Ever since Ripple and Ethereum’s successful Initial Coin Offering (ICO) campaigns back in 2013 and 2014 respectively, ICOs have become the de facto fundraising mechanism for blockchain companies around the world.

In 2017 alone there were 435 ICOs raising over £9 million each on average. That’s a total of close to £4 billion, a 5,600% increase on the total of £68.8 million raised in 2016.

It goes without saying that 2018 is going to be a big year for the ICO. But with so many flooding the market, how are you going to stand out from the crowd?

Let’s take a look at how to develop an ICO marketing strategy that will put your product in front of the right investors.

Start With Your Website

A modern website is at the core of any ICO marketing strategy. It’s where investors will go to verify that you are who you say you are, and to find out more information on your offering.

Google recently announced that website visitors will judge your website within the first 50 milliseconds of landing on your page. And in some cases the study found that some users formed opinion on certain design elements in 17 milliseconds.

Importantly, they found that websites with low visual complexity and high prototypicality (how representative the design is of the category of site) were the most appealing.

What does this mean?

Make your site simple and familiar. When a potential investor lands on your website they have an expectation of what a blockchain startup’s site will look like. So deliver what they’re expecting.

Make it easy to navigate and ensure the following features are visually appealing:

  • The company’s logo. Users spent about 6.48 seconds focused on this area before moving on.
  • The main navigation menu. Almost as popular as the logo, users spend an average of 6.44 seconds viewing the menu.
  • The search box, where users focused for just over 6 seconds.
  • The site’s main image. Users’ eyes were fixed here for an average of 5.94 seconds.
  • The site’s written content, where users spent about 5.59 seconds.
  • The bottom of a website, where users spent about 5.25 seconds.

In addition an ICO’s website should also feature certain key elements:

  • A link to download or view your ICO white paper.
  • A roadmap for business and technology development.
  • The team and advisors section outlining the expertise of your staff.

Any and all investors will expect these elements to be featured on your website, and without them your ICO marketing strategy will fail to get off the ground.

Calls To Action

Don’t let potential investors just visit your site and leave. Get them to complete an action whilst they’re there.

Whether that’s to sign up to pre-sale news, register an account or download a wallet, be sure that you’re generating leads to whom you can market your product.

ICO marketing CTA on website

ICO SEO Strategy

A solid SEO strategy is at the heart of any digital marketing strategy. And if you’re serious about creating an ICO marketing strategy, it should be the foundation of your game plan too, especially as you look from the short to the long term.

SEO Content Writing

From website creation to launch, to years down the line, you need to implement a clear content strategy based on keyword research from day one. Whether that’s creating landing pages optimised for service terms, or articles based on user searches.

Your pages will not shoot to Google’s top spots over night. It’s a long old slog to get there, but, as the saying goes,

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time to start your SEO strategy is now.”

HTTPS

HTTPS SEO

Google has fully confirmed that securing your website with an SSL certificate has become a ranking factor for SEO. Moreover, the Google chrome browser will begin, from July 2018, to show websites without an SSL certificate as ‘not secure’.

Imagine you create an incredible ICO marketing strategy, get tonnes of users on your site but as soon as they’re there they’re told the site is not secure. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

Secure that site.

Off-Page SEO

There is a huge amount of SEO factors that will affect your SERP, all of which we’re not going to get into here. But let’s take a look at one of the most importnat…

Backlinks

Still one of the most important ranking factors, Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm to ensure SEOs can’t abuse backlinks. Whilst it used to be the case that the more links you had, the better, the thinking has changed now to:

Less links from more relevant sites.

Ensure you’re getting links from sites with high domain and page authorities. You can use tools like Moz’s Open Site Explorer to check out potential linking partners.

Moz Open Site Explorer

A lack of an SEO strategy is a strong signal that your ICO’s focus is on the short-term. This is a big no-no.

