A year and half of work. One moment.
10:00 AM. Almost an hour after going live…and only a single dollar of funding.
Steve, founder and creator of Pakpod, laughed. Even with all the anxiety, he knew he had done his homework. And despite that lackluster first hour, he ended his first day on Kickstarter with over 10,000 dollars in funding.
So, what was his secret sauce? And what allows you to kick ass at Kickstarter?
It’s not prototype, because 58% of Kickstarters that fail have proof of concept.
It’s preparation. And this preparation has everything to do with your online marketing strategy. If you prepare, as this guide outlines, you too may share in the glory of a 10K opening day!
Landing Page (3 Months Before Launch)
“You should treat your spot on Kickstarter or Indiegogo as way to ultimately bring people over to a platform that you own and control – and that will live on beyond your campaign.” — Shopify
Pakpod’s website had over 37,000 (thirty-seven-thousand) people visit during the Kickstarter campaign alone. All tracked. With very limited analytics on Kickstarter itself, your website – whether it’s a simple landing page or a full e-commerce store – needs to be up and error free.
- Google Analytics proper installation is a MUST.
- Offer a lead magnet, contest, early backer award so that users feel compelled to opt-in before or during the campaign.
Email List (3 Months Before Launch)
“I wish we had a longer email list going into the campaign, that would have helped us a lot.” — Tomas Turek, Angee CEO, $531,107 Kickstarter
Ideally, you’ll have had a landing page, with ads driving to it, and a lead magnet to produce a very healthy list.
Self Journal collected 3,235 emails from 3 months before their Kickstarter until launch. Their total funding was $322,695. They developed a detailed email list strategy for pre-Kickstarter launch.
A basic strategy is:
- Get the emails of your Facebook contacts.
- Clean the list before launch date. I’ve had great results with NeverBounce to clean lists of my clients contacts. If you clean the list, you won’t get penalized by the email CRM.
- Segment your Email List to differentiate where people signed up (i.e., manually added, close friends, acquaintances). This will be relevant, as you will want to notify specific close friends prior to your Kickstarter launch.
Social Media (2 Months Before Launch)
The key to social media before your Kickstarter launch is a synonymous and timed response immediately upon launch. This takes a lot of proper planning to do it right.
- Thunderclap – Wish you could have all of your friends on social media make one giant announcement at the exact same time right when you launch your campaign?
Yeah, that exists: it’s called Thunderclap.
Thunderclap works by timing every one of your friend’s Facebook statuses, Twitter updates, and Tumblr’s feeds at a specific time (we suggest ON launch time). 80,000 people or more can see your update at the same time!
- Facebook Groups – Get pinned to the top of every relevant group in your industry.
For instance, for Pakpod, we joined every GoPro group on Facebook, and for ones with members of 10K or more, we reached out to the admin and offered to mail them a prototype. In exchange, they pinned us to the top of their Facebook Groups for the duration of the campaign. It’s a win-win for both parties, especially if you stand by the product you are offering.
- Instagram Influencer Outreach – Essentially, you search for handles, hashtags, or keywords in your industry, aggregate the sites associated with those profiles, and then directly pitch them to advertise your campaign on launch date.
ProShot utilized this for their 90K + Kickstarter, as did Self Journal, a 300K + Kickstarter, after their campaign for a 251% ROI. Self Journal went as far as making a “complete guide” on how to do this.
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Public Relations Outreach (2 Months Before Launch)
Angee, which called their paid PR, a waste of “bad money,” still managed to nail it.
Really Big Lights, which hit its more modest goal of 30K, said the money he spent on his PR firm “all went to waste,” but he still managed to pull through.
While Pakpod chose a great PR firm months in advance, for the vast majority of the Kickstarter creators I interviewed, manual PR was the most effective way for them to go.
“Manual” Outreach is similar to the Instagram Influencer strategy and allows you to create a list of those in your industry and rank them according toothier reach size. Once you’re done, email them personally, and ask them if they’d be interested in promotion. You can use a service such as BuzzStream or Ninja Outreach to organize this, or go the old fashioned way and use Google Sheets.
Another option is to visit industry specific forums. In a similar fashion to the Facebook Groups, these can really help drive some sales.
Make sure you contact the administrator of a forum before you post and ask them if they’d be interested in a “pinned’ post.
Reddit is also a forum, but self-promotion tends to get blasted to negative oblivion. For more on Reddit organic hacking, check out Eddy Azar’s post.
As soon as you hit “launch” on your Kickstarter, you will be hit with an onslaught of PR companies. If you’ve done your homework before launch, you can simply add them to the Trash folder.
Referral Marketplaces (1 Month Before Launch)
There are a few different options you have for incorporating referral marketing.
- KickTraq – Not only does this give you an estimate, but by being featured on this on Day One, you get a range of publicity. They have a top 10 trending on Kickstarter section as well.
- BackerClub – Made up of members who have supported 50+ crowdfunding projects. There is a listing fee for being a part of the Club, but there is also a money-back guarantee that you’ll come out ahead. Many campaigns I’ve spoken to claim to have had a very positive ROI utilizing this site. According to the CEO, the average project gets a 500% ROI on their investment.
- Kickbooster – This is basically an affiliate program for your Kickstarter projects. Those on the marketplace effectively sell your Kickstarter product as you give them a cut of the total pledge. You lose a % of income to Kickbooster (and to the referring backer), but it’s a great incentive to get people to share your campaign because everyone can earn money from doing so. For Ravean’s Kickstarter, they had 50,000 USD of direct pledges through Kickbooster.me links.
Paid Advertising (1 Month Before Launch)
Be warned: Kickstarter analytics are extremely limited for tracking conversions. Still, don’t let this stop you from preparing for launch by getting your advertising ready. Advertising’s primary place before launch is to get emails and website visitors that you can re-target upon launch.
- Facebook Ads – Self Journal got over 170 email sign ups for less than 100 dollars by using Facebook ads. This has the added benefit of adding an audience of “Website Visitors” in Facebook’s ad platform of that that don’t opt-in that you can test later. I’ve put together a full guide on Facebook ads for Kickstarter, pre-to-post campaign.
- Reddit Ads – I’d recommend you book out your ad spot over 30 days in advance to make sure you appear at the top of your industry’s sub-reddit at launch date and beyond. While intensely cheap (you pay per impression), your industry sub-reddit might already be booked out. So what are you waiting for? Look now.
Now that you have all these tools, you are well on your way to a day one 10K launch on Kickstarter.
Whether you make it all in one day or not, your campaign will be well on its way to funding if you follow the launch guide above.
Tim Chard is a content strategist, copywriter, and Kickstarter enthusiast. He led the digital marketing for Pakpod’s Kickstarter, and has written advertisements for over 25 successful Kickstarters. Feel free to connect with Tim on LinkedIn or connect with him at his site.