How to Overfund Your Kickstarter Campaign: Part 1

16 October 2012 | 17 Comments

One of the perks of the Kickstarter backer survey that I’ve needed my backers to fill out for address info is that I can gather and learn from the data. And share it with you, of course. Let’s start with the all-important question: How did people originally hear about the project? (Keep in mind that not all data has been collected, nor is this data perfect–this is how people responded to a survey.)

There are lots of conclusions to be drawn from this dataset:

  • Kickstarter Is Helpful, but Ancillary Media Is Necessary: It would be easy to conclude that with our original $25k goal, we could have launched the project, done nothing except reply to a few comments here and there, and easily made our goal. I think that’s a gross misconception about Kickstarter, that you can launch a decent looking project and sit back for people to find you. To a certain extent, they will find you, and if Kickstarter features your project (as they did for about one day for us, helping us earn about $7,000–we still don’t know why they chose Viticulture), that certainly helps. But I think that ancillary work makes a BIG difference. By that I mean supporting media like interviews and guest blogs and video previews. And reviews. Get all the testimonials and reviews you can. People might see your project at first on Kickstarter, but for many of them, it’s not until they see other websites talking about it that they’ll pull the trigger on a pledge.
  • For Board Games, Board Game Geek Is Key: This is probably obvious to those of you familiar with the site, but here’s the data to back it up. If you pay for advertising on BGG, you pay $1 per 1000 impressions, not click-throughs. So you’re paying for people to see your ad and hopefully click on it and hopefully pledge. Of course, getting people to click through is one thing, but having an attractive, compelling board game for people to look at when they click through is quite another. Also, you can see that being active on the BGG forums (and having awesome backers who post their thoughts on the forums) is an important complement to paid advertising on the site.
  • The Value of Social Media: You might notice that there’s a big difference between the number of people that Alan drew to the project and the number of people that I (Jamey) did. That difference isn’t a reflection of how much Alan believes in the game. But I do believe that it is a reflection of two specific things: The biggest is probably that Alan isn’t on Facebook. His career doesn’t allow him to have a public online presence. Some of you may relate to that. I’m on the far other side of the spectrum. I love social media. I blog daily. I run multiple Facebook pages and am personally active there too. I don’t spend too much time on Twitter, but I make sure to respond to people when they tweet me. And I think the key to all of that social media is that it allows for me to connect with all types of people–friends, acquaintances, complete strangers, etc. The key word there is “connect.” Social media isn’t about blasting your project to the world. That’s a one-way street. Social media is about building relationships and connections with people. Just because they’re on Facebook doesn’t make them any less real. I individually e-mailed every person I know who I thought might be interested in the game, might be interested in the fact that I was running a Kickstarter campaign, and might be interested in personally supporting me (i.e., my parents and siblings). If there is one thing you take a way from this post–for Kickstarter or ANY type of personal fundraising–it is that you should not mass e-mail anyone to get them to support you. Not only is it considerably less effective, but it’s also a disservice to all of those people whose support you’re asking for. I cannot emphasize this enough.
  • The Numbers Lie: On the day that Wired Magazine’s Geek Dad blog wrote about Viticulture, we raised about $3,000 in pledges (on any given day without special media, we raised about $1,000). We saw a similar jump when the Dice Tower preview went live. However, according to the survey, we only had 11 backers pledge to Viticulture from those sources. I can’t explain what’s going on there, but I think my point is that you should take these numbers with a grain of salt to a certain extent. Any press is good press, so do everything you can to reach out to every media outlet you can possibly think of before and during the campaign. Do so with the mindset of what you can do for their audience, NOT what can their audience do for you. If you create value for other people, they’re much more likely to support you than if your main priority is to get people to buy your game.

I have some more interesting data to share later in the week (see Part 2 here). What do you think about this data? Is it helpful for you? What conclusions do you draw from it? Let me know if you have any questions.

