What do you wish you had known before you ran your first project?
Kickstarter cannot deliver that *initial* audience.Once you have enough backers, and a REASON to promote your project (making your goal, then stretch goals and freebies), you hit a certain point where your backers will promote the project and you can, in principle, sit back and watch the money roll in. But you somehow have to hit that first critical mass. We thought we'd be visible on the front page for a day or so - but we were only there for a matter of a half hour or so...and then you had to already know that we existed or you'd never find our project. We didn't expect that...we thought we'd get hundreds of page-views per hour...what we actually got was crickets!Our first Kickstarter failed horribly because we didn't understand that. But after we retreated, re-tooled and did some up-front promotional work - the second one took off nicely. The backers from that first successful one then formed the core of people who started the third and now fourth (and soon FIFTH...you heard it here first!!) projects - so we don't need to be so concerned.But the first time out, it's tough. Nobody knows who you are, whether you'll deliver (lots of projects don't!) - whether you can deliver on time - whether the quality of the rewards will be up to your claims. Nobody is searching for your keywords - and initial failure gets you pushed down the search further and further. Unless you get a "Staff Pick" (we never did) or somehow find out how "Sort by Magic" works and exploit it - you're not going to get an audience.So the first Kickstarter is without doubt the toughest...and the only defense is to pre-promote it somehow.
Do advertisement or crowdfunding agencies help to spread the word about crowdfunding projects?
Some yes, some no.I use advertising on relevant sites. I create board games so I advertise on board game websites, forums, blogs (where applicable). I then contact directly with a personal letter and press release: blogs, articles, news agencies, and reviewers. I send them a prototype if available.Most PR firms for Kickstarter are a joke/scam/or ripoff. Try asking them detailed questions about their practices, for references, for stat sheets on success of multiple LIKE projects. They tend to get annoyed, defensive, or stop writing you back. If they are calm and collect and answer ALL of your HARD questions with good answers and integrity, then they might be worth using. Otherwise, Kickstarter alone drives enough traffic for you.Most of the time these agencies advertise on Google Adwords, and Facebook. ... You can do that yourself. Sure they "target"... but you can too, you just need to fill out the forms instead of them. It takes about an hour per site to do it right.That said, I advertise on Facebook for a measly $100 over the course of our campaign. That's usually enough. Films are larger budget with a wider audience, increasing this might be worth it. I haven't tried Adwords in a while. I found it a money sink-hole years back for another business, and never saw a single bit income from them. Though that was a while ago, and I'll probably try them again in the future just for the sake of experimentation to better answer questions like these.John
Using ads to promote Kickstarter; Analytics tracking
Hey! We are currently live on Kickstarter and 7 days in at $234k. We allocated a budget to Facebook Ads and after testing with small $ across 20 ads in week 1, we've dwindled it down to 3 that are performing at 3-6% CTR & 3-6.0 ROI. That means for every $1 spent we are seeing $3-6 in return. our Total conversion (as found in Google Analytics - can explain more soon) is around 1.3% off of facebook in total but this includes more than just the Ads. My best guess is you are getting abotu a .5-1% conversion on Facebook Ads.This means, if you drive 1,000 clicks to your website (DO NOT USE FACEBOOK CLICKS, USE A BITLY TRACKER!) you would gain 1 pledge. This is NOT bad. We are about to upgrade to Google PreRoll because our videos are performing best and an ROI of 6 is not going to boost our campaign as much as we hoped given our small budget.In summary here are my key takeaways:1. Use Facebook Ads to generate pledges & brand awareness.2. Facebook Analytics (find "manage ads") are not 100% accurate and fail to track conversions and clicks accurately. Use BITLY to track your clicks (each ad has a custom Bitly, put that bitly with + after to see clicks&data) and use Google Analytics to track conversions.3. Conversions will still be hard to track, because lots of people will see the ad, open a new tab, go to kickstarter or google and search for your campaign. 4. Market CTR on Facebook is 1.8%. Try running 20-40 ads at $50 to get a good idea of what will work. Pick the winners and move on to other parts of your campaign. Gain an ROI of 3+ to really make a difference.I am beginning a campus thread HERE to track my experience about Google Analytics. This will be abit more intense. Maybe can also repost BITLY + FACEBOOK AD info. Once we run Youtube Preroll, will post that as well. SUBSCRIBE! THANKSWill from GNARBOX
What did you do to get through your project's "plateau"?
