This marks the first of a series of interviews with marketing professionals in the Web3 Marketing space.
We share insights from Adam Simmons, Chief Marketing Officer at RDX Works. Adam brings a wealth of experience from over a decade of building and growing businesses across various industries. Today, he’s at the helm of marketing for RDX Works, the team behind Radix, a Layer 1 protocol designed to power the future of DeFi and Web3.
We’ll delve into Adam’s journey in the crypto space, his perspectives on Web3 marketing, and the strategies that Radix employs to navigate the complexities of blockchain technology marketing.
The Digital Handshake
Tertie: Can you recall the first time you heard about Bitcoin?
Adam: Not precisely, but having always been a bit of a geek who spends far too long on the internet, I would estimate around 2014. At the time, the core principles resonated with me, but outside of a store of value, there were significant technical and societal barriers to realizing a crypto-first future.
Tertie: If given the chance to go back in time, what advice would you share with your younger self when you were just beginning in the crypto world?
Adam: Use things in the space! Take a small amount of assets and just start using things, fully prepared to lose it all with the goal of learning. Follow a bunch of different projects and communities, but don’t spend too long in a single echo chamber or way of doing things. Watch, use, and learn.
Tertie: What was the first cryptocurrency you purchased outside of Bitcoin?
Adam: Ethereum. Then far more 2017-era alt-coins than I should ever admit to in public! It was quite clear that this would be a rapidly evolving space and there would be ‘a rising tide lifts every boat in the harbour’ effect.
Tertie: If tasked with explaining cryptocurrency to your grandparents, how would you approach it?
Adam: I’ve done this on a few occasions! Cryptocurrency itself is something they “get” pretty easily. It’s like a single global bank ledger that anyone can look at but only gets updated if enough people agree.
The challenge comes with Web3 and DeFi – and not just grandparents. To tackle that, I normally use a currency exchange desk at an airport as an analogy, where, as users, they get a 24/7 market without the middle-man fees, and the liquidity is something anyone can add to and earn a small fee each time it’s swapped. Then I normally start losing them as I go down the rabbit hole of Web2 being like a global data layer and Web3 being a global asset layer (and I class identity as an asset) and all the benefits that can bring.
Tertie: What is your favorite holiday destination?
Adam: None specifically. I am a big fan of staycations. Probably a combination of crypto and start-up/scale-ups being 24/7 combined with being fortunate with many fun things to do around my house makes just relaxing at home a nice change!
Tertie: Which book would you recommend to someone working in marketing?
Adam: Not just marketing, but every human should read “The Chimp Paradox” by Professor Steven Peterson. I was fortunate enough to work with Professor Petersons’ team while I was on the Team GB Paralympic sprint kayaking squad. Having a better understanding of how both your own and other people’s brains work is incredibly helpful; especially with the parallels between elite sports environments and start-ups.
The Main Chain
Tertie: You’ve spent over a decade building and growing businesses across various industries. What initially drew you to Radix, and what factors have motivated you to remain within the company?
Adam: I was in a very fortunate position where I wasn’t in a rush to find my next role. Having been flat out with two previous successful start-ups, alongside competing internationally in kayaking, some downtime let me reflect on what sort of thing I wanted to work on.
Over the year I took off to get married, honeymoon and all that fun, I knew that I wanted to work in a scale-up rather than a start-up. While the true bootstrapping days are fun, having some resources behind the strategies you want to test, optimize and grow, allows you to iterate far more quickly. I also knew I still wanted to work in “platform/ecosystem” businesses, as the complexity of those systems is something I had thrived within the online video world. Finally, I knew I wanted to be working with tech and in an industry where success meant seeing how you meaningfully changed how people interact for the better.
The combination of those led me to apply to RDX Works (a core developer of Radix) – and while I wasn’t 100% when applying, a 20-minute interview (that became 2 hours) with CEO, Piers Ridyard, left me practically begging to work there. Not only was the vision incredibly aligned with what I felt were the important areas the crypto/web3 industry needed to address to reach meaningful adoption, but the long-term, methodical thinking of the team was a stark contrast to normal “fail-forward” approach that is seen all too often in the space.
Tertie: The Layer 1 space is very competitive. From your perspective as a marketer, how challenging is it to compete on the Blockchain Trilemma? Does it form a core part of your marketing strategy and strength?
Fun fact: Radix achieved over 1 million transactions per second using Tempo in 2019.
Adam: Layer 1 marketing is extremely challenging for two main reasons:
- There is rarely a single USP of a platform as success hinges on a variety of factors with substantial nuance to them. The Trilemma is an example of this – it’s critically important, incredibly complex, and filled with considerations, that the majority are partially aware of at best. However, despite that, it’s still only a fraction of the success criteria of a Layer-1 network. Multiple other touchpoints from both a technology and user standpoint dramatically impact the experiences of users and developers on the network.
- Marketing data is extremely fragmented in Web3. User journeys are nearly impossible to consistently track through a normal funnel, and mapping Web2 marketing channels to on-chain activity or CEX activity is mostly guestimation.
