Driving Kickstarter Traffic

1
traffic

Ok, ok… The Coolest Kickstarter campaign has wrapped up and (spoiler alert) we didn’t reach our funding goal.  I’m proud we hit the elusive six-figure mark coming in at $102,188 during our 30 day campaign, but we just couldn’t quite get to the more elusive $125k goal I set.

My next post will talk more about the reasons I believe we missed the mark, but right now I want to tell you more about what we did during the campaign to bring in the eyeballs and try to drive more sales.  The fixed window of crowdfunding campaigns is both a blessing and a curse, but it does force you to examine your assumptions and strategy almost daily if you aren’t getting the results you need.

Our plan for driving traffic was to initially cast a wide net to see what was effective, then focus our efforts on what was working.  Here’s what we tried:

  • Email friends and family
  • Launch party
  • Facebook (personal, professional)
  • Twitter (professional)
  • Facebook ads
  • Twitter celebrity paid posts
  • Email blast
  • Blogger outreach
  • Media outreach
  • Press Release (multiple written by team)
  • Paid professional media Press Release
  • Event marketing (taking the Coolest prototype to football tailgates)
  • Interviews
  • Newsletters
  • Instructables.com project
  • Kickstarter project updates

I tried sooo many different ways to bring in traffic in the hopes that you wouldn’t have to.  I thought I might be able to figure out a formula that would be effective across many different campaigns, but that just didn’t happen.  At the bottom of this article you can see  how many sales came from each avenue, as shown by the Kickstarter dashboard.

A big challenge is that it’s very hard to track what’s working because of the limited analytics that Kickstarter shares with you.  You can find out how many sales came from a particular site or destination, but you just don’t know how many visitors stopped by.  Sharing that data would be at the top of my wish list for a Kickstarter platform upgrade.  Without that data you’re forced to rely on 3rd party solutions like Bit.ly link shortening to find out if anyone clicked on your link from that particular outreach.

Some of the techniques we used to get lots of eyeballs (FB ads) brought in plenty of curious people, but they just weren’t interested in supporting the project.  Another concept that on paper showed potential ended up not getting a single supporter (Twitter paid post).  I’m glad we tried them, but you won’t be seeing them in the Coolest re-launch this spring.

In the end our most effective way to get traffic that actually ended up supporting the project to our Kickstarter page came from two sources.  The first was directly reaching out to people I knew and asking them to reach out to their network for me.  If you know people who love your idea, chances are they have some like-minded friends.  You’ll be surprised which of your friends and family help out and which ones don’t.  Hedge your bets and start connecting to new friends, communities, and blogs at least a couple of months before you launch.  You can bet that over the next four months or so I’ll be very actively reaching out and connecting with all sorts of people who are fans of tailgating, camping, smoothies and any other demographic that ties in with my product.

The other (somewhat) effective strategy was getting press releases out to our target blogs and sites.  I say somewhat because we just didn’t get enough sites to cover us during the launch to really build the buzz we needed. An earlier reach-out plan would have helped, but it turns out that even the Coolest cooler is still not that newsworthy in the middle of winter.  Our self launched, self written press releases had next to no impact on driving traffic.  Publishing a press releases is one step in getting media exposure, but if you can find a marketing team with contacts in your industry they can follow up with, I would highly suggest adding them to your team.

The other item worth mentioning is taking your product out and showing it off.  We brought the Coolest to football tailgates and if I could have sold them on the spot we would have crushed our goal.  Unfortunately it’s just not feasible to have people create account on Kickstarter on the spot, especially after explaining what the heck crowdfunding is anyway.  If you make up cards or flyers that’s fine, but FIRST get their email!  We had many more sales through email follow-up than people who actually typed in the URL from the cards the next day with a tailgating hangover.

My takeaway on crowdfunding traffic is that it’s fine to secretly hope your project will be a featured pick, or your video will go viral.  Just remember that you move from “lottery-ticket odds” to double-digit chances for success if you first have a solid foundation of people who are likely to back your campaign, connect you with other supporters, and help spread the word in place.

If you want to to get updates on the progress of the Coolest re-launch, you can sign up at CoolestKickstarter.com.  We just had an awesome meeting with our designers and should have a some sketches of the production design in the next couple of weeks.

