DIY : How to run a successful Kickstarter campaign for a ‘DIY Electronics Project’.

So far I have run two crowdfunding campaigns for my IoT Platform, Bolt. Bolt is a Fully integrated IoT platform, made for Machine Learning. Bolt offers a WiFi Module, Cloud, Apps and APIs i.e. complete ecosystem on one platform. With Bolt you can also run ML algorithms on sensor data with a click. It’s quick & easy!

The first campaign failed after reaching 80% of the goal amount while the second one was 484% funded and raised $ 48,420. After the first campaign, we did a lot of data crunching which gave us interesting insights on running a crowdfunding campaign. These insights were tested during the second campaign and they worked. I believe my learnings will be useful for anyone looking at launching a campaign.

Based on my experience, there are specific guidelines which will help you optimise your campaign for maximum results. A lot of people believe that running a successful campaign is an art, but after due research we realised that its just about crunching data and recognising patterns specific to your product(s). I’ve summarised all my learnings in the points given below

My product was launched under the DIY Electronics Category of Kickstarter hence my study was with regards to it. However, some of these concepts will be well applicable to other categories as well.

Kickstarter is far more math than magic. — Tyler James, who runs my most favorite podcast about Kickstarter, Comix Launch. As you go on reading this blog, you will realise what it means.

Before we get started, here are important points to keep in mind:

  1. It is important to get as many backers as possible on Day 1. Humans like to be part of what is successful. Even though the community on Kickstarter consists of early adopters, they are more likely to make a pledge after a campaign shows signs of success. In fact, a lot of them like to back a campaign only after it is successful.. I will cover later on how you can ensure that you get a large number of legitimate backers on Day 1. Even most of the media and influencers will cover your campaign only after it has crossed the 100% goal.
  2. Media and influencers play a major role in your success. If you are running your project on Kickstarter, then a good chance will be that you won’t have a large budget for promotions. It is here that the media and influencers play a big role. Also, the users tend to buy if they hear about you from an influencer then in an Facebook AD as the influencers generally test out your product and also add their own credibility to it.
  3. Kickstarter is a community, not an E-commerce website. Almost all backers are aware that you are building an innovative product for the first time and you are not a corporation with a supply chain ready. People will forgive your mistake if you are transparent and truthful throughout the process. More importantly, if you show them, love, they will show the love back to you.
  4. Tuesday is the best day and Wednesday is the day with lowest funding. There is a pattern in day of the week when backers come to your campaign. Here is the graph of % of Funds raised vs the day of the week. However, to get more accurate results, we took the sum of funds of my campaign 1 and campaign 2. Also, I removed the first and the last three days of the each campaign as they generally give better results since Kickstarter tends to promote your campaign more on these days.

Now that have set the stage, let’s get started! Here are a the points that will help you take decisions about your campaign:

  1. Launch date: There is a formula for a perfect launch date. Here it goes. Launch on the last Friday of the Month. Why does this work? Well in most of the countries, the salary is transferred on the last Friday of the month or soon after that so that is the time people generally tend to buy products which are NOT essential for living. Since Kickstarter products are innovations, they will not be categorised as essential for living.
  2. End date: End the campaign on the Tuesday after the last Friday of the next month. Little complicated? Let me explain with an example. If you launch the campaign on the last Friday or September 2018 (28th September) then it will end on a Tuesday, 30th October 2018 which is the Tuesday after the last Friday of October i.e. 26th of October 2018. The logic? We want to include the last Friday of the next month so that we get two such days. But then why not end of the Friday? Well, people tend to spend for next few days and since we know that the Kickstarter backing peaks on Tuesday, we want it to continue till that time.
  3. Title: The title, blurb and cover image are some of the most important parts of the campaign as the backers-only see these while surfing through the list of campaigns and if they find it interesting will click on it and explore it more. The title should include the words that will catch the attention of the user and create an interest. We did a research which showed the growing demand for Machine Learning. Since our platform offered ML features we added the same in the title. Also, ensure that the blurb and the image are well designed that will make the users click on your campaign. If you are confused between options here, I suggest you run Facebook ADs with the options in title, blurb and cover and see which ones get maximum clicks. That will help you make a data based choice.
  4. Getting maximum backers on Day 1: Most of your early backers will be your friends and family or in many cases your existing customers who have had a positive experience with you in the past. You need to ensure that they back you as soon as you go live. I have seen many campaign creators start getting in touch with potential backers only after they have launched the campaign. This will not help. We had decided on a fixed time for the launch (6.15 am PST) and all our friends, family and backers of the first campaign were informed well in advance about it. We also engaged with them by sending information about our campaign and product regularly in the days leading to the campaign over Whatsapp and E-Mail. To make the deal sweeter, we also had some early bird discounts. As soon as the campaign was launched, we sent out Whatsapp Messages and posted an update on the older campaign with the link to the new campaign. This ensured that we were funded within first 6 hours after the launch. However, its bigger advantage was that it ensured a continuous flow of more backers due to the reasons mentioned above.
  5. Setting the goal: Calculate the funds that are required to get your project ready very carefully. If your goal amount is too high then you may never be successful and if it’s too low then you will get into a bad situation where you will not be able to fulfil the rewards promised. However, in electronics manufacturing, if your order quantity goes down, your price per unit of manufacturing goes up. This also means that lot of times you can reduce the total amount required for the campaign by increasing the price per unit. So it is a fine balance between how much goal amount you want to set and the price per unit. To better understand this, let’s have a look at some statistics. In the DIY Electronics Category, the average goal set by the campaigns which are successful is around $7500 and the median is around $3000. However, the average goals for the campaigns which fail are around $17,500. Interestingly the average funds raised by the successful campaigns is around $43,000 while the ones which fail is around $2,750/-. This means that the funds raised vary inversely with the goal amount. Hence do not fall into the trap of believing that higher the goal, higher will be the funds raised. However, once again, do not set a goal amount which is so low because you may not be able to fulfil the pledges. You need to find the right balance. I also suggest you keep at least a 10% buffer for the unforeseen challenges that you may face during the manufacturing and fulfilment stage.
  6. Getting more data from your category: If you are planning to run a Kickstarter Campaign sometimes soon then I suggest you download the latest data in an excel sheet and run your own analysis on it. Here is a script https://github.com/sashoeb/kickstarter_scraper. The output will be in form of an excel sheet. I suggest you remove the outlier and then take averages of various data points to get some insights. However, if you want a detailed blog on how to analyse the data collected then let me know in the comments section below.

The points mentioned above are just a few of my learnings. Let me know in the comments what you think about them. Also, if you have any doubts then you could ask me in the comments section.

I have shared with you the importance of having backers on the first day of the campaign. If you feel that this blog will be helpful to you in planning for your campaign then I will love it if you can back my next campaign on its first day. For this, I request you to share your E-Mail ID over a Google form by clicking here and I will write to you at the time of my campaign. I will also share with you over your E-Mail ID about any new content I write about running a successful Kickstarter campaign. Here is the link: https://goo.gl/forms/LTFIHjFuFxESY9tD2

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