It’s nearly impossible to stay on top of all the current ICOs. New ones appear seemingly out of nowhere, and others disappear just as fast. Already we’re seeing tokens failing. According to Token Data, 2017 had 902 ICOs. But more alarming than this is the fact that by March 2018, 46% of these tokens had already failed.
By “failed,” we mean that they either did not hit their funding goal, or the project is no longer being actively developed. Out of the 902 ICOs, there are another 113 which could be categorized as “semi-failed,” meaning that they have almost no chance of success.
This means that 59% of ICOs in 2017 have either already failed, or are most likely soon to.
If you have been following this ICO series, you know why most ICOs fail, and some of the steps you can take to avoid the same fate.
In this final part of the “How to Run A Successful ICO” series, we cover some of the topics most critical to your ICO’s success, such as equipping your investors with information, techniques to promote your ICO, and how to build trust with your community.
To see the previous articles in this ICO series, refer to “How To Run A Successful ICO (Part 1): Should You Even ICO?” and “How To Run A Successful ICO (Part 2): Preparing for the ICO”.
“Hardware”: Equip Potential Investors with Information
Have a Professionally Designed Website Up and Running Before You Launch Your ICO
I have seen it time and time again: eager entrepreneurs get ahead of themselves and announce their ICO before their website is finalized. An incomplete website will turn off potential investors and could do irreparable damage to your public image. You only have one chance to make a good first impression.
Your website is the foundation of marketing your ICO. A strong foundation must be built from the ground up if your project is to be successful.
Spend a bit of money to have your website professionally designed. An “off the shelf” WordPress theme isn’t going to inspire confidence in your project. You can’t successfully raise millions of dollars with a website that looks like it only took a few hours to create.
Having an attractive and clean website design goes a long way. If you don’t have anyone in-house, hire someone to do it for you.
Your website should have a well-designed clean look, have clear navigation, and no broken links. Make sure to include a clear call-to-action for anyone who wishes to purchase tokens.
Bonus tip: include a short explainer video on the landing page of your website. The video should have a concise and clear description of your platform. A video will get more views and attention from visitors, so make sure it is good. Here’s a blog post explaining the elements to include in your explainer video.
Make Sure All Copy and Content is Well-Written and Easy to Understand
All copy and written content on your website needs to be at a high level of English. If your website is multi-lingual, that goes for all the languages used. It’s a good idea to have a professional copywriter craft the copy and have an editor proofread to ensure there are no mistakes.
It is also essential to ensure that the information on your website is easy to understand for the layman. While blockchain and cryptocurrency are highly technical fields, the average investor may only have minimal knowledge. A website full of jargon and technical language will make it tough for potential investors to understand how your project works and its value in the real world.
This doesn’t mean “dumbing down” the language used; however, it is helpful to describe the typically complex nature of a blockchain project in a more accessible manner.
Write Your Killer Whitepaper
One of the most important pieces of information you will release to the pubic is your whitepaper. Extra care needs to go into this document to ensure that it is of high quality before it is released to the public. A badly constructed whitepaper will reflect poorly on you and your team, and turn off supporters in droves.
In cryptocurrency, the whitepaper is a comprehensive document, released prior to the ICO, which contains all relevant information specific to your project. This can include technical, commercial, financial, token use case and key employee information. A whitepaper acts as an everlasting repository of information for all of the essentials details of your cryptocurrency project.
While many blockchain projects are driven by lofty aims, it’s important to ensure that your whitepaper focuses on realistic goals. Your project’s goals should be difficult, yet obtainable.
For one, people are going to hold you to those goals, even if things happen that are out of your control. Also, setting unrealistic goals is a common sign of a scam ICO. Don’t give your potential supporters any reason to doubt you.
These days, it is common to have more than one technical document. It is particularly effective to have one document that focuses on giving an overview of the project and team, and another which goes into more detail on the technology behind your platform.
Waltonchain is a good example of this. They currently have 4 technical documents available for viewing on their website.
Generally speaking, you will want your documents translated into multiple languages depending on your specific situation. This ensures that investors from around the world have access to information about your project.
