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Crowdfunding Best Practices

How to Promote Your Crowdfunding Campaign

In Chapter 2, the Easyship experts breakdown how to market and promote your crowdfunding campaign, including the tools you'll need and the importance of storytelling.
How to Promote Your Crowdfunding Campaign
Bryan Formhals

By Bryan Formhals

 

December 29, 2020

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It’s showtime!

After months of planning and hard work, it’s now time to share your idea with the world and achieve your crowdfunding goals. While it has taken you a long time to get to this point, the journey in reality is only beginning. Marketing and promoting your campaign will be a challenging, exciting and hopefully a joyous experience. It will have plenty of ups and downs, with planning and agility the name of the game.

How to Use Storytelling In Your Crowdfunding Campaign

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Your story is the centerpiece of your crowdfunding campaign. Without a compelling story and narrative, it’ll be tough to connect with an audience of backers. While you most certainly need a great, compelling product, it’s the story that brings it to life in the imagination of your audience. Successful campaigns offer their audience something that goes beyond the idea.

The core part of your story answers a few basic questions:

  • What is your product?
  • Why is it important or necessary for the audience?
  • Where can they learn about it and follow the story?
  • When will the product launch?
  • How much will it cost to support the project?
  • Who's behind the campaign and the product?

At the center of your campaign will be your audience and community. Without them, there’s no chance for success. Some campaigns will have a built in audience developed over years while others will be starting from scratch. Either way, you’ll need to engage them with a compelling story they want to follow if you want to meet your crowdfunding campaign goals.

The tactics you use to reach and engage your community will depend on the type of product and campaign. In the digital world, there are countless platforms and methods for engaging an audience. You need to connect with your audience where they are at, and that will depend on different factors.

Basic Tools You’ll Need

In order to execute your crowdfunding campaign, you’ll need to make sure you have the right digital tool stack. Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have become essential for launching a successful campaign, not to mention the most popular social media platforms. Success requires an omnichannel marketing approach to tell the story of your campaign and covert your audience into backers.

It Starts With Your Campaign Page

Nomad Lane Indiegogo campaign page from 2018

Your campaign page sits at the center of your marketing strategy. The goal is to drive traffic and attention to your page so you can convert backers and achieve your financial goal. This means that you need to create the best possible page with all the necessary details, information and content for your potential backers.

Here are the key components you need for your page:

  • Campaign card: Create a catchy campaign card for your campaign. You can use tools like Canva or Adobe Spark, or hire a freelance designer to create one along with your other marketing collateral.
  • Campaign Title: Work with a copywriter to create a great title and tagline for your campaign.
  • Video and Images: A great video is central to your campaign. You will also need high quality, compelling product photographs to help tell your story. Do not take shortcuts when it comes to creating these visuals.
  • How to connect with you: Your followers and backers are most likely active on various social media channels. Make sure it’s easy for them to follow you on the channels you deem necessary and subscribe to your campaign and email updates.

Make a Compelling Campaign Video

Stereogum Indiegogo Campaign Video

Your campaign video can make or break your campaign. No pressure! You need to invest in making it compelling and clear. This is your chance to bring all the elements of your story and idea together. The campaign video is one of your best chances to create buzz and launch your campaign on to success.

If there’s one area to make sure you invest enough resources, it’s going to be your campaign video. There are ample resources available for learning how to create a great video, and with talent marketplaces like Fiverr, you can hire videographers and filmmakers with expertise in crowdfunding videos.

Here are a few general guidelines:

  • Video length: You’re not making a feature film! Keep your video short. Around 2-4 minutes is ideal. In some cases, they might be a little longer if there’s a compelling need integral to the story.
  • Format: Every video should include an introduction, the campaign goals, a showcase of the product or idea and then a clear call to action. Within these boundaries there is plenty of room for creativity.
  • Talent: You should appear in your video. Your potential backers want to hear from you and most likely it’ll be your passion for the project that will help convince them to back it. Nobody expects an Academy Award performance, but sharing your authentic voice will go a long way.

