If you needed any proof of the popularity of crowdfunding as a fundraising tool, the latest news from Kickstarter should convince you. The popular crowdfunding platform has received more than US$1 billion pledges from 5.7 million people since its launch in 2009 – with more than half of that amount coming in the last 12 months.
Some fundraising campaigns on Kickstarter have failed spectacularly, though, so what can you do to ensure that you run a killer campaign that outstrips your campaign goal?
Understand that a crowdfunding campaign is hard work and takes time to plan, at least three to six months. A successful crowdfunding campaign really hinges on promotion and outreach. Getting your story out to as wide an audience as possible, even before the launch of your campaign, is crucial.
A well-planned campaign involves three stages: pre-launch when all the planning takes place, the actual launch and sustaining the campaign.
- Activate your support network early
Involve everyone in your team’s network, both personal and professional to drum up support for your project. They will be the first ones to spread your message and help you build a community around your project. Tell them about your project and email them more specifics. Don’t just ask for support, suggest how they can support you, for instance through social media, etc. With a solid support base in place, your campaign will get off to a good start.
- Create a website and special landing page
Your landing page should introduce the campaign, preferably with a video and should direct users to share it on Facebook and Twitter.
On your website your media page should make it easy for journalists to write about your campaign and product by providing press materials, including high resolution images for them to download. Keep your media page updated throughout the campaign with great content about new developments.
- Building a mailing list
Most successful campaigns began with a few thousand newsletter sign ups that converted into first backers. Always have a way for people to submit their email on your website or Facebook page, then use Mailchimp to email your first 2000 subscribers for free.
Soliciting media coverage from national news outlets and popular blogs is very time consuming. Send out your media kit and press releases to major media outlets two weeks before you launch. On the launch day send out press releases to a few thousand journalists to maximise your impact. This is not as effective as personal outreach, but you will get some response can you never know where it might lead to
Startup events provide a great opportunity to promote your campaign. Try to time your campaign around some major startup events. When you attend the event try to get stage time to promote your campaign and book a booth to demo your device and interact with potential backers.
Day one is a good indicator of the success, as for most campaigns much of the funding goal is reached within the first 24 hours.
To ensure that your campaign gets off to a roaring start, now is the time to rally your personal contacts and key supporters. Let them know when the campaign starts and ask them to back it right away. Don’t forget to send out your press releases as widely as possible.
Timing is very important for the official launch announcement. Senic, a Berlin-based hardware and software startup that built the Nuimo controller, suggests a type of ‘soft launch’ by putting off announcing the live project for a few hours so that it can gain some initial backing before being promoted more widely to the public.
Sustaining the campaign
It’s in the nature of crowdfunding campaigns to be super exciting on the first few days and taper off afterwards. You have to be prepared for this and plan ahead to keep the campaign momentum going. For this you’ll need fresh, well-written content at strategic times throughout the campaign.
Find a way to retell your story to keep everyone engaged. Watch out for interesting comments and from your backers and use this and interactions with them during the campaign to create engaging content to keep the campaign alive. Take note of your backers’ comments on and questions about your product and respond to them. Some successful campaigns at this stage responded with videos to illustrate their products better. This is important: keep your backers informed and engaged.
Don’t forget to promote your content in your newsletter, your blog, website, and on social media.
Four or five days before the closing of the campaign send out another blast of press releases to end it on a high note.
Other topics related to crowdfunding that we’ll cover in upcoming posts include different kinds of crowdfunding platforms, incentives for backers and campaign materials.