Marketing’s Evolving Landscape: Web2–3 Marketing Primer for Brands and Agencies

Kala Philo
Impactoverse
Published in
10 min readFeb 23, 2023

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Photo by Jack Brind on Unsplash

Social media platforms and tools disrupted marketing in the 2000s. Fast forward to today. Are you feeling some deja vu? Privacy concerns, poor user experience, and unreliable targeting data are all contributing to the decline of the social media ad-driven paid reach model.

So what’s next? There is a lot of good news. In the past few months, I did extensive research and came across two significant trends that add up to big market opportunities.

  1. Social businesses, cause marketing, and impact collaborations with NPOs are the key to scaling business results alongside social / enviro benefits. Even the VCs are taking note.
  2. Web3 tools like NFTs and tokens, with mainstream-friendly positioning, are the light at the end of the Web2 marketing funnel.

Note for NFT naysayers: I am not emotionally tied to NFTs. There are strategic marketing opportunities in the NFT space for reasons I go over in this post.

If you write off NFTs based on ape-art and the 2021 artNFT boom and bust, this post will be helpful to you. Depending on your audience, you will be able to ride the first wave of mainstream NFT adoption in 2024 and beyond.

In this article, I look at the intersecting trends that provide compelling evidence that NFT cause marketing for scaling business results is an idea whose time has come.

This post ties together the following:

  1. Why cause marketing and social impact are the opportunities of the moment for brands.
  2. Why web2 marketing is a problem for, well, everyone — brands, causes, influencers, creators, and users.
  3. How web3 tools like NFTs, reward tokens, and digital asset wallets present exciting possibilities for building and engaging owned audiences.
  4. How brands can use cause marketing strategies and web3 tools to siphon their best fans from social media platforms and build loyal, owned audiences with higher CLV.

One key point to remember: You do not have to educate everyone on “what is an NFT” to run successful NFT campaigns. I’ll explain why later in the post, with an example.

For now, let’s start where we should always start, with the audience.

Why Cause Marketing is the Opportunity of the Moment for Brands

In the last 30 years, we have seen a growing trend toward socially responsible business models. In the pandemic-smacked 2020s, research from blue-chip consultancies reveals a trust void . Public trust in institutions and governments has tanked. At the same time, consumers increasingly want to support brands with aligned values and actively contribute to social causes.

Venture capital sector support of impact-driven businesses is another strong validation that “doing good with business” is now a strategic business move. VCs do not invest in ideas just to support social or environmental benefits. They see the connection between improved business results and “doing good” with business.

One of the key benefits of cause marketing is that it can help brands build a stronger emotional connection with their customers. Consumers are more likely to remember and engage with brands that are doing good in the world, which can lead to increased loyalty and advocacy. Emotion translates to trust and increased customer lifetime value (CLV).

Cause marketing can help to enhance a brand’s reputation and increase its relevance to a broader audience, particularly among consumers with shared values.

Why the Web2 Social Platform-Dominated Disaster Is a Problem for All

In Web2, brands invest significant resources to build an audience on social media platforms. The problem is, brands do not own or control their social audience. The platforms own the audience and the user data, which they do not pay users for, instead selling it back to the brands that drive traffic to the platforms in the first place.

Another negative is that the user experience on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter ranges from limited to truly awful.

All of the above, coupled with users’ rising concerns about online privacy, are eroding the social platform ad model’s domination of the paid marketing space.

So what is the alternative? One trend is that we are seeing brands return to tried and true content marketing strategies. That can be effective but it's a slow burn. What if you want to cause a spark or even a firestorm? What are some ideas for promotional campaigns?

NFTs and Tokens as an Alternative to Current Marketing Strategies

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are emerging as alternative tools for campaigns and building an audience. NFTs are unique digital assets representing ownership of various types of digital media, including artwork, music, videos, tickets, rewards, and more.

Brands can use NFTs to build owned audiences by leveraging their existing fan base and creating unique NFTs that offer exclusive content or experiences.

The image below maps NFTs to the basic marketing funnel.

Source: International Journal of Research in Marketing, July 2022

NFT and Cause Marketing Collaborations

What does all of this mean for brands?

