What Is an ICO in Cryptocurrency?

ICO is short for Initial Coin Offering. When launching a new cryptocurrency or crypto-token, the developers offer investors a limited number of units in exchange for other major crypto coins such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.

ICOs are amazing tools for quickly raining development funds to support new cryptocurrencies. The tokens offered during an ICO can be sold and traded on cryptocurrency exchanges, assuming there is sufficient demand for them.

The Ethereum ICO is one of the most notable successes and the popularity of Initial Coin Offerings is growing as we speak.

A brief history of ICOs

Ripple is likely the first cryptocurrency distributed via an ICO. At the start of 2013, Ripple Labs began to develop the Ripple payment system and generated approximately 100 billion XRP tokens. These were sold through an ICO to fund Ripple’s platform development.

Mastercoin is another cryptocurrency that has sold a few million tokens for Bitcoin during an ICO, also in 2013. Mastercoin aimed to tokenize Bitcoin transactions and execute smart contracts by creating a new layer on top of the existing Bitcoin code.

Of course, there are other cryptocurrencies that have been successfully funded through ICOs. Back in 2016, Lisk gathered approximately $5 million during their Initial Coin Offering.

Nevertheless, Ethereum’s ICO that took place in 2014 is probably the most prominent one so far. During their ICO, the Ethereum Foundation sold ETH for 0.0005 Bitcoin each, raising almost $20 million. With Ethereum harnessing the power of smart contracts, it paved the way for the next generation of Initial Coin Offerings.

Ethereum’s ICO, a recipe for success

Ethereum’s smart contracts system has implemented the ERC20 protocol standard that sets the core rules for creating other compliant tokens which can be transacted on Ethereum’s blockchain. This allowed others to create their own tokens, compliant with the ERC20 standard that can be traded for ETH directly on Ethereum’s network.

The DAO is a notable example of successfully using Ethereum’s smart contracts. The investment company raised $100 million worth of ETH and the investors received in exchange DAO tokens allowing them to participate in the governance of the platform. Sadly, the DAO failed after it was hacked.

Ethereum’s ICO and their ERC20 protocol have outlined the latest generation of crowdfunding blockchain-based projects via Initial Coin Offerings.

It also made it very easy to invest in other ERC20 tokens. You simply transfer ETH, paste the contract in your wallet and the new tokens will show up in your account so you can use them however you please.

Obviously, not all cryptocurrencies have ERC20 tokens living on Ethereum ‘s network but pretty much any new blockchain-based project can launch an Initial Coin Offering.

The legal state of ICOs

When it comes to the legality of ICOs, it’s a bit of a jungle out there. In theory, tokens are sold as digital goods, not financial assets. Most jurisdictions haven’t regulated ICOs yet so assuming the founders have a seasoned lawyer on their team, the whole process should be paperless.

Even so, some jurisdictions have become aware of ICOs and are already working on regulating them in a similar manner to sales of shares and securities.

Back in December 2017, the U.S. Securities And Exchange Commission (SEC) classified ICO tokens as securities. In other words, the SEC was preparing to halt ICOs they consider to be misleading investors.

There are some cases in which the token is just a utility token. This means the owner can simply use it to access a certain network or protocol in which case they may not be defined as a financial security. Nevertheless, equity tokens whose purpose is to appreciate in value are quite close to the concept of security. Truth be told, most token purchases are made specifically for investment purposes.

Despite the efforts of regulators, ICOs are still lingering in a grey legal area and until a clearer set of regulations is imposed entrepreneurs will attempt to benefit from Initial Coin Offerings.

It’s also worth mentioning that once regulations reach a final form, the cost and effort required to comply could make ICOs less attractive compared to conventional funding options.

Final words

For now, ICOs remain an amazing way to fund new crypto-related projects and there have been multiple successful ones with more to come.

However, keep in mind everyone is launching ICOs nowadays and many of these projects are scams or lack the solid foundation they need to thrive and make it worth the investment. For this reason, you should definitely do thorough research and investigate the team and background of whatever crypto project you might want to invest in. There are multiple websites out there that list ICOs, we recommend checking this ICO calendar if you’re interested to invest in a crypto project.

Why Your Business Needs a Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing is more than just a popular buzzword in the Internet marketing industry. The concept of content marketing underscores a powerful technique to promote a business on the Internet. By creating great content (such as a video, article, or infographic) and marketing that content (via Facebook, Google+, or StumbleUpon,) your business can take advantage of many opportunities to connect with potential customers.

The methods behind content marketing offer limitless channels to exploit your ideas. In short, you can create content in various forms and distribute it many different ways. And just a limitless as the channels to market your content are the potential benefits for your business.

All types of companies can improve their marketing efforts by producing and sharing awesome content. In fact, marketing software provider Kapost has found through its research that per dollar, content marketing contributes to three times more leads that tradition online advertising, such as paid search. For this reason, creating a content marketing strategy can be a momentous game-changer for your business.

Although content marketing offers a ton of advantages (some of which are nearly impossible to track,) there are three major benefits that your business can realize:

Build Brand Awareness
Inbound Traffic to Your Site
Generate Natural Link Popularity for SEO

Building Brand Awareness

As the foundation to marketing your content on the web, building brand awareness is further enhanced when the audience is engaged. This audience engagement is what fuels respect for your brand and bolsters a potential relationship. As a result, the quality and relevancy of your content is paramount. Any content you publish is a reflection of your business and its brand, so you’ll want to be creative and use the right context that relates to your target audience.

Some of the highest levels of audience engagement derive from visually-based content. Videos are a powerful medium to communicate to a potentially massive audience. And by optimizing videos for better search engine exposure (also known as search engine optimization or “SEO”), the overall marketing potential skyrockets. Also effective in the visual content category are images, infographics, cartoons and comics. Exercise your creativity and produce a compelling form of content that can help build awareness in your brand.

Inbounding Traffic to Your Site

The cornerstone of content marketing is to inbound traffic to your site. Marketing your content is a very powerful way to promote your niche or unique selling proposition. As long as you present the right calls to action, the individuals that interact with your content will be more apt to visit your website.

This form of traffic is unique because of the prior interaction that users experience with your content. The best ways to inbound quality traffic to your site is use your content to inform and educate your target audience. Addressing relevant issues, questions, and concerns is a good way to achieve this. For example, a criminal defense attorney may benefit from publishing an article about ‘what to do when faced with DUI charges.’ Any traffic coming from that article could very well be a highly qualified lead for the attorney’s legal services.

Generating Natural Link Popularity for SEO

When content goes viral, it tends to attract a lot of social attention. People usually link to popular content (link popularity,) and as a result, the content can earn a high level of authority. From a SEO standpoint, if a webpage has a high level of authority, then the outbound links coming from that page will be more powerful. This concept of SEO (commonly referred to as “link bait”) is one of the many effective approaches of content marketing.

Think of your wonderful piece of content as a link bait for your SEO efforts. In almost any form of content, whether a video, article, or graphic, you can typically include a link that directs back to your site. For instance, graphics and videos will usually always have supportive text or an author attribution. Here you can include a bit about who you are, as well as a link back to your website. If your content generates a lot of buzz and people start linking to it, the SEO value of your content will only become more powerful.

Developing Your Strategy

Putting together a successful content marketing strategy will depend on the resources you have on hand. You’ll want to determine which types of content are going to be the most relevant and effective to connect to your target audience. Additionally, you’ll also want to pinpoint the ideal publishing platforms and social media sites to market and promote your content. All strategies for marketing content are unique, so you’ll need to get creative as to how you approach the strategy for your business.