I’ve helped many Kickstarter campaigns over the years. I’ve seen the numbers, the process from the inside, seen the highs and the lows, what works and what doesn’t. You can see my graphics on the front pages of Banner Saga 3 by Stoic Studio, Myst 25 and Firmament by Cyan Worlds. There are guaranteed success rules that determine if your project will soar or fall flat. Here are ten success hacks I’ve learned from participating in and studying Kickstarter campaigns.
- Promotional plans months in advance
It takes a few months to establish a presence and gather a following on any social media platform. Websites like Polygon, RPS and Kotaku have articles and interviews scheduled months in advance. Planning is the cheapest phase of your Kickstarter, so plan ahead, contact people months in advance, create social media pages sooner rather than later.
When your campaign launches, your main promotional channels must be up and running within the first week. Do interviews, Facebook events, Instagram livestreams, giveaways, social community goals all throughout the campaign. All of these must be rehearsed and planed beforehand, to give people as much time as possible to react, to gather pledge funds and to tell their friends.
- A picture is worth a thousand
The majority of Kickstarter traffic comes from social media sites and it is inherently image-driven. For this reason, great visuals are crucial to campaign success. An appealing and easy to understand image will increase your reach, the number of online shares and potential backers.
Keep your images and text as simple and straightforward as possible. That is not to say – don’t have details and decorations in the image. Just make sure you have a clear visual hierarchy of importance in your image and your frames don’t compete for attention with their content. Don’t overuse bright colors, fonts and shapes. If in doubt – choose less rather than more.
- Less is more
Less options is better in all things Kickstarter. Campaigns that have too many tiers or too many add-ons are a turn-off. Reward levels should be clear, concise, and non-repetitive. List the most important/unique aspect at the beginning of each reward tier’s description. If it gets the same thing as the tier above, just say “and everything from previous tiers”. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
Text in big chunks is difficult to read. When most people encounter a big chunk of text, they either skip it or skim it. Use an image and short text.
The image must demonstrate only a few objects at a time. Don’t try to cram lots of small details in to a small space. Choose to show and tell only the most exciting and important things.
- Communication is key
Be ready to communicate with your backers. It is one of the most important parts of running a successful Kickstarter both during and post campaign. Always be prepared to fill the community manager role and answer questions. Do an FAQ in advance and be prepared for people to not read it. It will serve as a quick guide for answering questions faster.
No matter the size of your campaign, you will need to answer a lot of questions. A successful campaign means lots of active backers and that means lots of questions and comments to read. This will be an ongoing process all throughout the campaign and beyond, so prepare in advance.
- Sell it to ME
Many struggling campaigns make the same mistake – when describing their projects, they list things THEY are excited about. This is akin to shooting yourself in the foot. Choosing images the creators like, listing obscure features they are excited about and talking about aspects they think are important – all of these and more will hinder the campaign.
Remember, no one cares what you or your team find exciting about the project. Tell the people what THEY will gain from this. Tell them how they will feel when experiencing what you have in mind. What will it feel like after? Will it change them? How will it be different? And if you can’t explain this simply – you need to work on your pitch more, you’re not ready.
- All eggs in one basket
The most successful campaigns don’t have a single source of backers. You can never predict which website or social media platform will be your main contributor of backers. Diversify your reach and your marketing to cover as much ground as possible. Do the interviews, post on social and do updates on Facebook – as much as you can manage.
You can work on your prime sources of backers beforehand and leave the Plan B options for during the campaign. Your goals is to get as many eyes as you can on your project. Do not stake all your hopes on just one method like Facebook adds or website articles – diversify!
- An unforgettable Experience
Ask yourself – what do you want people to feel like when they see the images or read your descriptions. All the content of your campaign, from the head image to the video and main page text, must create a single unique experience.
For example, your main project image doesn’t have to be of the product. Unless your product or company is already known, it will not attract much attention. Remember – you’re creating a sense, an association, a strong feeling. That is your goal. That is what should guide all your creative decisions.
Make people interested in your project. Have them intrigued, asking questions, admiring your art and wanting for more information.
- Show, don’t tell
Try to have as much of the product and rewards ready as you can. People fall in love with images much faster than vague promises and concepts. An image of a cool reward is much more likely to convert in to a pledge, than a description would.
People are averse to unknowns and regret/loss. You will see nothing but shy enthusiasm for t-shirts and posters that have not been designed yet. Don’t have pictures? Get some sketches for all your rewards – small changes are ok later on.
- Don’t study success, study failure
Gather up your courage and imagine what failure will be like. Afterward, go on Kickstarter and find some campaigns that are as close to yours as possible. Try to see if there are any patterns all of them fall in to. If you’re studying Kickstarter campaigns, you might as well study both successes and failures.
Always look at what campaigns like YOURS did. Don’t look at the most successful ones – they often times got funded based on many things, rather than just the Kickstarter page or video pitch. There is much under the hood of a campaign that you can not see, so study many of them and go for the modest ones.
- Get Feedback
For all parts of your campaign, get feedback. Lots of it. Preferably from strangers. Have as many reviews as possible and don’t start the campaign until you have them. You can never be sure in how your message comes across until you test it.
Gathering feedback is also a great way to gather a buzz for your campaign beforehand. All those Facebook groups and Reddit posts will be both a feedback opportunity and a way to announce your campaign to the world. Use this opportunity – it’s free advertising.
There are many more tips that can be listed here, so if you feel you have others that need to be mentioned – leave a comment.