Investors want to know that they’re going to get a return on their investment, and that means demonstrating future-thinking. A website invisible in search and not secured with SSL certificates will turn off potential investors. Or, worse yet, lead to accusations of fraudulence from the crypto community.

A strong ICO SEO strategy will only develop and blossom overtime, leading to greater and greater returns. So get it done right.

Media & PR

If you’ve followed the steps above you should now have a simple to use, visually appealing and search engine optimised website up and running. Now to the meat of your ICO marketing campaign – actually getting the word out there.

Press Releases

Ever since the inception of advertising, press releases have been the go-to operation for getting your news out there. The world of ICO marketing is no different.

Simply create a one-pager explaining your news, the key facts and figures and your contact details. But don’t do it dull. A press release should be written to get journalists excited and eager to write about your business. And write about it in a way that excites others too.

If you choose to use a PR agency, they will have a whole heap of press connections to spread your release to. However, if you decide to go it alone, here are a few sites to start with:

There are plenty of free and paid for services out there, but if you want to do PR properly (and you don’t have an experienced team in-house), we highly recommend hiring a PR agency.

Guest Posting

There are many blogs and magazines out there that specialise in crypto news, and which will gladly accept guest post content. This is not only a great way to market your ICO, but generate quality backlinks from niche publications.

A lot of these sites will accept free submissions from independent contributors, but charge a rate for companies looking for publicity. Here are just a few sites that accept guest posts to kickstart your ICO marketing campaign:

Again, if you’re looking to submit guest posts, ensure it’s on a website that has a high domain authority for that extra SEO boost.

Social Media ICO Marketing

We all know how powerful social media campaigns can be, and using them properly to create a buzz around your ICO is incredibly effective. However, each channel has their pros and cons and their subtle little nuances. Make sure you’re in tune with what these are so you can best use them to market your ICO.

Reddit

The Reddit community is astounding. The average Redditor tends to be smart and well informed, eager to get their opinions across and develop discussions. This gives you a perfect environment to stimulate conversation about your ICO.

That said, Reddit also has a reputation for being unforgiving and you are opening yourself up to serious exposure on the site. It’s therefore highly recommended that you hire a community manager that understands the platform.

You can use Reddit to post links about your ICO itself, and should create your own Subreddit that you can self-moderate to create a community around your coin.

For example, VeChainThor have even created a whole master guide to their coin and company on Reddit.

Facebook

Facebook recently updated its advertising policy to prevent ICOs advertising on its platform, stating,

“There are many companies who are advertising binary options, ICOs and cryptocurrencies that are not currently operating in good faith.”

However, you can still create a company page to update your investors on how your ICO campaign is developing, and there are plenty of both open and closed groups in which you can discuss cryptocurrencies.

Pro-tip: create your own group to guide discussions how you like.

Instagram

The most popular platform amongst millennials, Instagram is not the most obvious choice for creating ICO marketing campaigns. However, it’s a great way that you can show a different perspective of your brand.

You can use Instagram to develop the more ‘artistic’ side of your company, creating a storybook of images. Alternatively you could use Instagram as a way to show behind the scenes of your blockchain business.

Want to know a secret tip for boosting your Insta followers? Drop us a message

Twitter

Although you cannot use Twitter to advertise your ICO, it still remains a popular platform amongst crypto enthusiasts. It’s the go-to for the latest blockchain news, and spikes in the value of your currency on exchanges will have thousands of users turning to Twitter to find out why.

Be sure to create your own ‘cashtag‘ for your coin using the dollar sign. ($XVG, $BTC, $ETH, etc..)

Quora

Quora is a question and answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited, and organised by its community of users.

How does this benefit an ICO marketing campaign?

You can provide answers to active question threads to steer the conversation towards your company, and provide a link to your website. Some of these threads are very high-traffic, and therefore provide excellent exposure for your ICO.

Simply search the site for relevant topics and construct a considered response. Just spamming comments won’t do you any favours.