Here’s the sales/traffic breakdown from the Kickstarter dashboard.  Let me know if you have other ideas for attracting supporters before a launch in the comments below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Direct traffic (no referrer information) External 187 81.89

%
$83,678
Twitter External 2 4.90

%
$5,005
Search Kickstarter 22 3.84

%
$3,930
Product Design (Discover) Kickstarter 17 2.84

%
$2,899
Facebook External 13 2.22

%
$2,265
Advanced Discovery Kickstarter 5 0.77

%
$785
hiconsumption.com External 3 0.54

%
$555
google.com External 4 0.37

%
$380
gearhungry.com External 2 0.36

%
$370
Starred Kickstarter 2 0.36

%
$370
instructables.com External 3 0.29

%
$295
mail.yahoo.com External 9 0.22

%
$226
gizmag.com External 1 0.22

%
$225
bing.com External 1 0.22

%
$225
coolthings.com External 1 0.22

%
$225
48-hour reminder email Kickstarter 1 0.18

%
$185
Banner Kickstarter 1 0.18

%
$185
Recently Launched (Discover) Kickstarter 1 0.18

%
$185
Kickstarter user profiles Kickstarter 1 0.18

%
$185

 

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12 comments

  1. Posted by Jesse, at Reply

    Wow! What a staggering difference direct contact makes! Thanks for the really fascinating breakdown, Ryan. I can’t wait to see how everything comes together next time!

  2. Posted by Tim, at Reply

    Totally awesome breakdown man. It’s INCREDIBLE you got more than $100k raised and you should be proud!

  3. Posted by Blair, at Reply

    Hey Ryan, great job on the campaign and the effort to put this amazing blog post together! See you soon! I concur with Tim, you rocked this campaign!

    Blair

  4. Posted by Mike, at Reply

    Ryan, You mentioned that taking the Coolest to tailgates was a huge success and if you had the product already you could have crushed your goal. Is there a way for you to take pre orders on like a ipad using square. I don;’t recall the time frame from proto-type to market but could you set up your website and take advanced orders with 50% due upfront and 50% due on shipping? This way you immediately monetize peoples excitement about the Coolest. Keep on fighting the good fight.

    • Posted by Ryan Grepper, at Reply

      The trouble is that to support a Kickstarter means you need to register for a Kickstarter account, then link that to your Amazon payment info, etc. etc. That’s a tough ask from a stranger to collect all that info in the first few minutes of meeting.
      For round two you can bet I’ll be looking at other platforms and solutions, and I’ll keep you posted on what I discover. Thanks for the ideas!

  5. Posted by Julian, at Reply

    I have a friend that raised 30k on kickstarter recently to reach his goal. About a week out he was 5k short and said if he didn’t reach the mark he would just put the rest in himself so that it would be funded and he would be off and away. Is this something that you considered just to get it funded and be able to use the funded from everyone else?

    • Posted by Ryan Grepper, at Reply

      This tactic, while explicitly against the policies of Kickstarter, is pretty prevalent from what I hear. I can understand the temptation, but it’s worth pointing out that now you are committing yourself to bring your project to market with less money than you said you needed. Personally, I don’t think it’s a big deal as long as you can still meet your obligation to your backers. You may have better luck if you were close to simply re-launch your campaign. That’s my plan!

  6. Posted by Karen, at Reply

    Just about to buy the coolest. Looks like you newest campaign is going great. I just stopped short because it seemed I needed to pay before even giving my shipping address. Is that info stored in my amazon account?

  7. Posted by Stephanie, at Reply

    Do you have a facebook page with the Coolest to get up to date information?

  8. Posted by Rich Fox, at Reply

    Thanks for the great article, Ryan. I’m gearing up for my own campaign, and I’ll definitely be leveraging some of your learnings. Also, huge congratulations on the success of the 2nd run of the Coolest campaign. Hope to see you around town!

  9. Posted by Larry Bestor, at Reply

    Hi Ryan, What a home run! I CAN’T WAIT to read your updated post about what worked best for you in the current Kickstarter campaign before we launch our crowdfunding campaign for our new SunGrill. (Maybe a direct link to your current supporters!) Feel free to email me direct. I would have bought your $500 package, but it was already sold out before I saw your cooler campaign.

  10. Posted by Sally Swinford, at Reply

    Hi Ryan, I did contribute $185.00 to your Kickstart campaine and I am excitingly waiting for my Coolest Cooler to be sent to me in Febuary. I hope this does happen because everyone I showed you video to just loved what this cooler could do.