So much of the discussion around Web3 is focused on tech jargon, exorbitantly priced artwork and the promise of riches. But in the doldrums of a crypto winter, brands are looking beyond the hype to explore where NFTs, blockchain and Web3 philosophies can meaningfully fit within their wider marketing strategies.
To explore how brands could innovate a scalable, customer centric Web3 strategy, we partnered with the Salesforce Web3 Studio to gather a team of experts for a Brunch ‘n Learn session at CES. Jordan Cuddy, Partner and Chief Client Officer at Jam3; Marc Mathieu, Co-Founder of Salesforce Web3 Studio; and Swan Sit, Independent Board Director, Advisor, Creator and Investor, discussed how early adopters have leveraged Web3 to create more meaningful connections with their customers—and how the technology represents a foundational shift in customer relationships.
While the conversation touched on several key insights and examples of brands in the space, the trio uncovered three key shifts in mindset that will help brands realize the true potential of Web3, whether by strengthening customer experiences, better understanding who they’re marketing to, or building long-term loyalty.
It’s about the value of the brand, not the product.
Whether it’s a loyalty program, a digital wearable collection or something different altogether, the true value in any Web3 engagement lies in whether it feels authentic to the brand. In short, no one is going to care about (or stick with) a Web3 project that’s at odds with what the brand stands for. So if you consider making moves in Web3, start by taking stock of what makes your brand valuable to people already. “In your P&L, when you look at the intangible lines and want to look at the value of a brand or community, that’s a representation,” says Sit.
As for what an authentic brand alignment looks like, Cuddy offered an example from our work with Adidas. The strategy team at Jam3 realized there was a shift in consumers’ minds from “Where can I go in the metaverse?” to “Who can I be in the metaverse?” Realizing the desire for unique ways to express oneself in this space, we built a platform that generates a unique, interoperable metaverse avatar based on each user’s personality. “It made sense for a brand that says ‘Impossible is nothing,’” Cuddy says.
Never do tech for tech’s sake. Does it make sense for your brand? Authenticity is key, and this generation sniffs it out so fast.
Digital identities are complex and nuanced—not just numbers.
Consumers are people. It may sound obvious, but marketing teams everywhere are facing a reckoning for chasing cookies and arbitrary identifiers rather than forging meaningful, impactful personal relationships with their base. “We’ve forgotten that people are not just data and that we can just target them,” says Mathieu. “In reality, the underlying technology of Web3 is about giving back power to the user and creators, but that means we need to be ready to stop thinking of them as just consumers.”
Think of them collaborators, co-creators, co-innovators or co-contributors—but either way, make sure the service you’re providing is actually valuable to them, because that’s what drives anonymous Web3 users to identify themselves. “Most people don’t want to give you their data if you don’t give them something in return,” says Mathieu, noting how in this way, Web3 technology can play a crucial role in future proofing brands’ CRM strategies as they head into the post-cookie future.
Beyond futureproofing, Web3 will make identity more complex. “A lot of people feel more authentic digitally because they’re able to express and experiment with who they are more freely without prejudice and inequalities,” Mathieu says. “We’re on the verge of having to deal with a very different concept of identities.” But that’s a good thing, because those complexities are rich for gaining deeper and more nuanced insight into your audience. What projects or communities a person chooses to invest in says a lot more about them than traditional identifiers like a phone number or email address, says Mathieu.
Loyalty is about being loyal to your customer.
“We’ve been thinking of loyalty as something consumers owe us,” says Mathieu. “Now, consumers are saying, ‘How will you be loyal to me? Are you going to serve me throughout my life through products, experiences and services?’” Again, looking at your customers as collaborators—in which brand and audience both have skin in the game—is a path to unlocking greater loyalty.
Web3 is a creator space, and brands who are comfortable collaborating with their consumers will come out on top. In fact, there may already be a community dedicated to your brand without your knowledge or authorization—but instead of pulling the plug, consider ways you can support and join in the fun. Matheiu compared it to the time he worked at Coca-Cola in the early days of Facebook, when the company discovered a group about the brand made by fans. “We asked how to make it bigger instead of shutting it down,” he says.
Cuddy also shared the process of seeking fan input in developing ComplexLand, a virtualization of the iconic ComplexCon that we continued to evolve over three annual editions. “Between each version, we talked to the community. We didn’t do typical market research; we talked to people who actually participated,” says Cuddy. In year two, for example, the team added multiplayer experiences based on fan feedback. The most recent iteration implemented NFT creation to solve fans’ need for more ways to express themselves creatively. “We listened to them and applied it, and that starts to build that loyalty when they’re the co-creator.”
Shift your mindset to win in Web3.
Remember, NFTs, blockchain and the like are just technologies—a means to an end, not the end itself. Sit aptly put it this way: “When someone asks what music you listen to, you don’t say MP3s.”
Likewise, the way brands unlock value in Web3 isn’t to put out projects for the sake of it; it’s about working in partnership with your customers to better serve their needs. Web3 has ignited consumer mindset shifts across trust, products and ownership, and now’s the time to follow suit—because when you do, you’ll gain a stronger, more nuanced relationship with your base.
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