Is It Now Necessary to Successfully Fund Within the First 48 Hours on Kickstarter?

18 March 2019 | 38 Comments

In my opinion, one of the best ways your project page can entice potential backers is to show that the campaign has reached its funding goal.

For years I’ve talked about this in various ways in relation to selecting your funding goal, preparing for the final week, momentum, etc. In recent years, we’ve seen creators use it as a badge of honor on their main project image: “Funded in 2 hours!”

I’m starting to wonder, though, if it’s a necessity for projects to fund within the first 48 hours. That is, if your project hasn’t funded within that time, my theory is that there’s almost no chance it will eventually fund.

This isn’t news that I relish delivering, and I honestly hope I’m wrong. Stonemaier Games wouldn’t even exist if this theory were true back in 2012 when I launched Viticulture, as the project didn’t reach its goal until Day 18:

 

Whether or not my theory is true, I don’t think there’s any creator who wouldn’t want to fund in the first 48 hours, so today I’m going to discuss a few techniques to consider.

Considerations for the First 48 Hours

Please keep in mind that there’s MUCH more that goes into a successful campaign than these tips; rather, these are specifically things to consider at the beginning, and especially for new creators.

Several of these techniques are inspired by (or quoted from) a detailed message I received from creator Brent Keath, whose project, Furtherance, is currently on track to prove my theory wrong (I hope it does).

PREVIEW: Advertise the link to your project page before you launch

For new creators in particular, I think it can make a big difference to spark curiosity in your project page before you launch. It will let people click the “notify me upon launch” button, sending those people an automatic message when you go live. I talk about this more here.

TIMING: Launch on the right day of the week (or, simply not on the wrong day)

There are plenty of theories about the day on which you “should” launch your project. For board games, a culture has developed around Tuesday launches, though I think that opens the door for more Monday and Thursday game launches. For other categories, I think any weekday is advisable.

Brent launched Furtherance on a weekend, and he mentioned to me that he regretted doing so: “I shouldn’t have launched on a Sunday.  Many of our followers did not back until Sunday night or Monday morning (partially because a lot of our family and friends attend church) and the number of people driven to it through Kickstarter itself seemed low (compared to other game designer friend’s launches).”

FLASH-FUNDING REWARD: Offer a bonus to all backers if the funding goal is reached within the first 24-48 hours

This technique, used by a number of projects like Trickerion, Tidal Blades, and Infinities: Defiance of Fate, gives potential backers a compelling reason to back (and share) the project now rather than waiting. Because the bonus is given to all backers–not just backers who discover the project right away–it’s more compelling for post-48 hour backers than early-bird rewards that only reward the lucky first few.

I also think this might be more effective than showing stretch goals before you reach your funding goal. Brent let backers vote on the first stretch goal, but he notes that the idea has backfired a bit: “Since I don’t know that the Kickstarter will be able to reach the first stretch goal, now backers are just taunted with a goal that seems difficult to attain for many of them.”

FRIENDS & FAMILY: Reach out to the people who care about you

I spent my first day on Kickstarter sending personalized messages to pretty much everyone I knew. Not mass e-mails, not social media blasts–these were emails specifically written to people in my life, offering each of them a compelling reason–catered to their tastes–to check out the project. This is something for first-time creators to help get you off the ground.

GRATITUDE: Message backers to thank them for their pledges

For the entire Viticulture campaign in 2012, within a few hours of someone placing a pledge, I sent them a quick message thanking them for their support. Parts of the message were very similar from one message to the next, but I always tried to add a few personal touches (their name, a mention of their location or another project they backed, etc).

The fruits of that labor were some meaningful, lasting connections with people that helped reinforce their pledges and, in some cases, inspired them to share the story of how they heard from the creator. I still believe this can have a hugely positive impact on any project that is attempting to fund.

***

Thanks to Brent for offering the inside scoop on Furtherance! Do you have any thoughts about the necessity of funding within the first 48 hours?

If you gain value from the 100 articles Jamey publishes on his blog each year, please consider championing this content!

38 Comments on “Is It Now Necessary to Successfully Fund Within the First 48 Hours on Kickstarter?

  1. It hurts me to admit that not funding the first 48h is proving stressful, making backers who follow your Kicktraq/ Tabletopanalytics/ Backerkit graph predict a loss in interest.

