22 August 2016 | 50 Comments
Two years ago, I was faced with a dilemma: Should I continue to use Kickstarter’s built-in survey, or should I start using some of the more robust third-party pledge managers like BackerKit, PledgeManager, and CrowdOx.
When I thought about it, I realized that what mattered most to me was creating the best experience for my backers. So I posted a poll on this blog to see what backers preferred. The results were as follows:
- 41% in favor of Kickstarter’s built-in survey
- 36% in favor of third-party pledge managers
- 23% no preference
At the time, I think there was a little wider margin between the first two options, so I stuck with Kickstarter’s survey for my next 2 projects.
However, a lot changes in 2 years. Not only are poll results from 2 years ago not as relevant today, but these third-party pledge managers have continued to evolve while Kickstarter’s survey has essentially changed the same. So it’s time for a new poll.
Also, I had a great meeting with the folks at BackerKit at Gen Con in early August. I wasn’t expecting much, so I was surprised by how much passion they exuded. They really believe in this thing. Not that they shouldn’t–BackerKit is very successful–but I really bought into the idea that they believe in creating something that makes the entire Kickstarter experience better for both creators and backers.
James at BackerKit kindly took the time post-Gen Con to fill me in on a few aspects about BackerKit (this post is about pledge managers in general, not just Kickstarter–many of these highlights apply to all third-party pledge managers):
- BK automatically updates backer address data so you don’t need to rely on an Excel macro.
- BK makes it really easy to segment and filter, both for sending orders to specific fulfillment centers and for contacting specific segments of backers.
- BK offers a direct line of communication to backers (this would have been super helpful for Scythe fulfillment, as I got the same questions over and over again).
- BK identifies underpledges (when backers didn’t pledge as much as needed) and overpledges (turning it into pledge credit that can be redeemed on BK).
- BK lets backers update their survey response on their own (Kickstarter also allows this, but it comes with an ugly caveat: if you ever turn off the survey edit feature, all backers get a notice you can’t control saying that the project is “shipping soon”)
- BK is an instant pre-order online store for you. We use Shopify and Celery, but I can see how it would be quite helpful to have all of that data in one place, as I’m constantly having to manually plug in orders from Celery into my master spreadsheet (we ship pledges and post-KS pre-orders at the same time).
So let’s see what people prefer in 2016 compared to 2014. In fact, let’s see how backers feel versus how creators feel. Backers first:
Now for creators:
Let me know in the comments if you have any other thoughts about this subject!