Looking for Kickstarter and Indiegogo tips and best practices because you’re thinking of launching your own campaign?
Look no further!
It’s clear why you might be tempted to launch a Kickstarter campaign as in 2014 over 3.3 million backers pledge more than half a billion dollars ($1,000 a minute) to Kickstarter projects.
You can’t just launch a campaign and hope that it will be successful.
The Kickstarter/Indiegogo campaigns that were funded were the result of pre-planning, and lots of promotion and up front work.
I’ve compiled tips from various folks who have run Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns and have thrown in a few that I saw first hand as I was brought in near the end to help a friend with his Kickstarter campaign.
Are you ready? Let’s get started.
Step 1: You need to have a clearly articulated goal for your campaign.
The first bit is obvious. Make sure that you know what the goal is for your campaign whether it be overall awareness or funding for a production of the first draft of something. As with all marketing campaigns if you have a clear goal it will help keep you focused as the campaign ramps up and the activity gets crazy.
You also need to make sure that what you’re developing is needed by your target audience and that there is an interest in the product you want your Kickstarter campaign to support. If you’re not sure, this is where you’d test your idea with your existing set of followers/supporters.
Step 2: You need supporters before you even think of Kickstarter.
Momentum and grassroots support is critical for Kickstarter campaign success, so if you don’t already have followers via email and social media, make sure you build that support before you even start mapping out your Kickstarter campaign. Those supporters should also include relationships with press and bloggers that you’ve developed beforehand so that you have a better chance of them picking up your campaign once you go live.
Make sure to have an existing base of email supporters that you can leverage for your campaign. Supporters that click from a personalized email contribute 25% more to crowdfunding campaigns. Also don’t forget offline marketing. Those tactics can also drive contributions to your campaign.
Step 3: Think about how your campaign will appeal to more than one supporter group.
When thinking about your crowdsourcing campaign make sure your project will appeal to more than one group, as the successful campaigns leveraged outreach and using the grassroots power of more than one group of supporters.
A Kickstarter for a typographically sophisticated Bible, for example, was popular even outside of typography, design, and even religious circles.
Step 4: Study other projects in your category before you launch your campaign.
When looking at similar projects, evaluate:
- Their graphic and video choice.
- Look at how they worded their title, thumbnail and description.
- See which rewards their contributors thought were most popular.
- Take a look at the comments they are receiving and
- Look at who and how they were covered online.
“[We] built an internal standard for all of our campaign assets—video, copy, image—that we felt met that standard we saw in other successful campaigns,” says Rodnitzky.
Step 5: Make sure you’ve picked rewards for your backers that make sense and are compelling.
This is where looking at similar campaigns in your category might help in creating ideas for rewards. Often your rewards are a beta version of the product the campaign is funding.
Step 6: Make sure your fundraising goal is lower than what you actually need.
This is not as intuitive. Everyone wants to be a part of a winning team, so you need to set a goal amount that you actually think you’ll be able to raise. You will get more supporters if you blow past your goal in the early days. The goal should be the absolute least amount of money you’d need to get the project up off the ground. Also if you don’t hit your goal (with the AON model) you won’t get any funding, so the idea is to hit and exceed the goal.
You need to be realistic.
“Campaigns that fail usually ask for more money, over a longer time period—with the exception of video games, for which successful campaigns have a higher goal on average.” – Vincent Etter, Kickstarter expert.
Ultimately, Kickstarter should not be your first source of funding.
Most successful Kickstarter entrepreneurs have already acquired some funding prior to launching a Kickstarter campaign.
How can you figure out what your goal should be?
Here’s an option. Look to your existing network of potential supporters and think about what each might contribute to your campaign per person then multiply by the number of known supporters you have.
Step 7. Pick a Platform
The first thing you need to do is pick the crowdfunding platform to run your campaign. Either Indiegogo or Kickstarter (or maybe one of the smaller platforms).
Your selection will depend on the following:
- Your project’s eligibility
- Whether your major marketing strategies fit within that platform
- Your project’s cultural and personality fit with the platform
- Your project’s potential visibility opportunities
- The platform costs
1. Project Eligibility
So you’re going to want to make sure that you’re launching the campaign in a country supported by Kickstarter, and (for Kickstarter at least) you’re creating something with a definitive end (book vs. a business) and you’re not trying to fund a banned project (eg. medical devices, genetically modified organisms, weapons etc.)
Indiegogo has less strict guidelines, but you need to be in a country supported by Paypal and not doing something antisocial.
2. Marketing Strategies
Are you planning on a having a major donor pledge to drive additional donations? That is only possible on Indiegogo with their flexible funding model. However, if you’re interested in letting your contributors change their pledge, that’s only possible (without a fee) on Kickstarter.
3. Cultural and Personality fit.
There are two funding models on these platforms. You need to pick the model that fits your personality. They are:
- Keep-it-All (KIA) – The creator keeps the funding, even if the funds don’t surpass the goal threshold.
- All-or-Nothing (AON) – The creator keeps the funding if — and only if — the goal threshold is met.
Interestedly, on Indiegogo where you can choose all or nothing or keep it all research by Cumming, Leboeuf, and Swienbacher (2014) shows that even though most people chose KIA projects, AON projects were more successful:
Why are AON projects more successful? Because they reduce the perceived risk:
“…AON is a clear signal to the crowd that the entrepreneur commits not to undertake the project if not enough is raised, [which] reduces the risk to the crowd…KIA projects tend to be less successful, since the crowd bears the risk that an entrepreneurial firm undertakes a project that is underfunded and hence more likely to eventually fail.” (Cumming, Leboeuf, & Swienbacher, 2014)
I was doing this research for both a services type product and a future medical product.
