9 September 2014 | 35 Comments
For a long time now, I’ve been a huge advocate that every Kickstarter campaign should use the following pricing structure:
$X reward (core product)
$X + Y reward (premium core product)
I’ve written a lot about why there shouldn’t be anything between the $1 reward and the core product and why the premium reward can elevate your project to the next level, but I realized that I’ve only devoted one paragraph on KS Lesson #8: Reward Levels to the $1 reward. That reward is so important, though, that it’s time it got its own entry.
Here’s why every project should have a $1 reward level:
- It is the ultimate foot-in-the-door price. One of your primary goals as a creator is to make the project as easy to back as possible. A lot of people are going to be on the fence the first time they see your project, so a $1 pledge is the ultimate way to get their “foot in the door” of the project. Not $5. Not $2. $1. This reward level isn’t about the money.
- Upgrade potential. Your chances of getting a $1 backer to later upgrade their pledge to the core product are much higher than converting non-backers to become backers.
- It creates a way to engage backers who don’t want the core product. Not all of your friends, family, fans, or former backers are going to want your latest Kickstarter product. Having a $1 level is a way of encouraging them to get involved anyway. When anyone backs your project, everyone who follows that person on Kickstarter gets a notification about it, so it creates a ripple effect. I’ve experienced this with every project–some previous backers don’t want the new thing, but they want to continue to be involved anyway. A $1 pledge serves as an invitation to them.
- Project updates. The only way to get project updates in your inbox is to back a project–clicking the “remind me” button isn’t enough. This is crucial for creators, as project updates are one of the key ways we have to keep backers informed, get them excited about the project, and build trust with them. Note: Backers do not get the 48-hour reminder e-mail from Kickstarter, so make sure to send your own 60-hour reminder e-mail to each group of backers (especially $1 backers) to make sure they know this is their last chance to change/upgrade their pledge.
- Build community. You can’t comment on a Kickstarter campaign if you’re not a backer, so a $1 pledge helps people get involved in a project in a quick and easy way. I’ve noticed a lot of backers who back at the $1 level just so they can ask a question in the comments, and they often upgrade to the core reward immediately afterwards, especially if you reply quickly and kindly.
- It’s great for group or bulk backers. If you have any type of group or bulk reward level, you basically have more backers than you think. One person backs a 10-game reward, and the other nine people are left out. A $1 reward level is a way to invite those those people into the campaign in a way that isn’t cost-prohibitive. And yes, anyone can cancel their pledge during the campaign, so they could pledge more just to follow along, but ideally you want to create a way for those “hidden” backers to be involved with the project during and after the campaign.
- It can be used for retailers. I discussed this on recent entry about retailers. On Tuscany, I sent an e-mail to all the retailers on my list outlining their various pledge options, none of which were actual reward levels. I asked them to back at the $1 level instead and manually change the pledge amount to reflect their full reward. For retailers who weren’t on that mailing list, I specifically mentioned them in the $1 reward so they could see it right away when looking at the Kickstarter page instead of having to hunt all over for the retail option.
- It’s not hard to ask for $1. It’s hard to ask for money, but $1 is such a small amount that it’s not very intimidating to ask for. Chris mentions the “back it for a buck” strategy in the comments below, and Richard Bliss has talked about it with Roger Hicks on this podcast.
- It’s good for the follower notification. If a backer clicks the “remind me” button instead of backing, only they know that they’re interested in the project. If they, however, back for $1, all of their followers get a notification, which means that a lot more people know about the project than otherwise would.
- You can send group messengers to backers of specific rewards. If a backer chooses to pledge a few dollars for no reward, you can’t send them a group message like you can with $1 and other reward levels.
Now, people who don’t have $1 rewards usually say one of two things: One, that it takes up precious reward level real estate. It’s true that the top of the reward level sidebar is prime real estate, but I think the pros of the $1 level greatly outweigh the cons of losing 3-4 lines of space. Two, anyone can manually back a project for any amount (including $1)–you don’t need a reward level for that. This is also true, but it’s WAY easier to click a button than to manually enter a pledge amount. The $1 reward level is all about reducing barriers to entry.
Here’s how you should structure your $1 reward level:
- Keep it short. As noted above, the reward sidebar is prime real estate. The $1 reward level should be 3-4 lines at most.
- Make it fun. We’re known for our “backer toasts” in which we tip our cap (and our beer) to every backer who pledges or adds on $1. On Isaac Childres’ Forge War campaign, he offered to slay a fictitious rat in your name at the $1 level. On Eduardo Baraf’s Lift Off campaign, he offered to save an alien meeple in your honor on video at the $1 level. These are all great ways that creators are identifying with backers as people, not numbers.
That’s it! Can you think of any reason I’m missing here? Here’s another post about this topic on a different blog here.
Also watch (for tabletop game creators): Print-and-Play Reward Levels
Here’s a great statistical analysis about the $1 reward level by John Coveyou on the Got Genius Games blog.