The Ultimate Kickstarter Guide
In moving your Kickstarter project along, there is a Process that you will need to follow in order to deliver maximum impact in a well-organized and multi-phased approach. The Process we have used successfully with many projects and products is outlined below.
STEP ONE: BRAND IDENTITY
To appear competent you need to have a fully functioning website, product renderings (if applicable), landing pages, social media accounts, Kickstarter project video, viral videos, product demo videos, social contest management platform and other core assets in place before launching. You also need a cohesive brand message, brand direction, media pitch, media presentation in the form of a media kit and a ready brand representative to meet with media contacts as requested. Creating a corporate look isn’t essential for Kickstarter but it does present a more professional appearance which generates credibility that usually translates into more backers.
STEP TWO: WEBSITE/LANDING PAGE CREATION
A very important step of managing your project is the website and more importantly the landing pages. The landing pages include management tools built to minimize the amount of human resources needed to manage all of your Brand Ambassadors. It will also allow you to monitor and automate the process of social sharing through your Brand Ambassadors. An internal messaging platform will allow you to instantly or automatically respond to inquiries from new Ambassadors who want to participate in your product launch. This invaluable tool will also allow us to reach economies of scale in the uploading, encoding of Meta information and syndication of user submitted video content. This is by far the most valuable long-term traffic generation strategy at your disposal.
STEP THREE: AMBASSADOR CONTEST (1)
At this stage, we are still “Pre-Kickstarter Launch” and are engaging your early adopters for their testimonials about the product after they have tried out the technology. We will focus on Brand Ambassadors who live in the Jacksonville, FL area and will film them using and seeing the product for the first time. At the end of your demonstration we will record them giving their impression of the technology. This video will then go live on your site where they will have their friends in social media vote for their testimonial. This will drive a huge amount of viral sharing and activity.
STEP FOUR: AMBASSADOR CONTEST (2)
By the time you are ready to launch your full Brand Ambassador program to the masses, you will need to time the launch to three weeks before your Kickstarter contest is launched. This will give us three weeks to engage with your contestants and guide them through the process of submitting all their info into your landing page management platform. We will have them create a profile within the landing page which will be optimized for specific keywords and allow their friends and family to interact with that profile page using social sharing tools. When a contestant signs up to enter the contest, they will have to complete a series of actions that will earn them points toward winning the “Spokesperson” role. Each of these actions will help us grow your brand influence in social media and once your Kickstarter project is launched will be used to drive traffic and specific actions to the Kickstarter page to help us rank in as many categories as possible.
STEP FIVE: PUBLIC RELATIONS
Three to six weeks before your Kickstarter launch, we will begin cultivating relationships with key influencers in the blogosphere world and the larger media world through targeted public relations outreach. Because traffic from these sources converts at much higher rates to real backers, your PR Campaign has to begin well ahead of your Kickstarter launch. As your Kickstarter campaign progresses into the “Fully Funded” category, your PR campaign will begin stage two of your media outreach as your product is now fully market tested and accepted by the Crowdfunding community.
STEP SIX: KICKSTARTER PROJECT LAUNCH
This is the stage at which all of your best laid plans come together into a well-orchestrated symphony. With the ability to have instant traffic flowing to Your Kickstarter project page, media publications sharing your launch and paid traffic supplementing lags in traffic, your Kickstarter campaign will be off to a good start. With thousands of links pointing back to your Kickstarter page, viral traffic from your sponsored YouTube video and your Brand Ambassadors getting the word out to all their friends, your funding goal should be met in no time.
STEP SEVEN: KICKSTARTER PROEJCT MANAGEMENT
Managing your Kickstarter project is a full-time job. As supporters ask questions, you must answer them quickly. Constantly engaging new media outlets to write about your project is also essential to ensure a steady stream of relevant traffic throughout the duration of your campaign. The management of your campaign while it’s active encompasses the following elements:
Answering Questions – As questions are asked, answers need to be given in a timely fashion or you will lose potential backers.
