Dozens of NFT projects are started every day, while dozens more close their doors. Many look towards the Web3 space as a get-rich-quick scheme, and it is easy to see why most do not succeed. As the popularity of NFTs rises, the competition gets tougher and tougher — so how do you stand out from the masses?
Marketing your project is arguably the most important piece to an NFT puzzle, but many entrepreneurs are left without a sufficient starting point to get their project off the ground. In this post, we are going to cover all the bases when it comes to marketing your NFT project to ensure your idea is one of the few who make it out of the rat race. With that in mind, we have one disclaimer.
Marketing is like a puzzle: you can have all the pieces, but if they are not in the right place, it will not work. To make matters more complicated, every project is unique and requires a different approach than the next. If you are confident in your abilities to put the puzzle pieces together for your unique project, then keep reading. If not, consider contacting us here at Space Age so we can put you on the track for success.
Table Of Contents
- NFT Marketing vs Web2 Marketing
- The Importance Of Community
- Native NFT Marketing
- Traditional Marketing Methods For NFTs
- Web3 Marketing Wildcards
- NFT Marketing Case Studies
- Final Thoughts and Key Takeaways
Marketing an NFT project is different from traditional Web2 marketing practices; however, there is a degree of overlap. Marketing an NFT project strongly correlates to event marketing in the Web2 space, but there are key differences at the foundation. So, what are the key components of a successful NFT marketing campaign?
At the heart of any NFT project is community. Your community will be your greatest asset, as they will provide you with:
- Valuable feedback
- Marketing / word of mouth growth
- Initial revenue
- Brand advocacy
- And much more
While communities are the lifeblood of NFT projects, the task of attracting enthusiasts to your community remains. When it comes to growth, organic connection truly trumps all; however, the pitfall of this is that it is time-consuming and not scalable. For this reason, we need to strike a balance between fostering organic connection and getting your story out to the masses. This is done by building a proper funnel that attracts a large audience, vets qualified leads, and allows for an opportunity for direct connection that fosters a real relationship.
When it comes to marketing tactics, what we have learned is that the general NFT audience operates differently from that of the general public. NFT enthusiasts tend to be more sceptical of traditional marketing channels like paid ads. The audience has a preference towards organic connections and authority. With these key pieces in mind, we can discuss proven tactics.
Building a strong community should be at the heart of your marketing strategy. Kicking this guide off with the topic of community is imperative, as all marketing channels should point back to feeding your community. Early stage projects will rarely be able to get people to buy their token from a single touch point in your marketing funnel. New projects tend to be unproven and riskier investments. To ease the nerves of a prospective holder, you have to slowly introduce them to your project and instil the confidence in them that this is a project worth their time. In addition to this, building a community creates a devoted member. NFT projects succeed when they have key members dedicated to bringing them along instead of investors looking for a quick cash-out.
Community size and activity tends to be a key indicator for potential holders when making a decision to invest. For this reason, it is important to grow your community — not just for internal logistics, but external optics.
Spending thousands of dollars to bring members into a community will mean nothing if you cannot retain and engage. Maintaining a large and engaged community will translate into success in the long run.
Discord is the platform of choice when growing your community. Not only are NFT natives accustomed to Discord as a platform, but it also offers analytics and robust customization options that allow you to do much more than most other platforms.
NFTs have been around for a relatively short time. In that time, however, there have been proven techniques with which most holders are familiar. Using NFT native marketing strategies signals to a community that you are familiar with the technology and culture. In addition to this, these techniques are effective ways of attracting prospective holders, often involving tools and platforms exclusive to NFT natives. Here are some of the most common and effective marketing strategies available:
Many consider airdrops to be a quintessential tool in an NFT marketer’s kit. The beauty of airdrops is that the recipient requires some form of digital wallet to receive the prize. This ensures the exclusion of non-NFT natives and essentially pre-vets your recipients. So, what is an airdrop?
Airdrops are the distribution or allotment of free digital assets to the general public. In layman’s terms, it is sending a digital asset directly to a recipient's wallet. Within this, there are multiple kinds of airdrop techniques.
1. Standard Airdrop
This is a general airdrop that awards general members of a community. Projects will share a certain percentage of their native token to all wallets within the community. Generally there is no task involved in receiving this; it is just awarded to the community as an added incentive. This can generate a sense of interest in the token, but also the project — everyone loves getting free stuff!
2. Bounty Airdrop
Bounty airdrops require some form of task to be completed before someone may receive the drop. These tasks tend to be promotional by nature, as you are essentially incentivizing your community to promote your project for you. Some common tasks are:
- Profile sharing
- Newsletter signups
- Thread promotions
3. Exclusive Airdrop
As the name suggests, these airdrops are only for an exclusive group of VIPs. These drops are reserved for long-term holders or community members. These people tend to have contributed to the project in the past in some capacity by participating in promotional activities or helping make key decisions for the project.
