You spent months optimizing your pre-sale strategy, ran ads for weeks in advance of your launch date, and monitored results for the better part of a season. And you know what? You pulled it off. You ran a successful crowdfunding campaign and beat your funding goal.
Good job. But now what?
Forget that cocktail on the beach in Bali; it's time to think about the future. Forget crowdfunding 101, it’s time for your next course: crowdfunding 201. You have to deliver products, update backers, and think about the next adventure for your venture. Oh yes, my friend — you need to make plans because this is only the beginning!
Do you have a business plan? Do you have a long-term financial strategy that doesn't depend exclusively on crowdfunding? Is it time to move from Kickstarter into mainstream ecommerce?
We'll explore all those burning questions in this article. We'll talk about why you need to nurture your backers, when to make the transition into traditional online sales, and how to set up a sophisticated website for your business. Ready? Let's roll.
Key Steps to Complete After a Crowdfunding Campaign
Crowdfunding campaigns are a lot of work. Late nights, early mornings, too many instant noodles, and too few vegetables are par for the course. Hopefully you took vitamins; if not, now might be a good time to start.
According to The Crowdfunding Center, only 23% of crowdfunding campaigns are ever fully funded — so you have every reason to feel proud of yourself thus far. At this stage, you need to analyze results, evaluate metrics, and stay in touch with your fans.
1. Review your campaign results.
Savvy business people never stop learning. They give each project they're involved in a post-mortem, evaluate every investment they ever make, fully dissect funding campaigns, and use what they discover to drive future success. You can review your crowdfunding steps in a similar way, taking into account the following metrics:
Crowdfunding tools like Kickstarter and GoFundMe support Google Analytics, which can help you evaluate your campaign. You can use Google Analytics to monitor traffic, conversion rate, consumer location, and other data.
If you didn't connect your campaign with Google Analytics, don't fret: Crowdfunding platforms nearly always have built-in analytics tools. Take Kickstarter, for example. You can track video stats, reward popularity, average pledge amounts, and more on your Kickstarter dashboard.
How many visitors did your campaign page receive? How many conversions did you make? Did people donate less or more than you thought they would? Did they share your campaign via social media? Did they leave a comment?
These are all questions you can find answers to within your campaign analytics.
You can learn a lot by looking at your campaign traffic sources. If you know where your core supporters come from, you can target them with ads in the future. Which sites fed consumers into your sales channel? Did your organic SEO tactics pay off? Did specific advertorials, YouTube campaign videos, or blog posts perform better than others?
Take an extra close look at social media links. Did a lot of your donors come from Facebook? If so, which ads were most effective? Did Pinterest play a role in your campaign? If the answer is yes, your product might be an emerging trend — and if that's true, you could be sitting on a gold mine.
Plan to launch another effective crowdfunding endeavor soon? Here are six intriguing stats to help you hone your next campaign:
- Include videos to raise your revenue by as much as 105%.
- Update your followers regularly to boost your cash flow up to 126%.
- Go for an all-or-nothing model to double your funding chances.
- Add personal information to your campaign to attract 79% more donors.
- Create a team-driven campaign to generate up to 38% more dough.
- Target consumers aged between 24 and 35 to improve your conversion rate.
2. Nurture your backers
Top of the to-do list: Make sure your backers stay loyal. These good folks are your existing fan base, and you need to keep them sweet. To get support in the future, you need to nurture donor relationships and communicate frequently with your company's fledgling customers.
"Stewardship at its best engages donors with the impact and outcomes of their investments of time, wisdom, expertise, connections, and money." – Karen Osborne
Let's look at two of the most efficient ways to stay in touch with followers:
Be active on social media.
One of the most convenient ways to communicate with backers is social media. Hopefully you already have Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for your startup because you used social media as part of your original crowdfunding campaign. If not, go ahead and create them now. Post attention-grabbing images and videos frequently, and make sure you answer questions promptly.
Be upfront about delays and other problems to maintain trust, and interact with consumers to keep them engaged. To avoid going down the social media rabbit hole, schedule posts in advance with management tools like Sendible or Hootsuite.