    Our recent project funded at the 5th day in 23 total and ended quite successful ($20948 with a $8000 goal), but I wonder how much better it would do if funded day 1. During those 4 looong days, some canceled, some got interested in another project so we lost momentum. I didn’t have high hopes as to get the “projects we love” badge, but if me as a backer wants to see a project succeed and THEN back it, 4 days earlier could do a big difference.

    On another note, choosing to end on a Wednesday was a mistake on my part. Our 48h notice went live about the time most projects go live and (coincidentally) we lost the first 2 hours of notification in a glitch of the system on Sunday, Feb 24th.

  2. Not necessarily specific to the first 48 hours but it was the first thing that popped into my head. One of the interesting trends I see is how some campaigns set social media stretch goals in addition to funding stretch goals. I think this is a nice touch – and helps spread word through other means as well as helps create a community. One on-going kickstarter that takes this a bit to an extreme is “Throw Throw Burrito”. They’ve created a burrito-bowl in which they asked for contestants to unlock content. I don’t know that I agree with the no funding goals model. However, it’s a fun way to engage with the community, specifically the something personal outside of a share – like posting a picture/story/etc is neat.

    1. Theodore: Indeed, I think they can go over well with campaigns. I think my original Viticulture campaign was one of the first to use social goals (though I stopped using them for future campaigns because of the disconnect between them and economies of scale).

  3. Thanks for the amazing article. I would love to share my own experience with this topic. I’m starting to think the 48 threshold isn’t working anymore. You just see so many buttons and graphic perks with “funded in #” you might skip it. It has gone way too far, and we start to see “funded in # minutes” which seems nuts. Our game Whales Destroying the World was funded in 4 days and we did 542 % in the end.

    We had a small local community and asked our friends and family for help – it made 60 % of funding goal in 2 days. The rest was strangers who found us via Kickstarter itself, BGG, Facebook or video-previews. And then it was hard since we had really limited budget. The best way to get more backers was to visit small board-game related forums and talk to the community there. The response was fantastic, and it helped us midway the campaign.

    We’ve also chosen the bad day for start of the campaign. Thursday seems fine, if you have strong community, but very bad if you have none. We found out there are no people on Kickstarter during weekend with Saturday being weak.

    To get back to the original topic – the funding goal itself is tricky. I know you have been talking about it, too. You never know what’s in it. Is it really the full cost of the game? Or are creators willing to invest a bit if the barely reach the goal? And I think a lot of people are seeing through this and can’t be fooled by high % number. We have “over 500 %” on our feature picture too, since everyone is doing it and everyone was telling is “this works”, but I am skeptical.

    I believe the most important number might be number of backers. And I have seen some creators embrace that (Wavelenght for example).

    1. Petr: I appreciate you sharing your detailed story, and I’m glad you were able to have a successful project after not reaching your funding goal in the first 48 hours. I agree that the funding goal is a very tricky number to determine!

  4. The other thing I would say yes utilize the people that play tested your project before it got to Kickstarter. Ask them to evangelize the product to the masses. Every little bit helps.

  5. Hey Jamey – do you think that the FLASH-FUNDING REWARD can also backfire. I was just following a conversation at a facebook group I am part of – and some people says that this kind of tactic turns them off. They claim that Kickstarter is the “Early Bird”. You say you did before. Did it really worked out for you? Is it worth taking the risk of “offending” some people?

    1. Fabio: I wonder if they misunderstand how flash-funding goals work, because I don’t see any downside at all. One of two things happens: One, you reach the flash-funding goal in time, and all backers get the bonus. Everybody wins. Two, you don’t reach the flash-funding goal in time, and that bonus becomes a stretch goal to achieve later. Everybody wins again…hopefully…just a little later. :)

  6. Thanks for posting this Jamey! I wish you could have seen how excited I was when I got your email about it! I’ve been a huge fan for a while so helping to inspire one of your blogs feels amazing!

    With regards to the topic, I was curious what others think, mostly because I have had similar discussions at conventions and gotten mixed opinions. So, I took this conversation to several of my board game Facebook groups and got a ton of mixed opinions there as well (which is to be expected, but it is interesting to read through all of them).