Driving Traffic – There needs to be a constant flow of relevant traffic to your project. In the unlikely event that traffic dips, we can boost it with paid marketing to ensure a constant flow.
Media outreach – We will continue to engage new media contacts throughout the duration of your project
Social Campaign Management – Managing the social contests we run in conjunction with your Kickstarter launch will give us the ability to drive traffic and viral sharing of your links throughout your entire campaign. We anticipate engaging thousands of participants so reaching objectives should be relatively easy.
Manage the creation of user generated content – A large part of the value we offer is the creation of content from your supporters. This content is vital for long term SEO benefits, traffic creation and sustainability, social media back-link creation and social sharing of content all tied to your website, landing page and Kickstarter project. Managing the creation of marketable content is labor intense and your platform is designed to automate a lot of the syndication aspects to help us achieve economies of scale not possible through a manual process.
Ranking Algorithm Compliance – Understanding Kickstarter’s algorithms in how they rank your project is vital for tailoring your project for sustained maximum visibility in each ranking category possible.
SECTION (2) STRATEGY
Each stage of your process includes specific strategies that are designed to build economies of scale quickly, drive social influence’s to your KickStarter page and convert to real backers. Please see each “Strategy” section below.
2.1 FUNDING GOAL
Setting funding goals is vital to maximizing your projects chances for not only reaching your goal but lowering your cost per acquisition on each backer obtained. See the following strategy guide for setting the right funding goals for your kickstarter campaign.
Active vs. Passive Consumer Demand
Active Consumer Demand is present when a product segment is highly anticipated before it launches as was the case with the “Pebble Watch”. In this case you had multiple companies like Apple, Samsung and Microsoft all announcing the launch of their own smart watches which created consumer anticipation for the product segment. Because the “Pebble Watch” beat the competitors to market by a large margin, they were able to cash in on the built-up consumer anticipation already established in the product segment, meeting their initial funding goal of $100K in just 2 hours. This drove media publication, social syndication of content and lead to the massive support of backers both during and after the Kickstarter campaign. This generated hundreds of thousands of pre-orders in a very short amount of time. The biggest factor to their success, however, was the built-up consumer demand for a “Smart Watch”.
Passive Consumer Demand, on the other hand, is only present once the consumer has seen a product and then desires it. As such it requires more marketing effort to go viral. If no one has seen or heard of the technology, you must first demonstrate it, then provide the mechanisms required for it to go viral. It’s a much different process than launching a product with built-up consumer demand, which goes viral almost instantly. Passive Consumer Demand must be paid for through marketing as “Product Discovery” is not free. The adoption of media coverage for a product with Passive Consumer Demand is a time consuming process as there is no built-up consumer demand driving the editorial process.
Cost per Impression (CPI)
The cost to drive traffic to your Kickstarter page is a variable expense that is often hard to pinpoint. However if we use basic assumptions to calculate an average CPI, you could expect to pay $1.45 per visitor before ranking in Kickstarter’s category pages, and $0.34 after being ranked. We will use these figures below as we continue to evaluate Your Funding Goal strategy.
Conversion Rate of Traffic Pre/Post Funding
The conversion rate at which visitors become Supporters of your project is vital, as it ensures you are driving traffic at a cost which allows you to derive a profit once all the costs are paid. The conversion rates between a Kickstarter project before it meets its funding goals compared with after it is funded are drastically different for several reasons, the main ones being:
1) Funded projects have a higher perceived ability to deliver.
2) Peer review has proven the product worthy of being backed.
3) Funded projects have a greater perceived momentum and consumer demand.
4) Funded projects have a greater number of editorials being written after Funding goals are exceeded which drives traffic with higher converting rates.
5) Increased access to more of Kickstarter’s own traffic which lowers your cost per impression.
