Listen: Marketing In Web3

Listen: Marketing In Web3

Before joining Coinbase, Elke Karskens was the director of partnerships at Facebook UK for 11 years and a platform marketing manager at Skype before that. She made the transition to Web3 and joined Coinbase in 2022, where she served first as senior director of marketing before accepting an expanded role as the UK country director and head of EMEA marketing.

In this Twitter Space, Karskens speaks to BFF about Coinbase's position in the market and how a Web3 go-to-market strategy differs from a Web2 one, including philosophical differences, the tools and the indicators used to determine success.

Edited excerpts:

Q: Is there a fundamental difference between Web2 marketing and Web3 marketing? If so, how would you describe it?

Elke Karskens

The role of marketers over time hasn't really changed. As a marketer, we are expected to deeply understand our audience and be able to effectively target them with the right messages to have them do something or understand something. That has always been the same, but how we've gone about that has fundamentally changed.

In Web1, the marketing channels that we that we used were email, some nascent SEO and more traditional more Mad Men-style channels such as TV, print, out of home TV, etc.

When Web2 came around, and marketers worked hard to serve the selected group of people while constantly trying and needing to stay on top of the latest trends. Web2 is very much the era of digital marketing — mobile first, everything is hyper data driven, performance-focused metrics and decisions being made through the knowledge and insights that we have about our consumers.

Then, as we look ahead to Web3, there's obviously a lot to figure out. Web3 is really powered by community. Web3 marketing is a different game because the values and the means of communicating with audience are different. And targeting is different. It is not as defined, and also paid marketing — which is Web2 marketers have gotten super comfortable with — is also severely limited. In Web3, it's all about incredibly strong organic marketing supplied by paid, versus the other way around. And also in Web3, the audience is just so much harder to understand. Because of the nature and the ethos of Web3, the "why" truly matters — why are people participating? And even within the Web3 communities and audiences there's really, really big distinctions between the different audiences' "whys." Transparency and communication are really prioritizing Web3, so just talking at your audience is 100% not going to cut it because it's the community who really drives the narrative. Listening is really crucial.

Q: Given that Coinbase is a CEX and not a community per se, how do you weave the Web3 ethos of community through your marketing efforts?

Elke Karskens

There's obviously social networks specifically within Web2 that lend itself to Web3 and are more blockchain project-driendly (like Twitter, Discord, Telegram and Reddit), and then there are decentralized social networks on the blockchain, and they're actively developing right now. But when we look at how Web3 marketing tactics work for us, it's also incredibly important that we bring the community into the things that we're doing. So, for example, we run an enormous amount of in-person events, from really small meetups to bigger activations as part of other events, just to be able to communicate with the community in real life. We're also doing that by having strategic partnerships.

Q: In Web3 — an open-source environment where projects can fork one another and new startups hit the scene every day — it’s often difficult to communicate what distinguishes one product or protocol from another. How does a Web3 product or service differentiate itself in the market?

Elke Karskens

Excellent question. First and foremost, regardless of something being a Web2 or Web3 project, having a unique value proposition is absolutely crucial. But especially when it comes to Web3 projects, having a laser focus that fundamentally pulls through in everything that you do, from your messaging to your branding guidelines, even to the font choices that you make, is crucial. That is ultimately what the community cares most about. So leading with a very, very clear purpose and messages that are clear and relate to growing a community around them, and then finding the right growth strategies to do this are absolutely key.

For example, let's say that community-building is central to the success of a particular project or service. There are Web2 skills, like social media, marketing, influencer marketing and comms that are incredibly important or might even be more important and will take up the lion's share of the marketing team and budget. But I think fundamentally, what it comes down to is awareness of the complexity of the space. Understanding who your audience is and why they would be caring about your purpose, not just talking at them, but very much being laser focused on what the core messages are.

[Editor's note: Due to unexpected changes to Twitter Spaces, our transcription service is temporarily unable to deliver us full audio transcripts. Please bear with us.]

For more insights, listen to the full conversation with Elke.

This is not financial advice. If you don't want to spend money investing in crypto or Web3 — you don’t have to. The intent of this article is to help others educate themselves and learn.

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