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The New Marketing Stack
A new layer of the internet requires a new set of marketing tools.
While the hype of last year around web3 and NFTs has inevitably cooled off (for now), there's no stopping the movement toward this next iteration of the internet.
For many, it might seem far-fetched, but I'm convinced that every consumer-facing company will need a web3 strategy. There was once a time when many people were skeptical of e-commerce and even the internet itself.
As I wrote here, we've long been on a trajectory of continued blurring of the lines between our digital and physical identities. The internet continues its path of becoming more immersive. For our digital spaces and identities to truly matter, they must become more like matter. Web3 enables that.
However, this represents a significant paradigm shift in how companies connect and communicate with customers. Also, how and what they measure. And how it ties into the existing marketing stack.
The web3 landscape finds itself in exploration territory right now. There's a lack of best practices. Because we have yet to establish them. Without best practices to productize, it's challenging to build the right tools.
Most experimentation up to this point has happened with a lot of custom builds, which is…expensive. That's one of the reasons we're seeing big brands enter the gate first. Spending a million or two on a web3 experiment is easy if you're Nike. Harder if you're an independent, family-owned store.
Soon enough, this will change. In fact, change is happening. Right now.
Enter the web3 marketing stack.
Productization of Innovation
The adoption curve is often used from the perspective of end-user adoption of technology. However, we can add a layer of "productization of innovation." to understand how the barrier to entry lowers over time. Which in turn fuels further adoption.
One of the essential differences between web2 marketing and web3 is tracking and identifiers. The internet is ridden with cookies used to identify people and their online activity. Web3 orients around wallets.
We're moving beyond cookie-tracking anyways. Apple clamped down on it in iOS a few years ago, with significant negative impact for big ad players like Meta.
(That Apple's motivations were equal parts "user privacy" and "boosting own ad profits" is less spoken about. Oh, well. Such is the life of a monopolist).
But, I digress – my point is this: Free-to-own NFTs represent a different (and potentially more privacy-friendly) way to connect with customers. In an opt-in way, rather than stuffing tracking devices in people's back pockets when they're not looking.
This topic is worth its own in-depth post (which I'll get back to, so remember to subscribe!)
Another interesting trait of web3 native projects is the community-led growth pattern as an alternative to the traditional web2 customer acquisition funnel. Analytics and data from Discord and Telegram are suddenly the new frontiers to measuring customer animation.
The Web3 Marketing Stack
Broadly, we can put the Web3 Marketing Stack into a few different categories:
CRM and analytics
Loyalty and activation
NFTs will be a core primitive in web3 marketing. It will become an important connective tissue between companies and customers. To get there, creating NFT collections, deploying smart contracts, and collecting information from customers have to be easy and secure. Offering frictionless onboarding for first-time users is also important.
This pertains particularly to the use cases where the "NFT" is front and center in the customer experience. Over time, NFTs will become more of a data wrapper for many different things without being referred to as "NFTs."
An NFT-powered ticket will just be a ticket, for instance.
At that point, we've moved further into a mature stage where many of these web3-native tools are abstracted and embedded into verticalized, segment-specific systems like an e-commerce platform like Shopify or a ticketing platform like DX.
CRM and Analytics
With NFTs as a connective tissue, we unlock a new dimension of customer insights. Defining customer segments from the perspective of wallet content and past on-chain activity and customizing user experiences. Bello is an example of a company in this space.
As companies enter web3, they're not leaving their existing marketing initiatives, metrics, and tools behind.
Connecting and seeing patterns across web2 and web3 data is an interesting area. Being able to couple a web2 customer acquisition strategy with on-chain conversion events. Spindl is pushing the boundaries in this space.
Web3 represents an opportunity for brands to rethink loyalty programs. Starbucks made waves last year when they launched their Odyssey program's beta; soon enough, others will follow.
Loyalty is an excellent example of a use case where end-to-end tooling makes a lot of sense:
Being able to both create and distribute loyalty tokens (like an NFT), setting up activations (like unlocking a reward), and collecting data. All in one place. Hang and Flaunt are leaders in this space.
The Beauty of Interoperability
A great trait of web3 primitives like NFTs on a blockchain is the inherent openness and interoperability of the technology. As new tools surface, they'll be much easier for companies to integrate into their marketing stack. Vendor lock-in is non-existent.
Use a tool to mint and distribute NFTs to your community. Use another tool to set up a token-gated experience on your website. Use a third tool to collect data and insights. And so on.
A Future State of Embedded Workflows
As I mentioned earlier in the post, we'll also start seeing web3 features embedded into existing workflows and platforms. Whether web2 or web3 tool fatigue is a potential problem.
Mass adoption, especially in the SMB segment, requires existing platform tools (like a gym management platform) to offer users web3-enabled features without adopting new tools and deep topic knowledge.
A big future opportunity for established players like Crossmint might be to provide embeddable, web3-powered workflows for such use cases.
We're in the very early innings of establishing this new stack of future marketing tools. And new opportunities to productize will unlock as experiments yield new best practices.
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