Send emails with updates.
Update donors via email whenever you have exciting news about your project. Got a shipping update? Send your backers a message. Managed to get behind-the-scenes photos of your production process? Great — forward them to your fans.
Let customers know when you have new stock, expand your rewards program, or have a new funding milestone to share. One more thing: Don't forget to thank repeat backers whenever they make a new donation.
You've given your campaign a good once-over, made a list of its strengths and weaknesses, and set up social media accounts to keep in touch with your donors. Now what? Well, maybe it's time to think about switching from a pledge-based system to a regular ecommerce store.
Why Transition From Crowdfunding to ecommerce?
Sustained growth isn't driven by one crowdfunding campaign after another. Instead, it's driven by long-term vision, robust business planning, and a solid appraisal of your marketplace. There are lots of reasons to convert to a full ecommerce model, including:
1. Keep the momentum going.
A full-fledged ecommerce site can help you maintain momentum. Remember the energy of your crowdfunding campaign? Of course you do. What if you could take that energy and turn it into a self-propelling online retail business? A sleek ecommerce site can help you take control of traffic after your crowdfunding campaign ends.
2. Have a place to take preorders and sell future products.
Simply put, you need a proper site to build brand awareness and grow your business. An ecommerce site acts as a central nexus for all your traffic: Consumers enter your sales funnel via social media ads, affiliate blog links, advertorials, and pay per click (PPC) marketing campaigns. All orders — including preorders — flow through your ecommerce site.
Using Your Crowdfund Campaign to Build an Online Store
You're standing at the end of the rainbow. You know how to crowdfund, and you have the capital you need to produce your products. Now you need to create an online store to show them off. If you already have a web presence, now's the time to see if you can transform it into an ecommerce site. If you can't, you'll need to switch to an ecommerce platform.
Don't worry too much about ecommerce site development costs. Modern ecommerce providers make DIY website design easy — some of them even have slick drag-and-drop editors to simplify the creative process. Many also offer marketing tools, which you can use to boost your conversion rate and your average order value (AOV).
1. Choose an ecommerce platform.
First things first: Which ecommerce platform will you choose? There are plenty of providers on the market, and some of them are better than others. Let's look at a few:
- BigCommerce: BigCommerce is a scalable software as a service (SaaS) platform, so it's ideal for small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) as well as enterprise-level companies. BigCommerce has excellent 24/7 customer support and a broad range of built-in features.
- Shopify: Another SaaS solution, Shopify is fully hosted and is known for its quick, easy setup process. Plugins make the platform easy to customize.
- Magento: Magento is self-hosted and based on open-source code. You get total creative freedom, but you do need coding knowledge (or an IT department) to take full advantage of all the platform has to offer.
- WooCommerce: WooCommerce is an open-source WordPress plugin, so it's free and it works with existing WordPress sites. If you already have a WordPress site and you don't plan to expand your product range, WooCommerce might suit you well.
2. Select a theme that represents your brand.
You've signed up with an ecommerce platform — good going. Now you need to pick out a theme. This might seem simple, but it's harder than it sounds. Great ecommerce themes are intuitive, easy to navigate, and go with your existing branding. Some are free, while others cost tens or hundreds of dollars.
If you're stuck, take a look at competitors' websites to get an idea of what your consumer base responds to. Think about the colors associated with your brand, and about what type of vibe you want to convey. Most major ecommerce providers let you try out themes before committing, so take one or two for a test drive.
Create a shortlist of your favorite themes and then compare and contrast features to see which one suits you best. You might have to make a few adjustments to achieve your final vision. If you're not comfortable changing your CSS file or tweaking HTML code, pick a highly rated theme by an established and responsive designer.
3. Set up payment methods.
There's nothing quite like seeing the Visa symbol displayed on your own checkout page. Payment gateway setup might sound daunting, but don't fret — it's actually really easy. Most SaaS ecommerce providers have robust security in place and maintain PCI compliance on behalf of their clients, leaving you with one less thing to do. What does this mean? Easier payment gateway integration.
