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Since its momentous ride to fame in 2009, crowdfunding has been exposing some of the most revolutionary ideas, gadgets, and entrepreneurial talent across the globe to the masses. Platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Crowdfunder has made it possible for these ideas to become a reality. The competition for crowdfunding cash is already staggeringly high. Collectively, the campaigns of the crowdfunding industry have raised over $2.7 billion in 2012, over $5 billion in 2013, and shows no signs of slowing down in 2014. However, about half of the campaigns that even make it to Kickstarter (and others) do not reach their set goal, and over 10% fail to even raise a single dollar.
How will your campaign stand out?
This post will guide you to crowdfunding success with some actionable tips and advice related to crowdfunding, marketing, operations, and generating buzz.
Step 1: Build A Community of Support Ahead Of Time
This could sound a bit counterintuitive if you already have your campaign up and running, but my advice holds true at any stage. It’s massively important to know your target audience ahead of time, and who the ideal funders could and/or will be. Some questions you should be asking yourself are:
- What are the biggest problems I am trying to solve?
- Who will be buying/backing my project?
- What do they need most?
- What trends are currently influencing my business/space?
The best way to do this is by reaching potential buyers/backers directly and asking them if the solution you are proposing existed, would they support it. Feedback is key. This could save you a lot of time in the long-run, especially if you are going to put out a product that already exists, or even worse, a product that nobody is interested in.
I suggest reaching out to a minimum of 20 different people. More is better, but 20 no’s should be a good indicator that you either need to change your target demographic or pivot your idea. The larger and more engaged of a community (especially social community) you build, the quicker you’ll pick up speed and snowball toward success. Also, garner support from friends and followers ahead of time. Let them know what you’re working on, and get their funding commitments. That way, you’ll have social proof on day one of your campaign, and others will be more likely to give.
Step 2: Setup A Viral Blog and Landing Page
You should have a website for many reasons; the list goes on and on. The biggest reasons are that it will add legitimacy to your campaign and serve as an extra means of capturing interest. Building trust is crucial. There are countless options out there to get a website up in a hurry (Strikingly, Weebly, or Squarespace). If you have a bit more skill and time on your hands (or a little extra coin to hire a professional), I recommend having a custom designed site with a content management system like WordPress.
I’ll save you the details on HOW to build the site (let Google be your guide), and skip to what the benefits are and how to leverage the one you have.
Lots Of Good Content About Your Idea, Product, and Campaign
Writing text for your website is writing for both customers and robots at the same time. Make sure that what you write is unique, clear, and descriptive, focused on benefits over features, and is targeted at the potential customer in mind. That’s the way to build content that will be memorable and share-worthy.
Not only will your content inspire users to convert into customers, it will also help you get indexed by search engines like Google. Let’s say that your campaign is for a unique invention that lets people chill their warm beverages in under 30 seconds. If you have cool content about your invention on your webpage, anyone that searches for a solution like “how to rapidly chill my drink without ice cubes” will land on your campaign! And to top it off, all the traffic you get from Google is free!
There is a whole separate industry dedicated to this, it’s called SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Check back for more posts on this topic in the future.
Make It Easy For People To Learn More, Get Involved, And Spread The Word
The easier it is for your visitors to get stoked about what you’re doing and share it with their friends, the faster you’ll grow.
Leverage your blog and newsletter to build a personal connection with your visitors. In addition to great written content, blog about cool photos of your vision, product, and team to invite them get them and keep them excited. Strategically place a newsletter subscription form on your landing page and use it to keep your visitors updated before and after the crowdfunding.
But there’s nothing more powerful for your growth than a word-of-mouth referral. According to Nielsen, a market research firm, an endorsement on social media is ten times more effective in driving a sale than a paid ad. Make it easy for your visitors to share your campaign and great content by loading every one of your pages with social media engagement buttons.
Step 3: Make A Video, Make It Great
It’s fundamental for you to produce an inspiring, high-quality video. You need to tell an engaging story that shows your audience the alternate future you’re creating with your product. We can spend a week together going through the making of a viral Kickstarter video, but in the meantime, here are the main things to look out for:
- Study the leaders: Pay special attention to their video’s structure, emotional queues, and how it addresses the audience. Tile’s video is a good place to start.
- Write an inspiring script: This needs to come from you – the creator. Focus on your greater vision – how your project will change the way your customers live – and showcase your product at its best. Make sure you touch on who you are, what you’re doing, why it’s going to have a positive impact on your users’ lives, and how they can take part in the adventure.
- Engage quickly: Most people stop paying attention after 15 seconds unless you’re able to catch them. Spend most of your time defining the start of the video, which should keep them hooked for the rest of it. Also, you want your video to be around a 1m30s to maximize its effectiveness.
- Have a tagline: That way you’re project will stick in your viewers’ minds when they talk about it with friends. The tagline must be relevant and catchy.
- Promote your video: Place it on your landing page and the other publications you get featured on. More on this next.
Step 4: Target and Retarget
So you’ve built an initial community of supporters, set up a website, and produced great content, of which a sensational video. Congrats – you’re now ready to launch your Kickstarter campaign.
