10 Ingredients for Great Project Updates
Hooray! Visitors are streaming into your crowdfunding page and they’re converting to backers! Good work, time to wrap it up, right? Wrong.
Converting visitors into backers may seem like the end goal of any crowdfunding campaign, but if you want to build momentum, increase pledge amounts and build a community, it’s vital to keep those backers engaged throughout the life of your campaign. By keeping an open, ongoing line of communication, you’re reinforcing their decision to support you and your campaign, transforming them from mere backers to genuine fans.
In that spirit, here are ten ideas to keep your backers not only engaged, but evangelizing on your behalf.
This is one might seem obvious, but celebrating key milestones in your campaign keeps the excitement up among your backers organically (“You've helped us get 50% of the way to (the next milestone)!”). They also give them opportunities to pitch your idea to their own networks (“Together we can make this awesome idea come to life!”). Remember, you can highlight more than just funding milestones, too. Check back in when you get 100, 500 or 1,000 backers, or if your product’s social media page hits a certain number of likes/followers/subscribers. Find reasons to celebrate and include your backers in that celebration.
If your idea involves elements of design or art this one is easy. With content you already have from setting up the campaign you can repurpose it as a constant drip of hi-res artwork to keeps backers returning to your page and potentially sharing your content. Have your designer or artist turn some of these pieces into wallpapers for phones and desktops to give your backers something to download and plaster on all their screens. In that same vein, if your project inspires fan art from your backers, show that off, too to give fans a platform for their excitement.
Early on backers might point out a great reward that would entice them to bump up their pledge level. If you decide that it’s worth doing, let people know (and more importantly let people know that you are listening to their feedback. Giving credit for a good idea to a backer goes a long way to fostering goodwill).
If you decide to incorporate stretch goals, make sure you have a post that explains why and what your backers will get out of it. Once you start hitting those goals, celebrate each milestone, illustrating what backers just unlocked together. Create a graphic showing each stretch goal that you can put a big check mark next to the goal as it gets passed.
Though you’ll touch on your background in your pitch video, a backer update is a good opportunity to show more of the human behind your product. Dedicate a post early in your campaign to going more in-depth into what made you set out on this adventure in the first place. Talk about where the idea came from, the spark that ignited it. Talk about the support you’ve had, the hours you’ve dedicated to making it a reality. Visitors to your page who are on the fence might be more willing to drop $25 if your passion really shines through in this update.
One of my favorite backer updates (and one I return to because I always learn something new) details the prototyping behind Secret Hitler, as well as other card and board games. There’s something so unbelievably inspirational to compare the polished, buttoned up campaign page to the Sharpie-scribbled prototypes in the update. It really hammers home the truth that a great idea is great, regardless of how humble its beginnings. This kind of update serves to “show your work,” proving to your backers that you’ve put lots of time and effort into your product. It also may inspire them to finally get off their butt and put their own idea down on paper!
Though your idea should be pretty polished by the time you’re ready to go live on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, there’s always room for improvement. Your backers are a great resource to solicit feedback on certain elements of design, usability or even artwork. It’s important to be specific, though. Don’t just dump a screenshot or wireframe on the page and ask “What do you think?” Instead walk backers through the question, and offer potential solutions for them to weigh in on. “Do you prefer A, B or C?” If you’re too open-ended, you may receive feedback on something you can’t change at this stage in the game, and then you’re spending your time justifying your past decisions instead of looking forward.
When you launch your campaign, you’ll most likely create an FAQ section that captures most of what you think might come up. You’ll soon realize that you didn’t think of half of the questions people may need answered before they decide to pledge. Collect all these questions after the first week of your campaign and make an update addressing them. Now they are all in one place and you’ll spend less time repeating the same answers. Notice I say less time. You’ll still get the same question over and over. Be prepared and be patient.
Highlight Other Campaigns
Kickstarter has done research showing that creators that actively back other projects are more likely to succeed. If you find a campaign you like or a creator that feels like a kindred spirit, let your backers know! Show that you aren’t just checking your own page, but dedicated to a healthy crowdfunding ecosystem. If you do this, make sure you let the other creators know, maybe they’ll return the favor.
Highlight a Backer
Some crowdfunding campaigns will have a very special reward tier that, for a princely sum, one special backer receives a unique reward unavailable to anyone else. Maybe it’s dinner with the creator, or VIP tickets to an advance screening of a film, or getting their name/likeness placed in the game. Though every backer deserves your praise, someone that really goes out on a limb for hundreds (or thousands) of dollars is especially worthy of a shout out. Reach out to learn more about them and see if there is a compelling story there to highlight.
You’ll inevitably find more reasons to reach out to your backers, whether to inform, celebrate, or simply touch base, but the above can serve as a good foundation. Remember that every piece of messaging needs to serve a function, be it increasing funding, providing updates on progress, or building a larger, more active community.