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How Web3 Startups Will Miss Out On Mass Adoption

Ignore Mainstream Marketing At Your Peril

In August of 2020 the market cap of all Crypto was $350 billion.  By January of 2021, it was over $1.5 Trillion.  While it has gone up and down since that growth spurt, one thing we know for certain – it will continue to go up and down, but Blockchain is here to stay.  Getting major adoption into the crypto space has been bolstered first by the advent of Decentralized Finance (DeFi), and then by the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) craze.  Now we’re hearing games and metaverses taking the attention and getting the action.

In addition to that, we’ve seen the rise of many individual blockchains that started out perhaps as a “better ethereum” – but now it’s clear that we will live in a multi-blockchain world, so we hear a bunch about cross-chain bridge solutions also.  So again, the question of mass adoption is getting bantered about.  How do we make Crypto “easy” – and believe it or not, it HAS become easier!  And there is a lot of room to go…

What will provide the next wave of growth? 

Will it be institutional investors?  Corporate investors, like the Michael Saylors of the world, making big bets in Bitcoin and Ethereum (and trickling into altcoins)?  Or will it be the Grayscales and other hedge funds or money managers, like Goldman Sachs, who will custody Crypto investments for their clients, and usher in a new wave of adoption and investment?  Will regulations get formalized and provide the certainty that will boost adoption?

We are in a creative time – a new era.  Web3 apps and a decentralized world.  And we are seeing a rise in startups that are bringing new and innovative applications and functionality to this new realm.  So far, it’s been all for early adopters – and Twitter, Telegram and Discord have ruled the communication channels.  But as things move more mainstream – which is where the BULK of the users are, will these startups be able to capture the users and massively increase their adoption and use?  

Early Adopters and Mainstreet Users Have Different Needs

If you think what works for early adopters will also work for mainstream users, you may have a rude awakening. Those startups who approach marketing as Telegram, Discord, Twitter, and Reddit, with some blogs on Medium, will miss the adoption, or at best, be a commodity fighting to keep the user churn down, while fighting for overall growth.  

In order to build trust and relationship with the “mainstreet” users, startups will need to think about who their customers are  and how they make sure those customers know about and appreciate the value that their app delivers to them.  MOST of the mainstream users will not be willing to wade through Discord and Telegram channels, nor monitor your Twitter feed for the new announcements that you might make (hoping they tune in at just the right time).  It’s fine for the geeky early adopters, but it’s not going to work for mainstreet user adoption.  

Let’s take a few examples that I’ve seen with some crypto startups as an example, and explore where marketing thinking for blockchain startups might need to move to be ready for the “mass adoption” or growth that these projects want to harness (i.e. “to the moon”!, lol).

 

Do You Know Who Your Customers Are?

A DeFi Solution (i.e. startup company)  that invests in a basket of crypto that investors can opt in for – they connect their wallets, select the “basket” of choice, and they are off to the races.  What prompted this startup to create their solution?  To save investors time of research, and the time managing investments on their own – this is a solution for busy investors (possibly accredited investors) to reap the rewards of the crypto growth curve.

As such, they are competing with the likes of Grayscale and other more traditional “custody” finance companies that the masses feel comfortable with – even though they may not be maximizing return – at least they are “safe” in the minds of the investors.

This startup, while having a great and innovative solution, has no idea WHO their customers are – as they only have an address – a wallet address – and funds to manage.  In a conversation, I asked how do they keep in touch with their customers, and the answer was, “They’ll follow us on Twitter.  That’s how it’s done.”  

Uh… ok…. But if these are busy folks, who lack the time to do their own research, will they have the time to follow you on Twitter to keep track of how their investment might be doing? Or how your approach is better than others being shilled every day?  Will that help you build a relationship with them?  Is that on their terms or on your terms?  And, will they build a loyalty to your solution and your brand? Or will they view you as a commodity, and withdraw their funds and put them with the next big promise of annual yields?

 

It’s About The Relationship

This is relationship marketing – and the crypto exchanges have already started to figure this out – at least the centralized ones.  Of course, here in the U.S., they’ve got to implement KYC (know your customer), so they have your name, address, email, etc. as you sign up and create your account.  I regularly receive emails from the exchanges where I’ve created accounts.  Some a lot more than others.  And they provide great information that enhances my own research and understanding of the market.  I appreciate those emails for the most part.  And I might forward some of them to my friends as well.

 

What Will Keep Your Users Loyal?

In order to build loyalty and allegiance, something more is required than just providing bottom line results.  What is going to have your customers stick with you?  Because, for DeFi solutions, isn’t it “Total Value Locked” (TVL) in your solution that gives you an edge – and additional ways to raise capital if needed?  

Sometimes that means allowing your customers to opt-in for what is EASY for them – and it seems that if you’re busy and want to leverage the rewards of potential Crypto investments utilizing DeFi, then you might also LOVE to be easily kept informed about how your vendor is looking at and approaching the market, and the performance of your chosen “basket” of investments.  Let’s face it, we ALL have an email address.  How do I know that?  Because we all have Exchange accounts – the on ramp for our crypto investment journey.

Some statistics might also help – Why not learn from how startups and companies overall successfully attract and retain customers? There is no debate.  Strategy must include marketing beyond social media.  It’s well documented that email marketing yields a 4000% higher return than social media at turning leads into customers – and in keeping customers loyal and engaged.  Yep.  FOUR THOUSAND PERCENT better than social media.

Of course, not all of your customers will opt-in to receive your communications, as some will just want to follow you on Twitter.  But others will love you for providing them with information that makes a difference and builds that relationship (and the “stickiness” for your solution – for your company).  It will raise you out of being just a commodity, and have you seen as a solution that provides true value and perspective that is seen as valuable – even if the market is down (as it will be in the up-and-down gyrations of any investment market). It allows you to have a better say – in their inbox – rather than as a flash they might miss entirely on their Twitter feed – because they forget to go look you up directly to find out what might be going on.

I’m not saying don’t have Twitter, Telegram, Discord, etc.  Have them!  But don’t ignore the one marketing method that has produced the biggest return on investment to-date from a marketing perspective:  Email Marketing and nurturing.

To get mass adoption of crypto, there will be a LOT of investors that have gray hair – and grew up outside of the Twitter world – and who would relish having some great emails land in their inbox that helps them understand what’s happening with their investments and the companies or projects that they’ve entrusted with their money.

The projects who meet those customers where they are, will build the relationships and experience the growth as the mass adoption continues to gain steam.  

Blockchain startups and those developing Web3 Applications are quickly moving beyond the early adopter mode, and moving into mainstreet adoption — and that requires you to include marketing in your startup plans.  Those who think it’s “build it and they will come” are living in a dream world.  Remember, Field of Dreams is a MOVIE.

Why leave it to chance?

Kim Albee

As a complete blockchain enthusiast and the Director of Marketing, Kim brings her insights and questions to the forefront to help new blockchain startups gain clarity when developing their projects. When not totally absorbed in all things marketing and blockchain, you can find her at a tiny cabin next to a Wisconsin lake with people and critters that make her happy.

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