Contests are another staple of NFT communities. Contests come in many forms, as the term “contest” paints a broad picture. The goal of a contest depends on the current needs of your project. Contests can be great for two things: community engagement and growth. You can host smaller, hyper-relevant contests that appeal to your immediate community and can provide a boost of morale while spurring conversation and engagement. Contests with broader and more valuable rewards can attract a larger audience, making it an effective tool for attracting new community members.
1. Community Engagement Contests:
- Scavenger Hunt
These can be time-consuming if you want to set up something elaborate. The concept, though, is straightforward. What most communities do is hide clues anywhere in the server. Players then find these clues one by one to unlock a final hidden message. Those who succeed receive the prize.
- Debate Competition
Hosting a debate on your community server is a great way to get users vocally engaged. Topics can vary, as it depends on the kind of community you are growing. Getting users to physically speak breaks down virtual barriers and can lead to a much more connected sense of community.
Hosting quizzes for your community is a fun way to get users to engage. Here you can incorporate project lore and information that creates a deeper understanding of the mission of the project. Building that emotional connection to a project's story is important in creating a strong community.
2. Growth Contests:
- Invite Competition
This one is pretty straightforward: participants earn points for each person they are able to successfully bring into the server. After the contest has run for a week or so, you see who has the most invite points. The winner then receives a small prize, possibly monetary or service-based.
Hosting giveaways on a server is an easy way to attract members; however, there are two main mistakes that we see clients make.
Firstly, some tend to forget one of the most important parts of a giveaway: promoting it. If hosting a giveaway, you should be blasting it across all of your socials. If you are investing a considerable amount of money into the giveaway, it is best to invest in marketing the giveaway, too. Avenues such as paid ads, metaverse ads and influencers should be in consideration when running a giveaway to maximise value.
Secondly, many organisations provide a prize that doesn’t align with their community. Most will offer a monetary prize, but this will open yourself up to too broad of an audience and will lead to a low retention rate of those who join your server to participate in the giveaway. Most will only join for a chance to win money and immediately leave when they do not. Instead, offer a prize that has true value to your target audience. This will increase the likelihood of the participants sticking around after the giveaway, because they actually like your mission. So, what might a community-aligned prize look like? Say you are targeting the gaming community; perhaps you can offer a free high-end keyboard or gaming headphones.
In the end, extract all the value you can from the giveaway, but make sure it is proportionate to the gift value. The larger the prize, the more you can ask of participants. If offering a big ticket item, have them join the server and take two or more actions that benefit your organisation, like social follows or newsletter signups. If it is a small prize, simply having them join the Discord server could be enough.
- Project-Specific Contest
We are leaving this one somewhat ambiguous on purpose. Creating a competition relevant to your project is the perfect way of attracting an audience outside of your existing one that is a match with your target user. If your project is for artists, host an art contest. If your project is a video game, host a video game competition. The possibilities here are endless and are an excellent community-building tool for any project.
Twitter raids are something fairly unique to the NFT space. Twitter raids are another fun way to activate community members in your promotional activities. These raids include community members “raiding” or posting under specific twitter threads with promotional messages of the server. There are different ways to perform a Twitter raid, but below we will outline a common practice for the tactic.
How To Do An NFT Twitter Raid
- Open a “Twitter Raid” channel in your Discord Server.
- Allow members to link to specific tweets and threads that the community wants to raid.
- Members must follow the links in the channel and respond to the tweet.
- Each response should be unique and in some capacity promote the NFT project.
- Each response should include the Twitter handle of the project and a hashtag unique to the group.
- Once everyone has made their posts, search for your unique hashtag on Twitter.
- Retweet every tweet within your unique hashtag to amplify volume.
It is important to note that Twitter raids should be targeted towards topics related to NFT’s and are open to seeing new projects flood the comments. Twitter raids can quickly become spam campaigns when the wrong links are added. Actively monitor what links are being sent in and quickly remove links that don’t belong. Tweets like the one below or tweets from your own brand's accounts are good places to start.
What better way to get Discord members than by promoting in a Discord server? Identifying servers that hold your target audience without being a direct competitor can be an extremely efficient strategy. These can be difficult to find, and many servers are poorly run without a proper promotional system in place. If you can find the right ones, however, it will pay off in dividends. Here are some sites to find Discord servers:
AMA, or Ask Me Anything, is a great tool for NFT marketing. Like many marketing tools, this can be used as a community growth or engagement tool. AMA sessions can introduce a project and allow for community members to ask questions to gain a better understanding of the direction. This provides much-needed clarity and human connection that community members need to develop a level of trust within a project.
