personas and the process of developing these two customers, it becomes a very important exercise for web3, blockchain and crypto projects to conduct. Splitting these user groups and looking at the different needs, interests, motivations, channels, and demographics will allow projects to put together a highly personalised digital marketing strategy targeted to the right customers.
Developing Web3 audience personas is crucial for projects seeking to target their audiences effectively in the decentralised digital landscape. These personas provide a deep understanding of the diverse and evolving user base within the Web3 ecosystem, enabling projects to tailor their products and messaging to meet specific needs and preferences. By identifying key characteristics, behaviors, and motivations of Web3 users, projects can create more personalised, engaging experiences, build trust, and ultimately foster stronger connections with their target audiences, which is vital for success in this rapidly evolving space.
Choosing Digital marketing channels in Web3, Blockchain and Crypto Space
Traditional, regular, conventional, mainstream marketing channels, whatever you want to call them! Having worked in digital for many years, with some exceptions, you can be sure that whatever sector you work with, from IT to E-commerce there are certain marketing channels that are a staple.
These industry standard channels include LinkedIn, twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Within web3, blockchain and crypto projects these channels still have a large presence, but they are not the only tools used. Let’s take a look at the most useful channels projects can use to reach their audience.
- Twitter – Ok, so this is still a major channel when it comes to web3, blockchain and crypto projects! It’s important projects still invest in their company page and feed, replying to questions and engaging with the community. This channel is important for brand positioning, announcements, and thought leadership.
- YouTube – Again, a traditional marketing channel but still a big fish when it comes to video content for crypto projects. Projects should think of it a visual, easy to consume way to describe some of the tech heavy content from whitepapers. Video content great for quality search engine rankings.
Digital Channels in the Web3, Crypto & Blockchain Space
As much as Twitter and YouTube are still popular marketing channels in the world of web3, blockchain and crypto, there are many lesser-known channels that are heavily used. Many not know to the mainstream.
Let’s discuss the top 4:
- Telegram – WhatsApp for crypto right? Well, No. Telegram is the no.1 messaging and community management app a go-to app for all things crypto. Most web3, blockchain and crypto projects manage their communities via Telegram these days. Community is king is crypto and the app allows projects to add bots and community managers to for two-way communication.
- Discord – But there’s competition! Discord offers the same features as Telegram, but a but less spammy. In recent times there has been a big shift in crypto projects from Telegram to Discord. Community experience has sharped this with projects able to devote more time to conversating and answering questions, not just deleting spam.
- Reddit – In crypto marketing you have to follow the people. With thousands and sometimes millions of the crypto community being part of groups on Reddit, projects needed to pay attention and add this as part of their marketing strategy. Many projects now have their own dedicated groups on Reddit.
- Medium – The biggest blog site in crypto. It’s strange to find a project these days that don’t use Medium for blogs, thought leadership and press releases. Whereas traditional industries may use WordPress or HubSpot, in web3 it’s Medium.
I’ve only named a few alternatives, many of you reading this will be wondering why I didn’t list more. Well, the list is extensive. So why so many?
Web3 Native Marketing Channels
Let’s go back in time! The prominence of crypto during the 2017 bull market facilitated a breeding ground for scammers, using Google and social media to promote fake projects (selling the dream), tricking retailer investors and performing a “rug pull” – running away with their money.
Billions of dollars were stollen in 2018 and this led to large marketing channels like Facebook to crack down on crypto from advertising on all of their sites.
This left all of the authentic crypto project being essentially banned from using high profile marketing channels and sparked a need to explore alternative ways to advertise. Marketing teams shifted from traditional channels like Facebook and Instagram and they moved to more decentralised platforms such Discord and Reddit.
A permanent shift…
Facebook has from time to time softened its stance on crypto, but since the decision to move to alternative channels was made, there was no looking back! Telegram, Discord and Reddit remain the backbone for web3 marketing campaigns to this day. A striking fact is that many digital marketers might not have heard of these channels!
The Term “Web3 Marketing”
In the last couple of years we’ve seen the term web3 marketing banded around more, but not without good reason. Rather than being a catchy name or a fad, it illudes to a new way of thinking by web3, blockchain and crypto projects. Web3 marketing was born out of the need to support the growing and ever evolving tech and applications coming out of blockchain, for instance from crypto projects.
We have to acknowledge that business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) still exists within web3 marketing. However, these two concepts do not cover all aspects of web3, which brings me to Community to customer (C2C)!
Community-to-Customer (C2C) marketing
This is an interesting model. Community is so important in web3, blockchain and crypto, so how can and do crypto projects channel this energy for promotional purposes?
Using a podcast or video stream a crypto project could host an event with their founders, marketing team, devs and team up with partners, related projects, advisors within their ecosystem to discuss topics within web3 and connect with their respective audience. This is truly Community-to-Customer (C2C).
Another way this model works is via holders of governance tokens for example. Frequently we see thousands of token holders in specific crypto groups on reddit or discord passionately promoting crypto projects. Essentially, the community turning potential customers into the community!