I'm seven-for-seven with regards to successfully funded Kickstarters, now, and I've developed a routine.- Announce the project at least a month beforehand. I sometimes start promo six months to a year beforehand! Let Twitter, tumblr, Facebook, Instagram- wherever you have an established audience- know you're planning this.- I maintain a mailing list of ~5,000 folks who already know and like my stuff. I incentivize subscribing to the list by making sure everyone knows I'll be announcing the exact launch date of the KS there, so folks who want limited edition backer levels can get first dibs. (This also helps create the important first-day push for the project.)- I launch the KS, tell the mailing list, and then inform social media. The first-day push commences.- The initial excitement for the project has cooled by day three or four, in my experience. That's when I send out the press releases. I target blogs and reviewers who are already interested in my project's theme, or my general output. For the next week or so, I rely on promo from those outlets for bumps in interest, along with occasional social media reminders. I try to tweet about any Kickstarter I'm running at least once a day, preferably with images. I find reasons to talk about it. "We're just one pledge away from $1,000!" "Eek, who wants to be backer 666!?!" "Look, we're at $45,000! what a nice, round number." etc. - Day three or four is also when I announce/decide on stretch goals. How fast the project is funding is a big deciding factor in those; I've been caught out before making stretch goal graphics for goals the KS hit while I was playing around in Photoshop! Announcing the stretch goals give people reasons to keep promoting/pledging to the project, and i favor goals that would benefit everyone involved for that reason.- This will hold me until the halfway point of the project. If I think the project needs it, I do another round of promotion. If things are humming along smoothly, I hold back. It's important not to cross the line into annoying people. - After all this, when the KS enters its final week? I play it by ear. Does it need more attention? Does it need more aggressive promotion? Should I bother the mailing list again? Should I post an update about my new project in past Kickstarters? It varies from project to project, but when the countdown clock tics over into hours instead of days, that's always the beginning of the final big push from me. if I'm lucky, I've calculated a final stretch goal that can be feasibly reached on the last or second-to-last day; that keeps excitement high.If I do everything correctly, the project gets a respectable number of pledges every day. And while they'll always drop off after the first few initial days, I still experience promo-related bumps all throughout the campaign's slow, plodding middle.
Success rate depending on project's country of origin?
Hi Samuel,First of all, you shouldn't be worried about your project not being seen in other countries. Every project on Kickstarter has equal chances of being seen by anyone worldwide and it only depends on the quality of your project that makes for its success. I've created two projects myself and the majority of my backers came from Austria, Germany and the US. But I also had backers from countries like Japan, Singapore, Denmark, the Netherlands.. I could go on. It's so exciting for me to ship packages to all these countries I wish to visit one day. If your project has the chance of attracting international backers then in my belief Kickstarter is a good place to reach them. If your project's good, you'll find the support from your local people too. At the beginning, your backers will be friends and family because it's hard to convince strangers to support your project if people who know and trust you don't.. you wouldn't go to an empty restaurant either I assume. Once you have your friends supporting you, more people get curious and will check out your project.I've seen many projects create their campaigns in multiple languages or they used subtitles to make their projects available to everyone (SolidLUUV from Berlin or Livin Farms from Vienna) and I've also seen projects done in German only (Nicht Lustig from Frankfurt or the Towell from Kiel). They were all hugely successful. What is your project about?Take care, Monika
How do you continue to grow your community after you're funded? Does it get easier or harder?
I'm still in the beginning stages of this as well, but for us, we've found that opening up additional pre-orders directly from our site has been quite helpful in continuing building our community. Of course, the most important thing is to ensure that you're focused on fulfilling your initial Kickstarter adopters, as they're the ones that got you to where you are now. Updates are, of course, the best way to do this. We've handled consolidating all of this by pushing all Kickstarter backers, as well as new community members into a single mailing list. So for anyone that joins in post-campaign, you're able to send out email updates to everyone associated, not just your Kickstarter backers. MailChimp is very helpful for this, as is Shopify, as they allow for MailChimp integration where new buyers are able to accept email marketing directly from our site, and are automatically added to that pre-existing email list.Finally, having a way for interested parties to put an email address down somewhere on your website will make it even easier to throw them in to your MailChimp account. I guess the bottom line is that having a consolidated list of emails for all Kickstarter backers, new buyers, as well as interested parties makes it a pretty seamless ecosystem to reach out to your community.
Serial Backers - Describe your motivations!
100+ campaign backer here. I know the creator. I like to support friends, so they usually will get a backing. The creator backed one of my campaigns. It's not terribly frequent, but I like keeping a healthy crowdfunding ecosystem by supporting those who support me when I can. The reward will arrive quickly. It's fun to have campaigns with quick turnaround, especially if the reward isn't terribly expensive. The campaign plays on my nostalgia. I love that some of the architects of my childhood games have made a resurgence in the crowdfunding space. Keep tabs on the cultural zeitgeist. Some of what I back is for research of crowdfunding, honestly. Feeling mighty. Knowing that someone's dream can only be fulfilled if people like me help out lends itself a feeling of goodwill, as long as the creator doesn't come off looking desperate. The product is exactly something I've searched for before but couldn't find. Very niche reason here, but a bluetooth typewriter keyboard is something I've looked for, but could only find months later on Kickstarter. Usually if the product is something I could find something easily on Amazon, unless they have an awesome pitch video, I go for the thing I can have arrive at my house in 2 days.