Choose the Right Marketing Channels

Before you arrive at this point, you should have a good understanding of where to engage your audience from your research. In many cases, campaigns are born from an already established connection an entrepreneur or artist has with their audience. So, your own personal channels will often be where you start your campaign or soft launch it. That said, you will definitely want to create unique channels for your campaign for branding and storytelling purposes. In digital marketing, brand consistency and messaging are critical to success. Most importantly, you need to be where your potential backers are active and engaging.

Here’s a breakdown of the channels you should consider:

  • Email: The personal nature of email makes it critical for your campaign. A compelling email campaign early on can help build buzz and excite your audience. Again, this might start with your personal network and then shift to a new list for your campaign. Either way, what’s important is that you craft a compelling narrative about your campaign to keep your audience hooked.
  • Facebook Ads: You should create a budget for paid ads on Facebook and Instagram to promote your crowdfunding campaign. With their powerful targeting tools, you can narrow your focus to an audience receptive to your new product. You can also re-target from your email list or newsletter to create another media touch point for your audience.
  • Social Media: While it would be nice to promote your campaign across social media channels, realistically you’ll probably need to focus on one or two.
  • Instagram: One of the dominant social media channels today, Instagram has a large community and plenty of content formats from Stories, Reels, IGTV and feed posts to promote your campaign. You can also run paid ads across the platform that align with your Facebook campaign.
  • Twitter: If your product has newsy buzz to it, Twitter could be a platform to build a conversation around your campaign. The ability to break through will depend on the power of your existing network, and a lucky RT or two from influential users.
  • Facebook: You should have a page for your campaign, especially to run ads across the network. In most cases, you’ll need to put some money behind your posts to get any traction.
  • TikTok:  The rising video platform can provide an opportunity to reach a new audience if you have the resources and creative chops to entertain an audience.
  • Forums:  Consider promoting your campaign in niche forums dedicated to topics around your product.

Marketing and promoting your campaign is a full time job. It starts with your strategy and defining the right tools for your campaign. There is no one-size fits all solution and you should be prepared to pivot and shift tactics once you start to generate data around your campaign. Try not to spread your resources thin and double down on what you have success with early on.

Build a Community

Building a dedicated community that’s excited to back your product on day 1 is the most important thing you can do before you launch. These are people who sign up for an email list, follow you on your social media platforms, and talk about your product to others. This dedicated group of followers are the people who will launch your product, so finding them and nurturing them before you launch is essential to making sure your campaign succeeds.

This community is built through interaction. You’ll find them through your advertising, which will lead them to your email list and your social media presences. You’ll nurture them by sending updates, hosting live events on your Facebook page, and interacting with them in every way you can. Post photos! Show a walkthrough of your first prototype! Let everyone know that your cat sat on your plans and you had to bribe him with treats to get those specs out on time!

The more you interact with your community, the more invested they’ll be in your product. That’s the kind of community that will make sure your project gets funded, and they’ll bring their friends and family along, too.

Identify Your Backer Funnel

Every part of your campaign is focused on finding potential backers and persuading them to say yes to your project. In our digital world there are countless ways to connect with potential backers but don’t let these endless possibilities distract you from starting close to home with your network. That’s where you are likely to find the most initial success to help you build momentum for your campaign.

First Layer: These are probably going to be the 10-50 people in your network that most trust in your project. They’re probably going to be friends, family and business acquaintances. The people that know and believe in you. They are critical for building the initial momentum. Many campaigns turn these backers into a type of host committee that helps the campaign with feedback and advice on where to go. Many campaigns will often have funding from this network before they even launch the public campaign.

Second Layer: This layer will be your social media following and network that you’ve built over the years. Naturally it helps if you have a large audience but it’s not always about the number. If you have a core group of followers on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, invested in your network, then you have a good foundation to build upon.

Third Layer:  These are the unknown potential backers that will discover your project through the buzz it generates or from following crowdfunding campaigns. This is an important group to reach but also the most difficult as you are vying for their attention with numerous other campaigns and digital content.

Test Your Marketing Channels

When creating a strategy it’s wise to look at what has worked for other campaigns. The “Test. Launch. Scale.” framework built by Launchboom is a proven, scalable model for campaigns. It’s a core strategy in building a long-term, successful business.

Most people will visualize the model from left to right as shown below.

But I like to visualize it in a circle, because the framework feeds on itself.

