When it comes to raising funds and launching new products, crowdfunding is the new kid in town. But for every successful project there are even more failures. Ensuring your crowdfunding campaign meets its goal comes down to thoughtful planning and strong execution.
We recently ran a successful crowdfunding campaign on behalf of one of our clients, Green Energy Options (geo), and based on our experience, have compiled a checklist of ten must-haves for achieving your fundraising goal.
1. Establish your ‘WHY?’
Why are you running a crowdfunding campaign? And don’t say ‘to raise funds.’ That may be your objective, but what are you going to achieve with those funds? And is that something backers are likely to care about? Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself, why should I back this? What’s in it for me? Your answer should include a real, authentic and realistic benefit, either physical or emotional. For example, geo’s ‘why’ was to bring responsible energy use into the home, but more than that, their goal is to make energy visible and more relevant.
Once you have your answer, make sure it’s clearly communicated all throughout your page text (headline, description) and creative (images, video). More on that later!
2. Use your existing networks
Go big, and go home. Email friends, family, colleagues, business partners, your local barista, anyone you know to tell your story and why they should back you. Harness the power of social media by posting and tweeting, creating a unique hashtag and sharing video and photo updates on your progress. If you have a blog, post daily updates, using all of the amazing content you’re gathering and offering ample opportunities for your contacts to engage and share.
Projects that hit their goals within 3 days do happen, but they are very rare. The majority of successful campaigns get off to a strong start because they utilize their existing networks, create project champions and maintain engagement throughout.
3. Start spreading the word, long before you launch
This not only helps to build anticipation, but often it takes two or three times to get someone to do something. By giving potential backers a heads-up (and then following up right before and on launch day) you’re increasingly the likelihood that they’ll back and/or share once it’s go time. Provide them with email or post and tweet templates to make it super easy for them to share. By doing all this prep work, you’re ensuring a strong start, and by driving loads of traffic to your site on day one, you may get featured on the platform’s homepage.
4. Keep your campaign short and sweet
Most crowdfunding platforms give you up to 60 days but statistics show that actually giving people more time does not necessarily make them give more. According to Kickstarter, shorter projects enjoy the highest success rates as they show confidence and add an element of urgency. Our recent campaign for geo was 35 days and that proved more than enough time to surpass their £20,000 goal.
5. Provide a detailed budget
Where did you get your amount needed? Why is it $2,000 and not $1,500? Providing a detailed account for costs will show backers you’ve given this a lot of thought and will therefore be more likely to use their funds appropriately and deliver your product and promise on time.
6. Use enticing offers
Create several different offers for backers to choose from, and ensure you have lots of small rewards. For example, £10: bragging rights, £25: official t-shirt, £50: product at discounted price, £100 All the above + meet the team, etc.
You can also offer a early-bird prizes to help get your project buzzing on day one. Take one of the ultimate prizes (ones valued at £100 for instance) and discount it by 25%-50% for the first fifty backers. Once that pledge amount is full launch another discounted offer at 10%-20% off, and so on.
7. Tell a compelling story
This is so important and yet often the part most overlooked. As we mentioned earlier, clearly communicating your WHY and doing so in a fun, fast and engaging way is paramount to crowdfunding success. Once a potential backer comes to your page, you have less than 5 seconds to grab their attention and then keep it. You can be entertaining, witty or insightful, but ultimately, you’re telling a story that’s clear and to the point, communicating what your project is, why you’re doing it, and why they should back you. Use good-quality video and photos and feel free to create more to use in updates as you go.
8. Don’t underestimate the power of PR
Nowadays PR expands to online publications and blogs, and successful placement in either can help you reach a whole new audience. In our recent Kickstarter campaign for geo, we reached out to tech industry publications and popular blogs like TechCrunch. As a result of successful placement we saw an immediate spike in traffic and pledges, and every time an article went live, that jump was repeated on a relative scale.
There are a number of free tools you can use to search for bloggers and influencers including Google Blogs and even Twitter search. Paid tool Traackr is also excellent for identifying and communicating with online influencers.
9. Celebrate and reward your early backers
Each time someone backs you, it’s a big deal so throw them a social media party! Praising your community helps to keep the momentum going and also looks like we really appreciate our backers (which we do) so why not make it public?!
Also, be sure to keep an eye on the comments section of your crowdfunding page and answer any questions immediately. This makes backers and potential backers feel appreciated, supported and may just help sway their decision to back you.
10. Follow up, follow up, and follow up some more
People are busy and easily distracted by pop-ups, pings and push notifications. If they haven’t taken an action to either back or share, don’t be shy, they’ve likely just forgot. Send them another light reminder, replaying the best things about your campaign, things that they, specifically, would like and why they should back. Make sure to keep it short and include easy links to share. If you’re using social media to reach out to them then you can just ask them to RT or share.
For more tips on running a successful crowdfunding project, check out Kickstarter’s own “Creator Handbook.”
Do you have any crowdfunding tips to add? Please feel free to post in the comments section below.