Any suggestions for marketing email subjects that don't look spammy?
So a few people are interested in the answer to this, and nobody seems to have it ;) I'm hoping by posting some more details we might be able to generate some discussion, even if we dont have the answers!What I ended up going with was "Preview of my new FPV/Drone Kickstarter for better video reception" for the subject and trying to personalise every email to the person I've sent it to. Like I said, I know these people, or am at least known by these people if their contact details have been passed on to me.For the post launch emails, I've been using "New FPV product to improve video reception on Kickstarter", pretty generic, I've had emails from friends sending me interesting projects with similar titles - whether the project is on KS or just on a webstore.I'm customising each email I send from the template, ask them about their family if I know about them, or how things are going with the company, or just checking the weather in there area and seeing if they have managed to get and fly in good weather, or commiserating over the bad run of weather they've had (hey, weather's a great neutral topic!). Like I've said, I dont want to be a spammer but I do have a pretty good list of industry contacts i've built up over the years. Of course any reply from a person i've emailed gets an immediate and completely person un-templated response. Most are technical questions or just a thanks for sharing with them/thanks for creating the product.I'm using HubSpot CRM for the emailing, I created a contact list and imported it - their CRM product is free, their email-mass-marketing product is horrendously expensive. They have a "free" addon for chrome+gmail and outlook called "SideKick" which allows you to track people's opening of emails and clicking of links for templates. You get unlimited notifications for the first month, normally 200 - I'm at over 1000 notifications and just 2 days in to the campaign. Some people are opening my emails 8 or more times, and clicking on the links many times. I assume this is them forwarding the email on to others. It also gives you 5 email templates you can use in the CRM when emailing people as part of the free deal. I'm a little confused as to the pricing for upgrade, in the addon itself it says it is $10/mo, but then there is "SideTrack for Business" which is $50/mo however that comes with unlimited calling through the CRM as well. It also gives you more reporting on the templates, without it I'm just getting the total view/click through rate for all emails I've sent. Given the rate I'm burning through Skype credit I'm probably going to spend the $50 in the next day or so. Their sales people were very good on the phone and didnt try too hard to push me towards their marketing solution that would cost me far more money than I have!Since I guess I'm trying to turn this question into more of a Creator-Marketing discussion, I'd also like to link this guide:http://socialwebthing.com/2014/05/social-prospecting-success/I was already doing a lot of this, but certainly found some interesting points (the email checker link in there is awesome). I've been looking up dns records (whoismind.com) for domains of companies I'd like to call or contact to see if I can find out who started the business. Privacy records and domains purchased by web design companies are certainly annoying ;) I've had some good success with at least finding the name of the person behind some one man shows which have worked out well for me.The feedback I'm getting from people I'm emailing and calling is very good, nobody has complained about me reaching out to them, quite a good percentage have actually thanked me.How have you emailed people about your campaign, or otherwise gotten the world out without using an existing consent-given mailing list? Or, have you got any thoughts on improving upon what I've been doing?Marketing without spamming is something we all need to do if we want some success, so I'd be pretty interested in hearing your plans/story/successes.
When is the best time of day / week / year to launch a Kickstarter project?
Hi - we've run 5 of our own projects and coached about 12, and Tuesday's seem to work the best (vs Monday's or Wednesdays). Time of year? ...how about 'now'? ; ) Seriously, you may want to work backwards from your shipping period - stay away from November/December shipping if you can avoid it.
Dave & Calvin Laituri
Do any UK Kickstarters have advice on postage/shipping strategies?
Fiona,A great question. Look into Amazon Fulfillment "Multi-channel". There are fulfillment centers all over the world for this. It honestly doesn't matter where you start. This really only works if you have a large volume of sales, I'd say at least 1,000 or more. If you only have a couple hundred sales, just fulfill them yourself with Royal Mail. If you use fulfillment centers around the globe I'd look into amazon's small business competitors, Interfulfillment in CAN, Ideaspatcher in France (serving all of the EU), and some misc ones in Australia (though not necessary unless your product is worth a lot.) The main reason to use fulfillment centers is to pre-pay VAT fees in these areas. Since you're already in the EU and the USA doesn't have VAT, you really only need to worry about Canada. Shipping in Canada is a fortune though, so do your research.More details on page 2 of this article: www.gatekeepergaming.com/article-7-budgets/ As far as presenting these costs... honestly... I'd present them in US dollars. The largest portion of your sales will come from the USA. Period. Make it easy for them, post everything in your campaign in USD. We don't know the exchange rate to British pounds off the top of our heads, and looking it up for each Tier's value can be a hassle. Play the game to get sales. It is what it is. - Also find a way to ship US sales from within the US (lots of small fulfillment companies in the US). Removes the other major hurdle to US sales; again: your largest market.Best to you, and Happy Easter!John