The average conversion rate for a project Pre-Funding is roughly 4% and the conversion rate for Post-Funded Projects is roughly 9%. Given the Cost per Impression and the average conversion rates, let’s run a quick scenario.
Let’s assume that it costs us $1.45 to drive one visitor to your Kickstarter page, and that each “Backer” will spend an average of $34. Let’s also assume that we will convert 4% of your traffic to Backers. Using these assumptions, the following calculation determine your campaign’s Cost per Sale.
$20,000 goal (Divided) by $34 paid by backers will require 589 Backers to reach your goal. To find 589 Backers, we must drive over 14,700 people to your Kickstarter project. At a $1.45 cost per visitor, your total costs to drive traffic will be $21,315. This leaves us with a loss of $1,315 before product and delivery costs are even considered.
Once you are fully funded and show up in the “Recently Successfully Funded” category, your paid traffic will be supplemented with free natural traffic that also converts at a higher percentage of 9%. With the additional free traffic, higher conversion rates and lower overall cost per acquisition, the rest of your capital raise becomes much more profitable as each dollar raised has a higher percentage of profit associated with it.
We can now make the following assumptions:
2.2 KICKSTARTER ALGORITHM OPTIMIZATION STRATEGY
The key to raising money in Kickstarter is optimizing your project to show up in Kickstarter categories. This is where the majority of Kickstarter traffic is centered and being visible here exposes you to the millions of Kickstarter users looking for interesting products like yours to back. Being able to rank in these categories is vital to meeting your campaign objectives. It is also the reason we take our time in the pre-launch phase to ensure all the right pieces are in place from the first day of your kickstarter project. The following elements need to be in place for ranking in all the top Kickstarter categories:
Traffic – Traffic coming from multiple link types is essential for showing up in the “Most Popular” category on Kickstarter. At some point in the campaign it may be necessary to purchase real traffic through paid marketing efforts to ensure a steady stream of traffic.
Media Publication – Kickstarter gives a boost in ranking to projects that are written about in the media. This drives more traffic to Kickstarter that results in projects being funded and is an essential part of their ranking process.
Conversion to backers – Traffic is great, however, it needs to have a compelling conversion to real backers buying rewards. This is why it’s essential to have relevant blog articles and media write-ups that engage real consumers who want to help get your product to market.
Conversion to comments – Traffic also needs to convert to comments being left on your Kickstarter project page. This is a vital component of ranking in the “Most Popular” category.
Conversion to sharing – Traffic also needs to convert into people clicking on the “Share” button within your Kickstarter page. This shows people are accepting your product and want to share it with their friends in social media and also generates more traffic from the supporters’ friends visiting your Kickstarter page.
Meeting funding goals – In order to rank in some of the harder, albeit more important categories in Kickstarter, it is important to reach your funding goals as quickly as possible. Reaching your funding goal not only gets you ranked in the “Successfully Funded” category, it also lends more credibility to your project and gives backers the sense of safety in backing your campaign. If you are fully funded it’s highly likely that you will be able to produce the product that they want to support. Some of our clients set smaller funding goals and self-fund much of the amount to reach this level within the first few days.
With multiple categories available to rank in, your strategy for ranking in each category is tailored to deliver results. Each category opportunity is outlined below with its corresponding strategy.
Kickstarter uses the following analytics when ranking projects in the “Popular” category. These are as follows:
1) Amount of traffic
2) PR value of links directing traffic
3) Conversion of traffic to:
4) Size of the traffic’s social network
In order to rank in the “Popular” category in Kickstarter, our mission will be to drive high quality traffic from Blogs that write about your product, drive traffic from your Brand Ambassadors who then link to your page in their own social media accounts, share your Kickstarter page with their friends, leave comments and engage with your project through Kickstarter. The ability to drive traffic on demand using your Brand Ambassadors gives us the ability to keep your project ranked in this category. We also have other traffic generating tools that we can use for supplemental traffic to your page. It’s important to rank highly in the “Popular” section because it’s one of the most visited category pages.
