12 March 2018
Recently I’ve noticed that more and more Kickstarter creators are advertising and soliciting previews before their projects launch. In the past I thought this was a bad idea, but I thought it might be time to take a closer look at this strategy.
My Previous Thoughts
If you’ve compelled me to click on an ad or watch a preview video, this may be your one chance for me to act. That is your moment for many consumers.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve learned about a game through an ad or preview and tried unsuccessfully to find a notification link. Those are moments when I would back the project, but without the project, at the very least I’d like to sign up for an alert when the campaign begins.
So over time I came to believe that it was a waste of money on pre-launch advertising and previews.
Just to be clear, I love the idea of building a crowd of passionate followers who know about your product well before launch. These are people with whom you’ve forged genuine connections over time, or people who have found you through the content you create (blog, podcast, etc). I consider those strategies to be quite different than paid advertising and previews, even thought the goal is at least partially the same.
My Current Thoughts
I should say up front that I have no hard evidence that it’s a good idea to spend money on pre-launch advertising and previews. However, having spent the last few years as a backer rather than a Kickstarter creator, I have observed the following:
- I love anticipation. I like getting excited about something before I can have or see it.
- I like to budget in advance. I want to know if an awesome project is coming up soon so I can feel like it’s the right decision for my wallet.
- I am swayed by persistence. Sometimes I don’t know if I want something until the third or fourth time I hear about it.
- I prefer to research on my own time. There are times when I discover a live Kickstarter project and I want to learn more about it before considering a pledge, but I just don’t have time at that moment. So I might click the “remind me” button and return later.
While I don’t think pre-advertising will ever reach the level of conversion rates of live-project advertising, I now think there are some effective ways to execute this strategy.
How to Advertise and Preview Pre-Launch
- Reveal the ads and the preview videos no more than 1 week in advance of the project launch. Focus on 1 or 2 ads and 1 or 2 preview, holding off on the majority of content until the project goes live.
- Let people take action via a link to an e-newsletter, Facebook group, or even a campaign preview link.
- Show the launch date if you have it (but only if you’re 100% sure you’re launching on that day).
- When the campaign goes live, make sure to update the links so they go directly to your project page.
Here are also some purely theoretical ideas for pre-launch ads that you might toy around with:
- Convey the level of interest. I think it’s human nature to be more curious about things that lots of other people are excited for. With preview videos, you can see the viewer count, but that isn’t possible on ads. So I’m thinking it might be interesting if the ad itself displays a number that conveys the level of interest (quantitatively).
- Put a “remind me” button on the ad. Any Kickstarter backer is familiar with that button. It’s a nice way of communicating, “If you click on this ads, there will be a notification link on the other side.”
Last, please remember the immortal words of Chad Krizan, BoardGameGeek advertising manager: Advertising will not save a failing campaign. That is, no matter how effective your advertising and paid previews, if your presentation sucks, people aren’t going to back the project.
What are your thoughts on pre-launch ads and previews? What are some techniques you’ve seen that have been particularly effective?