Kickstarter Lesson #61: Post-Campaign Communication

4 October 2013 | 23 Comments

Back in Kickstarter Lesson #36 I talked about the fact that you should continue to communicate with backers after your project on a regular basis, even if you have bad news or no news. However, I didn’t talk about how you should communicate with backers.

The deceptively obvious answer is via Kickstarter updates. For most types of project-related communication, the updates are great. They go out via e-mail to all backers who still subscribe to your updates, and they’re easy for unsubscribed backers to check on from time to time on Kickstarter’s website. If you go too long without putting anything here (more than a month), both attentive and casual backers will wonder if you’ve taken up residence in Tahiti with their money. The only big problem with Kickstarter updates is that if you have a really important announcement, anyone who has ever unsubscribed to your updates won’t get the message in their e-mail inbox.

There’s also Kickstarter’s messaging system, which lets you send messages to individual backers or to an entire reward tier. This is handy for targeting specific groups of backers if you have an announcement or question just for that group, but arduous if you need to send the same message to ALL backers, because you have to copy, paste, and send the message to each reward tier one at a time.

mailchimpMailChimp offers a way for you to send elegantly designed mass e-mails at affordable prices. So if you have your backers’ permission to send them updates, MailChimp is a great way to do so, particularly for monthly e-newsletters like we do at Stonemaier Games. If you’re trying to create and sustain a business (opposed to merely creating a single product), getting those e-mail addresses for regular engagement and announcements is incredibly important. Here’s my referral code if you decide to use MailChimp.

Even if you’re just trying to create a single product, MailChimp is extremely helpful for the most important e-mail you’ll ever send to your backers: The e-mail you send about a month before your product ships asking backers for their updated mailing address (to see why you should send the backer update soon after your project and then follow up months later with an address update request, see Kickstarter Lesson #42). This is the one e-mail where you really need ALL backers to get the message, not just those who subscribe to your project updates.

As I discussed in Kickstarter Lesson #52, you should have a blog (via your website). You should have created it a long time ago (not after the project), but it’s never too late to do so. The blog is a great way for you to explore pretty much anything in long form for backers who want to get to know you better. A blog is a passive form of media, meaning it’s great for people who actively choose to engage with it and great for those who don’t care at all, because you’re not clogging their inbox with photos of your cat in board game boxes.

Facebook is my social media platform of choice for mini-updates because it’s excellent for conversations, it’s very visual, and it has a semi-permanence to it. A backer may only check our Facebook page once every few weeks, but when they do, it’s very easy for them to see everything that you’ve posted about. The only downsides are that some people really don’t like to use Facebook, and even for those who do Like your Facebook page, they’ll only see your posts about 10% of the time based on Facebook’s feed algorithm (you have to pay if you want everyone to see the post). Still, at 1.2 billion users compared to Twitter’s 40 million, you can’t ignore Facebook as a project creator.

YouTube is the best way to have “face time” with the community you’re building. I use YouTube to talk about game design in short, weekly segments called “My Favorite Game Mechanism.” It’s great for visual presentations and for showing your personality, and YouTube has a robust comments system.

Last but not least we have Twitter, which kind of operates like a giant chatroom. Anyone can jump in or out of a conversation at any time. The thing about Twitter is that it’s fleeting, so if you have something important to say, this isn’t the place for it. I actually think Twitter is the best place to jump onto other people’s conversations rather than try to establish your own (but a healthy mix of both is fine).

Let’s recap and summarize what these various platforms are optimal for (in terms of post-Kickstarter communication):

  • Kickstarter updates: general messages of some importance to the majority of backers
  • Kickstarter message: targeting specific groups of backers for announcements or calls to action
  • e-newsletter: the best way to reach all of the people who are interested in what you and your company are doing
  • blog/podcast: sharing your personality and creating conversations
  • Facebook: sharing photos and mini updates; engaging people through casual conversation
  • YouTube: visual content and sharing your personality
  • Twitter: fleeting topics that only a few will see; engaging people in a very casual way, often about their topics of choice

Overall, the key is to use a mix of all of this media. For any active media (Kickstarter updates, messages, and MailChimp e-newsletters), spread them out so people aren’t getting them one after another. I consider Twitter and Facebook semi-active media in that only people who opt-in will see it, but those who have opted in might get annoyed if you’re too self-promotional or boring. So I like to spread out my posts, particularly on Facebook (2 a day at most). And the blog is a passive form of media–you can post there as often as you like.

