4 Keys to a Winning Kickstarter Campaign
- 6:30 AM
Mention Kickstarter these days and blockbuster campaigns come to mind. There’s Ouya’s blistering $2 million in one day for a new Android gaming console (it’s raised more than $5 million to date), and theNifty MiniDrive, external memory for Apple MacBooks. The tiny storage company is more than 2,000% above its $11,000 goal with 15 days left in the campaign.
But for all the success stories on Kickstarter, there are many, many failures. So what’s the secret to ending a campaign with tall boys rather than tears? Wharton Business School professor Ethan Mollick and social entrepreneur Jeanne Pi examined data from almost 50,000 Kickstarter campaigns. They found four keys to a successful Kickstarter campaign: Realistic goals, timing, a bit of marketing, and strong social media ties.
1. Set a spot-on funding goal — not too big, not too small.
Some Kickstarter goals are so high, they’re laughable, and others are too low to be taken seriously. For the best odds of success set your Kickstarter goal near $10,000. At that size, 38% of projects met their goals, the largest chunk of the campaigns studied. If you increase your goal to $50,000, the odds of success fall to 18%. Aim for $100,000 and higher, and your campaign has only a 7% chance of ever coming to fruition. If you do go big, make sure the product and the team justifies your cash ambitions.
2. Don’t take too long to raise your money.
The average Kickstarter campaign lasts for 30 days, which Mollick finds is a sweet spot for successful projects. Campaigns lasting exactly 30 days have a 35% chance of success. Trying increase your odds of success by giving your project more time actually have an opposite effect. At 60 days, only 29% of projects get fully funded. While the difference is small, Mollick and Kickstarter agree that a longer campaign may signal weakness and a lack of confidence.
3. Produce a slick video to get attention.
The nearly foolproof way to raise money on Kickstarter is to get the attention of the crowdfunding site’s staff. Kickstarter staffers choose to feature campaigns on the site based on, among other factors, how well a campaign was written and if it has a compelling video. The vast majority of campaigns that get featured by Kickstarter, 89%, reach their funding goals.
Even if your project doesn’t get featured, video helps your chance of success, or rather, not having video hurts that chance. Campaigns with accompanying video hit the average funding success rate, around 38%. Those that didn’t have video were successful only 15% of the time. Clearly, video is the right tool to impress the increasingly choosey Kickstarter community. “Funders are looking for a video and a well-written campaign to decipher good and bad projects,” says Mollick.
4. Make at least 1,000 Facebook friends
Facebook Friends of Founders, a term coined by Mollick, can decide if a campaign wins or loses, but only if you have enough friends. Founders with 1,000 Facebook friends or more bump their odds of success to 40%. If you only have 100 Facebook friends there is an 80% chance your campaign will end in disappointment. And you might as well not bother if you have only 10 Facebook friends to your name — the campaign’s success rate is 9%.
Sylvia Marino, one half of the team that raised money on Kickstarter for their women’s smartwatch Bia, witnessed first hand how these strategies can pay off. Marino’s team was a poster-child for Mollick’s analysis.
- While Marino was after $400,000 in funding, its slick product and the chops of the Bia team warranted the ambitious goal. Bia exceeded its goal by $8,000, showing it was priced right from the beginning.
- The campaign lasted 40 days, just long enough to get funding without losing steam.
- Marino and her campaign co-founder Cheryl Kellond put up an energetic video that showed off the watch and the revolution they are trying to sell.
- Most importantly, they tapped their social resources and built a community of backers.
In the campaign’s homestretch, Marino and Kellond took to Twitter and Facebook as if their future depended on it –– it did. In the last 48 hours of Bia’s campaign, the duo really turned up the dial on social media, sending out updates with detailed instructions on how people could help their project, whether they had already pledged money or not. “We sent out updates telling people to find two friends to pledge or increase their current pledge amount,” says Marino. They also drummed up a few big-spending supporters who matched pledges dollar for dollar. The social push paid off. Bia met its goal a few hours before the campaign closed, and received more than $98,000 in pledges in the last day of the campaign alone.
“Everyone thinks they will reach their goal day one and life will be great, but that doesn’t happen,” says Marino. “You’ve got to work at it.”