Last February we broke crowdfunding records and raised $1.19 million for the new collection of LIV Watches.
When Filippo Loreti asked me to help them with their launch, I knew we had great chances of smashing that record… I just didn’t expect we’d more than quadruple it!
So before anything else, massive congratulations to Matas Jakutis and the entire team of Filippo Loreti with their AMAZING achievement – attracting 18,550 backers and raising €4,809, 548 in just 29 days!
Kickstarter is a crazy AND dangerous place.
When you see successful stories like this, it’s easy to imagine that you only need to produce some product, put it on Kickstarter, press that big bad ‘Launch’ button, and start showering in money and fame – right?
To this day, there are 209,786 projects that FAILED without even reaching their initial goal – that almost 2/3 of all that tried.
And there are just 210 projects that raised more than 1,000,000 dollars.
So how can You launch a successful project?
Is there anything you can do to become one of the top 20 projects in crowdfunding history of all time, like Filippo Loreti did?
Here are just a few suggestions that might help you.
1) Don’t expect wonders from Kickstarter:
Publishing a project is not enough. Getting featured by Kickstarter will probably not do much either.
If you’re not among the top 20 or even 5 most popular projects on Kickstarter (or at least in your own category), don’t expect to get many organic sales from their platform.
But if you can reach the top, you’ll get a ton of free exposure and sales.
2) Kickstarter is a sales channel, not a magical cash-machine:
In order to generate sales, you must have a way to generate attention.
If you don’t have an established community of followers or customers, or don’t have a solid advertising budget, you’re almost surely doomed to fail.
This might sound obvious, but it’s not. You might want to read it again. 🙂
3) A prelaunch campaign can save your project:
Again, Kickstarter is not a magical sales machine, it’s a sales channel. And if you don’t have any followers or customers that you can reach, it will be difficult to generate sales.
A solution to this can be a prelaunch campaign – using Facebook ads to promote an exclusive early access to your project, in exchange for an email sign up. You can then send a series of automated emails to these people, explain all the benefits they’re getting and why they should back you.
By running a prelaunch campaign for Filippo Loreti, we generated more than 15,000 emails in two weeks and had more than 500 of them buy on the first hours of the campaign.
This Day1 success immediately pushed our project higher in rankings, built social proof and helped us attract more backers later on.
4) Price matters:
If you look at the top 100 most funded projects, you’ll probably notice some patterns in their pricing, or not.
While there’s no golden rule, we feel that the sweet point on Kickstarter is selling something at $90-120. It’s cheap enough to be bought impulsively, yet gives you decent margins and enough leverage to invest into paid advertising.
With cheaper products, it’s very difficult to generate a positive return on advertising.
5) Don’t expect much from PR:
First, these journalists are bombarded with dozens of projects and potential news stories every day. And in order to get their attention, you really have to stand out or be their best friend forever.
Even after we broke through the $4 mn mark with Filippo Loreti, journalists were not eager to write a story about us.
And even when they did, being featured resulted in just a handful of sales.
6) Learn Facebook ads:
Yep, Facebook is BY FAR the best advertising tool in the world.
You can reach more than 15,000,000 people who’re interested in Kickstarter around the world.
And you can even narrow them down by using detailed targeting, reaching just those who’re interested in both Kickstarter AND technology/design//guitars/watches/etc – this was incredibly powerful for our launch.
7) Lookalike audiences work:
After we had about 6,000 emails of our backers, we uploaded them as a custom audience and used it to create dozens of lookalike audiences for the best performing countries.
For that, we used almost all possible lookalike audience percentages – top 1%, 2%, 1-2%, 3%, 3-6%, 2-4%, 5%, 10%, etc – depending on the size of the country.
I was sceptical about lookalike audiences at first, but they proved to be extremely effective, bringing most of sales on the final week of the campaign.
What was even more surprising to me, that there was a very clear difference in performance – the ‘higher’ the audience was, the better it performed.
So top 1% lookalikes outperformed 1-2% lookalikes, and these, in return, outperformed 2-3% lookalikes. Or 3% lookalikes had better results than 3-6% lookalikes, which had better results than 6-9% lookalikes.
Looks like all the data Facebook has about us makes their algorithms extremely accurate.
8) Don’t forget Engagement Audiences:
Just a few months ago Facebook introduced engagement audiences.
These allow you to create a unique advertising audience, consisting exclusively of people who’ve engaged with your posts or ads in the past 1 to 365 days.
While you can effectively show them remarketing campaigns, these audiences were even more valuable because we exclude them from all our acquisition campaigns – in this way, we don’t bombard people with ads that they’ve already clicked on, keep our frequency lower, and force Facebook to reach new people every day.
9) Facebook ads are hard:
During this campaign, I set up precisely 169 campaigns, 6,378 ad sets and 8,216 ads.
And all of them had unique custom referral tags and UTM parameters that allowed me to see which individual countries, specific interests, placements, and even ad creatives are generating sales.
That’s hundreds of rows and columns to analyse and make sense of every day – are you prepared?
10) Facebook ads are CRUEL:
Since summer, I worked with three other watch projects but the results were nowhere as close.
Facebook ads are cruel because they don’t care about you or your project.
I’m confident I can reach some of most, if not the most, qualified people in the world with Facebook ads, I can use numerous tactics to get them to click on those ads and visit the Kickstarter page, but… I cannot make people buy.
Shocking, I know…
But with all seriousness, if you don’t have a mindblowing offer, people won’t buy, no matter how well and how much you advertise.
11) Make an IRRESISTIBLE offer:
OK is not enough. Good will likely not be enough either.
It has to be truly EPIC: epic design, epic project video, epic description, epic photos, epic pledge levels, epic price point, epic customer support and epic value proposition.
Before you launch, you can correctly assume that people do NOT want to buy from you, but…
If you tick all of the boxes, if you hit the right emotions and desires, if you make them feel that they’re getting the most amazing deal they’ve ever had, then you’ll have more chances of succeeding on Kickstarter.
12) Sell before you Kickstart:
I believe the biggest mistake of crowdfunding is creating a brand new product as a brand new company, and immediately launching it on Kickstarter.
I’d suggest to do the opposite – get your product, get your samples, and start selling.
Sell 50 or even 100 products by whichever means you can – contact Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts, use email or phone, pitch it to random people at a bar or at an event, or even on the street.
And don’t just accept a friendly ‘Oh, sure, I’d buy this…’ – if they say yes, immediately ask for their money or send them to a Paypal preorder page.
You’ll get an incredible amount of excuses and objections why they don’t want to buy it – take that feedback and improve your offer.
These are just a few things that came to my mind as soon as I sat down to write this article, but there are plenty more.
From the outside, you don’t see the thousands of emails and comments Filippo Loreti team had to reply, all the photoshoots and design work that had to be done, all the improvements on the Kickstarter page and videos that were implemented, and all the sleepless nights Matas and Danielius spent.
But if you do take the above suggestions and put in the right amount of work, you can make your project successful, too.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.
P.S. And if you need any help with your Kickstarter project, feel free to get in touch.