You’re getting ready to launch a crowdfunding campaign. You’ve got your prototype and you’re getting ready to set up your Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign page. But have you taken time to build your email list? For Indiegogo and Kickstarter creators, an email list isn’t just something that’s “nice to have” — it’s the foundation of your campaign. If you don’t have a strong email list, you’re going to have a hard time reaching your goal. To give your project the best chance of success, building an email list of people who have shown interest in your project or projects like yours is essential. Here’s why:
1. Email list size can be an indicator of crowdfunding success
Email conversion rates — that is, the number of people on an email list who end up pledging to a campaign — vary. However, crowdfunding experts generally say that you can expect around 5% of the people on a high-quality email list to become backers. A high-quality list is one in which subscribers knew what they were signing up for when they submitted their addresses and where addresses were collected through legitimate means. Legitimate list-building tactics include collecting email addresses through in-person events, online forum communities, and social media.
When you plan for your Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign knowing that 5% of the people on a legitimate email list will convert, you can get a good estimate of a couple of things:
- What would be a reasonable funding goal for your project
- How many email addresses you’ll need to collect to hit that goal
- What the average price of your rewards should be
Doing the math
If you’re eyeing a $10,000 funding goal, and you have an average pledge of $100, you’ll need to get 100 backers to hit that goal. With the 5% conversion rate, you should have at least 2,000 people on your email list. So what if you were getting ready to launch, and you didn’t have that many people on your list? Does that mean you’re going to fail?
Well, not necessarily. It’s important to note that the number of people on your list is just one of the factors that contribute to your campaign’s success. Campaigns fail and succeed for a number of reasons, including not clearly communicating what the product is, not properly structuring reward tiers, and not effectively marketing the campaign once it’s live.
However, when you collect a specific number of email addresses that lines up with your funding goal, it puts you on the right track. So if you don’t have the list that you need, it would probably be best to postpone your campaign until you do.
Adjusting your funding goal
The creators of Shapes — a metal cable holder that keeps your workspace organized — first launched their project on Kickstarter in 2016. They set a $3,000 funding goal. But when it didn’t look like they were going to hit their goal, they decided to cancel their project and re-launch.
The second time around, they set a goal of $1,000 which was based on the number of people they had in their audience. Interestingly, their new campaign actually ended up surpassing their goal, raising more than $5,000.
Like Shapes, War of Ashird, an RPG video game, had struggled when they initially launched the project on Kickstarter. The creators didn’t have a strong audience coming into the project and were only able to raise around $51,000 of their $82,000 goal before they cancelled the project.
They took some time to revise their outreach strategy, lowered their funding goal to $31,500, and relaunched the project. Not only did they hit their new goal, but they were also funded in just 12 hours. When their campaign ended, they’d raised $201,199.
Quick tip: Ideally, an Indiegogo and Kickstarter creators would have a decent email list before they launch. But if you’re already in the middle of your campaign, and realize that you don’t have the support that you need to get funded this time around, there’s no shame in relaunching. Actually, a failed project can be an excellent learning experience for a first-time creator. Look at it as an opportunity to build a stronger community.
2. You can’t count on people discovering your project organically
One misconception that a lot of first-time creators have is that they can just launch a project and potential backers will magically land on their campaign page. But the likelihood of people seeing your project without you doing any kind of promotion or community building is slim. Search Kickstarter right now, and you’ll likely see that there are more than 3,000 live projects. That means that there are more than 3,000 projects that people would have to search through to find you.
Build momentum in the first 48 hours of your Kickstarter campaign with a strong email list
The chances of being discovered organically on the platform are dependent upon an algorithm that factors in how well your project is performing. So your project will rank higher on Kickstarter — and therefore be seen by more people — when you approach your launch date with a community of people ready to pledge within the first 48 hours of your campaign.
These first two days are critical, and set the momentum for your campaign. But with a strong email list of people who are enthusiastic about your project, you can secure those important, early pledges. In the days leading up to launch day, you should be sending emails to your subscribers to get them excited about your project and ready to pledge right away. You should also make sure to explain how crowdfunding works for those members of your audience who’ve never pledged before. It’s important to create an email strategy and send out messages at strategic times before and during your campaign.
Quick tip: Collect email addresses with a project landing page, using BackerKit Launch — an email marketing and analytics tool for crowdfunding creators. The page should describe your project and have a call to action requesting visitors submit their email addresses to get updates. Direct visitors to the page through platforms where your prospects live, like social media, YouTube, or online forums. Consider cross-promotion, in which a partner shares your landing page with their audience.
But what about Kickstarter’s “Projects We Love”?
Kickstarter’s staff give projects that they’re enthusiastic about a “Project We Love” badge. If you are fortunate enough to be featured in this way, your project will get more visibility. But becoming a “Project We Love” isn’t easy.
