Regardless of the crowdfunding platform you decide to launch with, the below tips will help you to ensure that you have a successful campaign. Sure KickStarter is different to Indiegogo, which is different to GoFundMe, which are all different from the growing array of crowdfunding platforms - but the 5 lessons below are key to your project's success on any of these platforms.
1. Start Planning Early
My advice is to start anywhere from 12 months to 6 months before your campaign. Planning everything from your press releases and blog content before your campaign, to whether you will hold a launch party, to what you want on your campaign project page and in your awesome project video. Planning a timetable of work means that (if you are lucky enough to have a team) you can delegate easily and have a lot of work done before you even begin your live campaign.
Failing to plan, well as the saying goes, is Planning to fail.
2. Research Other Projects Carefully
Once a project completes, both KickStarter and Indiegogo, leave campaigns up on their websites. This makes them one of the biggest sources of key data and influence you need to be looking at.
Combine this with statistics websites such as KickTraq and you have a set of data with which you can really make your campaign a success.
This data includes everything from how much funds were raised and when (kicktraq) to how their campaign page was styles & updates they made during and after their campaigns. Dig a little deeper into aspects of the campaign (off-site) such as social media and press / media coverage and not only will you be able to see what makes a successful campaign page in your niche, but potentially an array of websites to reach out to who may give you that extra bit of coverage you need to drive converting traffic your way.
In the recent Oomph Portable Coffee Maker campaign on KickStarter (pre-orders now via Indiegogo), we looked at at least 50 other KickStarter campaigns & what made them a success or failure. Now 50 campaigns is a drop in the ocean to the 276,000+ campaigns launched on KickStarter and the 99,000 successes. But if you are targeted in which campaigns you look at, 50 is plenty.
How to select which campaigns to research:
- The product must be in the same category or type as yours
- They must have a broadly similar campaign length
- The product must be in the same (broad) industry
- The demographics of the product are likely to be similar.
The final piece of the research equation is that you should also research 10 projects on any platform that have nothing to do with you, but have been a huge success. This includes LIVE campaigns that may have hugely over-funded.
3. Shorter Campaigns Are Better
It sounds mad on the surface. A short campaign can earn you more than a long campaign, but it's true - at least to some extent.
Think about it, the longer a campaign the more hours you and your team need to put in to running it. The longer a crowdfunding campaign the harder it is to run. This said if you get a ton of media attention then a longer campaign may mean a higher finish total - but statistically the shorter a campaign the more likely you are to be successful (data below from KickStarter).
Here are a few things to consider:
- The number of people in your team, can you really go more than 30 days without a large dedicated team?
- Can you maintain momentum from start to finish over a longer duration of campaign?
- Why do you want a longer campaign? Could you instead go short and offer a sale there after?
- What is the focus of your campaign, are you just fundraising to build or creating something bigger?
4. Have Clear Reward Levels
One of the biggest factors in the success of all crowdfunding campaigns are the rewards you offer and the prices at which they are set.
Your rewards need to be tangible and realistic within the framework of your whole campaign. For example, if you are offering a product in a range of styles, colours, materials etc then you probably already have clear price breakpoints for each of your variety, these tend to make ideal tier levels too. But it's not always so clear cut - if you've got a new piece of software then maybe you need to look at offering alpha and beta access, developer API access or access before the public get it, maybe you need to look at goodies such as shirts, mugs and other cool stuff.
The reality is there is no one size fits all, but unless your product is hugely expensive to produce then you should look to have clear tiers which have different offerings and clear price segmentation. For example you should always have something £5-10/$5-10 - this means people can track your progress and help you out, even if they aren't flush this month. You may then want to have another tier or two, the mid-range, offering goodies and then offer your product. The Oomph, simply opted to have a low-range reward and then product tiers, G-RO on the other hand had 2 low-range rewards and then jumped to $199.
The reality is, that there is no right and wrong - but stick to 5 to 8 reward levels, always have a low-level reward and ensure your rewards are clear.
5. Forget Trying to Please Everybody
Seriously, don't even give it a moments thought. Crowdfunding is a funny world in which your audience will likely come from left-of-field and not your intended audience. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't write and create a campaign for your wanted or known audience. It does mean that you should be detailed as possible, yet not overfill your campaign page with an array of jargon only industry experts would understand.
As an example, if you are wonderful new gadget - you may want to include things like how much power it needs, what its outputs are etc - but if one of those outputs is an LED you don't need to talk about it's peak wavelength, its capacitance or anything really technical (unless of course intrinsic to your campaign somehow). I know a fair bit about electronics and even I get bored by that kind of thing, especially when I just want to learn about this new piece of tech and become a backer!
Ok, here is what it boils down to. Would your friend, who knows almost nothing but has an interest in this niche, buy your item (from a normal website) if they saw your campaign page as a product description - if you even have a moment thinking "maybe not" then go back and redraft.
Crowdfunding is about gaining an audience, but just because you can appeal to over 2 million potential backers doesn't mean they will all want your product. So address your audience, address your niche and let it spread from there. If your product is truly great other audiences will join your campaign and become your fans too.