Your whitepaper is a great way to exhibit transparency of information regarding the aims of your project, the technology and your team. Don’t bury or exclude important information from your paper. The point of the whitepaper is to answer most, if not all, questions about your project — not to confuse investors further.
For many investors, a whitepaper is the first and most important piece of information to examine, prior to investing in a project. There is no other single piece of information which will be read and scrutinized more carefully.
To learn more about crafting a great whitepaper, including best practices and things to avoid, see “How to Write a Great Cryptocurrency Whitepaper.”
Getting the Word Out: Promote, Promote, Promote!
A great first step for promoting any ICO is to get your ICO details listed on popular ICO calendars.
There are a lot of calendars out there, so research which ones would be best for your specific project. If you are launching on a popular platform such as Ethereum, there are specific calendars which you should get listed on.
InitialCoinAddict.com’s ICO Calendar
Here are a few ICO calendars to consider:
PR and Media Outreach (Press Releases and Sponsored Posts)
Paid PR is arguably the most effective way to quickly get the word out about your project to a lot of people. Crypto news sites and blogs have a lot of followers and clout in the cryptocurrency community.
The more traffic the website has, the more expensive the article will be. Top tier sites charge a premium for their services, but they will get you a lot of attention from potential investors very quickly.
There are typically several options available for you, depending on your budget. Some websites accept press releases for publishing; others can write original articles and publish them for you. Some also include social media promotion for your articles to widen reach and engagement.
Many times, you will be able to pay for this media coverage in your platform’s coins, though it is not uncommon to pay with Bitcoin, Ethereum or fiat as well.
We offer PR services here at Invest In Blockchain.
Contribute Guest Posts to Crypto Websites
Your marketing manager should seek out a few well-established, crypto-specific websites that accept article contributions and arrange to have an article of yours guest-posted on their website.
Posting content on other people’s sites will greatly help you publicize your project by “piggybacking” on the site’s existing audience. Additionally, backlinking to your own site will help improve your SEO rankings.
Guest posts are also a great way to build business relationships in the crypto world. Websites need good content to attract readers, and you need those readers to invest in your token. It’s a win-win for both parties.
When seeking out websites to post your content, make sure that they are focused in the crypto space, ideally ICOs. This will significantly improve the quality of traffic going back to your site. The site should ideally have a good track record of regularly posting high quality content.
Remember that by posting on another site, your reputation will be linked to theirs. Make sure that the site hasn’t previously publicized or promoted scammy or questionable ICOs. People will notice this and remember.
Banner Ads and Other Paid Advertising
This doesn’t mean that you should abandon pay-per-click ads all together. There are some well-respected crypto-specific ad networks which have popped up in the past few years.
These ad networks target their ads extremely well as they operate specifically in the crypto industry. One of the largest niche banner networks in the world is CoinAd, which offers high quality traffic at fair and competitive prices.
Attend a Few Cryptocurrency Conferences
In today’s digital world, it is more important than ever to break the mold and meet people face to face. Attending industry events will present you with new opportunities to accelerate your ICO and platform’s success.
Conferences are one of the best ways to meet people and make connections in the crypto world. You can find and network with potential collaborators and partners: investors, marketers, advisors, community managers, or other entrepreneurs who have hosted ICOs themselves.
These events are also a great way to keep a pulse on the crypto world as a whole, and see what your competition (other ICOs) are up to.
I’ve been blown away by the quality of presenters and the connections I have made at conferences I’ve attended. Conferences are probably one of the best investments of your time, and as a new project in crypto space, at least someone on your team should be regularly attending.
“Software”: Build a Base of Supporters
Build Trust With Your Target Audience
Building trust is an overarching theme in this article. Coupled with an effective marketing strategy, creating trust is the one of the most important things that you can do to ensure your ICO’s success.
Marketing is what gets the word out about the project, but building trust is what will ultimately be the deciding factor in motivating an investor to actually back your project with their contribution.
Without marketing, no one will hear about your project. If you don’t build trust, people may hear about the project but ultimately won’t want to support you. You need both to be successful.
Be Clear and Transparent About Your Project and Its Aims
A key component of building trust with your supporters is being transparent with them. With so many ICO scams out there, it is more important than ever to set yourself apart from everyone else by being honest and straightforward.