    What I am finding is that people either don’t care about the funding percentage or find a project that was funded early to mean they have a better chance of getting their games delivered (either because the creator is well trusted by others or because the creator has padding from the extra money and won’t fall short of what they actually need to manufacture and fulfill the promised games). I found all of this to be very…for lack of a better term…off-putting.

    I chose to launch my game through Kickstarter because I spent and saved up a bunch of my own money to build a board game and need $2500 more to bring it to life (plus fulfillment, Kickstarter fees, and padding to get to my $4000 goal). However, it is becoming more and more clear to me that Kickstarter is no longer built to help small projects succeed, but to help big projects grow their already large audience even bigger. I knew Kickstarter was okay with this shift (due to them attracting bigger projects and, therefore, higher fees) but it really wasn’t until today that I began to fully process that backers themselves like this shift as well. It means they have a better chance of getting the game delivered and a better chance of that game being high quality. All of these insights will be very useful as I finish out the Furtherance campaign (and as we look at the potential for future campaigns).

    Thank you again for posting this! It was a fantastic article that has already sparked quite a lot of conversation!

  7. Interesting graph for Viticulture! The biggest surprise campaign for me that just kept on growing and growing was the card game Villagers from Sinister Fish. It didn’t seem to slump at all and I’ve not seen one like that since.

  8. I hope you’re not right about the 48-hour rule because it seems awfully stressful, but thank you for these tips!

    I’m honestly surprised that more project creators haven’t taken a more personalized approach to thanking backers. Out of 12 projects I’ve backed, only one creator wrote a personal note. I’m sure creators have a lot on their plate during a launch, but it seems like a worthwhile time investment and something every creator should do as a best practice!

  9. Just implemented this Flash Funding idea mid-campaign. Conversion rate has ticked up 1%. Has definitely converted fence-sitters. Once again, priceless advice. Thank you.

    1. Nice! I really like the idea of implementing it at the time that best suits the campaign. As you’re saying, why not do something in the middle of the campaign where if you reach X goal in the next 24 hours, you’ll add Y bonus? Very clever!

  10. Jamey, another wonderful post as always! I don’t think anyone will deny there is an inherent benefit to funding sooner rather than later, as it gives the Kickstarter algorithm more time to push your page and help your positioning, but I would agree people are growing numb to seeing “Funded in 1 Hour/1st Day, etc.” as a strong incentive to look further. That being said, there is still a benefit to listing it, since even if it helps 1% of people make a decision, that’s still 1% more than you would have otherwise (assuming it doesn’t hurt a campaign)

    Here’s my question (more so a thought experiment) – At what point is the Funded in XX Days/Hours a bad thing? Meaning, would saying “Funded in 15 Days” put your campaign in a negative light even if the core message is you’re funded? Finding that equilibrium would help us think through whether or not the “Funded in XX Hours” badge of honor matters, and how campaigns can spread their resources over the course of a campaign (Start/Middle/End).

    1. That’s a good question, Gary. I’m not even 100% sure that the “funded in X minutes” announcement on the main project image is a good use of space, but that’s debatable. Assuming it is, I would say that anything after the first 48 hours (“funded in 5 days!”) might not have a positive effect.

  11. Interesting thoughts. Iv backed 6+ projects that funded in the last couple days, including the recent vampire game nighthawks. I really do think if a ptojecp is at 80ish% of their goal entering the last several-ish days then the pot will probably boil over and the goal will get met. But this is clearly a huge amount of stress on the developers to run the campaign that close to the end. And in some cases the funding amount was really a barebones amount that puts them in an uncomfortable place if thats all they get.

  12. Out of our 9 successful campaigns in the last 5 years, 5 of them were funded on day 1 or 2. The rest funded on day 4, 7, 19, and 30. Some of those that funded later were earlier in our Kickstarter days so I’m not sure that data helps that much here if you’re thinking a change has occurred.

    I have always felt like funding early is very important and for some campaigns where we were confident we would eventually fund anyway, we have actually set our funding goal based on how much we anticipate getting in the first 2 days to maximize total funding. I would NOT suggest that as general advice and we don’t do that every time but I thought it was a relevant tid bit.

    This advice really supports the idea of bringing your crowd rather than hoping it shows up after you launch. Thanks for another fun article, Jamey! You’re a wizard, man.

