As a nascent ecosystem in its Precambrian era, the blockchain startup community is challenged by many impediments. The isolated silos created due to a lack of a unified network with singular standards, the relatively high aggregate cost of peer-to-peer transactions, the absence of regulatory bodies and governance, the transformational and disruptive effects of integrating decentralized networks into various sectors, and the security and privacy concerns over the accessibility of data on publicly-shared ledgers are some of the complex issues that are met with legitimate concerns.
Additionally, the most popular blockchain use cases like cryptocurrencies—and NFTs which rely on crypto for trading—have seriously-limited scalability compared to other conventional online payment and money transfer systems like PayPal. The high volatility of crypto as an asset doesn’t exactly help the situation at all. It may provide opportunities for those who are after short-term gains via trading, but it hurts crypto as a medium of exchange.
However, the biggest obstacle that precedes them all in terms of importance is a lack of awareness and understanding of the technology among the general consumer population. Marketing for crypto and NFT startups shares many areas with the traditional startup marketing paradigms as all businesses rely on some type of marketing. But there is nuance in how it should differ in approach. Keep reading to understand what we mean as we lay out different effective strategies.
Top-of-the-Funnel Content Marketing
The blockchain industry is in its early stages of development and is still considered niche. But the development train is rushing forward at full speed, creating an ever-widening chasm in its wake between what is understood—or even known—by the mass consumer market and the most advanced fringes of the technology itself.
Outside the crypto and NFT circles that follow the technology’s development trajectory with a laser-like focus, there is a void of knowledge that greatly hampers the efforts of the blockchain startups at making their products and services more visible in the market.
So, the first and foremost problem is the market size that needs to be expanded which admittedly requires a more collective effort on part of the whole ecosystem. But as a single startup, there is an opportunity to have an impact in increasing the market size for the whole blockchain landscape while simultaneously increasing your market share and establishing your brand in the scene.
To do that, one needs to fill the knowledge void which is most effectively done via content—i.e., a marketing tool native to the Internet for a technology that is native to the Internet.
However, educating consumers about your product or service is not enough. You need to ease the average (and mostly unaware) consumer into the market by casting your content marketing net as wide as possible. And since you are targeting prospects in the awareness stage, there needs to be a lot of “unteaching” involved as buzzword-induced misconceptions are a big part of the problem.
If there is one thing that startups are short of, it is time. And as effective as ToFu content is, it is a long-term plan that needs to be mixed with other short to mid-term strategies. Crypto and NFT startups should always have their eyes on the other end of the marketing funnel where customers are in or close to consideration and purchase phases. These are the people who are already in crypto circles, familiar with the technology, and need the least amount of convincing.
Startups can narrow down their targets even further to a group of potential customers who have at least tried their hand in crypto investments or even those who are crypto natives. Since these groups are already sold on the technology, they are much closer to conversion, and targeting them can yield the most return in the shortest period possible. From retargeting ads to search engine optimization, intent-based targeting includes every conventional digital marketing channel that operates based on the customers’ online actions—although some companies offer specialized packages and services for blockchain and NFT startups.
Incentivizing Early Adopters
As the blockchain industry keeps stepping towards maturity and gets embraced by and integrated into more sectors, we witness more and more crypto-native businesses being born. These businesses have one particular advantage compared to traditional e-commerce businesses. The Internet now has a native currency and they have access to it. The ways in which startups can incorporate it into their business models are virtually endless.
One of the hardest phases of getting a new business going is getting the early adopters on board and subsequently crossing the chasm into the mainstream market, not least because you are fighting an uphill battle to drive change. Systems and consumers’ behavior don’t change; unless directional force is applied. By involving early adopters in the upside, startups can devise such a force.
The more traditional startups are very limited in terms of how they can acquire early customers. They either have to resort to growth hacking techniques that have abysmally low expected returns or piggyback on an existing network effect.
Crypto and NFT startups on the other hand have the ability to offer tokens to early adopters and thus incentivizing those who believe in the startup’s vision. By benefitting from the potential success of the company, these customers become much more invigorated early evangelists and help accelerate its network effect.