How to run a Kickstarter campaign?

A couple of weeks ago we completed our Kickstarter campaign for a gaming app on US immigration called ‘Get Visa’. In this series of posts I want to share our journey, what we set to achieve and how we went about doing it. Hopefully, these posts would provide insights and help in planning your kickstarter/crowd funding campaign.

During the campaign we also ran many marketing experiments that we will share in this series of posts. Each experiments we designed was to identify growth opportunities that is repeatable, scalable and predictable. I must confess that not all our experiments were scalable as some of them were much niche oriented. We also used many tools that we shall lay out for your consideration. I don’t have any commercial interest in suggesting these tools but would love to have their premium account to continue exploring.

In a nutshell, we learned many lessons the hard way; this is even after a lot of preparation. We failed more times than we succeeded with our various experiments. I believe sharing our journey may help you avoid mistakes and invest your time and energy on the right stuff. May be you are little luckier than us.

About Get Visa game

Get visa is a social gaming app based on real life events revolving around the mystery of US immigration. It is an innovative gamification of the US immigration process. The whole application process is explained in a fun and informative way thus educating new immigrants on what to expect when in their application process.

We created this game as a social good to help fellow new immigrants in their immigration process.

The Kickstarter Journey

During the 30 day campaign we managed to achieve our funding goal at the end of 28 days. The above chart shows our journey from the perspective of traffic driven and how we got funded.

The whole journey started with a well written marketing plan. Even before we launched our Kickstarter campaign, we developed marketing strategies and set out objectives, defined the target audience, marketing tactics and our key performance indicators. This actually provided us the discipline and helped to bench mark our growth throughout the campaign period. The preparation phase began almost 60 days before the launch of the Kickstarter campaign. We had divided the campaign into three phases: Pre-launch, launch and post-launch. We were handling a set of things during the pre-launch period basically building the buzz, identifying and reaching out to influencers, building partnerships, etc. We ran the launch phase for three days that included massive email outreach campaign and during post launch, we were involved in balancing act and keeping up the momentum.

All our marketing efforts were built around what we called us pillars. They were four key pillars on which the whole campaign was built on.

  • Public Relations — Press release and media pitch with different story angle, blogger out reach, etc.
  • Email marketing — Targeted emailing, list building, optimizing open rates, experimenting with subject line, call to action, etc.
  • Social Media marketing — Building from the scratch our social presence, engagement and buzz.
  • Kickstarter Marketing — Reaching out to the Kickstarter community to support our project.

I would get into each of these pillars in details in the upcoming posts.

The key objective of the campaign was:

  • Build awareness
  • Attract interest/partners
  • Get validation/feedback loop
  • Learning’s

Target Group:

24–35 years — Affluent, often educated, active visa seekers, tech savvy, believe that technology can solve complex problems.

Territory:

California, Texas, New York, Florida, and New Mexico. We selected these territories based on research data on the cities with high immigration population concentration.

Our experiments were based on various hypotheses. But we followed a framework called ‘HREAR’ with regard to these hypotheses:

Framework

Hypothesis: Start with some belief based on sound reasoning

Research: We do some basic research to validate our hypothesis before spending more time on it. If our research showed our hypothesis was wrong then we drop it and build on new hypothesis.

Experiment: Setup experiments that will check our hypothesis

Analysis: Analyze the collected data to understand the performance

Results — Confirmation of our hypothesis-either success or fail. If successful, adopt it for scaling whenever possible.

While creating the Kickstarter campaign we followed this short checklist:

  • Video (compelling video, fun and informative)
  • Compelling description of the project (emotional tone)
  • Interesting reward (colorfully illustrated)
  • Multiple images possibly use .gif images
  • bit.ly for tracking (understand the performance)
  • Plan for updates (we decided early that we will have weekly updates)
  • Connect social channels (twitter & Facebook, we decided to stick to two channels)
  • Compelling project page (Add infographics)

I will go through in the follow-up posts explaining why we stuck with two social channels and how to identify bloggers, create a mailing list, creating a compelling video,etc in detail.

Tools: We used a number of tools through out our journey. Here is the first few tools that we used just as we began our campaign.

Hemingway: Just paste your passage and the tool will highlight unnecessary adverbs and grade your text for readability.

Ginger: Another plug-in that checks your language as you write. (I did not use these tools while writing this post)

Bit.ly — Link shortener. Helps in tracking performance. In kickstarter, this is only way you can get some analytics on the traffic as Google analytics wont work and Kickstarter analytics gives very less insights.

Power Director Ultra — This is a paid tool but worth its money. I used this video editor tool to create and edit videos. Our initial videos were created using this tool and at later stage we used freelancers to help us out to create more sophisticated videos. Note: I use PC. If you use MAC probably iMovie would come handy.

Piktochart — Wonderful tool for creating infographics. Yes, there are other tools available but this one is free and easy to use with lots of drop and drag elements. Creating a infographic is little time consuming but it’s worth the effort. Later stage when time became a precious commodity we used freelancers to create our infographics. It’s worth every penny.

Freelancer and Elance — We actively used these portals to find freelancers to work on our project. Note: It is a jungle out there, use utmost care. We had our ups and downs.

Reading List: Some of the books from where we got our inspiration

Service Thinking:The seven principles to discover innovative opportunities by Hunter Hastings & Jeff Saperstein.

Little Bets: How breakthrough ideas emerge from small discoveries by Peter Sims.

Influence: The psychology of persuasion by Robert Caldini

Contagious: Why things catch on by Jonah Berger

Predictive Analytics: The power to predict who will click, buy, lie or die by Eric Siegel

I strongly believed that marketing is rapidly evolving. To stay in the game, we need to constantly innovate and be on top of the curve. Identifying new tools, new methods, growth channels, and understanding the consumer is the key to success. As you note, we built the campaign from the beginning with an open mindedness for learning. Learning for us was to identify growth tools, means to drive traffic, conduct experiments, test hypothesis and openness to fail.

I neither consider myself smartest nor most experienced person; I just make sure that I outwork everyone. We regularly put 14 -16 hours a day, seven straight days a week for three consecutive months. I was lucky to have a buddy who was equally hardworking and we worked with a motto ‘never complain, never explain’ and always be a go-getter.

In the coming days I will be sharing with you more details about our journey, the experiments, and learning’s. We will probably start with the five things that we learned running a kickstarter campaign. But that’s going to be for another day.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.