By collaborating with causes, brands can create innovative marketing campaigns using web3 tools that drive business results and contribute to the betterment of society.

NFT marketing collaborations with causes can help to raise awareness and funds for critical social issues. By partnering with non-profit organizations, brands can leverage their reach and influence to draw attention to important causes and encourage their followers to take action.

Brands can use NFTs to incentivize and reward consumers for supporting these causes, creating a win-win situation for all parties involved.

NFTs — New Tools

NFT marketing offers several advantages for brands and businesses over traditional marketing campaigns, including:

  1. Unique and Collectible: NFTs are unique and collectible digital assets that can help create a sense of exclusivity and scarcity for a brand. This can be particularly effective for creating hype and demand around limited edition products, services, or experiences.
  2. Increased Engagement: NFT marketing can help increase engagement by offering interactive and immersive experiences, such as virtual events, games, or augmented reality activations. This can help create a deeper connection with audiences and foster a community of loyal fans and customers.
  3. New Revenue Streams: Brands and causes can monetize NFTs in various ways, including sales, auctions, and royalties. This can provide a new revenue stream and help generate additional income beyond traditional product or service sales.
  4. Transparency and Authenticity: NFTs are verified on a blockchain, which provides a level of transparency and authenticity that is difficult to achieve with traditional marketing campaigns. This can build trust with audiences and enhance the brand’s reputation.
  5. Global Reach: Owners can sell and trade their NFTs worldwide, providing brands with a global reach that may not be possible with traditional marketing campaigns. This can help expand a brand’s reach and increase its visibility in new markets.

How Can Brands Build Owned Audiences With NFTs?

In some ways, the promise of NFTS is less is more. Less churn on social platforms, more direct engagement both lead to increased customer lifetime value (CLV). Brands can begin by siphoning off their best (and most valuable) fans from social platforms.

Remember that you do not have to educate everyone on “what is an NFT.” Most people do not care. Do you need to know what an API is to use an app? No. You only care that the app performs a specific function for you.

Instead, do this:

  1. Make it familiar: consider positioning the NFT as an analogy to a familiar reward, benefit, or process.
  2. Make it easy: choose a platform that prioritizes user experience and doesn’t require cryptocurrency for NFT purchases.

Many high-profile NFT campaigns failed because the marketing team needed to consider the user experience. Instead, they sent audiences straight to OpenSea, or another “web3 native” platform where the first step users have to complete is to create a crypto wallet if they don’t have one.

Creating a crypto wallet is a significant hurdle for most first-timers. (More about how to get around this in a minute). People exited the funnel in droves as the NFT drop dropped dead on arrival.

Secondly, the NFTs needed more value or utility that mattered to the target audience. In general, owning a digital piece of artwork is not enough for audiences other than those investing in NFT art for its own sake.

For marketing, you must tie the NFT to another utility or value that resonates with your audience. We suggest using NFTs to support social causes directly or as tickets for experiences or reward tokens that include a benefit for a cause. This builds brand loyalty among consumers who share the brand’s values.

Can marketing be fun again?

We think so. Here is the fun part. Begin to brainstorm rewards or experiences that your audience values and is already familiar with to develop creative ideas for using NFTs. How can you make it easy for them to participate?

For example, Donald Trump’s successful NFT drop positioned his NFTs as trading cards and allowed people to use credit cards. 70% of NFT sales were to first-time NFT buyers.

Although controversial and hated on by crypto-twitter, Trump’s campaign also did a lot of other things right from a marketing standpoint. I wrote a deep dive piece for ZenLedger’s blog; check it out to learn more about why the campaign succeeded.

Other NFT marketing ideas include:

  1. Create limited edition NFTs that offer exclusive content or experiences. For example, a musician could release a limited edition NFT that includes access to a private concert, a signed piece of merchandise, or a meet-and-greet with the artist.
  2. Use NFTs to create a loyalty program. Brands can reward their most loyal fans with NFTs that grant them access to exclusive content or experiences. These NFTs can be traded or sold, increasing the brand’s exposure.
  3. Gamify the NFT experience. Brands can create NFTs that unlock additional content or experiences when collected or traded with other fans. This can create a sense of community among fans and encourage them to engage with the brand in new ways.
  4. Partner with other brands or influencers to create collaborative NFTs. By partnering with other brands or influencers, brands can tap into new audiences and leverage the existing fan bases of their partners to reach new customers.