This category is reserved for projects whose creators update their project pages with new information. It is vital to keep updating your project page with any and all information about the product to keep showing up in this category. In order to rank here often, we will update your project page several times a week.
RECENTLY SUCCESSFULLY FUNDED
Ranking in this section is vital to lowering your Cost per Acquisition. The sooner we rank in this category the more traffic we bring in from KickStarter’s own natural traffic. This traffic has much higher conversion rates to Backers and because it’s free has a zero Cost per Acquisition. We will still drive your own paid traffic here but this is when we can scale back your paid efforts and ride the wave of KickStarter’s power to propel your project into the “Most Funded” category.
In order to rank here, the only requirement is to be “Fully Funded”. The sooner we get here, the sooner we enjoy a lower Cost per Acquisition and a much higher conversion rate on the traffic that lands here. Having a lower initial “Funding Goal” gives us more time on this page and more of the benefits just mentioned.
OTHER KICKSTARTER RANKING OPPORTUNITIES
POPULAR THIS WEEK
2.3 BRAND AMBASSADORS
One of the most valuable skills we bring is our ability to find, engage and manage thousands of Brand Ambassadors to help generate user content that is then syndicated virally online which ultimately produces traffic that converts to actions within Kickstarter.
In order to influence as many people as possible to participate in your Kickstarter campaign we engage Brand Ambassadors in various rewarding ways to encourage them to create different types of content. To accomplish your goals we will organize three Brand Ambassador engagements.
ENGAGEMENT TYPE ONE – PRODUCT UTILITY CONTEST
There’s no better way to lure engagement than by getting people to think about how they would use your technology in ways that would benefit them in their daily lives. A great way to do this is by running a contest to find the product’s best utility which, as a side benefit, could lead to other uses of the technology. This will also lead to brand engagement where the early adopters of the technology are born and leads to sharing about the products within their own social networks. Because the product is technology based, we will focus the search for Brand Ambassadors for this contest in the technology sector. We will create a separate landing page that allows users to submit their utility ideas and creative uses of the product. They will then be encouraged via built-in viral mechanisms, to have their friends vote on their ideas. This is the perfect opportunity to drive meaningful engagement.
ENGAGEMENT TYPE TWO – EARLY ADOPTERS TESTIMONIALS
To show actual product utility with real users we will run a local campaign to find and engage real users in the Jacksonville, FL area. We will do this by inviting them to participate in your product launch videos by coming in to a local demonstration center where they can try out the products so we can obtain their natural reactions on video. We will then create several videos using this content, post and rank them with specific keywords on YouTube, and promote them on other video sharing networks using our syndication tools. We will also direct the Brand Ambassadors found in this stage to have their friends vote on their video submissions using their social media accounts.
ENGAGEMENT TYPE THREE – SPOKESPERSON
In order to really propel the brand forward, we will run a campaign to find an appropriate company spokesperson. The Spokesperson will get to appear in a branded commercial after your project is completed. This campaign will generate the most Brand Ambassadors and give us the scale to trip Kickstarter’s algorithms at any time with a simple email blast. Running this campaign will give us the following advantages: Creation of thousands of willing brand promoters.
Anticipated Number of Participants – 2,500 to 15,000
Anticipated Number of Viral Interactions
(Generation) (2,500 Participants) (15,000 Participants)
1st Generation 13,750 82,500
2nd Generation 61,875 371,250
3rd Generation 216,562 1,299,375
2.4 VIRAL VIDEO CREATION & SYNDICATION
One of the quickest ways to drive consumer interest in the products is creating a “Viral Video” that is shared by thousands, and sometimes millions of viewers. Having the right “Viral Video” mix and follow-up message gives us the ability to showcase the cool factor aspect of the technology as well as several of its applications for real world use. To gain viral traction, we need very compelling content created that will have the ingredients to propel the video into the viral space.