It is also possible to leverage AMA sessions as a growth tool. Bringing in thought leaders known by your target audience is a great way to pull in your ideal audience and introduce them to your project. High quality speakers can be marketed aggressively to pull in a greater audience and eventually grow your community.
AMA sessions can be hosted on Reddit, Youtube or Discord. Discord is the best choice to pull people directly into your community, but keep in mind that not everyone has Discord. Hosting on Reddit or Youtube allows anyone to participate.
NFT Utilities are becoming more and more important not only as a perk to the community, but also as a marketing tactic. With competition rising in the NFT space, holders need more incentives than the prospect of winning big on the token. By providing additional perks to holding your token, you are accessing a wider group of people who are interested in the perks you offer and not just buying and selling tokens. Tailoring your token’s utilities to your target audience's interests is a key component of this. Some examples of token utilities are:
- Physical products
- Metaverse events
- Voting rights
- Exclusive content
- Token drops
The first step in bringing your NFT to market is listing it on an NFT marketplace. If your project doesn’t have much of a following, listing it on a marketplace opens you up to a whole new audience amassed by the platform itself. This is essentially like listing yourself in a directory or search engine. This will not be the most effective method of traction, but it is one of the easiest and most necessary ways to make your project more discoverable to a wider audience. Some popular marketplaces include:
Leveraging these marketplaces as best as you can is an important piece to remember when trying to extract their total value. Some marketplaces like SuperRare actually offer extended support for promoting your project. This is something many founders miss when listing their project, which means they lose an important way of accessing a larger audience.
Another platform, Enjin, offers promotional opportunities as well. Enjin allows you to promote your site and listing. Through this, you are able to get a premium listing with a banner on Enjin’s global community list. These hidden promotional offers can make or break an NFT campaign. We recommend always reaching out to the marketplace team to see what promotional opportunities they have available before choosing a platform.
Email marketing is probably one of the most Web2 marketing strategies you can use, but it is still highly effective. If you are a marketer, you understand the absolute marvel that email marketing is due to how consistently effective it has been since nearly the inception of the internet. This still rings true as we transition to Web3. The majority, if not all, of your prospective holders have an email.
The goal of digital marketing these days is to be everywhere your target audience is online. This sentiment carries over to NFT marketing; if the majority of your audience uses email, why aren’t you trying to exist there?
The first step in email marketing is lead capture. Generally, a lead capture consists of first and last name and email address. Obtaining this data is the first step in getting in touch with your audience. Some methods of obtaining leads are:
- News & updates
- Free content
Once you have built an audience, you must develop a communication strategy. What kind of content is your audience interested in? Send emails people will actually want to open. If you can provide value to your audience, they will not mind you promoting your project here and there. The key to this is to avoid over-promoting your project, which will annoy users and lead to a negative response.
In addition to building an email marketing list, collecting emails can be used for other purposes:
- Remarketing on ad platforms
- Direct communication
Like most traditional marketing methods, email marketing is not perfect, but it should be a front-runner if you have the resources to execute it. So where does email marketing fall short?
First and foremost, the general Web3 audience is sceptical of data collection and providing information. Many Web3 projects are built on the idea of anonymity and leaving no digital trace. Email collection goes against these principles, so many users might be wary of this practice. Depending on the project, this could even stir up negative emotions. If your project shares such viewpoints, your audience likely will not appreciate you skirting the anonymous barrier to improve marketing.
Influencer marketing is probably one of the best traditional marketing strategies on Web3. As mentioned before, Web3 natives prefer credibility and authority over all else. Many look towards thought leaders to help make difficult decisions when navigating the market.
A distinction is the use of thought leaders over influencers. Influencers are classified as thought leaders, but thought leaders are not necessarily influencers. Thought leaders are influencers in that they have a dedicated audience that they are able to influence. However, where thought leaders go beyond influencers is that they are natives to the topic or niche you are trying to promote within. These thought leaders have independent ideas and projects they work on that give them the utmost credibility. Think Kim Kardashian (who was recently fined for promoting crypto) — she might have millions of followers and can reach an even larger audience, but what does she know about crypto? She may be invested in crypto, but we know she is not the one in the weeds trading and investing. So what true Web3 native would take her word over a small-time crypto thought leader who has spearheaded half a dozen successful projects?
The moral of this story is to start small. Find quality thought leaders who have a real influence over their audience. Finding micro-influencers that will deliver an effective campaign will be worth much more than finding big-name influencers to promote your project.