LinkedIn

Although they may still seem to be on the fringes for most, blockchain companies are businesses like any other. And like any other business, LinkedIn presents a perfect platform to publicise and network. Firstly:

  1. Create a company page
  2. Link your employees to the company
  3. Link from the team section on your site to individual profiles

This will give investors the opportunity to check the background of your team, and verify that they know what they’re doing.

Additionally, there are plenty of LinkedIn groups discussing ICOs and crypto. Be sure to get your voice heard here.

Telegram

Since its inception in 2013, Telegram has rapidly become the go-to for crypto enthusiasts looking for second-by-second discussions on signals, ICOs and cryptocurrency news.

You can use Telegram to create your own channel and push out the latest news to your followers. Do avoid getting involved in too many discussions, however. That can be a slippery slope.

An honorary mention also goes to Discord which functions pretty much the same as Telegram, with a burgeoning crypto community creating discussions there. In fact, since Russia decided to ban Telegram, Discord may become the way to communicate with your Russian investors.

REMEMBER: Investors will check your social media channels as part of their proofing processes. Ensure consistency across all of your accounts.

Email Campaigns

If you’ve nailed the CTAs on your website, you’ll be growing your mailing list minute by minute. Delivering you a direct channel to speak to your individual investor, use this opportunity to re-engage your fans, shout out about the latest news, and encourage investment.

The major trends for email campaigns in 2018:

  • Personalisation and segmentation are absolutely crucial.
  • Users want companies to adopt a more conversational tone.
  • Interactive emails are on the rise, encouraging users to commit actions inside the email.

Notes:

MailChimp does not allow ICO marketing campaigns to be run on their platform.

With GDPR coming in in Europe, make sure your mailing lists and email campaigns are compliant!

Bounty Programs

Perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of your whole ICO marketing strategy, your bounty program needs to be on point. But what sort of ICO bounty campaigns can you run?

Pre-ICO Bounties

Social Media Bounties

Use social media bounties to encourage participants to share your concept and content on social media. You can then reward users based on engagement levels such as retweets, shares, comments and clicks.

Content Writing Bounties

For those who have high-traffic blogs, or a large social following, a content writing bounty can be run to get reviews written on your offering or technology. Bounty should be rewarded based on unique page views, shares and other important content metrics.

Bitcointalk Signatures

Open to Bitcointalk Jr. Members and above, the participant posts an embedded bit of code in their signature. The bounty is then delivered to forum members who have the highest rank.

Post-ICO Bounties

With the fundraising round completed, now you need to focus on improving your project. And there’s no better way of doing that than through community feedback. The following bounties become incredibly useful at this stage.

Translation Bounties

As the name implies, bounty is tendered based on translations of your content. This could include an ICO white paper, marketing collateral or website translation job.

Bug Report Bounties

Bug reporting is probably the best bounty of them all. It not only garners interest in your company, but also helps discover issues in your code that could be exploited. Win-win.

Note: make the bounty too small and no-one will be interested. Conversely, make it too big and people will think you’re up to something suspicious. Try and find the fine line.

With their popularity being what it is, you may be falling at the first step if you’re not running a bounty program as part of your ICO marketing campaign.

Blockchain Events

Across the globe, blockchain events are happening all the time and present a perfect opportunity to market your ICO campaign. Importantly, events give potential investors the chance to see your team (or some of them) face to face and delivers a sense of accountability. This is invaluable in an industry whose reputation isn’t the greatest to say the least.

Though the costs of running or attending such events may be high, the return you can expect is high too – as long as you are attracting the right attendees.

As interest in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency ramps up across the globe, the ICO market is set to boom. And with regulations and restriction on advertising being updated all the time, the emphasis is on creating an agile ICO marketing strategy that can be resilient to these changes.

Regardless, the main tenets of an effective ICO marketing strategy should be:

  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Return and reward

Delivering these consistently across all of your marketing channels, and backed by strong technology, your ICO marketing campaign cannot fail.