It should be clear to anyone researching your project exactly what your intended project is or what service you will provide. This information should be found easily.
This is a basic step which we’ve addressed in the “Hardware” section above, and it gets skipped all the time. Remember: being unclear about your motives will turn off potential project supporters.
You can always improve your platform as time goes on, but it is very difficult to change people’s perception once its been set.
Another thing you need is publicly available information on your team, especially your development team. Nothing screams scam like anonymous team members who can’t be found when you Google their names. People interested in your project should be able to easily find information on what your team members are working on, their strengths and their previous experience.
A few notable exceptions are projects like Komodo or Decred which, in the spirit of anonymity, keep their identities pseudo-anonymous. But here’s an important distinction to make: anonymous in no way means silent. These teams are highly active on their forums and are constantly releasing updates on Github.
This level of transparency also applies to your platform and its technology. A big plus goes to projects which are building an open-source platform. Or even more kudos if you already have a working alpha or beta version of your platform prior to launch.
Having a working product works in your favor in several ways. It gives people a chance to see what your platform is going to look like and what it is going to do. It also, more importantly, gives people peace of mind and builds their trust about the veracity of the project.
A working product shows that not only are you capable of doing what you say you aim to do, but that you’re actually capable of pulling it off.
Be Smart and Selective When Building Your Advisory Team
The advisory team is a key aspect of your project which shouldn’t be overlooked. You need your advisors to be able to advise. So look for individuals with experience and knowledge you can pull from, and are also good to work with.
The presence of advisors can play a much bigger role with ICOs than you may think. The Washington-DC based firm RAD Lending recently analyzed 100 successful ICOs. They found that the median advisor number for ICOs was 5, and more importantly that “the number of advisors presented on the website strongly correlates to the amount of money raised.”
In the past, an advisor was someone who has great complementary experience, and had limited but still active participation in your token’s development. Today, advisors are a very important part of your ICO’s marketing.
Having a few strong advisors on your team can go a long way to get people to support your project. Having a crypto “superstar” can weigh the scales in favor of your ICO’s success.
OmiseGO has one of the strongest advisory boards in crypto
But since we can’t all get Vitalik Buterin on our team, you should focus on people with a good range of experience and credentials.
That said, you shouldn’t recruit advisors for marketing purposes alone. Advisors are people you will look to for guidance when you don’t have the answers. For that reason, you need to make sure that your advisors know what you’re going through, and understand the process so that they can help. You should also have advisors with a range of expertise so you can call on different people for different problems.
Comparing to hiring team members, it should be easier to get advisors with more impressive credentials because advisors have limited interaction with the project. This means that advisors, in theory, could be on the advisory board for a number or projects or working on their own project full-time.
While advisors are important, don’t put a huge list of people on your website just for the sake of it. This will also turn off potential ICO backers because it can come across as tacky and give supporters reason to question your judgement. Be judicious when building your advisory board.
Be Active On All Applicable Social Media Channels
Active social media communities are a huge factor which will either make or break your ICO.
The study conducted by RAD Lending on 100 successful ICOs demonstrates the importance of social media. According to the study, “a wide social reach was key” to the overall success of the crowdfunding efforts.
More specifically, they found that it was the single biggest determining factor in the amount of funds raised. The median numbers for followers on Twitter, Facebook and Telegram was 4,203, 5,471 and 2,982 respectively. No other social media platforms were included in the study.
Everyone has heard of Facebook and Twitter, and you should have official pages on both platforms. In the crypto community, there are a few other social channels that you should use to interact with your community which we’ll outline below.
Telegram has arrived as the standard for live chat rooms in the crypto world. This WhatsApp-esque messaging service is used by every successful ICO today. Through Telegram, you and your team are able to interact with your community directly, answering any questions or concerns regarding your product.
It is key that you have admins who are regularly active on your channel. Having great customer service will put your community at ease, and make them significantly more likely to support you.
These admins also need to constantly control what is being posted, and ban people who are posting rude or inappropriate content. Every Telegram channel I have seen has trolls. With any open messaging channel, it is impossible to keep them out; all you can do is be proactive with deleting inappropriate content and banning the bad apples.
