Reflections on our Sucessful Kickstarter Campaign
Nov 18, 2014;
We’ve been in full Kickstarter mode for the last 6 weeks. We wanted to take some time to pause and reflect on what the experience was like running our Kickstarter project, including a bit about what we learned along the way. If you’re thinking about, or are in the process of, running a crowd-funding campaign, we hope you find this helpful.
1. Friends and Family:
Friends and family were crucial to our success. In our case, Facebook was the most beneficial, with sharing of our project link on the platform totaling nearly 25% of our funding amount. In the beginning, this number was far higher as our project got off to a start.
Our project was converting at a very surprising rate. Working in the marketing field, I know all to well the drop-off’s along the purchase path. In the beginning, our project was converting at around 22%. This metric was calculated based on the number of people who visited our page and initiated the video (data provided by Kickstarter) divided by the number of backers. This number seemed very high, and we attributed it to the support and enthusiasm from our friends and family. What was even more surprising however, was that this number continued to increase as our project went on, even as more of the general public began viewing our page and video. At the close of the project we had an overall conversion rate of 25% and an average pledge of near $50 from about 400 backers. We had 1600 folks visit our page over the course of the 35 days, and had we had a more normal conversion rate (of say 3%) we would not have reached our goal (3% of 1600 = 48 backers, x $50 avg pledge = $2,400).
This demonstrates what we learned to be one of the most important metrics in crowd-funding: getting people to visit your page.
Press and PR is a great way to do just that. The word had slowly been getting out our products and what we were doing before we launched the campaign in September. After experimenting with the flours on our own, we invested in a small sample batch of each flour and packaged them in our kitchen. We had no intention of selling them, but with the hopes of improving them further, were reaching out to food bloggers and other members of the paleo and gluten-free communities for feedback. Kind words from some well respected bloggers as well as a small amount of photos of our products and some of the delicious dishes they helped to create, earned us about 500 Instagram followers before we began our campaign.
Our followers are our greatest asset, and as much as time allows for, we aim to produce content for them that is interesting and valuable for them. We conducted a “giveaway” on the day we launched our campaign, offering flour packages to randomly selected followers who helped spread the word. From that, we had a small amount of engagement, and earned a few more followers. We were excited, but it was nothing compared to the power of PR.
When the campaign started, we began reaching out by basically cold e-mailing to any publication or individual we thought would be interested in what we were making. These included a large variety of mainstream publications as well as niche publications, and bloggers. All it took was one to create a major impact. Late into the first week of our project, Paleo magazine posed a link to our project on their Facebook page. The link received over 2,200 “likes” and was one of the most engaged-with pieces of content on their Facebook page that month. That single post, along with the subsequent sharing, contributed to over 50% of our funding goal.
We received some other press, much of which was after the close of our project. These included everything from Gluten-Free Solutions magazine, to the Huffington Post. It’s hard to say what the impact would have been had it come a few weeks earlier. Takeaway: all we know, and you might want to write this down, is we wished we would have started reaching out to the press about a month to 2 months before we started the campaign. It takes longer than we anticipated to get on their radar, and into their editorial calendars.
We knew something would go wrong after our campaign, and all we hoped for was something minor that didn’t result in a delay. For us, the majority of the issues were from the little things. We offered some custom printed “flour sack” towels as part of a few of our reward packages and had already received a quote and samples from a company before we started the campaign. When we had a final number of towels to place an order, we learned the company was no longer offering custom printing. We were doing a special type of printing “All-Over-Printing” and companies who print eco-friendly, lint-free, flour sack towels in the size we had promised to our backers aren’t exactly wide-spread. It was more than a headache to straighten everything out, but after a lot of time and just a few extra dollars, we were able to get the towels we needed to a local screen-printer in Denver to do the job for us.
Takeaway: If you can avoid the little things, do. I wish we would have had that time to spend on our primary offering.
Backers come in all shapes and sizes. You’ll get everything from friends and family to interested strangers who have no idea what Kickstarter (or whatever platform you are using) is, and will need some guidance on how everything works. Have something handy that explains the process that you can direct them to.
You will also get some very experienced and savvy backers. Some have backed over 100+ projects. Some will be very curious and want to know much of the details. Part of the reason they back so many projects is because they like to be in touch with the project creators themselves and are curious about many of the details of the project. In our experience, not all backers are this curious. It took us some time to learn what necessitated an update and what should just be a series of messages between you and one specific backer.
Takeaway: We could have posted more updates between the close of the project and fulfillment.
Have your shit together. This can easily get crazy and take over your life. There will likely be a lot of moving pieces that you are waiting on immediately prior to fulfillment. Try to get as much ready as you can. If you can make boxes, write thank you’s, print shipping labels, and get all the missing information from your backers that you need, then you will be in a great place when everything arrives, and the whole process will go much smoother. We used USPS priority flat-rate mail for our fulfillment and this helped us keep our shipping costs known. We may have been able to get better rates in certain cases, but for us the value was knowing ahead of time. The best part is, when you spend that much with USPS, they’ll make a special pick-up just for you!
Crowd-funding is a great option for those looking to get started with a project, young brand, or company. If you are thinking about a crowd-funding campaign, know how much you will need and consider crowd-funding as an option. Beyond just raising money, there are a ton of other reasons crowd funding is great: it gives you exposure to future customers, exposure to the press, and helps put you in touch with many of whom will be your most passionate and interested consumers.
Would we do it again? Definitely.