Building loyalty with Web3

Marketing Meets Web3 Podcast: Seamless Web3 Onboarding with Toby Rush

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November 22, 2023

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We met with Toby Rush, CEO and Co-founder of Deem, to talk about the barriers to Web3 adoption.

There was a time (not so long ago) when the concept of individualized, non-government-issued numbers for each person seemed far-fetched. But just look at us now! There are 6.5 billion smartphones globally, each with a unique number linked to its owner.

This widespread adoption didn’t occur instantly – it was a gradual process marked by efforts to ease user friction and deliver consistent value.

In this context, part 2 of the 3-part Loyalty Reimagined series, Step3’s Nick Casares and Alberto Mera met with Toby Rush, CEO of Deem . They talked about how brands can similarly ease the transition to the next generation of the internet: Web3.

Deem is a connectivity and identity platform that delivers streamlined, secure digital experiences with the simplicity of a phone.

👉Listen to the conversation here and subscribe to Marketing Meets With Web3 podcast where we discuss Web3 ideas with interesting people!

The digital-physical confluence

The first steps into the Web3 world mark a significant shift from traditional digital interactions, bridging the gap between the physical and digital realms. Unlike in the Web2 era, where digital assets were confined to the web and tied to user accounts controlled by large corporations, Web3 introduced a paradigm where individuals could truly own digital assets, much like physical possessions.

Alberto delved into this concept with Toby, seeking to define what customer-owned experiences mean within the Web3 framework. Toby says that in Web3, “People can own a little piece of data outside the traditional silos of what we’ve always typically known as big tech.” 

Unlike Web2, where you need to refer back to the authoritative source for data, Toby says “Web3 and NFTs specifically give us the ability to own little pieces of data in an open ecosystem yet maintain absolute trust.”

Customers being able to directly own their digital assets opens up tonnes of opportunities for brands to blend digital and physical experiences. Just look at how Nike has used NFTs for multiple token-gated sneaker drops. How Reformation created a personalized “magic wardrobe” fitting room. Or how Toyota used AR to streamline car customization. Wherever you look, the future of retail seems phygital. 

Ownership – a paradigm shift for marketers 

Web3 adoption is about more than reducing friction for customers – it also involves spelling out Web3’s benefits in black and white. Much of Web3’s value lies in a simple, yet powerful idea: ownership. 

Nick highlights the importance of understanding brand affinity and ownership in customer interactions, both in the physical world and its extension into the digital realm:

“Think about the way that people collect pieces of a brand in the real world … Simple things like bumper stickers, T-shirts, anything that signifies ‘I am a customer’ or ‘I am a fan of something’ … People already are used to collecting parts of the experience, and brands that they love. Digital ownership just takes it one step further.” 

Nick is emphasizing the fundamental shift in how consumers express brand loyalty in the Web3 era. Beyond the closed ecosystems of Web2, Web3's decentralized nature opens up brand experiences to a wider audience. Digital properties, like in-game cosmetic items, aren’t limited to their original platforms. They become part of a fan’s broader digital identity, transcending singular spaces to be universally visible across different platforms and communities.

Balancing customer data transparency with privacy 

With the impending death of the cookie and consumer data a constant point of contention for most marketers, Alberto asked how Web3 could make interactions between brands and customers more transparent. 

Toby acknowledged the complexity of this issue, noting that the industry still “has a lot of learning and growing to do”. He highlighted that while people appreciate the transparency of data on the blockchain, privacy remains a significant concern.

Toby emphasized that Web3 aims to empower users by returning control of their data to them. This empowerment allows users to decide when and how to exchange their data for value from companies. However, he pointed out that communicating this advantage to users is challenging. The adoption of Web3 entails friction not only for users but also for marketers.

Toby stressed the need for a more compelling narrative to overcome this friction:

“We’ve got to be more compelling on the value at the end on the other side of the friction… Yes, we’re going to work on reducing friction. But the reward on the other side of engagement must also be enhanced… We have to think differently, just like we’re asking our users to engage differently. We must also encourage our marketers to adopt new ways of thinking.”

The need for simplicity

Another big barrier to Web3 adoption is its complexity in terms of user interface, language, and functionality. Nick highlighted the need for what he calls “universal usability”, stressing that products should be designed intuitively for everyone. 

Toby says that this is actually part of Deem’s mission specifically with cell phones.:

“Our thesis is that the phone is always going to be part of [Web3]. So we’re trying to build this infrastructure and an API layer around phone numbers, phones, easy onboarding, and wallets. And so again, for brands, marketers, and other merchants who are trying to engage consumers to make it as easy as holding your phone.”

Toby’s focus is on utilizing the existing mobile phone infrastructure and user familiarity as a gateway to integrating Web3 technologies more seamlessly.

Targeting and personalization in Web3

The transition to Web3 represents a shift in data ownership and control. Nick, reflecting on this shift, noted its impact on both consumer experience and marketing strategies.

Nick pointed out that interactions with platforms and social media often lead to data being harvested for profile building. But, with the introduction of data compliance regulations like GDPR, there has been a decrease in the ability to fine-tune user experiences. While this is beneficial for consumer privacy – ensuring data isn't used without consent – it also presents new challenges for marketers. Namely, the ability to effectively reach customers who match their ideal customer profiles. 

In the Web3 landscape, as Nick and Toby discussed, properties like NFTs offer a new approach. They allow marketers and brands to identify potential customers in digital spaces who show an interest in their brand.

“But what's different this time around versus targeting you using advertising platforms,” Nick says, “is that you get to raise your hand as a consumer and you say, ‘Yeah, I want to opt into that because there's some value exchange’.”

This shift places the control of user data back into the hands of individuals, fostering a direct relationship between users and marketers. It represents a move away from relying on third-party ad platforms and data collectors, emphasizing a more transparent and user-driven approach to data and marketing in the digital world. 

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