2017 was an amazing year for the ICO – Initial coin offering. 435 projects were deemed a success, 48% of the total number of ICOs launched last year. In total, more than $5.6 billion was raised through ICOs, an incredible 40-fold increase from the $96.3 million raised in 2016. By the end of the first quarter of 2018, already $6.3 billon had been raised via ICO, a 118% increase on 2017’s figure in just three months.
Although the value of ICOs still fall way below the $188.8 billion raised from 1624 IPOs – Initial Public Offerings -not an end of year crash in cryptocurrencies can quench the public’s thirst for ICOs. Much of the success of ICOs has been attributed to clever marketing. In 2017, between 60 – 80% of a typical ICO marketing budget was spent on PPC. Google and Facebook were the two biggest recipients of marketing budgets last year, with strong ROIs reported on both networks.
However, in January this year, just weeks after the big crypto declines, Facebook announced a ban on advertising for crypto advertising along with ads for binary options. A growing number of binary options fraud scams were joined by reports of scam ICOs. It was becoming increasingly difficult to spot a scam ICO and whilst the regulators, in particular the SEC, started sniffing around, the ad networks took action. Twitter, LinkedIn quickly followed Facebook in banning crypto ads. MailChimp, the largest email service provider announced a ban. Then, Google slapped a ban on Crypto advertising. Having tightened its policy previously affecting the forex marketing strategy, in June, Google ceased advertising ICOs.
With major ad channels no longer viable, ICO marketing needed a rethink. Other ad networks, including specialized crypto networks are experiencing a surge in activity. The big crypto sites reported media packages mostly sold out months in advance. More traditional forms of marketing are being used. PR and Guest posting are a tried and tested method of boosting exposure. For cost effective long-term exposure, it’s difficult to go wrong with SEO.
One particular role has taken an increased prominence in an ICO marketing strategy and that is the community manager. Despite bans on social media, having a social presence and building and maintaining a community requires that presence. Successful ICO marketing incorporates a strong social media presence -be it Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram and LinkedIn. The best ICO marketing campaigns have a knowledgeable and regular presence on platforms like Reddit and Steemit. Regular engagement on the social media and forums can make or break an ICO and firms now, realize this.
Without the almost fail-safe channels of Facebook, Twitter and Google, ICO marketeers have to think outside of the box and in some cases, go back to basics. There is still gold to be found in the ICO world, and the publics appetite has not been noticeably diminished by reports of scam ICOs or volatile crypto prices. However, to reach that gold, marketeers will have to review all the tools in front of them and if necessary, dig a little bit deeper than before.