5 May 2013 | 29 Comments
Kickstarter is an amazing platform for making your dream projects come to life and gauging interest in your products, but as with any example of great design, there are certain things it can’t do or won’t allow. Today I’m going to talk about some of those things and how you can work around them for your Kickstarter project.
- Reward Your Advocates: LivingSocial has a neat reward system for influential buyers. If you share a LivingSocial deal with three people who purchase the deal, you get the deal for free. There could be other ways to reward backers who share your project, but that’s one of the most elegant designs I’ve seen. Workaround: When you survey backers, ask them if they were referred to your project by another backer. You can offer those influential backers a special discount on your next project or just a special thank you note.
- Buy It Now: Many Kickstarter products won’t exist for quite some time after a project is funded. But some exist right now. For example, there might be a project for a fudge shop to fund an expansion. Many of the reward levels involve fudge. What if you could pay a little more to get some of that fudge now instead of later, and that payment goes through right away, regardless of whether or not the project is funded. Workaround: Include a link to PayPal or your website on the Kickstarter page.
- Sell the Product After the Campaign Ends: Your project is forever on Kickstarter, so people will be discovering it for years to come. Why couldn’t Kickstarter let you create a special post-campaign reward level that respects those who gave their money first but allows newcomers an easy way to get extra copies of your product? It could be a limited reward level based on the number you’re making. Workaround: Before your project ends, post a link to your website at the top of the Kickstarter page or to Outgrow.me, a site the specializes in selling post-Kickstarter products.
- Tipping-Point Rewards That Don’t Activate Until They’ve Reached a Certain Number of Backers: This is kind of like a Kickstarter within a Kickstarter. You might have a reward level that you can only justify if you reach a certain number of backers due to the economies of scale. They would have tipping points on them (i.e., “40 backers to activate”). Workaround: Run a separate Kickstarter project just for that specific reward.
- See How Many People Have Clicked the “Remind Me” Button: It would be really helpful to know how many people have clicked that “Remind Me” button so you can prepare for the final 48 hours. Maybe there’s an influx of people; maybe just a trickle. A little heads up would be greatly appreciated.
- Decrease Reward Level Prices for Existing Backers: Once one person has pledged to a reward level, you can’t change that level. However, I’ve seen many projects in which the creator decides to lower the price during the project, and it creates some confusion among the reward levels and existing backers. It makes sense that you shouldn’t be able to increase the price of an existing reward level, but a decrease? Who’s going to to argue with that? Workaround: You can add pledge levels whenever you want, and you can e-mail people within a specific pledge level. It’ll take some work, but you could effectively decrease the price of any reward level.
- See How Many People Subscribe to Updates on a Day-to-Day Basis: There is a chart on Kickstarter that shows how many backers and pledges you have on a daily basis. I’d love to have access to a similar chart that shows number of update subscribers and number of update unsubscribers. That way you know exactly how many people you’re reaching when you send out an update, and you can pinpoint annoying updates that cause people to unsubscribe so you can change your tactics. Workaround: Ask a question at the end of every update. You can gauge the number of readers relative to previous posts from the number of comments.
- Integrate Add-Ons: As it is, it’s nearly impossible to determine if someone has included add-on items in a pledge. As a project creator, when a new pledge comes through, you get an e-mail saying, “New Backer Alert! Jamey has pledged $75 to Nantucket Fudge Shop.” But you may not have a $75 reward level–that might be the $40 reward level with several add-ons. It would be much better if backers could select add-ons when they select their pledge level. Workaround: Make reward levels for each add-on combination.
- Improve Referrer Trackbacks: As James Mathe discusses here, Kickstarter is not built to give you accurate referral information. Which is unfortunate, because those stats are really helpful, especially if you’re paying for marketing. Workaround: Use bit.ly URLs instead of the full Kickstarter URL (you’ll get stats on bit.ly), and poll backers on their referrers at the end of the project.
- Run Contests: I understand why Kickstarter doesn’t let backers run contests or giveaways. Games of chance have no place on Kickstarter–too many opportunities for the game to be rigged. Unless, that is, the capability were built into Kickstarter for you to, say, give away a free copy of your product to any backer as a promotion. Workaround: Run the contest off of Kickstarter. You can’t mention it on Kickstarter, but they can’t regulate what you do elsewhere.
- Set Shipping Tiers for Different International Locations: I got this idea from Albino Dragon’s excellent blog entry about Kickstarter shortcomings. It’s inevitable for this to happen. If you’re shipping from the US, the cost to ship to Canada vs. the UK vs. Japan vs. Brazil is completely different. They shouldn’t all be lumped into “international,” and reward levels that outline long lists of shipping tiers are a burden. Workaround: Make different pledge levels for each shipping destination. UPDATE: Alert reader Rocket noted that Kickstarter made this change a while ago, which is great!
- Poll Backers in Updates: Polling backers is a great way to engage them and get instant feedback. How hard would it be to implement a simple poll system for project updates? Workaround: Host the poll on your blog.
- Choose More than One Reward Level or Choose the Same Reward Level Twice: Currently it’s impossible for you to choose more than one reward level per project or choose the same reward level twice. This isn’t a problem for unlimited reward levels, as a backer can simply increase their pledge amount to include an extra copy of the product. But it’s a big problem for limited reward levels, because they’re usually limited for a reason. Workaround: Create a second (or third) Kickstarter account. It’s completely legal–it’s actually Kickstarter’s recommendation that you do that (per an e-mail I exchanged with them last fall).
- Subscribe to Categories: I don’t understand why this isn’t an option. I want to get a notification from Kickstarter every time someone starts a new tabletop game project. I’m sure most people are interested in specific categories and are not at all interested in others. Isn’t it good for everyone if we an subscribe to specific categories? Workaround: Reddit users are really good at tracking Kickstarter projects. And fortunately Board Game Geek members have an ongoing list of Kickstarter projects as well.
- Subscribe to Project Updates with the “Remind Me” Button: Why do I have to pledge to a project to get project updates in my inbox? You have access to public updates for any projects, but you only get them sent to you if you pledge at least $1 to the project. This doesn’t make sense to me. Workaround: Pay the friggin’ dollar.
- Rate the Project and Project Creator: I picture this as Yelp for Kickstarter. When you arrive at a Kickstarter project late into a campaign, it’s really tough to gauge the quality of the campaign unless you go back through the updates and the comments. What if backers could rate the quality of the campaign by scoring categories like communication and competence for new potential backers to view? Kickstarter could use that information to determine which projects get more promotion than others. Backers could also rate specific project creators so that newcomers to future projects could get an instant impression of the type of project creator they are. I view this as a system to weed out bad creators and strengthen good ones to improve the overall Kickstarter platform. Workaround: Vote with your money.
Can you think of anything else that you’d like to see on Kickstarter? If you have a clever workaround, let us know!
Next: For Better or for Worse