Public relations is likely one of the most transferable strategies from Web2 to Web3. Like any industry, there are a plethora of reporting bodies dedicated to amassing an audience and distributing daily news from the space. It is still essential to any strategy.
In PR, timing is everything. Sustained PR has its benefits; however, it is time-consuming and expensive. Smaller projects have a hard time executing on sustained PR for those reasons, but this does not mean it should be entirely excluded.
For most small and first time projects, utilising PR during your initial minting will yield the best value for this strategy. Your mint should be treated similarly to an event: when you have an event, you want to time your marketing strategy with your event release timeline. We recommend attempting a PR campaign anywhere between one to two months before your release for optimal timing.
There are two main kinds of PR campaigns: paid and earned. Paid is fairly self-explanatory: you pay publications to create a story around your project. This is easier to do than earned PR and generally only requires a few weeks of planning to research and coordinate.
Earned PR requires a much longer process. It requires mass cold outreach to relevant writers and reporters in the space. Once you connect with them, you must build a relationship with these reporters, which can take weeks or even months. If you are performing an earned PR campaign, be prepared for a lengthy process that requires time-intensive resources.
If you have been in the marketing space in the last couple of years, you know that ads have taken a hit across the board. Adequate tracking has hit a wall; costs have gone up and trust has gone down. Despite this, paid ads are not entirely out of the game.
Ads are steadily at the bottom of the marketing funnel or re-engagement strategy. There has not been much success in using ads as a way to make the first introduction to your project. Regarding the emphasis on authenticity and authority, the unfortunate truth is that ads do not represent either of those unless the end user has already interacted with your brand, ideally multiple times.
The easiest way to interact with an audience who is already familiar with your project is to remarket to your own social audience. On major ad platforms like Meta or Twitter, you are able to directly remarket to your followers. This paired with a major announcement, event or competition can significantly improve brand awareness and strengthen communications with your community as a whole.
To sum up ads, they are no longer the champion of success that most organisations look towards, especially for NFTs. It should not be put at the forefront of your strategy, and along that same vein, it should not be a major recipient of your budget. It should be used as a secondary supporting mechanism for other marketing efforts and events.
While many might question the benefits of SEO for NFT projects, we can confirm that it is not a strategy that should be completely overlooked. SEO is important if you plan on leveraging a website for your project, which most projects should be doing. SEO can help establish credibility by launching your project to the top of Google search results. SEO also greatly improves your all around digital searchability. This allows for your project to be found more easily. If your website takes more than one search to locate, you are likely missing out on potential holders. Here are some ways to improve digital visibility/searchability:
- Structure your website for Google Search
- Get published in online directories
- Register with Google My Business
In addition to all the powerful marketing tactics outlined above, there are a few “wild cards” that we have identified that are largely unique to the Web3 space. These are generally not methods that would be at the top of your list, but they might fit in for certain organisations. With these wild cards in your back pocket, you will have many more options when marketing your NFT project.
A unique marketing channel that has risen in popularity in very recent years are block chain advertising platforms. These platforms vary in their useability and technology, as there is fierce competition for the next big adtech brand. These platforms can be blockchain-based, they can operate on Web3 platforms, or they can operate using a Web3 ideology. All of these platforms are able to reach a somewhat relevant audience because they target NFT/Web3 natives. Some platforms to consider are:
Permission is a tokenised Web3 advertising platform that enables advertisers to offer consumers crypto rewards for data and engagement. This platform embodies the decentralised ideology of Web3 as it offers power back to the user, an issue highlighted by social media giants like Meta and TikTok.
Blockchain ads are another platform that brings power back to the people. It is a decentralised P2P ad platform that works with personalised advertising based on Web3 digital identities.
Another interesting advertising channel that has come from the Web3 wave is advertising in the metaverse. With the digital ownership of “property” in the metaverse, users are able to sell space on their land to advertising companies.
Metaverse Architects is originally a 3D modelling and game development studio for the metaverse, working in Decentraland, The Sandbox, and other major metaverse worlds. Through this they have developed a metaverse billboard system that allows media buyers to purchase space on plots of land in the metaverse. This will be similar to traditional billboard advertising, except users are able to click on the creatives.
Metaverse Billboards is another opportunity to advertise within the metaverse. This platform can advertise in Cryptovoxels. Prices on this platform are slightly higher however they are able to access a large audience.
On a final note, we would like to add a note of caution about two of these channels. Blockchain advertising and metaverse advertising are both very new platforms, so exercise caution when testing and experimenting with these platforms. Do not invest a percentage of your budget that you are not willing to lose.