In both cases, the notion of C2C marketing for web3 is really interesting.
Web3 Marketing Strategies [Social, Email, Paid Media & More]
When it comes to identifying the right audience and the right channels to promote, implementing the right strategy is the last piece of the puzzle.
This is never more important than when a new crypto project is going to launch.
Let’s look at 10 essential strategies for web3 projects –
- Social Media Marketing – Once a project has nailed down their buyer personas and channels, they need to build a community. Being successful as a crypto project means marketing yourself well on social, with consistent engagement with the community, providing updates, generating a buzz via the chosen channels. Be it Twitter, Reddit, Discord, Medium, etc.
- Influencer marketing – Definitely a new age strategy that has paid off well for many projects in the blockchain space. It’s important to build and maintain strong relationships with crypto influencers on YouTube, twitter and crypto specific marketing channels. This allows projects to develop influencer marketing campaigns to get messaging out there, build hype and importantly, trust.
- Airdrop campaigns – This one is important to get right. Whether a crypto or NFT project looking to get more traction, airdropping free tokens or NFTs can be a good way to incentivise and build a community. However, it can also be damaging to a brand and build a false community made up of people just looking for a freebee.
- Email Marketing – A tried and tested traditional marketing strategy, which applies to the blockchain and crypto space. Projects can utilise this strategy, using target emails and direct messaging to tell potential investors and customers about the brand, goals, roadmap and getting them to sign up to newsletters.
- Public relations – PR is something I don’t believe many crypto projects pay enough attention to. By connecting with a number of crypto and tech specific journalists and editors in the crypto and traditional media, projects can reach both traditional and crypto audiences.
- Events & Conferences – Hosting events (online or in person) is a great way to connect with audiences. This can form part of a projects C2C marketing strategy, hosting an event with blockchain founders, related projects and advisors, sharing insights and connecting with the community.
- Thought leadership – Building hype on social channels is important but in order to gain trust projects also need to sit down and write blogs and articles and be seen as a thought leader in the space. Utilising channels like Medium will allow projects to deep dive into their brand and roadmap. Content is king!
- Strategic Partnerships – Strength in numbers! Collaborating or partnering with other blockchain projects, content creators, and media outlets can lead to much growth for a project. It provides a signal to potential investors or customers that the project is trusted and importantly, growing.
- Private & institutional Investors – This one is so important for projects launching. Speaking with VCs and understanding how deals are structured should from part of a projects wider marketing strategy. This will help projects understand how to market to specific investors in their content plan.
- Paid ads – Before we look at SEO, let’s consider the importance paid search can have. Projects don’t have to reply on Google or traditional channels for this one either. There are a number of crypto specific media sites that have paid ads structures in place. Using this could be another string to the bow of blockchain projects, to reach the right audience.
SEO for Web3, Blockchain & Crypto Projects
We know paid advertising through Google has not been without challenges, with previous bans on ads to protect naïve investors. This means having a great SEO strategy is more important than ever, to be seen as “trustworthy” by search engines and drive organic traffic to content.
In order to do this, projects need to employ blockchain SEO strategies within traditional digital marketing frameworks. Keyword research, content optimisation, authority building, and analytics are the cornerstones of any SEO plan, both in and out of crypto.
Let’s look at these one by one.
- Keyword research – Every business should be doing to this, regardless of industry. Keyword research is the first step towards improving organic traffic. By understanding which keywords target audiences use when searching for services or products will enable crypto projects to specifically target this market.
- Content (is king) – This should fall within the overall marketing strategy of a crypto project, but it’s important to mention here because it’s pointless conducting solid keyword research without the content to match. Strong thought leadership content, not keyword stuffed, thin content or clickbait.
- Authority Building – Crypto projects can boost their domains credibility and authority through link building. Connecting with strong blockchain sites and getting them to link to their site can put projects in good standing. Unfortunately, scams are only growing in the crypto space, so trust is everything.
- Analytics – The crypto space is agile and ever changing, projects need to be too. By having an agile SEO strategy, projects can assess progress. Analytics help projects to see which channels have the best engagement, which drive quality traffic and track ranking.
Of course, this is just scratching the surface of SEO and there are numerous, in-depth techniques that can be deployed to improve visibility online. However, I just wanted to give a taster and highlight the importance of SEO in the crypto space, something many projects forget.
Digital marketing is a full-time job. The same can be said about SEO, PR and so on. Teams can become stretched if they try to take on too much work, marketing strategies become diluted, inconstancies in content plans, gaps in posting on channels, engagement with audiences decline, SEO goes in the bin (trash) and the cracks start to show.
In an emerging industry like web3 it’s no surprise that many projects are start-ups with fantastic tech but have very small teams. With many crypto and NFT projects emerging in the last couple of years, fantastic start-ups can get “lost in the noise” so it’s more important than ever to invest in digital or “web3” marketing.