Here’s the overall number and success rate of medical funding campaigns on the various crowdfunding platforms:
Kickstarter has been not allowing medical product campaigns. They told BBC they would still avoid
“any item claiming to cure, treat, or prevent an illness or condition—whether via a device, app, book, nutritional supplement or other means.”
Ideally you should pick a funding model that works for your personality AND risk level AND the platform most familiar to your potential contributors.
Some networks have more traffic than others, as illustrated by the graphic below.
Additionally, smaller crowdfunding platforms (like Rockethub here in the US) grant you potentially air time on A&E, which has it’s own visibility perks.
5. Platform costs.
When it comes to the cost to you, most campaigns are free to set up but the platform takes a portion of the overall amount you raise (in addition to credit card fees).
There is no cost to the contributor and on both platforms, and 501c3 contributions are tax deductible.
If you have set up your campaign with a flexible funding model (which is only available on Indiegogo), then you get what you raise. If you have it set up with an all nothing model, then you only get your funds if you meet your goals. Usually the platform only takes a percentage if you have the flexible funding model or if you have met your goal.
Step 8: Think about your campaign timing.
If there’s any seasonality to your project, or natural events which could boost the promotion of your campaign, make sure to align with them. There’s some great data from 2014 about what months performed the best for Kickstarter campaigns.
Here’s an example of the success created by great timing:
This past summer The Coolest Cooler became the most funded Kickstarter of all time, raising over $13 million. But this was his second attempt; his first campaign fell short of its $125K goal. So what changed? One big difference: his first attempt launched in November, whereas his second attempt launched in July, when beach-going customers were more likely to be in the cooler shopping mentality.
Step 9: Choose your words carefully.
Georgia Institute of Technology researchers studied hundreds of thousands of Kickstarters for hints of what made successful projects and they focused on the copywriting used.
They studied 45,000 Kickstarter projects according to New Scientist. Here’s what they found:
- Language that evoked gift-giving was a big donation-getter, as was the word “green,” and “sustainable.”
- Words that did not drive donations where campaigns that evoked a lack of confidence or a hint of desperation. Particularly the words: “even a dollar.”
Note: Also make sure that you have checked trademarks prior to launching your campaign. You don’t’ want to sort that live via your campaigns comment section while your campaign is running.
Step 10: Make sure to tell a compelling story with video.
All crowdfunding campaigns need a high quality video. And when you shoot the video make sure the first 10 seconds are compelling enough for people to watch further.
Make sure that your video articulates how your product will change people’s lives and that it conveys you and your team in a very transparent way so that you can build a sense of trust with your supporters. Also, make sure that you’re articulating how your product’s market differentiation.
Step 11: Before you launch your campaign make sure you have fulfillment figured out.
The last thing you want to do is make people wait for their rewards or your product if your campaign becomes widely successful. Your supporters actually own part of your product, so if they don’t get the product promptly, things could get ugly.
For example, Radiate Athletics had issues delivering orders of their color changing shirts when their campaign was successfully funded. In some instances supporters waited for over a year for their orders. Their supporters took to social media and their posts were clear about how upset they were, with some talking about taking legal action.
Step 12: Make your campaign message easy to share.
Think about this beforehand and create personalized emails your supports can use along with social media posts. The most successful Kickstarter campaigns even created custom sharing tools for their supporters like this example: http://structure.io/share.
Step 13: Create your marketing campaign calendar in advance to keep a steady drumbeat of promotion.
Most campaigns get supported well during the first week and last final days, you want to think creatively ahead of time about how you’ll drive engagement with your campaign during the lull in the middle. Your calendar should include campaign updates timed to be posted via blog posts, email, social media posts, press, events, etc.
Step 14: Plan your first push – it is critical.
Successful campaigns take off immediately and that volume of activity propels them to the first page of the crowdfunding platform and creates a snowball effect with is necessary for success.
“It is not impossible to recover from a slow start,” Etter adds. “There are projects that took a while to take off, but that eventually made it. Nevertheless, I would say that if your project has still not taken off by the middle of the campaign, your chances are quite low.” – Vincent Etter, Kickstarter researcher.
Step 15: Commit to the campaign and make it your top priority.
The successful Kickstarter campaigns have had all hands on deck with everyone who was involved in building the product. Keep your backers engaged. Send surveys to get more feedback, personally answer emails and social media posts. Use the feedback to improve your product.
Some of the successful campaigns answered 3,000 emails in one week.
“The campaign was definitely a full time job for multiple people,” Phil Bosua says during a Fast Company interview. “Running these things is all encompassing…The biggest mistake we made along the way was underestimating the time and energy required to answer the hundreds of Kickstarter private messages we got every day, as well as the time to talk to press and bloggers. If I did it all over again I would set up a more structured approach to manage inbound questions.”
As you can see the most important elements to crowdfunding success are reading up on the best practices behind the successful campaigns, having a marketing plan and calendar in place, and having customer support, fulfillment figured out prior to launching.
Here’s a set of great resources to help you get up to speed with best practices:
- There’s a great set of resources (including books) here: http://www.ianmack.com/howto-crowdfunding/resources/
What do you think? Have you run a crowdsourcing campaign and do you have any additional tips to share?