ICO marketing – Experiments with 8 traffic sources.

The goal of ICO or “Initial Coin Offering” marketing is to attract investors. ICO projects emerge every day but not all of them succeed in raising capital due to both poor pay per click strategy and value proposition. In the past two years, we have spent more than $15,000,000 on different marketing channels to understand the crucial strategies for a successful ICO marketing launch.

For business owners, it’s an instrument to raise funds for their new start-up. During ICO, they sell tokens, which have an equivalent value in an internal project currency. If the project is successful, the value of these tokens will be several times more than the initial ICO price. Interest rates are much higher compared to traditional investment instruments like deposits or bonds. But, it’s quite risky since not every project succeeds. Also, recently a lot of fraud projects have appeared on the market.

The ICO process can be broken down into the following stages:
1. To start the ICO process, a company presents its whitepaper. Conditions for selling tokens are stated there.
2. Pre-sale period.
3. Main token sale.

We have been working with several start-ups during their ICO. Each of those start-ups had a great team behind them, which in our opinion, is the key success factor that determines if the project will be successful or not. In this article, I will share our main ICO marketing experiments.
Take 10 min to read these as this can save you hundreds of thousands of USD.


The first mistake we have seen on most of the websites is the lack of a clear value proposition on the main page. You should answer the following question: “What makes your product special?” and publish this answer as the headline on your main page. I know that it might take few days or weeks to experiment and find the best short headline, but those efforts are worth it because this is something that would help not only your sales, but yourself, and your work buddies.

Investors should see the value of your product clearly to invest in it. Let me provide an example from one of our recent projects.

Headline: Convert cryptocurrencies into fiat money within 5-10 min
Our project appeared as a direct response to a huge market problem – users are not able to quickly and easily convert cryptocurrencies into fiat money. Most of the platforms that are currently available on the market are too complicated and difficult to use.

Part 1. Successful ICO strategies

Technical on-site optimization and measurement model

Before you will invest your first dollar in cryptocurrency marketing, you need to ensure that your website meets Google and UX best practices. If you create a fast and user-friendly website, you will be rewarded not only by Google but by your actual customers. Here are the main points to pay attention to:
1. High page speed. To perform an audit use tools like PageSpeed and gtmetrix
2. Make sure that you have both robots.txt and sitemap.xml
3. There must be no duplicate content
4. Clear titles and descriptions for each page
5. At least 250 characters on your main page
6. Clean URLs
Those are the basics that need to be taken care of.

Also, you need to set up a measurement model that defines what would be a successful marketing campaign for you. It consists of specific macro and micro events that are valuable for your business.

Examples of a micro-conversion might be the time on site metric, email submission, etc. The macro conversion is purchase.

We suggest sending valuable events to Google Analytics using GTM. Also, it would be helpful to visualize your website behavior using tools such as Yandex Metrica, which is a free alternative to Crazy Egg.

Almost perfect – you do not need such good results

What traffic sources to consider when you are running an ICO?

Display traffic from AdWords

Every traffic type from AdWords and Facebook has its purpose. Display traffic is one of the most effective ways to collect emails and cookie database, so that you can upsell using email marketing, Facebook, and AdWords remarketing campaigns. Channels such as YouTube are more suitable for Brand Awareness.

Benefits of Google Display Campaigns:
● Lower CPC compared to Facebook and AdWords search traffic
● Many of targeting options to test
● Huge coverage – in most of the countries, more people can be reached with this compared to Search Network

To learn more about display campaigns, I would suggest to check one of our articles on the official Google community.

To give you an idea of cost per conversion and traffic volume, here is a screenshot from one our clients from Russia who created a platform to sell and buy crypto assets around the world using local payment methods:

We have already worked out a list of websites that produce the highest conversion rate for the ICO project, but we are still experimenting a lot with behavioral targeting not for a specific website, but specific and person-based taking the previous online behavior into account. Some of the most effective GDN placements are:

Сost per conversion before optimization: $30
Cost per conversion after optimization: $15
Conversion volume: 1500 per day
Average CPC $0.35.

Facebook Website conversion campaign

The Facebook algorithm will optimize campaign targeting for you if you will provide sufficient conversion data.

