ICO Marketing: The Essentials for a Successful Campaign

ICO Marketing: The Essentials for a Successful Campaign

The ICO has become a really lucrative funding option for (blockchain-oriented) startups ($3,675,135,293 raised by coin offerings in 2017) and statistics point that most ICOs come from Central and Eastern Europe. A week ago a client of my software company SolvedOut asked us to do an ICO research and I did my part of the research on the marketing side of a campaign, so I decided to add my two cents here.



Before you continue reading, have in mind that this is not Wikipedia – I do not pretend it’s everything you have to know about ICO marketing and I’m pretty sure I’m missing a lot of stuff, so if you want to add something please contact me – I’ll be happy to cite you.


Everything about an ICO is marketing. Starting with with the product.

cryoto kitties


Since ICOs are basically campaigns, it means that you have to spread the word as much as you can for a limited time. But before you even announce your ICO campaign, you have to be sure your product is ready:

  • You have a real benefit of the blockchain technology – maybe you’ll use it as an in-app payment system, maybe you’ll decentralize voting/decision making on your app or something else. People are getting more and more educated about the benefits of blockchain, so you have to show solid plans.
  • You can describe your idea in a tweet, in a paragraph or in a 1500-words blog post (for ICOs – on Medium) and everyone will get it. You’ll need to, when you start shouting about your ICO all over the Internet.
  • You can take your description even further than a blogpost – you have a solid white paper.


Essentially, your goal is to boil down all of the technical jargon into bite-sized tidbits of information that your readers can understand. It should be everything they would really need to know before joining the community and making an investment. This is a crucial document that you will leverage to promote your product across a variety of channels, so it is useful to make the investment up front and make sure it looks premium and high quality.” – Forbes

Add credibility

"Backed by a president of a country" - lol, it must be serious...
“Backed by a president of a country” – lol, it must be serious…


As I analyzed many successful ICOs I found an important pattern in their team structure. Most successful ICOs look like they have gathered the smartest guys in their respective industry. They call them advisors and in my opinion 90% of what advisors are doing is adding credibility to the idea.

A good piece I read on TNW:

The plan starts with understanding who your audience is. In this case, your audience will be separated into two groups: Those who understand blockchain and those who don’t…The second group you’ll be targeting (those who don’t understand blockchain), are relative newcomers who recognize that blockchain is sizzling hot right now. They heard the terms crypto and ether being spread around and may have read a few articles on bitcoin, however, they know very little or almost nothing at all about the space. Your PR strategy needs to cater to both these audiences, with different messages and targets.

” – The Next Web

A good strategy is to attract respected advisors from the blockchain community and the overall audience or your specific industry. Say you’re having an idea to revolutionize music using decentralized network – you need someone with experience with blockchain technology and a respected figure in the music business.

Floyd 'Crypto' Mayweather sounds hillarious, but it was a huge endorsement for Stox
Floyd ‘Crypto’ Mayweather sounds hillarious, but it was a huge endorsement for Stox

How will you pay your advisors? Attracting important opinion leaders is nothing more than influencer marketing or paid endorsement, but in the case of ICOs, usually the reward for the advisors is a share of the tokens.

Warm-up way before the ICO

If you take a look at any ICO calendar, you’ll see that there are ICOs planned for the end of March 2018, and guess what – they didn’t just send a press release, but they’ve already published content-rich websites, including white papers, product videos and details about the teams.

Your campaign should start way before the coin offering and your website is its home.


The Website

ICO websites are very similar in structure. I found that they (almost) all include:

1. Heading that describes the idea in a sentence.

Source: Aworker ICO
Source: Aworker ICO


2. Video or another good way to present the product/idea


3. White Paper


Source: Dropdeck
Source: Dropdeck

4. Road map

Source: Crypterium
Source: Crypterium

5. E-mail subscription form – you need as much emails even before your presale as you can collect

6. Team & Advisors listed

Source: Mediblock
Source: Mediblock

7. Token allocation plan

Source: Traderstars
Source: Traderstars


8. Media logos (of earned or, well, mostly paid media publications)

Source: Lockchain
Source: Lockchain

Your website is the starting point for your campaign. Creating a community is what follows.

Build a community


“ICO marketing is a very specific skillset–a mix of community outreach, PR, and industry knowledge beyond the standard marketing skillset.” Reddit

Building a community is a boring, repetitive full-time job and, to make it worst, it’s vital for your ICO. It’s pretty standard in terms of marketing – you have to dig deep in forums, on social media on reddit and tell everyone about your idea and be prepared to receive criticism and defend it, give opinion on others’ ideas and repeat the process on every possible micro community out there. To mention few:

The crypto-community on Reddit is solid and its attention is important to you. The hard thing about Reddit is to get noticed if you are new to the community. To receive attention you have to, either be active on the crypto subreddits for months, or try to hire or sponsor someone with lot of karma points.

All the Blockchain forums
Forums are so 2005, but not the crypto ones. They are alive and growing and you should prepare posts and updates on your project for all major forums.