But not so fast! If you want to
the real part comes next
Start With The Blogosphere
They say content is king. Start by reaching your target customers through relevant bloggers. Look around the web to find some bloggers that would be interested in publishing an article related to your project. This is called guest blogging and it’s a fantastic way to get your product in front of new audiences.
The bloggers of the world LOVE and NEED cool content. So help them out by writing an amazing post for them! Give them an interesting piece about your project and they’ll help you generate buzz around your product and get precious visitors to your page. Use guest blogging communities on social media and online to find and reach relevant bloggers for your project.
Set Up Retargeting
It can be extremely beneficial to use a retargeting service like AdRoll, and set it up before or right as you launch your campaign. It’s pretty amazing stuff: a retargeting service will remember the IP-address of all of your visitors and keep showing them online advertisements (everywhere on the web) for your project over and over again until you close the deal. It’s great for keeping your project in their heads and fresh on their minds as they browse the internet.
Step 5: Harness The Power Of Social Media
I’lll let you in on a little secret. Social media — when leveraged correctly — is the most powerful marketing and brand amplification strategy. But it’s not like a magic wand that you can just wave to reap its benefits (or is it? Bear with me to find out). It takes time, effort, and patience to build the right audience and execute with maximal effectiveness.
Let’s start by making three to four social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube tend to work best). Makes sure you put a human face on your project – it inspires trust and facilitates the conversation with your supporters. Also, include engaging content and pictures, a description of your product, and a contact email.
Develop A Social Media Posting Strategy
Now that you’ve set up your account, let’s see how you can post effectively:
- Post relevant and share-worthy content: Use the 80/20 rule: only 20% should be promotions of your own content, the other 80% should be great content related to your campaign.
- Use images, pictures, or artwork: Twitter found that posts with images get 35% more retweets. (graph: https://blog.twitter.com/2014/what-fuels-a-tweets-engagement)
- Develop a voice: Your goal is for your followers to know that you were the author of the post without having to see your username. The best way to do this is by being yourself. Say please and thank you and show your supporters the recognition they deserve. Always be gracious – etiquette will take you far on social media (and in real life).
- Engage ruthlessly: The goal of social media is to spark and contribute to conversations. State your opinion, ask questions, follow hashtag trends, and engage with other users’ posts.
- Read our guide to Become a Twitter Influencer.
Amplify Your Content With The Best Influencers
Posting and engaging with people may get the snowball rolling, but you’ll need to think much bigger to cause an avalanche. The formula is simple: choose the unique hashtag that will spearhead your viral marketing (e.g. #NeoReach) and activate the influencers in your target demographic and niche.
In my previous career, I was a senior consultant at a digital marketing agency where I head our influencer outreach efforts. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Identify the influencer: There is no set way to finding influencers, it varies by niche, social media, and demographics. Methods include Googling “(your niche) influencers,” searching through relevant Twitter hashtags and using Facebook and LinkedIn groups. The most important is that you think creatively and are rigorous in your online research and in how you log your influencers.
- Find her/his contact information: The best is to find their email. This can usually be found in one of their profiles or their blog. If you can’t find an email, just contact them through the social media.
- Entice them to support you: Send them a thoughtful message about what you love about what they do, and politely (and briefly) expose them to your campaign and ask if they’d be interested in helping you materialize your vision.
Although this process takes time, dedication, and diligence, a well-executed influencer campaign will blow you out of the water, so keep at it!
Step 6: The Secret Sauce
Even if your project is truly revolutionary, spreading the message in a meaningful way is an arduous task – especially on a small budget. Before co-founding NeoReach, I was a senior digital marketing and SEO consultant at Rank Executives, an award-winning agency. We tested every new digital marketing tool and exploited the effective ones to acquire new customers for our clients. From retargeting, to social media marketing, to search engine marketing – you name it, we’ve used it.
Time and time again, the most powerful strategy was to get referrals from blogs and social media influencers. As a matter of fact, Nielsen estimates that people are over 10 times as likely to buy a product from a friends recommendation over an ad. We spent a massive amount of our time and resources coordinating outreach posts to organically spread the word about our clients. We started out with cold messages to influencers and massive spreadsheets to log every post.
As you could have predicted, we were soon drowning in overflowing inboxes and exploding spreadsheets. This strategy required so much time and effort that we needed to hire new employees every time we took on a new client. Despite the stellar results driven by our influencer marketing campaigns, our current strategy was unsustainable. I was convinced that there needed to be a better way. There needed to be a way to automate the process and make it truly scalable and cost-effective.
A year later, I’ve consolidated a team of digital marketers and Stanford engineers and together we built NeoReach. Our mission is to enable visionary companies to reach customers through social media influencer referrals in an easy and scalable way. We’ve had hundreds of influencers sign up to promote the companies they think are cool on their social media and drive thousands of sales at a fraction of the price of traditional digital marketing solutions.
We’re in private beta while we work closely with several e-commerce giants, consumer mobile apps, and some of the best-funded Kickstarter campaigns.
Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or apply for our beta program (no CC required) – we love helping revolutionary projects blow up.
Want to stay updated on all the latest NeoReach tips and tricks? Follow us on Twitter!
Interested in becoming an influencer?