I won’t lie. The night before my Kickstarter campaign for Switcheroo launched, I was pretty worried. What if the audience that I thought I had didn’t show up? What if our story just wasn’t compelling? What if our rewards prices were set too high? Or too low?
There are so many factors that go into launching a successful crowdfunding campaign. By the time you anxiously hit the “launch” button, the trajectory of the first day of your campaign has already been set through months of planning. Here are the things that we found worked best in delivering a successful launch day.
First, a few key facts: We set our campaign goal at $25k. We knew that we needed to hit at least 30% of that goal right off the bat, so $7,500 or $8,000 would have been a good — but not great — first day.
So how did we beat that so handily? There are a few important keys:
1. Build a mailing list.
Your mailing list should be qualified leads, in addition to committed friends and family. Don’t buy a list somewhere and spam people; your conversion rates will be terrible. Instead, engage people at trade shows, maker events, etc. to spread the word about what you are working on. Add a personal touch mentioning that you quit your job to pursue this. Explain that you are local (if it is true, depending on the event). This really resonates with people, and makes them a lot more likely to support you.
The bottom line is that this work is a total grind, but is hugely beneficial. If you don’t want to get out there and do this kind of tedious work, you probably shouldn’t launch a campaign. You should aim to have at least 500 names (ideally 1,000) on a mailing list prior to launch. We had 500, but a bigger mailing list would have helped more, for sure. Your mailing list subscribers will convert to backers at a higher rate than any other group.
2. Prime your friends and family.
Whether they are on your mailing list or not, send an email to all of your personal and professional contacts a day or two ahead of launch. Explain to them what is about to happen. Namely, that you are launching this campaign, and that their help on day one, either contributing directly, sharing with friends, or, ideally, both, will make the difference between make or break.
Generally, if you want Kickstarter to feature you, you need to come out of the gate strong. A big first day or two will get their attention. While we had a fantastic first day, we did not get featured by Kickstarter (yet — there’s still time!), but there is no way to guarantee that you will get featured, no matter what you do.
3. Build a “Blitz” team.
This is probably the most underrated but important thing that we did. When we sent out the aforementioned email letting friends and family know about the launch, we asked people to reply if they were interested in doing a few small things each day to make a big impact on our campaign. Twenty-eight people joined our Blitz team. The key was that they were all 1) on social media and 2) had different enough groups of friends to spread the word with as little overlap as possible.
Once the Blitz team was established, we emailed them with links every time posts went out on social media. We asked them to like, share, comment on, RT, and favorite every post we made. The results were amazing. It was like spending a thousand dollars on promoting each post, but free. We could have asked all friends and family to do this with each post, but people tend to respond better when they have actively committed to help out.
We slowed this down after the first two days so that the Blitz team didn’t lose all of their friends on social media, but most people seemed to be willing to scroll through an extra post or two without much fuss, and the reach was incredible.
4. Ask for help.
There are plenty of people pretty much any place you go who have run campaigns. Talk to them. Try to meet face-to-face to make a personal connection. Most people will be friendly and willing to help you. They will all have differing ideas on what works (or doesn’t) based on their own experiences. That’s OK. Listen to all of the advice you can, and see what makes the most sense to you. There is no “right” way, but there are a lot of really good ways.
Don’t shy away from people who have run unsuccessful campaigns. Find out what they learned from their mistakes. What would they have done differently? Successful or not, asking people (politely) about their regrets is often a fantastic way to learn.
5. Do all of the basics.
Some of the main things that you need to do are more obvious, but I want to make clear that they are just as important as the steps listed above. Make sure your product is good, that your story is well-told, both through your page content and your video. Don’t rely on either your page content or your video to do the job alone. They both need to be strong to have a good campaign.
Do your homework on your costs, and don’t screw yourself over on pricing. This is especially important when it comes to shipping, which is often underestimated thanks to Amazon making everybody think that the massively complicated task of delivering physical goods is, somehow, completely free.
Make sure that your rewards are relevant, but also make sure that you have a few items in higher price ranges for friends and family who want to help out a little extra. While they can always contribute with no reward, it is nice to give them something as a token of appreciation.
There is no guarantee for success. Doing all of the above can still result in an unsuccessful campaign. Likewise, you may find luck with a different path altogether. But the importance of making sure that you have a well-considered strategy in place pre-launch can not be overstated.
Keep an eye out for a follow-up article on what we found worked best for us during the campaign run.
Switcheroo is a novel product that enables the re-configuration of wall switches and outlets in a home without any installation and without the need for an app, WiFi, or complicated setup. This is Mike Neilson’s first Kickstarter campaign, and it has raised over $23,000 in less than one week towards the goal of $25,000.