The result of these challenges often requires a much stronger holistic understanding of the marketing strategy across the entire marketing machine than in other industries. For example, I can’t just tell my performance marketing team to try to improve their ROAS, because we don’t get the full pipeline vision to confidently tie top-of-funnel activity to end-of-funnel conversions.
One of my core beliefs is in competitive environments, marginal gains are at the core of success. But that ethos is very difficult to correlate when you have opaque (at best) data.
To tackle this, the approach I try to push is the principle of “indicators of success” rather than specific KPIs. I can make a strong hypothesis for multiple paths to success based on different metrics, but without the full funnel data, you have to look holistically.
These indicators of success come in two buckets. The input side (web traffic, social engagement, search volume, influencer coverage, community growth etc.) and the output side (on-chain activity, sentiment, TVL, performance vs competitors, etc.).
If all the input indicators are growing week-on-week, it’s almost certain you’re making good progress. If all the indicators are falling week-on-week, it’s almost certain you’re heading to failure. There is some perfect balance in the middle, but without the hard data to map everything precisely, we instead have to look holistically at our campaigns/strategy.
Tertie: What unique challenges and opportunities have you encountered in marketing an L1 project like Radix?
Adam: The unique opportunity with Radix is that the core technology addresses all the major issues preventing mass adoption of Web3 and crypto. This is also one of the unique challenges of marketing Radix!
Especially in complex fields like crypto or Web3, people are looking for the TLDR message that they can box different projects within. Having that instant recognition of a project’s USP just from hearing its name is very beneficial to differentiate yourself in a very competitive landscape.
The problem is that when you’re trying to do that with something like Radix, there isn’t just one point you want the audience to take away.
Some of the innovations Radix brings with its full-stack approach, including things like asset-oriented smart contracts or the transaction manifest, are just one element of Radix’s value proposition whereas other projects may have similar features as their main/only USP.
This creates a (very nice to have) problem where concisely explaining the value proposition of Radix either involves leaving large USPs out of the narrative or involves bundling them into broad topics like “solving the trilemma” that can be easily dismissed as hyperbole.
Tertie: We’ve been fans of various aspects of your marketing, including regular communication, an in-depth blog, a strong team presence on social media, community engagement, and more. Could you summarize Radix’s marketing strategy and explain how it aligns with the broader vision of enabling everyone to use Web3 & DeFi confidently?
Adam: The marketing strategy has evolved, and continues to evolve, as the project advances. When I first joined Radix, the network wasn’t live and most of the features we have today weren’t even announced. At that point, it was all about selling the vision – that iterating on the current networks of the time wouldn’t make a Web3 first world possible.
Then, as the core network went live, the next phase was announcing and marketing the radically better developer experience we were building via Scrypto and Radix Engine. If the first era was about selling the overall vision, this stage was all about marketing to developers and the vision of making Web3 development something the millions of developers worldwide could participate in versus the complex and insecure developer experience elsewhere.
As we got more and more positive feedback on the developer experience, giving credibility to the messaging, the next obvious question was if you had a novel scaling solution, and an industry-leading developer experience – what else was needed? Users.
Due to Radix starting to get more traction, we took a gamble and went more upmarket for the big reveal of the Radix UX with RadFi 2022. This was a studio-produced keynote that targeted a much broader section of the crypto industry really to move the narrative from Radix having good tech, to Radix having the solutions that can give real people access to that tech.
Once the Babylon Mainnet came, the marketing strategy switched. Pre-Babylon was all about marketing the vision and the technology, but once Babylon was live it moved to marketing a new and growing ecosystem.
This focus shift was (and remains) quite the change. Now the first versions of all the key technologies were live on the mainnet, all that matters is getting developers and users to start using the network.
A key principle I try to instill in the team is that marketing an ecosystem is often about marginal gains – doing a little better each day – than big flagship campaigns. This meant ensuring that all the projects going live had a route to get promotion. It meant working outside of our internal team to sync up with partners and their announcements. And perhaps most importantly, it meant that we had to be agile as the timelines weren’t completely down to us.
A successful ecosystem also needs to grow in a mostly balanced way – you need enough devs building cool dApps for users to engage with, and you need enough users engaged for those devs to have a market opportunity.
Tertie: With the recent execution of the Babylon update, how will your marketing strategies evolve as Radix transitions from innovators to early adopters? What modifications can we expect?
Adam: Continued focus on what you can do on Radix, rather than what Radix does. The analogy I often use here is something like video streaming services. For the majority of users, it makes little to no difference what technology is working behind the scenes. They just care about whether they can find enjoyable content, of good quality, that they can easily and consistently access.
With Babylon, this means putting the dApps building on Radix at the forefront and having “ecosystem success” as the core narrative we look to push. Each of these successes casts a bigger net to attract new users and devs as well as giving credibility to the overarching narrative/vision that Radix is the best place to build and use Web3.
A good example of how the strategy continues to evolve with the ecosystem is TVL. As TVL increases, there is more liquidity in the ecosystem that may give CeFi<>DeFi arb opportunities. At first, this may only make sense manually with smaller amounts of capital, but as TVL grows, arb bots may become viable – which opens up a new type of developer/user to market to.