Am I missing out on any necessary platforms for post-campaign communication? Telepathy? Carrier Pigeon? Smoke signals? Google Plus?

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23 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #61: Post-Campaign Communication

  1. Your KS insights are great!

    We have a project on KS, which ended and was successfully funded. We’ve been sending weekly updates to our backers via KS. We want to send another one this week and include a unique referral link for all of our backers for a two-sided referral program, i.e. give 20% off, get 20% off future order on our website.

    To include these unique links, we would have to send the email through our referral tool, ReferralCandy. Is it frowned upon to send an update through a channel other than Kickstarter’s in-house tools?

    Would really appreciate your thoughts!

    1. Matt: Great question. I don’t think it’s frowned upon at all. I think the e-mail will get caught in some spam filters–that happens even when I use MailChimp. My advice would be to let backers know to expect the message through a project update so they don’t immediately discard it as spam.

    2. Matt, my cofounder and I also finished a successful Kickstarter recently, and I really like this idea. We don’t currently have our own retail store/e-commerce platform on or website, though, so we wouldn’t be able to offer a code on there. When you talk about links, are you making these especially for your own retail store on your game’s website?

      If yes, can you imagine a way to offer this discount without having your own store?

      Thanks for any advice, Matt :).

        1. Thanks so much, Matt! I started looking into Stripe. I’ll ask companies handling our fulfillment is they can do discounts. I know it’ been awhile for you and I appreciate you answering my question so quickly! If you think back to when you offered this code, did many people use it? If it was just like 10 or so, probably not worth the time to create the discount…but if it was dozens, likely worth the money.

          1. Hey Molly, we actually only did a short test because we didn’t like that particular tool (even though we liked that feature). I can’t really recommend it on that basis, unfortunately.

  2. Thank you thank you! :-) this is awesome to read, and has confirmed all that I thought would be needed for when my kickstarter project is launched next year. So exciting! :-)

  3. I have to confess that I didn’t even know that you could unsubscribe from KS updates; not that I thought it was a good idea since that seemed to be the logical way for people to keep in touch – and I was very unclear as to whether my kickstarter contact email could actually be used outside of KS anyway (I need to go and read their terms and conditions again!)

    1. Scurra–I have two answers to that. First, general best practices for e-newsletters is that you only use e-mail addresses of people who have opted into the e-newsletter. So if you include that opt-in opportunity on your backer survey, that’s where people have such a choice.

      Two, I believe that Kickstarter’s policies state that you can’t use backer e-mails for marketing or anything else without their permission (pretty much the same as the opt-in policy). But if you need to contact all backers one time to check on their addresses, Kickstarter is fine with that (and I hope all backers would be too).

  4. Thanks Jamey, another good article.

    How does a project manager guarantee that all their Kickstarter backers will sign up to the company newsletter?

    Do you import the backer list yourself, adding an exclusive ‘group’ for the backers of that specific project so that only they receive the email about address changes? (rather than your entire newsletter list). That seems the only way to be sure. And then post-fulfilment give them an overt means of unsubscribing.

    It’s a shame some people unsubscribe from Ks updates before the fulfilment is done as these updates should be the place to do that.

    1. Lloyd–You can’t really guarantee that all backers will sign up for the e-newsletter, but for the most important announcements, you’ll have all backer e-mail addresses from your backer survey. You can upload that list to MailChimp and use it fr those one-time, super-important messages.

    1. Kayosiv–A forum is a good idea. I have one set up through Google forums, but it’s seldom used compared to the comments on my website.

  5. Great post – yet again Jamey :)

    Hehe, interesting – I have just put up an update on my Kickstarter campaign about how I’d address my backers “post-Kickstarter”. I really agree with you on those methods.

    I also think it’s very important that you state the frequency of your communication and where they should find it – so people know what to expect once the storm of Kickstarter clears.

    Funny, I didn’t actually mention Facebook or Twitter in my update (they are now more a part of the process than a separate tool in themselves).

    Best regards Emil

    1. Emil–Ah yes, I saw that update. I really like how you clearly communicated to your backers exactly when you’ll be communicating with them. I should have mentioned how important that is in my post.

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