  13. Kickstarters that I’ve backed or tracked make a lot of $ in the first 48 hours, a lot in the last 48 hours, and slow $ in the middle. That leads me to think that if the first 48 get you within striking distance, you’re probably ok.

    Unless the last 48 effect is dependent on first 48 funding?

  14. Thank you! As always a current topic and lots of useful information! But I can’t agree. I would paraphrase: If the project is not funded in 48 hours, then it will not be super successful, to such a project is unlikely to pick up 100 – 200 thousand+. But to collect 100-150% quite possible. Offhand I can name the project whom we closely followed because these are my countrymen, from Kiev. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/deusvult/deus-lo-vult-the-board-game-of-rampage-betrayal-an?ref=nav_search&result=project&term=Deus%20lo%20Vult
    Their project for a long time looked failed, but in the process of campaign, they were able to correct the situation. https://www.kicktraq.com/projects/deusvult/deus-lo-vult-the-board-game-of-rampage-betrayal-an/
    We are now in the process of lunch our first game “For Treasures!”, things are not going as well as we would like to, but I can say that I made several conclusions. I really read a lot on Facebook that Kickstarter today is not the same as it was before. Now that this is not a place where small projects and newcomers are supported. But I do not think so. First of all people always say about what was better in the past. My previous business was the shop, and when I opened it everyone told me that things are going bad now, not like before. Nevertheless, things were going well. Returning to board games – we study Kickstarter campanes for 2 years and there funded various projects. There are bakers that very personally your successes and failures, bakers that support us more than our family! This is very touching! And there are bakers who just go to the Kickstarter to see what’s new. It is important to them that the game is funded quickly as it is guarantee Stretch goals and other nice bonuses. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We are also looking at the same things when we support somebody. There are projects that we support in principle (for example a game for children with autism) and projects that we were support for stretch goals. In fact, I think what is behind most failures there is unfinished homework. And this is also normal, we all learn from making mistakes. But I think what is bad to escalate the situation saying that if you have not reached the goal in 48 hours then everything is lost. There is always something we can do and we always must to do all that we can!

  15. I’m wondering how much your funding goal matters? I launched Six Sided Summoner at the end of 2018 and it took over a week to fund, but I had a very small goal (like $5000). I was never really worried about the campaign, but one thing that really surprised me was that I didn’t get an end of campaign spike. I actually had a net loss in backers in the last week which was startling.

  16. Hi Jamey,

    I just wanted to drop in and thank you for taking the time to write these posts.
    When I eventually will launch a Kickstarter myself, I’m sure reading your blog has me well prepared!

    Moritz

  17. Hi Jamey,

    I just wanted to say thank you for writing these articles.
    I feel like when I come around to starting my own Kickstarter you will have me well prepared!

    Moritz

  18. My campaign, Fry Thief, funded in 40 minutes. This is partly due to it being a microgame with a very small funding goal. But I also told everyone I knew that I was running this project and I had a huge number of friends & family back the project.

    We definitely got on Kickstarter’s radar as they sent 53% of the revenue. I’d definitely recommend other creators fund in 48 hours. I’m not sure it’s mandatory but it’s what you should shoot for.

  19. Great article! Will definitely share with my Kickstarter clients. Just a quick correction – in the section mentioning Furtherance, you say it launched on a weekday, but I think you mean “weekend” (Sunday, right)?

  20. Hey Jamey,
    I managed the Ballad Singer campaign, with 1186 backers and € 33,472 pledge. Not a gigantic campaign but for being the first project, I still think of a good level.
    We reached the goal a few days before the campaign closed. In addition to the normal discomfort in the two central weeks, where the backers were few, we focused a lot on the final momentum.
    With the backers a beautiful atmosphere was created where we all hoped to reach the end and reach the goal first and after the next stretch goal.
    I think getting the 24/48h medal spoils the spirit of KS a little. The creators now aim to insert a low level to fund the campaign only for the purpose of reaching it in as few hours as possible.
    Despite this, it has emerged that many backers do not know how Kickstarter works. They have a sort of block that prevents them from backing until the project is definitely financed. I think it’s mainly related to psychological factors and the lack of knowledge of Kickstarter.
    Beyond what I said, from a commercial point of view I think it’s the right choice. I’m a bit sorry that the “magic” of Kickstarter is slowly being lost.

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