The culture of data-driven marketing at Pillar requires us to constantly go back to our forecasts and promises. We made these prior to Pillar Wallet’s release and they are now 6 months old. It is a good moment to stop and contemplate all the numbers that sum up this period.
In full transparency and radical openness, just as we all like it.
Exactly 6 months after the app release on 13 December 2018.
What didn’t work
This new chapter of promoting the app and growing its user base was like nothing Pillar marketing team has done before. Promoting an ICO, managing the community, setting up events and the company’s participation in conferences — all of these were a different cup of tea.
We knew something about our community and we’d already done extensive research on the market itself, but there was still a significant degree of guesstimation in our forecasts. The only way to move forward under these circumstances was to start slow and steady, rely on the community we already had, validate our tactics, validate the app itself and base our further plan on the outcome of this test.
Several numbers were verified quickly — we expected more people to follow our different channels, but we found many of them are not limiting themselves to only one channel. We had to re-estimate our initial target of Pillaristas-only from 20k to 10k users, which resulted in cutting all numbers by half.
The second stage was all about launching the first paid social media and performance marketing campaigns. The goal was to understand how much we need to pay for an install. Tests we’ve conducted with Facebook Ads were promising and our expectations were to acquire each of these for ~£0.45–0.5.
Google Ads campaigns gave even better results with a £0.2 per install. Soon after we were banned by Facebook — back in March, it was still disapproving ads with any reference to cryptocurrency. The choice was simple — stick to what gave better results and scale it.
Semantics — they tore down the best of us… That’s why you find some articles and videos with us stating our goals of “getting 100k downloads” or “getting 100k users” in the first 6 months.
Our conversion rate was impressive, the number of views on our app store listing was skyrocketing and CPI was crazy low, sitting around £0.1. At that point, we were sure that our small budget was not going to stop us from meeting our goals. You just need £10k and boom - mission accomplished.
We were about to find out, that we had promised to reach two totally different goals — Downloads ≠ Users, CPU (Cost Per User) ≠ CPI (Cost Per Install) — we learned it the hard way.
Slightly alarming numbers were coming from the app itself — the number of new users registered was not matching new downloads counted by the Google Play Store and App Store. Trying to find the reason for it and checking all endpoints in search for an install-to-user conversion was like a wild goose chase.
This was the price of staying true to the Pillar ethos of not tracking our users and not capturing any identity-based data. Treating user data as a liability is not necessarily a perfect marketing optimization environment, but the choice was (and always will be) easy with this one. We just had to dig deeper.
And we dug to find the metric that cast the shadow over all the fantastic results we’ve had. The number of uninstalls was following the number of installs shockingly closely. A more granular analysis helped us understand that the cheaper we acquire the install, the less possible it will be converted into a user that keeps coming back to the app after 1, 7 or 30 days.
The choice at this point was easy — our goal was not to satisfy someone with numbers, but to drive adoption of the app. If it has to cost us more in order to be beneficial in the long term, call it the price of real growth.
Quick analysis (with relatively limited and definitely not dumb-proof tools) helped identify the countries from which users were leaving the quickest. Excluding them from our campaigns is resulting in lower conversion, higher install cost, but an incomparably higher number of users retained.
Improving this metric (Cost Per Loyal User) and not necessarily our CPI or CPU, is the major goal for upcoming months. Testing out different targets’ and close analysis of these results helped us segment and optimize campaigns.
There are obviously alternatives to performance marketing campaigns. One that is being repeated the loudest and most frequently is listing on exchanges. But how to marry it with a product-centric marketing strategy? Let’s look at the data.
It was normal for most crypto projects to have 50% or more traffic coming from CoinMarketCap at the dusk of the ICO boom and previous bull run. At the beginning of 2018, it supplied Pillar website with almost 70% of overall unique visits number.
The number today is around 10% and went from a 5-digit figure to a 3-digit one. On one hand, it’s good to see 90% of current traffic generated (theoretically) outside of this purely speculative activity source, which (with a degree of generalization and simplification) CMC is probably the best example of.
On the other hand, you generally want more traffic, and there’s no doubt exchanges and sites comparing rates can supply high-quality visits as well. It’s all about the dependency on the market — bigger price moves of the token will result in a higher number of CMC users coming to our website anyway. The goal is to be prepared for them and make sure they download our app as well.
But is it sustainable to count just on them? The truth is, all our promotional activities and efforts will be cheaper and easier to scale in a bull market. It’s crucial to be ready for that phase and not find ourselves out of resources then. It’s when we can position Pillar as “the easiest gate to crypto” for all newbies flooding the space again. Unfortunately, going for broke and paying gigantic fees for listing on the exchange would leave us… well, broke.
We believe that Pillar adoption will not be driven by the token speculation, but by its utility.
This is why we’ll stay loyal to our product-centric marketing strategy and use funds for highly targeted campaigns, rather than for another lambo of the centralized exchange owner. This is also why we’re betting on “our own exchange”, known as the Offers Engine, as our offer to the trader audience.
The cryptocurrency space from the beginning looked like a perfect setting for countless movie scripts and book plots. Adventures of exchange owners are ‘captain obvious’ picks, but if I want to write a horror story, I’d base it on the Public Relations and journalism industry standards — unfortunately, I’ve been inspired again.
Everyone in the space repeats how it’s all about mass adoption, yet PR for blockchain companies is based solely on phony partnerships and untestable numbers — all supposedly confirming that we’re on the verge of a total paradigm shift. Unfortunately, the only outcome is yet another bubble, where teams with unlimited budgets or direct contacts are getting publicity regardless of the tangibility of their product or announcement.
