9 May 2016 | 26 Comments
A few weeks ago, I ran a pre-order campaign through my website for reprints of some metal coins and a new set of treasure chests called the Token Trilogy. I used Celery as the e-commerce platform to accept orders for the one-week campaign, and web developer Dave Hewer helped us set up the various widgets on our website. We start production this week.
As I always do after a campaign, below is a compilation of data and lessons learned from the experience. The motivations and pros/cons are detailed in a post I wrote a few weeks ago.
In total, the Token Trilogy campaign raised $177,895 from 1,291 backers. Those numbers include a few people who have pre-ordered since the campaign at higher prices, as well as some retailers who didn’t pay through Celery.
In comparison, our first treasure chest campaign raised $181,157 from 3,221 backers and our newer treasure chest campaign raised $207,817 from 2,184 backers. Both were on Kickstarter, unlike the Token Trilogy campaign. With the tokens getting more eclectic, I anticipated a decrease in demand. We were just hoping to get close to the minimum manufacturing quantity of 1500 units.
Here are the total quantities for each product (the Token Trilogy contains 1 of each of the treasure chests):
Would we have made more money on Kickstarter? Probably, yes. There’s much more organic traffic through Kickstarter, and Kickstarter has the power to give backers a sense of collective pride that a pre-order campaign can’t replicate.
Do I regret not putting this project on Kickstarter? For the reasons detailed here, not at all. I love Kickstarter, but I think this was definitely the right fit for this particular campaign.
786 backers of the Token Trilogy campaign are in the US, and 505 are international. That amounts to a breakdown that is exactly in line with our average.
The Token Trilogy pre-order campaign ran from Monday, April 21 to Sunday, May 1. I sent out an announcement to our 19k e-newsletter subscribers on April 21, whom also received our monthly e-newsletter with campaign reminder on April 29. You can see the resulting spikes in traffic on our website:
I communicated with backers through our e-newsletter, previous treasure chest projects on Kickstarter, on the project page, and on a Facebook group for the chests. The Facebook group currently has 253 members. Because all of the tokens were finalized before the project and there were no stretch goals, there wasn’t much to talk about during the campaign.
We also ran ads on BoardGameGeek during the campaign. They had an 0.48% click-through rate, which compares favorably to Between Two Cities (0.42%) and Tuscany (0.55%).
I really liked what Celery enabled us to do with retailers, to whom we typically offer a discount on pre-orders. Celery lets you create “collections” of products, so we had one collection that we shared publicly through our website (here’s what it looks like) and another collection shared privately with retailers.
This method made the point of purchase much smoother to communicate and coordinate than collecting retail payments through PayPal or Kickstarter (where I usually use the $1 reward level to collect retail pledges–they manually change the $ amount).
Overall, I’m really happy with how this campaign went. I’ve spent months and months working on this project by engaging previous treasure chest backers, talking to Scott (the sculptor) and Beth Sobel (the box artist), and coordinating the sculpts and budget for Panda. It was really just a matter of knowing how many chests we needed to make, and the campaign was perfect for that.
As has been the case for a while now, Celery is awesome to work with. However, I wanted to mention two small issues. Celery is aware of them, and they are considering addressing them:
- In Celery, you can create shipping categories, and it’s easy to apply products to different categories. For example, you might have a “heavy shipping” category with different prices assigned to each country and a separate “light shipping” category. Say, for this example, that heavy shipping costs $15 in the US and light shipping costs $7. If someone places two different items in their cart that are in different shipping categories, instead of the more expensive shipping price overriding the less expensive fee, they add together. So, instead of paying $15 to ship the heavy and light item in the same package, the customer would pay $22. That doesn’t make sense.
- When you export a spreadsheet from Kickstarter, Kickstarter does something to the spreadsheet to make sure all special characters come through. I’m talking about non-English letters, particularly those in Scandinavia. However, spreadsheets from Celery show those characters as completely garbled symbols. Celery sent me a conditional formatting formula to help find them, but I still had to go through each of those orders and manually update the text (about 150 cells in the spreadsheet). Perhaps there’s a macro that fixes this automatically?
Largely for reasons mentioned on my original post, yes, I would absolutely do something like this again if the circumstances were similar. That is, if a project didn’t have stretch goals, if it was already 100% final, and if we already had a rough approximation of the number of units we would be making (and could afford to make), we might use a system like this.
The internal debate for me right now is whether or not to use this system to fund Charterstone. Charterstone is a legacy game with a ton of secrets, so I won’t be able to talk about much. It’ll be 100% final when the campaign launches. And it likely won’t have stretch goals–similar to the treasure chests, it’s an all-or-nothing kind of thing. There’s nothing to stretch.
It makes sense to treat Charterstone’s campaign like the Token Trilogy campaign. Yet somehow Kickstarter just feels like a better fit for it. Maybe because it’s a brand-new product, and Kickstarter is such a great place to bring people together for something new?
I’m curious to hear your thoughts about that, and about the format of the Token Trilogy campaign in general.