Steemit is an impressive emerging blockchain community. It is a content publishing website on which quality content is being rewarded Steemit tokens. It is a good ground for Crypto discussions too, so don’t miss it.

All Facebook & Linkedin groups
Recently I’ve been following closely some Facebook groups and what I noticed is that news spread fast on Facebook groups, posts are short and live short and everything is really dynamic, but the penetration is way easier than on forums and Reddit.

Instagram and Twitter
The best strategy on Twitter is to dig for hashtags, mentions, influencers, influencers’ followers, influencers’ followers’followers, etc. I believe that automation can do fantastic work on Twitter and Instagram and if I plan ICO marketing campaign I won’t neglect those two platforms as ways to attract people and build community.

Good Old PR

Source: Wicked Crypto Meetup's Facebook
Source: Wicked Crypto Meetup’s Facebook

What you have to do in terms of PR is pretty standard – send press releases to all: 1. Blockchain specialized media 2. Technology media 3. {Your-industry} media 4. Local media or something that can add additional value

What I’d personally do is look for all the journalists on each media outlet who have written anything blockchain related, get in contact with them and ask them to write about my project.

Be ready to pay for media publications too. Especially on the crypto media. You may be charged a lot for your first 2 or 3 publications, but they may kickstart a series of earned media publications, so do your maths.

Coin Calendars
There are plenty of websites announcing future ICOs – make sure to get listed on all of them. They are good platforms for banner ads for your presale/token sale too.

This is the most personal way to meet the community and attract supporters. There are huge crypto meetups in the larger European capitals and many startups even hire people to present their ICOs on blockchain events.

Presale and whitelists

“ICO Presale or also known as Pre-ICO, is the token sale event that Blockchain enterprises run before the official crowdsale or ICO campaign goes live. The fundraising targets for Pre-ICOs are often lower as compared to that of the main ICO and tokens are usually sold cheaper.” – ICO Watchlist

The presale is part of the marketing strategy as it creates a sense of urgency, a limited offer. If you manage to reach good results on presale, the crowd will be much more willing to jump on your ICO train on the actual token sale.

Speaking of which, many companies first secure investors for their presales, so that they are sure the presale will be successful…

Speaking of which some companies offer potential investors to apply for reserving their right to buy tokens before the presale, so that they won’t miss it. This tactic is called “Whitelist” and usually it targets investors willing to buy tokens for ETH10 or more.


Google Adwords for ICO

Pretty standard situation here too. Most ICOs rely on three main paid sources of traffic:


  1. Adwords
  2. Facebook Ads
  3. Media Networks CPM/CPA Ads

My research shows that in the summer a successful ICO campaign cost around $20,000 to $30, 000 for advertising only – that’s all three types of ads and sponsored publications. But let me quote some other stats:

Statistics in October says that 2/3 of all ICOs did not hit 75% target compared to 7% back in June.” – Lendoco

In the new reality of the crypto space getting noisier every single day, I predict those costs will be much higher for next successful ICOs.

Bounty Programs

Soucre: Crowdholding ICO
Soucre: Crowdholding ICO

Bounty campaigns are also a great way to build a community. The way bounty campaigns work is by offering your token as a reward to people in exchange for various promotional activities, this could be a signature in a cryptocurrency forum to someone writing an article about your ICO. Utilizing bounties can spread your ICO further through people who like your concept.“ – Crowdholding

I couldn’t explain bounty campaigns better than the guys at Crowdholding and theirs is a really good example actually – Go check it.


Is this all?

Of course not. For me that’s just a list of all the things you can’t get away without when planning your ICO marketing campaign. But like every really successful marketing campaign, to stand out and reach your goals, you will have to add your special secret sauce – a PR stunt, some daily vlogs behind the scenes of your startup, you name it.

In my recent blog posts I’ve been listing links to the sources of information that have shaped my articles. I hope it’s useful for my readers – there’s one at the bottom of this post too.


Say “HI”

Do you need advice or collaboration on a project? Be it and ICO, VR marketing or anything else marketing-related, do not hesitate to get in touch with me – I’ll do my best.

Add me on LinkedIn too.

You should check my software company SolvedOut too we created it with the mission to build tailored Web, Mobile and Enterprise solutions for companies of any size.

Take a look at this PDF selection of our most recent projects.

We live in interesting times, guys. Do more.


Additional Reads:

6 Tips On Marketing An ICO
ICO Marketing
Foxtail ICO Marketing
ICO Promo
ICO Marketing Guide
Watch out for these 3 things when marketing an ICO
How to create an ICO – Part 3 – Marketing
ICO Marketing Strategy
List of ICO resources
Top 100 Bitcoin Blogs and Websites on Bitcoin Crypto-Currency and Blockchain Technology
Crypto PR: How to publicize your blockchain startup to a successful ICO and beyond
What’s the bes ICO marketing agency?
The 4 skills required for crypto-marketing success


Leave a Reply