That works on both sides — big corporations and top companies are positioning themselves as forward-thinking by alleged collaborations with players from the blockchain space. Most are mentioned in crypto/tech press and this is where the story ends. Publishers and PR companies base their business on hyped-up theoretical and aspirational announcements, and the majority lead to dead ends.
These past months we’ve heard that Pillar and its unique (still, after 6 months on the extremely dynamic market) features are “not news” and that our upcoming Smart Wallet upgrade “is too hypothetical”. With every new feature, we’ve worked on a new angle to present Pillar in a targeted way to a carefully crafted audience. The only ones that got picked up by bloggers and magazines were market commentary, Pillar rap, and Ambassadors. No matter how happy we are about the latter, all of them summed up didn’t push the wallet’s adoption even by an inch.
Having another bad experience and seeing how important it is to not create the content externally, we’ve decided to switch to full in-house content distribution as well. If there’s no value and return from investing in PR agency services, we might as well try to build this capability in-house and create our own network of media that follow and report on Pillar developments.
If you’re a PR agency and you feel offended reading this rant, feel invited to get in touch and prove me wrong.
Instead of convincing non-believers, we want to make sure the most loyal group of the Pillar community is on board and ready to contribute. These special agents are going to be especially helpful in making Pillar accessible for newcomers. We are sure that the technology will speak for itself once it’s available in our wallets, but potentially interested users will need to know it exists in order to try it out.
Opening up our resources, making our communication transparent and challengable to the Ambassadors is how we want to scale this effort — grassroots organization gave the birth to this project and will always remain the part of its DNA.
The rollercoaster of living the crypto life decimated our community, which we felt especially hard while verifying our initial guesstimation for non-paid user acquisition campaign. But that doesn’t mean we have to start everything from scratch — we’re blessed to be surrounded by people of a big belief, a will to get involved and an interest in our project.
Pillar Ambassadors are the foundation of this amazing construction and they’re going to work hand-in-hand with the team of making it higher, bigger and more efficient.
…they all were hiding in the room!
While a publicized distribution of content is something we’re yet to solve going forward, its creation went beyond our expectations. Of course, YouTube videos are something we‘re now used to and we take their role in educating the Pillar community for granted. Sorry & thanks, Pablo!
The amount of knowledge and great writing provided by Savannah, Drew, Ron, Vitor, and Partha was the key to regular and attractive communication we are now able to sustain week by week. Especially with this degree of the communication’s dependency on the app development and the level of the product’s convolution, we should be more than optimistic going forward, where the fruit of this organic work will be borne.
Your audience is your starting point in assessing if it’s a mass or a niche marketing campaign material.
The segment we can serve with a solution to their problem is the ETH, ERC20 and ERC721 audience — forward-thinking, extremely open to innovation, but compact. As long as you don’t see other chains implemented in our wallet, Ethereum and token holders have to remain our main target.
Same limitations apply to us because of the store&send character of our wallet. This one is going to be changed very soon as we’re close to shipping the Offers Engine and this will justify the bigger scale of our campaigns as a new market opens up for us.
We’re currently offering a solution to the problem of not many. Targeting our ads to users interested in “cryptocurrency” is too broad and results in high bounce-back rate — you have to be a multi-chain wallet to engage this audience efficiently.
There’s also a second, broader answer to that question. Casey Neistat, Leo Messi or Floyd Mayweather playing with our wallet — that would be the story that every PR company would consider news-worthy and definitely not hypothetical. Reach is guaranteed, but is the conversion? Is real adoption and user loyalty going to be boosted by it? Is it correct to attract users that will choose the vault for their digital assets based on their favorite athlete’s or singer’s endorsement, and not based on this wallet’s security or ease-of-use?
It’s possible the answers to all these questions are YES — we’d be able to verify it only when one of those famous people will share a photo or video of how they love to play with Pillar Wallet. Unfortunately, it’s not something we’re able to experiment with and they “why” is quite obvious and already mentioned earlier — it’s all about the money.
It will be decisive for the success of the project if it can keep its resources until it’s ready for mass adoption — the real one. We need to be sure that we’ll be able to compete once we truly are a tool “to take back control of your digital life”.
Dropping everything on massive marketing campaign right now would be a suicidal strategy that will leave us toothless in the right time for the attack.
The competition we’ll face then is a different league to the wallet wars we’re participating in at the moment.Staying frugal, constantly optimizing our campaigns and investing only in media that links product with its potential users efficiently are the ultimate answers to the question from this paragraph’s header.
Moving slow and steady helped us identify traps and revamp our promotion strategy quickly, without losing too many resources. It brought great results also on the other front through engaging in online and offline dev events. Opening up our libraries and repos helped start many conversations with potential service providers and raise awareness in the broader dev community.
Although we didn’t win the Odyssey Hackathon, our participation resulted in opportunities to get involved with the Dutch Government and one of the most recognizable Dutch companies to work on better, 21st-century identity for their citizens and customers. The ability to start offering the Identity Wallet to governments, corporates, businesses, and public or private institutions is a direct outcome of our more active dev community approach.
We expect more to come from this source and we believe that the identity part will become both a standard for next-gen ID management and a differentiator — away to grow our product through features that will attract new users.
Recently presented concepts of the Pillar Smart Wallet and the PLR Meta Token brought a lot of excitement in the community, in the company, but especially in the marketing department itself. The path proposed by Drew and Vitor makes us see the Personal Data Locker on the right track and the original promise a step closer to fruition.
Obviously, being on the front of the community chatter is making it impossible to forget how much multiple blockchains support, exchange and other features are anticipated. We believe all these promises are going to be materialized soon and with that confidence, we look towards a future where Pillar is not only upgraded with what other wallets set as an industry standard but boldly draws the line further and further, dictating totally innovative and new ones.
With you on board, it can and it will happen. Thanks for your continual support. We’re already looking forward to summing up next 6 months! 🔥