Tertie: Having worked in both traditional marketing and Web3 marketing, how would you distinguish the two? What key advice would you offer to aspiring marketers entering this space?
Adam: The biggest change is the ability to rely on data/analytics. In traditional marketing, marketers are spoiled will (near) full-cycle data that allows a high degree of optimization. You can pinpoint the exact amount of sales from a specific ad campaign or channel, calculate your ROAS, and reallocate your budget as needed. In other industries, you can get a lead, track it through your CRM and calculate your LTV. Sure, it’s not perfect with recent developments in cookie tracking or cross-device sessions, but it mostly works.
With Web3, in nearly all cases you hit a brick wall in data through your funnel. For starters, tracking an email shot with a CTA to download the Radix Wallet can give us some data, but for obvious privacy reasons, we have no way to link the subsequent on-chain activity from that user to a specific email campaign.
Another big piece is exchanges. You may know a user clicked through, but you can’t know if they purchased tokens, or how many they purchased.
This means you have to think a lot more holistically about your campaigns and the end-of-funnel conversions. You also have to make some pretty tough calls on campaign targeting and demographics, as there are strong arguments to be made on the benefit of say targeting users in high GDP countries at a higher cost vs reaching more users in countries with lower GDP due to cheaper advertising/events.
Tertie: What are the most crucial marketing objectives for Radix over the next 6-12 months as the ecosystem expands?
Adam: With the Babylon Upgrade in Q3 2023, Radix moved from some cool concepts to a live ecosystem. Thanks to a good start with the ecosystem in Q4, the foundation of this ecosystem is now very much in place for both users and developers to have things to do on Radix.
This marks a shift where the key goal for 2024 is to have a thriving ecosystem where the numbers of users, developers, TVL, and other on-chain activity continue to grow.
As different milestones are hit, the main change to the marketing strategy will be to reach wider. In an early ecosystem, it’s mainly the innovators looking to come across. As more opportunities arise and credibly increase with proof of activity, the early adopters and then the early majority start becoming more of a focus.
Tertie: Could you share your experiences on ‘ideal channels for marketing’ in the Web3/blockchain industry compared to traditional marketing?
Adam: The broad channels are largely similar between traditional marketing and Web3. After all, we are still marketing to humans. Humans like social, they like community, they are influenced by influencers and they like to see other people get excited about the same things they do!
What differs is what these channels look like in Web3. For example, paid social in traditional marketing (for most demographics) would typically heavily focus on Google Ads and Instagram (and TikTok for the younger readers!). In Web3, the core demographics are on X (Twitter) and places like Reddit.
Tertie: What are your thoughts on influencer marketing? Do you support or oppose it, and why?
Adam: It’s incredibly effective if done well. It’s also a minefield – especially in Web3. Influencers aren’t just about the audience or engagement numbers they pitch (which can be easily faked), it’s about how influential they are to the demographic you’re trying to reach.
For example, there would be little point in Radix booking up a Kardashian to promote the new Radix wallet. The demographic is completely wrong for where we are in the adoption of Web3 as a whole.
On the flip side, there are a bunch of extremely passionate and knowledgeable industry-specific influencers who can drive significant awareness and brand recognition.
And not to over-sell this point again; funnel analytics is once again a blocker. There aren’t easy solutions like an affiliate link for an influencer to share to buy a product at a discount in most Web3 businesses.
Tertie: Could you share some insights about your team? What qualities do you value most when building a team, and what do you look for in potential candidates during recruitment?
Adam: My approach to building a Web3 marketing team is significantly different from the traditional marketing teams I have built previously.
In both cases, there are always benefits to having industry-specific awareness, but the key difference in Web3 is generalists vs specialists.
This all comes back to how campaigns are planned, measured and optimized with a lack of quality data/analytics. Everyone on the team needs to still have their area of expertise, but they must take in how their area of responsibility impacts and complements the holistic objectives of the business.
For example, look at how different campaigns and channels can cross-pollinate. Could the “user” funnel also prompt someone to try or recommend Scrypto? Almost certainly. Can the paid marketing team help the dApps in the ecosystem gain more awareness that indirectly drives new wallet downloads? 100%! Does a booth at a major event drive community engagement if you share pictures from the floor? Always.
Because the data/analytics is patchy at best, it’s nearly impossible to confidently pin results on a single channel/campaign, and therefore everyone in the team needs to be looking across the marketing function in the business, not just their silo.
Tertie: The Web3 marketing space is constantly evolving. Could you provide any insights or trends you’ve noticed in this area and how Radix is adapting to these changes?
Adam: A fast-growing area is on-chain analytics which is trying to pull together marketing activity to on-chain activity (or visa versa). This is still often in the early stages, but some exciting products are showing what can be done by linking say access to a discord channel to owning an NFT.
Tertie: Do you have any advice for other Web3 projects that are trying to enhance their marketing strategies and effectively promote their products or services?
Adam: Always look for your key metrics and measure them as frequently as feasible. There may be many, and that’s fine. Once you have these, you can use them to look for trend changes based on the activity of your campaigns/strategies and also see where holes may be.
Interested in sharing your Web3 Marketing journey, strategy and tips, drop us a message here.