NFTs provide a unique opportunity for brands to build owned audiences by creating exclusive content and experiences only available to those who own the NFTs.

By leveraging their existing fan base and creating a sense of community around their NFTs, brands can build long-term customer relationships and drive engagement and sales.

Overall, NFT marketing offers a unique and innovative way for brands and businesses to engage with their audiences and create new revenue streams.

The Rise of Digital Asset Wallet Marketing

I’ve given an overview to show ways brands can use NFTs to build owned audiences and increase engagement with owned audiences.

Now let’s talk about wallets.

Crypto wallets provide the functionality for people to hold and exchange cryptocurrency.

However, the concept of a wallet pre-dates cryptocurrency by at least a couple of thousand years.

The key is to realize that consumers are familiar with using their wallet for more than just a place to store currency. Consumers store their IDs, reward cards, credit cards, and more.

The companies that developed mobile wallets like GooglePay, ApplePay, and PayPal (Venmo) capitalized on this analogy. These were the first bridge for users between the back pocket or purse wallet and a virtual wallet.

Mobile wallets also created a new direct access marketing channel for consumers, leading to mobile wallet marketing. The following is an excerpt from Clevertap about mobile wallet marketing. I’m quoting it in full because a) they mention Customer Lifetime Value, the north star in values-centric marketing, and b) the principles are very similar for NFT and token marketing.

It could be said that mobile wallet marketing requires a more modern approach to traditional loyalty programs, particularly as smartphone users expect real-time, relevant, and personalized content. If a customer isn’t loyal to your brand, then Customer Lifetime Value will take a hit. It’s essential that marketers understand some of the main benefits of mobile wallet marketing to pave the path to success:

  1. Loyalty scheme/program enrollment is faster, easier, and streamlined
  2. Customers can engage with brands and incentives outside of the app
  3. Location-based offers and content are available anytime
  4. Offers can be used in multiple ways (in-store, online, and in the app)
  5. Easy-to-access coupons and offers lead to higher redemption rates

Keep those points in mind as you think about the near future of marketing.

Wallets for crypto transactions continue to evolve, too. Brands can now “airdrop” rewards and tokens directly into fans’ crypto wallets.

The problem with wallets and NFTs… and what to do about it.

The problem with crypto wallets is that they are still very challenging for users to set up.

If you require people to have a wallet to buy an NFT, you introduce a ton of friction in the first 5 minutes of their experience with your campaign. One workaround for keeping fans happy is to allow them to purchase NFTs with credit cards.

Non-monetary wallet strategies are evolving, too, with branded wallets that do not hold currency but that hold other digital assets like artwork files, points, and rewards.

The idea is similar to a loyalty points account. With a brand “sponsored” wallet, the brand can airdrop digital assets and rewards, and the owner can store other digital assets like NFT artwork and non-monetary tokens.

We are experimenting with the brand wallet idea with the Impactoverse wallet; feel free to reach out for updates.

To Infinity and Beyond!

By now you can see that NFT marketing collaborations with causes and cause marketing are important strategies for brands to consider. By leveraging their marketing power to benefit critical social issues, brands build stronger emotional connections with their customers, enhance their reputation, scale business outcomes and have a positive impact on society.

Are you curious about how to get started but not sure what to do next? At Impactoverse, we have some options for you.

  1. PetDrops is our “NFT super-campaign” plug-and-play option, complete with super cute branding and marketing copy templates. Brands can quickly set up a PetDrops campaign to benefit an animal welfare non-profit.
  2. Our Impactoverse Marketing Jumpstart and Campaign-in-a-Box have strategies and checklists to help you plan your campaign.

Visit www.impactoverse.com for more information and learn how to get started today!

Happy Birthday Impactoverse! We are a year old today!

Impactoverse is an impact ecosystem and NFT marketplace. We power brand and cause-driven collaborations to scale business outcomes as well as social and environmental impact.

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Kala Philo
Impactoverse

Hi! I’m a tech marketing writer, strategist and co-founder. I also write about personal growth via immersive travel. More info at kalaphilo.com