There are certain technical things you can do to make your campaign more attractive to their team, such as having a compelling project image and adding photos of the rewards you’re offering to your campaign page. But, as Kickstarter explains on their website, the team is looking for exceptional projects.
According to Kickstarter, exceptional projects are “ideas that go the extra mile in their uniqueness and ambition — for example, projects that involve entirely new approaches to creating, amplify underrepresented voices, or bring creative communities together in unexpected ways.” And while your Kickstarter project may fit that description to a T, it just makes more sense to work on the things that you can control, like building your email list and growing your community, rather than banking on getting featured.
Quick tip: Make sure to collect email addresses from people who are likely to pledge and even become advocates for your project. Tap into existing audiences. Who are the people you can count on to pledge early and have shown interest in the work that you do? Family, friends, co-workers, and social media followers should be the first place you look.
3. Validate your idea with your Kickstarter email list
Did you know that only around 39% of Kickstarter projects are successful? It’s a shocking statistic, but it’s important to let that sink in before you launch a project. This is what you’re up against.
You may have what it takes to succeed. But with 61% of projects failing, wouldn’t it be nice to find out what people think about your idea as soon as possible? Before you even have a prototype you can — and should — validate your Kickstarter concept by building your email list.
Are people interested in what you’re offering?
The idea behind this is simple: if you’re planning an Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign, and having a hard time getting email sign-ups after sharing your concept with your target audience, you might not be ready to launch. Alternatively, if people like the idea behind your Indiegogo or Kickstarter project, and are excited about it, they’ll be happy to sign up for your email list. In this way, you can gauge interest in your project and start validating your idea.
Of course, email sign-ups aren’t the only indicator of whether or not you have an idea worth pursuing. You should also be researching what competitors are doing, if any similar ideas already exist, and your target audience’s needs. But you must take a long, critical look at your concept if you’re really struggling to collect email addresses.
Get feedback from your Kickstarter email list subscribers
One added benefit of building your email list right away — even if that list is very small, at first — is that you can get feedback on your project from your subscribers. Send out surveys or updates on how the development process is going, and find out what your audience thinks. In doing this, you’ll get valuable insights about what they’re looking for or areas of your project that you might need to refine or rethink.
What’s more, this type of communication is an excellent way to get your growing audience invested in your campaign and your success. If they were able to offer their opinions as you developed your project, they’re going to be excited to see and back the final product.
Quick tip: Once you have a list, use BackerKit Launch to test its strength. Using Launch, you’ll be able to see which of your email contacts have pledged to crowdfunding projects before, and are therefore more likely to back your project. After you’ve launched, visit BackerTracker to see if you’re trending to hit your funding goal. If it doesn’t look like you’ll hit your goal, you may want to consider canceling your campaign, and relaunching later.
4. Your Kickstarter email list is the foundation of your marketing strategy
Are you thinking about using Facebook ads to get more backers and promote your campaign? Awesome! But you should know that ads aren’t a substitute for building your email list. If you launch your campaign, and midway through, it’s trending to fail, ads will not save your project.
If you’re interested in a performance marketing service like BackerKit Marketing, there are a number of factors that will make your project a good candidate for this. BackerKit Account Executive Robert Wickham says, “for people who are planning their campaign, an email list is relatively important. Not having one — or having too small of a list — disqualifies them.” Another factor that Wickham looks at once the project is live is how well the campaign is performing day-to-day, and whether the creator is able to maintain that momentum.
There are other qualitative and quantitative factors that determine whether or not ads will be a cost-effective solution for a creator (these are things that you should discuss with a representative for the performance marketing service you’re planning to use). But the bottom line is that you need the community and momentum that having a strong email list provides you with to even be a good fit for paid marketing.
Quick tip: Looking for free ways to get more backers? Before you launch, spend some time joining Facebook groups and online communities related to your project. Engage with these people and try to build genuine relationships with them. If it makes sense and isn’t against the community rules, let them know about the project you’re working on. The new friends might be want to sign up for your email list and support your campaign.
- Creators who don’t have a strong email list pre-launch struggle to get pledges.
- Around 5% of the subscribers on a high-quality email list will back your campaign. Make sure that you have enough people on your list to hit your funding goal.
- It’s important to get pledges within the first 48 hours of your launch. Sending messages to subscribers on your list pre-launch can help you secure those essential, early pledges.
- You can’t expect people to stumble across your project on Kickstarter or Indiegogo — you have to take the time to grow your audience before you launch.
- If you can’t get subscribers, it might be a sign that you need to rethink your project.
- Ads aren’t a substitute for community-building.
As we mentioned earlier, only 37% of Kickstarter projects are successful. But you shouldn’t let that number discourage you. Instead, let it motivate you to build your email list and begin taking steps to ensure your project hits its goal. Get started today by signing up for BackerKit Launch.
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in 2020. It has been updated and revamped for accuracy.