Leave a Comment

17 Comments on “How to Overfund Your Kickstarter Campaign: Part 1

  1. I think the spikes that happened when covered by Wired and the Dice Tower are due to some sort of confirmation from a trusted entity. Your backers already knew about the project from another source, but they decided to pledge when they saw a review from a trusted source. Knowing about a thing is different from deciding to buy it, probably they found it somewhere on the web and thought “wow that looks cool”, but didn’t back it until somebody they trust told them “Hey i played it, i can confirm it’s actually cool”

    You should put the question differently on the next survey, something like “Did a media outlet influenced your decision to back this project?”, you could pull some interesting data from this.

      1. That’s really interesting stuff, it’s hard to find consistent data for Kickstarter. Thank you for documenting everything.

  2. Jamey, a lot of it for me was the clear tone, the passion, and the good writing. I look at a lot of games on Kickstarter and NOTHING turns me off like poor grammar, bad spelling, and an inability to articulate what the game is and how and why it’s fun. Viticulture was really excellent in all of those areas and that gave me high confidence in the game itself. The personal contact afterwards inspired me to increase my pledge several times. You did many many things right here, things that the demographics probably can’t show unless you ask completely different questions.

    1. Julia–Thanks for your comment. I completely agree about poor grammar and bad copy. I’m sure that I had my fair share of typos throughout the project, but I hope the vast majority of the text reflected proper American English.

      It sounds like I need to add some questions to future surveys! :) I’m certainly curious about a lot of things, but I didn’t want to bog you all down with too much. Perhaps I’ll do a follow-up survey in a few weeks. Thanks!

  3. Jamey, you referred to the pledge jumps after geek dad and the dice tower previews and how those pledge jumps did not correlate to the survey data and I think I might know why. While, someone might have seen the project on kickstarter, or BGG or where-ever, they did not pledge until they heard what geek dad or the dice tower had to say about the game. Like you said in your post on the 17th over 72% were gamers already. I do not know the statistics of how many gamers check out those sites but more than likely they would be the most affected by these two opinions. I think if you added a question similar to, If you had to choose the deciding reason, what would you say it was that got you to back the game? I think that would match the numbers more.

    1. Joseph–That’s a great point. I should have asked that question in addition to the other one. Because I do want to know how people discovered the game, but just as much I want to know what made them decide to pledge. Well said–I’ll add that question to future surveys.

  4. I doubt the backer spikes after the reviews came out is a coincidence. I found your project through Kickstarter, but I was on the fence about backing it for several days. The reviews clinched it for me. See, I learned this the hard way: I once backed a card game that looked cool, but the rules are so badly written that it’s virtually unplayable; a reviewer would have caught that. Now I’m much more comfortable backing a project with independent reviews.

    1. I’m glad the reviews helped. I do that with Kickstarter games too–the gameplay and art will draw me in, and the reward levels can make or break it, but a good review can send me over the edge.

  5. Hi Jamey – one thing you apparently did not do, but which can be hugely important, is to have a convention presence, such as Gencon, Origins and smaller regional conventions. In fact, although I had heard of Kickstarter, I never looked at the web site until I saw a game demo at Origins that looked interesting. I since have followed KS very closely. So although I first learner of Viticulture on KS, it was due to a convention that I backed my first game. So gameplay videos on the KS page I think are extremely important also, because gamers know that a good theme can’t carry a bad game. – Bruce

    1. Bruce–This is a GREAT point, and something we were definitely lacking this time around. I hope to remedy that post-Kickstarter in 2013, and hopefully have some polished (but probably not quite final) Viticulture expansions to accompany the finished game.

      Alan and I are both introverts, so if any of you want to make our lives easier when we go to conventions (we’ll probably have to go separately, and Alan has a family, so it might be a rarity for him to go) by being a friendly face, I know that I’d greatly appreciate it!

      1. I’d be glad to help you guys at a conference/convention. Sounds like fun! I’d even dress in a grape costume, if that helps.

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