First of all, you need to set up Facebook pixel and push macro and micro conversions to Facebook.

Macro conversions Micro conversion
Get in touch form Email sign up
Scrolling script
Specific page depth
File downloads
Click on whitepaper

Once you will have at least 30 conversions in ad set (preferably macro conversions), switch from manual bidding to conversion rate optimization strategies.

Most effective targeting methods and creatives:

1. Lookalike based on email list
2. Lookalike based on macro conversion events
3. Interest based on different cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, etc.)
4. Ads in messenger
5. Video creatives in news feed

In all ad sets apart from remarketing, we always add two exclusion lists: remarketing and list of people who performed macro conversion.

Less effective targeting methods and creatives:
● In-stream ads
● Lookalike based on interaction with the page
● In-stream video ads
● Carousel ads is yielding much lower engagement and relevance scores compared to video creatives (not in-stream)

Conversion volume: 500 per day
Сost per conversion before optimization: $40
Cost per conversion after optimization: $22
Average CPC: $0.9

Remarketing strategy (both FB and AdWords)

This is one of the most important parts of your ICO marketing strategy. To create a unique user experience without bothering users with the same content 10 times, we create a sales funnel:

Pay attention to these things:
1. For AdWords, create lists in Google Analytics because it’s far more flexible. Experiment with different lists based on page per session, gender, visited page, and micro conversion;
2. Send people from remarketing to separate landing pages, not those you have used at the first stage; for example, you can try doing quizzes to increase website engagement. Also, you can send people to a white paper or other useful info about ICO project with a soft sell remarketing ad and to a special landing page with your hard sell remarketing ad.
3. In Facebook, you can use not only remarketing based on website interactions but also based on video views or engagement with your page.


Part 2. Less effective paid traffic sources

YouTube in-stream and bumper ads

Currently, Google struggles to turn YouTube into a lead generation machine. So, if your ICO marketing strategy is to capture user emails on the website, YouTube is not a good option for that purpose.
They state that YouTube is dedicated to reach people who are at different stages of the buying process, but in my opinion, it just lacks lead generation functionality. For huge FMCG brands like Coca Cola YouTube is a great instrument for brand awareness, but in our case, it is useful only in two situations:
1. For remarketing;
2. To target a specific list of channels, which are related to ICO.

The main requirement is to have good short video creatives that encourage people to engage. The other thing to look for is YouTube influencers. We have ordered videos from very popular channels but it’s always like a lottery because results depend on how specific a video blogger will market your ICO project.

This channel would be useful if you have great content to share and you are planning a long-term strategy. For most of the ICO projects, YouTube is not the best channel.

Search traffic from AdWords

Search traffic on AdWords has higher conversion rates compared to Display. But, there are huge disadvantages:
1. Limited traffic volumes for bbest-performingkeywords
2. CPC is 10x higher compared to Display Network
In our case, when we have been testing search network for different Cryptocurrency and ICO projects, we ended up using it with limited CPC, which resulted in good cost per conversion, but low traffic volumes.

As you can see in this picture, Search network is yielding 50 times less conversions compared to Display. However, it takes much more time to set up search campaigns compared to Display because you have to perform considerable additional keyword research.

Conversion volume: 100 per day
Сost per conversion before optimization: $37
Cost per conversion after optimization: $21
Average CPC: $3

Gmail ads

The main problem with Gmail ads is that Google charges you not for the actual click to the website, but when users click on your Gmail ad in their browser. Add additional metrics can be seen in a full overview:

From 972 clicks, we got only 26 clicks to the website:

Lead ads on Facebook

Lead ads let you obtain customer details without leaving Facebook.
It takes five times less time to set up a Lead ads campaign compared to a Website conversion campaign. But, we have faced a really serious problem: most of the leads were fraud. Here is a screenshot from one of our recent campaigns:

Conversion volume: 200 a day
Сost per conversion: $10-20

Results look good, but when we checked the price for one good email, it turned out to be $67.

Other traffic sources:

Reddit has recently banned ICO projects, but still, there are lots of other choices:
● Quora: low traffic volumes
● LinkedIn: high CPC, but good traffic quality
● Twitter: good for remarketing

If you have questions or need further assistance, feel free to request free PPC audit.

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