10 June 2015 | 11 Comments
A frequent Kickstarter backer (we’ll call her Sally) needed to change her mailing address. So she went from project to project, manually changing it on surveys that enabled address changes and messaging creators on the others.
That is, until Kickstarter suspended her account.
As they told Sally, “sending the same form letter to multiple creators in a short span of time is considered spam behavior, and is not allowed.”
Now, I’m not here to complain about Kickstarter. In fact, I think it’s good that they have some automated algorithms in place to cut down on spam (I’m sure creators weren’t flagging Sally’s messages–we get address update messages all the time).
Kickstarter quickly reactivated Sally’s account after they realized the error. But the problem still stands: How can a frequent backer update their address on a lot of projects, and what can creators do to help them?
Which Type of Creator Are You?
There are two types of Kickstarter creators (okay, fine, this is an oversimplification, but it should help frame this entry): Those who don’t send out the backer survey until they’re close to delivering the rewards and those who send out the backer survey almost immediately after the project ends.
If you’re the first type of creator, you don’t have to worry about backers updating their addresses. You have a ton of other things to worry about (getting backers to fill out the survey in a crucially short amount of time, figuring out how many copies of the product to send to various fulfillment centers around the world without any backer data, backers messaging you with address information because you haven’t sent out the survey, etc.), but this is one thing that doesn’t concern you.
Let’s Talk About the Second Type
Then there’s the second type of creator, the type who sends out the survey quickly. To avoid the issues mentioned in the above paragraph, this is what I recommend to all creators. The key, though, is to only download the survey data to calculate how many games to make and where to send them. Don’t download the data for any other purpose–rather, leave the survey open and editable for backers to change their address as they wish.
However, there are probably a few of you who are like me. You want to work off a spreadsheet post-Kickstarter. After all, a spreadsheet can track things that Kickstarter can’t–backers who add on extra stuff after the project, backers who cancel post-campaign, other pre-order customers, etc. I like to have all that data at my fingertips.
For those creators, I can’t recommend leaving the survey editable. Here’s what I’ve found from doing that on the Between Two Cities project: Every morning I get an e-mail from Kickstarter saying that a few backers have updated their addresses. So I load up my spreadsheet, open Kickstarter, find the backer on the spreadsheet…and find that there’s no update. Their “updated” address is exactly the same as it is on my spreadsheet. This happens at least 50% of the time, and it’s quite annoying.
I also can’t revert back to having an uneditable survey, because if I do, Kickstarter says that “backers will be notified automatically and have 48 hours to finalize the address in their survey response.” Basically, every backer will get a message saying we’re getting ready to ship, even though we’re months away from shipping.
So for the latest treasure chest project, the survey isn’t editable. Backers have to message me if they have an address change. And I always have to check my Between Two Cities spreadsheet too just in case they also backed that project and assumed I would know to update the address in both places.
How You Can Help
As a creator, I think that means the best you can do is assure backers that you will eventually send them an address update e-mail. That way they can still send you address updates on an ongoing basis if they’d like, but they can sleep well at night knowing they’ll have a specific opportunity in the future to update the addresses in a way that won’t spam Kickstarter.
Just make sure to remind backers a few times to add your company e-mail to their contacts list so the address update e-mail doesn’t go to their spam or promotions folder. That happens more than I’d like.
Thanks to Sally for sharing her story with me, and hopefully Kickstarter will think of some clever ways to address the issue in a way that will benefit various types of creators and backers. If you have any ideas, let me know in the comments!