The core strategy of the Test Phase is to validate product demand during pre-launch. You’ll do this by testing product positioning and audience targeting in the market before you go to crowdfunding. Companies that are able to test product ideas cheaply, quickly, and accurately are able to greatly reduce risk and only launch products they know the market wants.

It’s important to research competitive positioning and consumer profiles in this phase. For example, if you’re launching a new board game, you need to understand what your competitors are doing, and the type of engagement they generate on digital platforms.

Set Up Your Infrastructure and Consider Consultants

Crowdfunding consultants and agencies are experts in executing crowdfunding campaigns and they come in many different specialties and disciplines. Before you go down the path to hiring a consultant or agency, ask a few questions first.

  • What areas do I need the most help with?
  • Is it more economical to outsource than to try to execute yourself?
  • Do I have the budget to hire a consultant without impacting my margins?

Should You Hire Crowdfunding Professionals to Help?

This is one of the biggest questions you’ll need to answer. A successful crowdfunding campaign requires a team to execute. Crowdfunding consultants and agencies are experts in executing crowdfunding campaigns and they come in many different specialties and disciplines. Before you go down the path to hiring a consultant or agency, ask a few questions first.

  • What areas do I need the most help with?
  • Is it more economical to outsource than to try to execute yourself?
  • Do I have the budget to hire a consultant without impacting my margins?

If you do decide that you want to hire a consultant, you’ll next need to consider if you want to work with an independent consultant or with an agency. Here are some areas that a consultant can help you with.

  • Market analysis
  • Lead generation
  • Facebook & Google Ads
  • Landing page Design and Copywriting
  • Crowdfunding Page Copywriting & Design
  • RR Outreach
  • Email Marketing
  • Referral Campaigns
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Cross promotions
  • Customer support

Agencies such as Agency2.0 and Launchboom have deep experience with crowdfunding campaigns so the benefit of working with one of them is you can feel confident that they will offer a turnkey approach to marketing with proven tactics to gain traction and find backers.

Again, the major questions will be whether it fits into your budget. A benefit of working with an agency is they can often help you reach a higher funding goal and leverage that into the foundation of a new eCommerce business.

You can learn more about the pros and cons of working with a crowdfunding consultant in our guide.

Backer Affiliated Services

The crowdfunding industry has grown and expanded over the years to include services that will help you execute every aspect of your campaign. Backer affiliated services can help you gain access to networks that have backed previous campaigns. Cost will be a consideration with these services, and they often are connected to other aspects of crowdfunding. A few of the services to think about are BackerLand, Backerkit, Krowdster, and Kickbooster among others.

Build a Customer Support Team

It’s important to make sure you can answer questions from your potential backers and are attentive to any concerns. There are a lot of moving parts in a crowdfunding campaign so it can be easy for something to fall through the cracks. You do not want to leave your backers upset or with unanswered questions. Building a small customer support team to address any questions or concerns can help you mitigate any potential problems.

Launch Your Campaign

Products that pass the testing phase have the greenlight to launch through crowdfunding. The core strategy of the Launch Phase is to pre-sell a large amount of your product to the market. You’ll do this through a combination of tactics:

  1. Build a community of people that want to buy your product BEFORE you launch.
  2. Hit your crowdfunding goal quickly within the first 24 hours of the campaign.
  3. Rise to the top of the crowdfunding platform rankings and get free traffic.
  4. Continue momentum with qualified traffic from ads, email lists, and PR.
  5. Continue to pre-sell and upsell products to your backers once the campaign is over.

Use a Reservation Funnel to Build a More Qualified Community

Since LaunchBoom’s inception in 2015, building a highly qualified pre-launch email list has been a key part of our launch strategy. The pre-launch email list is how we get our clients funded in the first 24 hours (which we call having a “LaunchBoom”). Flash forward to 2017 and we started experimenting with a change to our pre-launch strategy that transformed the entire crowdfunding industry.

The challenge with building a pre-launch email list is measuring how qualified it is—and by qualified, I mean how likely email subscribers are to buy your product when you launch the crowdfunding campaign.

For the first 2 years, we wrestled with this question with little luck. I even hired a data scientist to look at all our campaigns and try to find correlation between pre-launch metrics (like cost per lead, email open rate, lead to reach ratio) to the likelihood that they would buy.

