One year ago, we launched our Kickstarter campaign for Ampere– our smart wireless charging phone sleeve. Within the first 24 hours, we had raised over $60,000 in pre-orders and successfully surpassed our funding goal. We eventually raised a substantial $87,125 and have recently delivered our product. Local media celebrated us as “one of Singapore’s most successful Kickstarter campaigns” (Source). As the community and marketing rockstar of the Kickstarter campaign- having learnt much from the generous advice of other creators- here is my experience. Hopefully it helps you clinch your own crowdfunding success!
Edit: This post has been updated from the Feb 2015 version to reflect our successful delivery of Ampere.
Ampere- The Novelsys Kickstarter Project
The result of a year’s crazed development, we sought to address two pain points: our smartphones are always running out of battery, and we hate reaching for our phone chargers while on the go because of the ugly bulk and tangled wires.
Novelsys was founded by 3 twentysomethings who have put University on hold to solve those problems with Ampere- an elegant leather sleeve that can also charge your smartphone wirelessly. We said it best in our Kickstarter video (which is itself a story for another day):
3 Fundamental Lessons to Improve your Crowdfunding Success
1. Build off initial momentum.
79% of projects that raised more than 20% of their goal were successfully funded
Whether it’s because everybody likes a winner, or whether reaching a milestone generates its own word of mouth momentum, if you can get that 20% or even smash past your funding goal within the first 48 hours, you can ride that wave to success.
2. You will drive and sustain your own traffic.
While your initial momentum might help you get onto the cool kids club of “Popular” on Kickstarter, “Noteworthy” or even on listings like Kicktraq and Kickspy– which are all brilliant, legitimate avenues to attract passionate backers- sustaining that growth is all up to you. While it may look as though all the popular projects simply relied on organic word of mouth to explode, the truth is that there was a lot of work behind the scenes to kindle those flames. I’ll share with you some ways below.
3. Every project is different.
It depends on your team, product and timing. Just look at products like The Coolest Cooler that failed the first time around: by launching in Summer (when picnics and margaritas were on everybody’s minds) instead of Winter, they may have secured their campaign’s success the second time around. Is your product a purple elephant? Then just a press release may be sufficient to get attention. If not, you’ll have to rely on more unconventional pitches to garner press. You know your product and your circumstances best, so tweak everything to your situation.
Tips and Tools to Drive Kickstarter Traffic
Section 1 – Build a Community
“Kickstarter Done Right”, declared the amazing people at The Vulcan Post, of Ampere. One major reason? Because we’d built up an avid community pre-launch. Our platform of choice was Facebook. We also had a mailing list of nearly 2000 via a simple landing page at http://novelsys.co; these were largely people who had explicitly signed up to be notified of Ampere’s Kickstarter launch, not just incidentally from irrelevant giveaways/ etc.
Here are some ways to do that.
Facebook for community – http://www.facebook.com/Novelsys
We created a general page for most of our backers, who were already active on Facebook (your demographic may differ!). Then, we created an exclusive invite-only Facebook group called the Amps, which we capped at 80 people, for our long-time fiercest supporters to get exclusive updates, earliest bird rewards and participate in product development.
Mailchimp for mailing list- http://www.mailchimp.com
I think everyone is using it to manage their mailing list and newsletters. After you launch, for app-based products, you can use Intercom too.
Thunderclap for co-ordinated social media sharing- https://www.thunderclap.it
Get fans to pledge to share your Kickstarter’s launch even before the Kickstarter. It really helps with building up the critical mass to power the initial momentum. See the Novelsys Thunderclap. The service posts on their social networks at a time of your choosing, with a link to your Kickstarter page.
Gleam for giveaways, competitions and email captures- https://gleam.io
Don’t be selfish. Thank people for being awesome by creating creative ways they can engage through competitions and giveaways. I found Gleam to be more flexible than rafflecopter, an established alternative. (PS: it’s also useful for creating embeddable popup email captures)
Redirect 301 for SEO – your domain provider
If you’re doing things right, you’ll probably get press before your Kickstarter launches. They’ll want to link to something. You can set up a URL, such as http://kickstarter.novelsys.co, which will direct people to your product page. But once your campaign launches, change it to redirect immediately to your Kickstarter campaign instead. (You won’t know your Kickstarter URL until you launch, but it will be based on the title you originally launched with, so choose wisely!)
Reddit for FAQ- http://www.reddit.com/r/novelsys
Kickstarter doesn’t let you create a FAQ until you launch your project. Truth be told, you’ll probably want to prepare answers beforehand.
We first created our FAQ on reddit, so our backers could submit questions and find answers there. We didn’t have to answer the same questions repeatedly within the comments thread. Backers would also get notified when we replied.
Eventnook for Organising your Launch Party- http://www.eventnook.com
We threw a launch party and around 200 people showed up. We raised $5000 from that event alone. Eventnook allowed us to create a customised event page and update event attendees as our campaign progressed.
GroupHunt for Bulk Reward Tiers- http://www.grouphunt.sg
You’ve got bulk reward tiers. Encourage people to snap them up by helping them organise group orders via GroupHunt. It can work wonders and help foster camaraderie within local communities.
Section 2 – Get Noticed
Share with Forums/ Aggregators
For a tech product like ours, we were lucky to have established communities that we were already familiar with. Here is a list we found, plus some extras:
- Android Community
- Hardwarezone (for Southeast Asia’s Techies)
Start discussions, don’t advertise or spam.
Not all traffic is good traffic. Some forums drove lots of traffic that never converted; they existed solely to criticise our product and our efforts. Focus your efforts on what counts. You’ll never win over everybody.
Our dismal experience with Press Releases
We put out 2 press releases via PRWEB with little to no traction.
We used Fundzinger with only one press pick up. At this point we were bleeding too much money for no results, so we stopped paying for these things and started contacting press ourselves. We got great traffic from gizmag, geeky gadgets, CNET, e27, the Vulcan Post, XDA-Developers, etc.
One thing nobody warns you about is how many people will barrage you once you launch with offers of paid crowdfunding services and dubious promotion. We fell for a few of them that never worked. This may entirely be the fault of our pitch/ timing.
Our Reddit AMA reached Reddit Front Page
We did an AMA for Reddit (that ultimately got unceremoniously removed by the mysterious mods for reasons that were never disclosed) that was so popular we made front page within the first hour. People were really drawn to our product and story, and it blew up with 900 over upvotes and more comments than we could handle.
BackersHub (https://www.facebook.com/groups/backershub/) and BackersClub (http://backersclub.co/)
Both are great, passionate communities who are keen to help you share your project once they like you. We did get conversions from both that we could track.
We’ve successfully delivered Ampere to our backers, and couldn’t be happier!
Customer Satisfaction Surveys: Typeform (http://typeform.com) By this point, you’re just glad your customers have got something in their hands that works. You’re probably sick of your product and of work. But this is when your mettle is truly tested. Keep at it with top notch customer service by sending them a beautiful, simple satisfaction survey. I recommend Typeform.
What’s next? The Novelsys team is now pursuing their next great (secret) adventures.
Feel free to contact me. I’ve been receiving lots of questions about your Kickstarter campaigns, and I’m more than happy to keep sharing my experience to help everyone out. I’ve since removed the contact me button, but feel free to comment below if you’d like to get in touch.