Having a strong Telegram following can be a huge advantage for your project, as the above-mentioned study by RAD Lending revealed. According to the study, out of all the social media channels surveyed, the number of Telegram followers correlated highest to the amount of contributions received.
That simply translates to: the more Telegram followers you have, the more you’re likely to raise in your ICO.
Reddit is one of the biggest websites on the internet for crypto. Every major coin has its own subreddit, and yours should too. This is the place for the community to talk about your token. It is a great way to keep a pulse on the industry.
It is also one of the best places to foster your community. Regular posts are key to making your followers grow. Nothing builds doubt in the mind of investors like a quiet or nonexistent reddit page.
The best way to build up your Reddit community is by posting relevant and up-to-date information about your project. You’ll need a few moderators to control the content of the page. People will associate what is on your Reddit with your project, regardless of who posted the content.
If you already have a strong Telegram following, you can start to funnel those followers to your subreddit and seed some discussions there to get your subreddit active.
Discord or Slack
Discord and Slack have gained favor as the standard ICO “chatroom.” While very similar to Telegram, many ICOs also chose to add either Discord and Slack as the last piece of the pie to easily communicate with their community.
Generally speaking, you should only have Slack or Discord; having both will confuse your followers and simply be too many channels of communication.
There are a few technical and pricing differences between the two. To summarize, Slack is traditionally more popular with journalists and businesses because of the easy-to-use integrations (like Mailchimp or GoogleDocs), and it easily allows the sharing of files and images.
Discord, on the other hand, was designed for online gamers who needed a way to communicate effectively while playing cooperative games. For this reason, there are less file-sharing systems put in place, but it is much easier to quickly find and switch between various channels.
Like Reddit and Telegram, you will need to have someone moderating your channel to keep things clean and civil.
For further reading on social media and cryptocurrency, see “What Social Media To Use For Crypto Investing”.
Actively Manage Your Community
Your community must be actively managed on a day-to-day basis. This usually is a full time job in itself.
As such, hiring a Community Manager to join your team is a good idea. A Community Manager is someone who is responsible for advocating for you on all the appropriate social media platforms. Their role is to actively go out into the community and interact with your project’s supporters and investors. They are on the front line, showing off your brand to the masses.
The Community Manager is someone who is responsible for engaging and growing your community. They will be active on the community forums, posting relevant articles, and educating people about your platform.
They should be a jack-of-all-trades, interacting with your community on a regular basis on your own channels, answering questions, and reaching out to different teams to create relationships. This is a key role on any ICO team.
Bringing It All Together
At this point, you have all the basic tools needed to host a successful ICO.
In “How To Run A Successful ICO (Part 1): Should You Even ICO?”, we covered the basics of the ICO, explaining what it is, highlighted many of the common mistakes made during ICOs, explained token use cases, and, more importantly, asked if an ICO is even right for you in the first place.
In “How To Run A Successful ICO (Part 2): Preparing for the ICO?”, we went deeper. We discussed the various platforms on which you can launch your token, we talked about common token sale models and discussed the pros and cons of each. This article also focused on the various legal considerations you need to take prior to launching in various countries, and the importance of obtaining legal counsel.
Here in Part 3, we brought it all together. We discussed how to equip your supporters with all relevant information through your website and whitepaper. Then we covered how to effectively market your ICO with a number of techniques such as paid PR and ICO listings. Finally, we explained how to build trust with your community through transparency and actively interacting with your supporters/investors.
Running an ICO is an undertaking that is not to be taken lightly. Remember that for every success, there are many more failures. There is no way to ‘guarantee’ the success of your ICO, but taking the advice laid out for you in these articles will put you far ahead of the competition and set you up for success.
Invest In Blockchain offers marketing packages for ICOs and cryptocurrency projects looking to widen their reach and educate investors about their project. Our services include creating high quality original articles, community management advice, listings on our ICO calendar, and more. You can find out more about our services here: Work With Us. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries.
Disclaimer: This article is meant to be an educational guide for people interested in running an ICO and is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be legal or financial advice.