Partnerships are one of our favourite growth methods. Calling partnerships a marketing strategy is a bit of a stretch, which is why we label this as a growth method. Partnerships are fairly straightforward but frequently overlooked. Partnering with similar organisations proves to be a powerful growth opportunity, opening you up to your partners’ audiences and them to yours.
Partnerships are a simple process and happen organically. The most difficult part of partnerships is doing the research as to who would be the most effective partner. From there you must devise a plan of how you can form a mutually beneficial relationship. From that point on it is just a matter of getting in touch, booking a call and coming to an agreement. To learn more about the process of partnerships, you can read a walkthrough of partnership outreach at the link.
Community hacking is an effective method for NFT marketing. The reason for this is that NFT natives are frequent users of online communities. Similar to how NFT users are acclimated to project specific Discord groups, these same users tend to explore other online communities related to general NFT or Web3 topics. Within these NFT or Web3 communities you will find a high intent audience who we know at the very least are acclimated to the space. You are also able to find niched down communities within the space. It is easy to find communities dedicated to art NFTs, gaming, the metaverse and anything else Web3.
To go about community hacking, you have to do your research. Research as many relevant groups and communities as you can. Write them down with key data points like size, niche and promotional availability. After creating a sizeable list, you must start posting. Every group and community has its own set of rules around self-promotion. Before posting in any group, it is imperative to be aware of the rules in place, or your post will be removed and your account possibly banned. For the groups that allow self-promotion, find ways to incorporate into the community rather than only promoting directly. Answering others' questions and responding organically will yield much better results than posting a promotional comment and leaving.
Web3 Waves is a community and media company created to help Web3 startups receive the resources they need to succeed. This is done through the use of online events, pitch competitions and free content. One event in particular, their Web3 Demo Day, has been successful in driving growth for the server and greater W3W ecosystem.
Upon speaking with founder Michael Gaizutis, we were able to uncover the use of community hacking techniques to connect with high potential startups that would later join the events and greater ecosystem. By connecting with members of Web3 related Twitter communities, the team was able to pull in more than 30 candidates for their event, leading to meaningful additions to the startup community they are fostering.
The W3W team explained that the success behind this was driven by offering an event opposed to promoting a service. Most communities are not very enthusiastic about simple promotions, but if you can provide value to members through the use of an event or something similar, it is received much better.
The Doodles Think Tank/Doodlebank is more of a community engagement strategy and token utility than pure marketing. As we have discussed, however, we can see how the two walk hand in hand.
The Doodle’s creators have essentially put aside a fund of over 650 ETH to fund community-led growth projects. The ideas must go through a rigorous community voting process that vets ideas before passing the final approval, where the leaders of the project will execute with the community members’ oversight.
This might sound like a fun community idea, but it truly is an ingenious tactic for maintaining community engagement as well as providing additional perks for members considering a project to invest in. You get your day trader types when it comes to NFT holders, but the majority are looking for a limited number of communities to actively participate in. Providing a fund for members to produce ideas that could rise in the ranks and be implemented is a great incentive for aspiring NFT workers and entrepreneurs. It also creates a whole new sense of ownership over the project, allowing the community to steer the ship in the direction they want.
Crypto Roundtable is a crypto and general Web3 community. They often host Twitter Spaces and other online events for the crypto and the greater Web3 community. This organisation is one of the largest in the space, so how have they achieved this?
Although this is not necessarily the most obtainable strategy for startup projects, it is extremely effective. Crypto Roundtable offers a 10k giveaway every week for those that tune in to their online events. To enter these events, you must follow their main Twitter account, their hosts’ personal account, attend their space and finally join them in their extended community channels like Discord. These requirements have created a viral effect catapulting them to popularity. Since this runs on a weekly basis, it also maintains an engaged audience.
Although 10k every week is unattainable for most organisations, we can still take a page out of their book when looking at the effectiveness of giveaways. Providing your audience with small incentives that are relevant to their interests can produce effective results. The key is to choose an incentive that applies to your target audience. Simply providing a small monetary reward attracts too broad an audience, which is something that bootstrapped or early stage startups cannot afford. The other key factor to this is getting participants to get activated across all channels such as Twitter, Discord or Telegram.
Marketing your NFT project is difficult but not impossible. As it becomes more and more popular, the competition only gets stiffer, so come prepared. The strategies outlined in this guide are the most popular ways to market your NFT project; however, there are hundreds of other strategies and programs out there tailored towards specific projects.
If you are looking for strategies customised to your project or are looking for direction on how to piece this all together, we highly recommend that you contact Space Age for a free consultation. Call to see if your project is right for a partnership!