The short and disappointing answer: he couldn’t find any strong correlation.

It all changed one seemingly normal day. One of our video editors, Rebecca, sent me a link to a product she liked. It wasn’t launching a crowdfunding campaign, but was taking $1 deposits on their website. If you put down a $1 deposit, you’d reserve the product at the best discount when they launched.

I immediately knew this simple idea was something big. I got in contact with the founder of that project, and he graciously shared their strategy behind the $1 reservation. He felt it was a better way to build a pre-launch email list. Here’s the top reasons why:

  1. Making a purchase on a website (even for $1) is a much better indicator of purchase intent than just giving your email.
  2. By tracking those that make $1 deposits, you can optimize Facebook advertisements for $1 deposits vs. leads.

Within a week, we started testing this strategy out for our clients and began to see results almost immediately. That was back in early 2017. Since that time, we’ve learned a lot and iterated on the funnel. Let me show you how it works.

How The Reservation Funnel Works

Even though our reservation funnel is quite simple to understand, getting all the pieces to work well together has taken a long time and a lot of testing.

STEP 1: FACEBOOK AD

User clicks on a Facebook/Instagram ad and is taken to a landing page.

STEP 2: LANDING PAGE SIGNUP

We send them to a landing page where the main call-to-action is to give us their email address so they can get notified when we launch.

STEP 3: RESERVATION BRIDGE

After they’ve given their email, we thank them and also make an offer. They can put down a $1 deposit to become a “VIP” and reserve the product at the best discount when we launch. There is no checkout on this page, which is why we call it a “bridge.”

We’ve found that adding this step between the initial landing page and the checkout increases the conversion rate. This is because having the checkout on this page would be jarring for the visitor. They aren’t expecting it and it comes across as too promotional. Instead, we thank them for signing up and explain the opportunity to become a VIP. If they want to, they can press a button to be taken to the checkout page.

STEP 4: RESERVATION CHECKOUT

If they click on the button to reserve the product, they are then taken to a checkout page to complete their $1 reservation.

The Difference Between VIPs and Non-VIPs

In the Reservation Funnel, you will be collecting leads. Your leads will be broken out into two separate segments we call...

  1. VIPs - those who put down a $1 deposit to reserve your product.
  2. Non-VIPs - those who do not put down a $1 deposit to reserve your product.

For the rest of the article, I will use VIP & Non-VIP to describe these two different segments. Understanding the differences between these two different segments is extremely important to the success of your campaign.

VIPS ARE 30X MORE LIKELY TO PURCHASE

Since we’ve been pioneering our reservation funnel since 2017, we’ve collected some great data on its effectiveness.

Here’s the most important stat: VIPs are 30x more likely to purchase when we launch than Non-VIPs.

That statistic is an average, and I’ve seen it be higher and lower. For example, on our campaign for the OGarden Smart, the VIPs were 60x more likely to purchase than Non-VIPs. We generated $129,820 from the pre-launch email list alone.

Simply put, the reservation funnel allows you to...

  • Optimize your advertisements for purchase intent vs. lead intent.
  • Allocate ad budget more effectively and get a higher return on ad spend (ROAS).
  • Build a community of people that is 30x more likely to buy your product when you launch.

The Framework Feeds On Itself

The “Test. Launch. Scale.” framework is meant to feed on itself and grow your business. Once you get to the Scale Phase, you can begin to work on the next product that you want to test in the market. Ideally, you’ll have multiple product ideas that you can create functional prototypes of and then test them against each other. The one that has the best metrics during the Test Phase can be chosen for the next product launch.

If you’ve successfully delivered a great experience throughout the entire process, you’ll now have a large group of happy customers that will support your next campaign. That’s why we keep launching more products for our clients at LaunchBoom. We often see each campaign not only growing larger than the last, but becoming more profitable as well.

Using this framework, you’ll be able not only to have a successful product launch, but build a successful brand.

Scale Your Campaign and Go Omnichannel

Once you have launched a successful campaign and manufactured your product, it’s time to transition to the Scale Phase. As you’ll read in Chapter 5, in this phase you’ll move from crowdfunding into an ecommerce model, where you’ll have to determine the long term goals for your brand and set up your presence on the ecommerce platforms of your choice.


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