MKG Marketing MKG Marketing Logo Quotation Marks
Podcasts > Hard Questions

Marketing Blockchain Projects with Emily from ShapeShift

Mike Krass • Wednesday, November 29, 2017 • 20 minutes to listen

Subscribe to the Podcast or listen on...

Spotify iTunes Anchor

Join our weekly newsletter

We care about the protection of your data. Read our Privacy Policy.

In October we interviewed: Emily from ShapeShift, a cryptocurrency exchange. Emily has been running marketing at ShapeShift for the past three years and was kind enough to sit down to discuss marketing for blockchain projects.

  • What have the past 36 months of marketing ShapeShift looked like?
  • In it’s current form what marketing specialties or practices are most commonly used today? What will marketing blockchain projects look like in 2018?
  • Looking to the future who will perform these specialized marketing services? Vendors? Volunteers? Project FTE’s? Mash the ‘play’ button on the SoundCloud embed below to listen to the full interview or keep scrolling to read an abbreviated transcript.

Transcript of Interview with Emily from ShapeShift


Today we have Emily, the Chief Marketing Officer from ShapeShift, a digital asset exchange for assets like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, et cetera, et cetera. ShapeShift is unique because they don't require you to sign up for account to use them. Emily has been with ShapeShift since December of 2014, and we're excited to welcome her onto the show.


Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.


What's your opinion on the current state of marketing for blockchain projects? How are projects being marketed to users? That can include marketing in general, as well as this big of ICO or token offerings that we've seen in 2017.


When I first started with ShapeShift a few years back, marketing wasn't prioritized terribly much by a lot of companies. Marketers were being brought in from a development standpoint. You needed to make sure someone really understood that background and a lot of ‘marketing’ was in the form of forum discussions; people getting on Reddit and Bitcointalk to talk out new projects they had.

This market has grown very drastically in the last six months and ‘marketing’ has started to change.

  • Community management positions are huge. Making sure you're engaging with your customer base, talking to them regularly. This is especially true for companies like us, where we are interacting with customers all day long to help with their order issues, or to make sure they're understanding the product.
  • The community management side has become incredibly crucial. People have a lot of options. They have a lot of ways of understanding products and learning about new ones. Google is everyone's best friend, and with Google comes a lot of ability to find negative comments or quotes here and there on Twitter, Facebook. We have been on all the social media outlets making sure that we engage with our communities there.

I think that's been a good start for a lot of these different ICOs and companies in general is to make sure they're able to talk to their customer base and stay engaged with them.

And as things have started to evolve, especially in the token/ICO market in the last six months, 2017 has really been that boom. I’ve noticed all of a sudden you're seeing a lot more PR efforts, doing a lot of pitching. Who is a thought leader that we can start making sure the media has access to?

For us it's nice because people reach out to wanting feedback from our CEO Erik Voorhees pretty regularly. I make sure between Erik and myself one of us is always available so that people are getting the right information.

I turn on the news almost every morning when I wake up and it's rare to go through the news cycle where Bitcoin or Crypto is not being mentioned.

This PR component is incredibly important for us to position ourselves as an industry as legitimate and we're starting to become more professional and business-minded versus just being on that very kind of more tech-heavy side of things.

SEO is becoming another thing. Creating more content that is focusing on educating users, not just about our product. How we educate users to understand how Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies work in general has become really important because customers need to understand the basics before they can utilize a lot of crypto or blockchain products.


You mentioned PR being huge, SEO and content coming into play. In your opinion, what are some of the biggest gaps today, in 2017, that are missing from a marketing standpoint for blockchain products?


  • Buyer personas. We just went through a buyer persona exercise and it's really interesting to see our user groups. Traditionally most people that were into crypto were the developers. But there's also this incoming market of people who want to be investors, for example. So it's lot more VCs and business men that are interested.
  • Educational content which ties into content strategy. Trying to educate is incredibly important! Going back to talking about the buyer groups, as we start to learn more about who these users are, outside of just the traditional developer we are seeing more people who have finance backgrounds that see this digital space as an opportunity for them.
  • Creating more KPI’s and working on marketing analysis will become more important. ShapeShift has been really cognizant of trying to grab the data we can, but because we don't require people to creating user accounts, there's only so much data. We would never ask anyone to just give over that personal information in order to use our services. Outsourcing that task to different companies to help fill in the blanks could be really crucial in to really understanding who is our customer base. So that we can be a lot more informed and strategic with our presenting our product. And what channels are gonna be the most effective.


You dovetailed perfectly into the final question. And you were talking about opportunities from a marketing standpoint.

Reciting a few…

  • Content strategy
  • Understanding buyer journey or buyer personas
  • Doing analysis and insights work.

Who do you think will fill those gaps? Do you think it'll be outsourced firms? Do you think that projects will hire that? They're gonna want have that in-house internally, it's that important to them? Do you have any kind of opinion there, whether it'll be an outsource partner or whether projects will invest in that?


As ShapeShift has grow the growth was so fast there is the issue of scale. Scaling is number one issue that we have to kind of grapple with, and you don't wanna over-hire and create an entire internal marketing department as we are still very much a startup. We've gone both routes. I think that there are so many companies that are starting to understand, “hey listen, if we actually pivot at least some of our resources into learning more about blockchain, we can really have a very lucrative base that can utilize us and outsource to us.”

Cryptoland PR is a really good example of that. Katie Oliver, who's the owner there, has a lot of background in PR and decided to focus on crypto as an industry. And she's amazing. I don't have to hold her hand. I know that she can do that stuff, that can take that entire piece of every campaign we have off my plate. There's the design firm we used. Same thing. They're very, very knowledgeable. Their client base is the full gamut of blockchain companies, from people just wanting to do token sales to just general website maintenance and creation and mobile apps things like that.

So, I would say that starting out in the next year or so as everything is really starting to grow, outsourcing is going to be the way to go.


Awesome. Our final question here is asking for one prediction: what way will blockchain projects be marketed in 2018? Is there a big change that you see coming? Or something that you've been watching this year that you think is gonna explode next year?


On the content side education is going to be big.

The PR side needs to focus on educating these traditional news outlets to make sure that we're not waking up to people talking about the dark web or scams.

And I think really instead of just focusing on the community management side, being able to really engage with a lot of different types of strategies to make ... The SEO component I think is going to start becoming a bigger part of overall strategy as well for many of the companies.


Emily, thank you for taking the time with us today. I'm sure the listeners will have some comments. We post this on the blog and as well as on SoundCloud.


Thanks so much for having me.

Emily Shapeshift