Crowdfunding is a powerful tactic for getting a fledgling start-up company or product up and running. But without an effective plan of attack, a crowdfunding campaign can go nowhere fast. Here are some tips to growth hack your campaign, maximizing your backers and donations as quickly as possible.
Make Your Campaign Personable
Donors are motivated by connections with people moreso than with ideas. Your crowdfunding campaign is as much about funding you, the creator, as it is about funding your project. So consider, how can you humanize your project? Letting potential donors get to know you and your team will allow them to form a personal connection with your project.
Craft a bio with your previous successful projects (crowdfunded or not) and some relatable details about yourself and your company. If your project will benefit your community in some way, include that information as well. Make sure this bio is prominent near the information about your offering itself.
Create at least one brief video: introduce yourself and/or your team, explain the project and its value to consumers, give some behind-the-scenes perspective…in short, put a human face on the campaign. Speak directly into the camera, making “eye contact” with your viewer, whenever possible. Post these videos on your crowdfunding platform page and website and share them on your social media channels.
Creators with past successful crowdfunding projects displayed on the current campaign are more likely to hit their goals. So are creators who have supported other crowdfunding projects.
If you have run past campaigns or donated to fellow creators, make sure these numbers are displayed on your project page. Here are some other effective psychology-based hacks to consider when designing your crowdfunding campaign.
Seek Out Early Donors
Your first donors are your most important donors. The funding received from early donors will serve as social proof of belief in your project and its value, helping to spur other donations. Early donors to your campaign help generate word-of-mouth about the project. If early access to your product/service is a reward for donating, early backers can also provide you with feedback to continue refining your offering.
Reach out to supporters of your previous campaigns, if you’ve had any; it’s likely that consumers who were interested enough to invest in your past projects are with you for the long haul.
Seek out influential backers—those who have supported a large number of campaigns similar to yours—and contact them directly with an email of introduction and an invitation to get involved in your project. (A virtual assistant is an invaluable resource for identifying these big-name backers.) Let them know why you think they might be interested in donating and what rewards they can receive by investing in your campaign.
One study found that a project creator’s friends and family are the main contributors in the early stages of a crowdfunding campaign—so be sure to share your campaign with your personal network as well as your professional connections and audience. Even crowdfunding campaigns by big companies can benefit from reaching out early to the personal networks of everyone involved rather than potential consumers alone.
Utilize the Most Effective Traffic Sources
Look at several crowdfunding projects similar to yours on Kickstarter and find their top referral sources. Kickstarter uses Bit.ly to create shortened URLs and track their analytics; add a “+” to the end of any of these shortened project links to access its referral information. (Compiling referral sources is another great VA project.) You’ll be able to identify the most effective places to promote your campaign for maximum traffic to your project page.
Using this tactic—or a tool like Klout—find influential sharers of campaigns like yours (individuals on social media, blogs, and professional media outlets) and reach out to them directly. Again, it’s important that you contact only those who will truly be interested in your offering. Make sure that your project is relevant, and if needed, spell out why you think they are a good match for promoting your campaign.
Tailor your email to suit your relationship with the individual you’re contacting; for example, strangers or acquaintances will require an introduction to your project and its value. Friends or professional connections will likely already know about your project and therefore need fewer details, but should receive a personalized message.
Offer Rewards at Met Funding Goals
Many campaigns offer tangible rewards for specific tiers of donations: the larger the donation, the more exclusive and valuable the reward. In addition to these types of rewards, offer free content rewards to all of your donors (or select one at random) as you hit milestones along the way. Post a new video with an interview or a peek behind the scenes, concept sketches, or any other interesting content that’s low- or no-cost to you. In a contest set-up, you can post a personalized photo or create a low-cost experience (like a phone call) for the winner.
This will keep excitement about the project high throughout your campaign, encouraging donations in the middle of your campaign (when contributions tend to fall off). It may even prompt some backers to contribute again to reach the goal and receive the reward. And it increases visibility as funders share your campaign with their networks in hopes of reaching the milestone.
Thank Your Contributors Individually
Many crowdfunding platforms allow you to publicize the names and donation tiers of contributors; others give the donor the option to be listed or anonymous. Thanking backers isn’t just the right thing to do; it also validates your project by showing the number of backers, and humanizes the creators and contributors behind it. When potential donors see the growing number of contributors (and that they are appropriately acknowledged) they are more likely to donate themselves.
Thank donors on your website and your social media channels. On social media, tag a contributor in a personal thank-you so that their network (as well as your own) sees the acknowledgement, increasing your campaign’s visibility. If you can, include a picture of the donor in your thank-you post—this is another opportunity to emphasize the human aspect of your project and your donors and encourage others to participate.
What You Can Do Right Now
Ready to get the most out of your crowdfunding campaign? Hit the ground running with these tips.
- Reach out to your personal network—friends, family, and coworkers—and ask them to donate and spread the word. These personal connections are likely to be your first contributors and will lay the groundwork for other funders’ participation.
- Find the most effective traffic sources and influential backers for campaigns like yours and devote the bulk of your promotional efforts to these channels.
- Consider offering minimal-cost content rewards (accessible to all of your contributors) at major funding milestones to encourage mid-campaign donations and to increase your campaign’s visibility.