Working with your partners in the film and entertainment industries, we will engage a known entity in YouTube who currently produces very successful prank videos, and have him create a prank video using this technology. With almost 3.7 million subscribers, this video will go viral instantly once uploaded. YouTube automatically sends a link to the video to all of the channel owners/subscribers which can generate millions of views in less than 24 hours.
2.5 TRAFFIC SOURCES
As the Kickstarter campaign begins, it’s important to have a ready and significant source of traffic flowing to the campaign to meet the goal of having the product ranked in Kickstarter’s “Popular” category. While there are many ways to drive traffic, our focus is to drive traffic at the lowest possible cost with the highest conversion rate. Our effective approach to traffic generation includes the following:.
Brand Ambassadors – This traffic can be activated with one email and includes responsive actions that help build value in the traffic and its ranking power.
Paid Tweets – Using your network of influential tweeters, we pay a small fee for every visitor that comes to the Kickstarter page. Visitors are tracked using a shortened URL with analytics enabled for review. This also gives us a highly influential social media back-link with PR Value. We also have access to influential celebrities who could endorse the project on Kickstarter through tweeting.
Viral Video – Your viral video will also drive lots of direct traffic as, in addition to being funny, it will demonstrate the technology and provide links and instructions on how to learn more or buy the product. This traffic will convert into a lot of Kickstarter backers as well as drive highly valuable back-links and media syndication. In addition, bloggers often pick up these videos and share them among their viewers, giving us the ability to gain lots of “Earned Media”.
Public Relations – The highest quality traffic comes from bloggers and the media. This traffic is educated about the product and interested in supporting the project creators in bringing it to market. Although it’s not cheap, the return on investment from PR is always worth the expense due to the volume of traffic, much of which converts to backers, as well as the quality of links that are generated pointing back to the Kickstarter page.
Supplemental Marketing across Facebook - As Your Brand Ambassadors spread the content across their social profiles, we will use supplemental brand marketing using Facebook ads to reach out to their friends incorporating the Brand Ambassadors’ own words about the product in the ads. This technique has a very high conversion rate and will perpetuate viral sharing of the content.
Pre-Roll Marketing on YouTube – Whether we’re marketing your brand videos or the user generated videos, we will utilize YouTube’s Pre-Roll marketing platform to build brand awareness across highly targeted keywords. Pre-Roll marketing allows us to essentially put a 30 second commercial at the beginning of other relevant YouTube videos. However, the key to using Pre-Roll marketing is to front load the first 15 – 20 seconds of the video ad with compelling content, while making the last 10 seconds boring so viewers click off the video. YouTube only charges for content that is watched for at least 30 seconds so using this strategy gives us massive branding opportunities at lower cost. With a strong call to action and clickable link within the video, your conversions to clicks should be relatively high with a low Cost per Acquisition.
Industry Specific Publications – Marketing in publications like technology magazines (give a couple examples), business magazines like Inc. or Entrepreneur that have targeted audiences will help build brand awareness and generate new customers.
2.6 SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization is a mixture of content, high quality back-links, social engagement with supporters, influence of social engagement and the width of your social network. The major power behind SEO and its impact on ranking will be from the sheer volume of content created by the Brand Ambassadors, the syndication of that content across the Internet, the social sharing of the content, and back-links created from that content. To facilitate this effort your website’s architecture needs to be designed to rank on specific keywords for each page and include user generated content that is syndicated in social media and originates from separate class C IP Clusters.
Even if SEO isn’t a priority to you now, the amount of social engagement you will receive from your Kickstarter campaign provides the perfect set of ingredients to rank on just about any desired keyword or keyword phrase. To amass this amount of momentum using any other methodology would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The opportunity to include SEO as a part of the overall strategy will have long-term residual effects on reduced future traffic costs, lowered cost per sale and increased credibility in your industry.