If you don't want to use your ecommerce platform's integrated point of sale (POS) system, you can choose from a laundry list of alternative options. Make sure you get an SSL certificate for your site then research gateway options, keeping the following points in mind:
- Judge ease of integration: Does the payment service provider work with your ecommerce platform? Go for a compatible, easy-to-integrate payment gateway.
- Consider customer reviews: What do other customers think of the payment service provider? Choose a trustworthy, long-established gateway with industry-leading uptime.
- Keep fees in mind: What are the payment service provider's fees like? Fees are inescapable, but they should be reasonable and not extortionate. Stay away from expensive gateways — and always read the fine print in your contract.
"Optimizing the mobile cart and checkout experience is more important than tweaking your desktop design." – Linda Bustos
4. Sort out your shipping settings.
Great shipping is super important. Sites like Amazon drive consumer shipping expectations, so you need to make your postage options swift, transparent, and consistently reliable. You can do that with a great third-party solution like Easyship.
Determine your shipping policy.
Create an all-inclusive shipping and handling policy and make it easy to understand. Unexpected shipping fees during checkout really put people off. In fact, a recent KISSmetrics study found that 28% of people who abandoned carts did so because they were blindsided by extra postage costs. Lesson learned: no sneaky shipping practices.
Your shipping rates have to take into account packaging costs and carrier fees. Do you plan to offer one main shipping option, or do you want to give consumers a wider choice? Will you post items internationally? If not, make that clear on your site so that consumers don't get frustrated when they try to check out.
Select ecommerce shipping solutions.
Will you pack and send items yourself or use a dropshipping service? Do you want to invest in branded packaging materials, or are you happy to use generic boxes and labels? Think about the type of consumer experience you want your customer to have and make it a reality.
Integrated shipping software can really help streamline your workflow. Easyship connects with a wide range of platforms, including BigCommerce, Amazon, and Etsy. If you automate that side of your business, you'll have more time to develop brand new products, chat with customers, and tinker with your business plan.
5. Preview, test, and publish your online store.
Before you launch your store, test, test, and test again. Run through every scenario you can think of to ensure your site works seamlessly. Does your ecommerce platform provide you with enough bandwidth to handle extra traffic? Load your site on smartphones, desktop computers, and tablets to make sure it looks great on different devices. Even make sure your listed customer service phone number is working, and that your live chat is responsive. Don't publish your site until you're absolutely sure that your checkout works and every menu link is a live wire.
6. Mass market.
You're live and kicking, and everything's working. Excellent — that's the hardest part done. Order processing, shipping, marketing activities, and other day-to-day tasks await. Now you need to keep your backers involved and vacuum new recruits into your sales funnel. Here's how:
Undoubtedly one of the best customer acquisition tactics out there, email marketing has an average $42 return on investment (ROI) for every dollar spent. In short, you don't have to spend much money to see results. You can use email marketing to target new consumers, keep customers coming back, and tell fans about updated products and seasonal sales.
Billions of people have social media accounts. Facebook, for example, had 2.7 billion monthly users in the second quarter of 2020 — more than the total population of China and India combined. You can leverage that power to your advantage with cleverly targeted Facebook ads, sponsored posts, and company page promotion.
The world’s leading cloud ecommerce platform for established and rapidly-growing businesses. Combining enterprise functionality, an open architecture and app ecosystem, and market-leading performance, BigCommerce enables businesses to grow online sales with 80% less cost, time and complexity than on-premise software.
Table of Contents
- Introduction: Crowdfunding 101
- Chapter 1: Don’t Overlook The Planning Stage (By Mark Pecota from Launchboom)
- Chapter 2: Marketing & Promoting Your Crowdfunding Campaign (by Easyship)
- Chapter 3: Raising Money For Your Crowdfunding Campaign (by Indiegogo)
- Chapter 4: The Manufacturing Process: Where Should You Start (by Easyship)
- Chapter 5: Establishing a Shipping and Fulfillment Strategy (by Easyship)
- Chapter 6: What Should You Do After A Successful Crowdfunding Campaign? (by BigCommerce)