Motivations to go for a crowdfunding campaign when launching are various and well-known : risk-limitation, market consultation before starting production and therefore cash-flow generation or some community spirit that goes along with this format.
We launched this way in January of 2015 and we achieved one of the best French crowdfunding campaigns of 2015, receiving pre-orders for 1984 pairs and collecting 104 372€.
Dozens of project holders have reached out to us asking about our experience feedback regarding crowdfunding. It made us want to write an article about it that would include the 10 key elements that we think help to get a successful campaign.
Before starting with our 10 tips, it’s important to evoke the fact that all projects are not equal when it comes to crowdfunding compatibility, and that our project had the chance to fit quite well with this format. Indeed, the community spirit interwined with crowdfunding was aligned with our wish to build a brand around values of multiculturality and traveling and most of all, our product is an actual product and not a service, moreover with a fairly low pricepoint, which is important in a frame of pre-order in which contributors will wait months for their product.
That’s it for the introduction, we can start of list of tips, that we have wanted to make as operational and concrete as possible :)
1- Choose your platform wisely
There are some points about which you must pay close attention before choosing the platform you’ll use :
- The success rate of the platform per activity sector. Does the platform has a qualified community and a good credibility in my sector ?
- The design of the website. This may have a different impact from one sector to another and is obviously quite important for fashion and design related products
- The size of the community in each country you wish to target. Do I want to address foreign countries right from the start ?
- The possibility to do version a project in several languages. It’s obviously closely linked to the previous point
- Auxiliary features such as the possiblity to have the objective exposed in number of products instead of a pecuniary amount, ease of use of the dashboard…
If you’re reading this article in English and not in French, you’re probably not based in France and may have local players in your country. However, if you want to have a European reach with your campaign, Ulule would probably be a good pick since it is the most spread in Europe with success rates far better than those of Kickstarter. In France, Kiss Kiss Bank Bank and Ulule are the platform with the most engaged communities and with good success rates.
2- Keep it short & simple
Whether its the textual presentation or the video, be synthetic ! Be focused on the messages you want to convey : storytelling, value proposition, team, use of the collected funds…
Take a look at what the average length of videos of successful projects in your sector are. In fashion and design, we suggest it doesn’t last more 1min30, but of course each project is different !
The list of proposed products as well as the list of rewards associated to it should be kept short as well. It is well known that overchoice leads to inaction. We also suggest to make as few pricepoints as possible in order to keep the list of rewards short as well.
3- Present your campaign as a pre-order platform
Although crowdfunding is still associated with the idea of supporting emerging projects, the crowdfunding page should convey the fact that contributors will receive value in return of their contribution. That would be getting a bit closer to e-commerce.
To achieve this, you can start with proposing (almost) only products of your company as a reward.
If you choose to go with the Ulule platform, you can also choose to have your objective and its fulfillment expressed in number of packs and not in money. We think it is a very relevant feature because it associates more directly the contribution to the product, it allows to have a lower objective in absolute value and therefore less abstract and also it avoids a possible « they don’t money they are rich ! » effect.
This feature has been used by succesful projects such as 1083, the fashion brand focused on local and circular fabrication.
4- Get the timing right
- The ideal duration of a campaign is between 30 and 45 days. Take into account the quantity of content you think you can broadcast as well as prospective events that would boost your campaign (pop-up stores, press publications, holydays, concerts…) to choose your duration between those two.
- Start on a Monday and end on a Friday or a Saturday. There are way more contributions on week days so you want to cumulate that effect with the natural spikes there occur at the beginning and the end of a campaign.
- Pick a period consistent with your product and your delivery estimate, don’t start a swim suit campaign in November. Don’t do it in June as well if it’s your first production : anticipate delays !
5- Size your objective wisely
According to a study lead by Elephant and Ventures on 50 projects that have collected more than 500K $ on Kickstarter, the objective announced had been reached in less than 3 days. The point is that you should announce a small objective that you could reach fast so that communicate on that success which will appear as fuliginous. Moreover, the ratio of fulfillment is of the objective is perceived as an indicator of success almost as much as the total, so a small objective is a good way to get a good social proof.
To get an idea of how much you’ll get on your first day, ask several people who did a campaign in your sector and price range what the size of their community were on the day of the launch, especilly for Facebook fans and emails. You can then get the sense of what the conversion rate is in your sector/ price range and determine your objective accordingly.
Our numbers on day 1 of the campaign were the following :
- Facebook fans : 3000
- Emails : 500
- Sales on first 24h : 250 pairs
6- Set new objectives after the initial one
To entertain the dynamic, set new objectives and give them meaning and possibly a reward for the community.
Here’s a list of examples of what can be done :
- Propose new versions of a product once a new threshold has been reached
- Gift giving
- Increase the prize at a Facebook contest beyond a certain threshold (more on that later)
- Correlate a new objective with the social project of the brand. That has been done by Panafrica for instance, a brand of sneakers Handmade in Africa that supports schooling in this continent. They had set their ultimate objective at 1820 pairs and that corresponded to the number of students in the school they support, which makes sense since for each pair they pay for the equipment of a student.
7- Give incentives to make an early contribution
The first days of a campain are essentials and early-success creates a virtuous circle thanks to social proof, better exposition on the crowdfunding platform and possibly in the press.
You should create a feeling of emergency to generate that early emulation, and that goes by creating a early bird pack.
The incentive can rely on a lower price or gifts/ privileges.
We think the lower price can block potential contributors once the early bird pack is out of stock so the gift seems ideal to us.
A good way to give a good perceived value to the gift is to create a pack containing what is offered in others, and setting a price on it.
We had done it with a tote bag priced at 15€ in a pack and offered in the early bird pack.
You can also announce an earlier delivery for early birds but be cautious when you talk about delivery time :)
8- Boost your average basket
You can use the same gift as the one for early birds. Do a price incentive as well.
9- Entertain your community
You should have content to deliver to your community all along the campaign. Try to roadmap that content delivery as much as possible and keep in mind that the early and last days of the campaign are the one that should be fostered the most with content since they are the natural peeks of the campaign.
Therefore, you should start building the community long enough before the start of the campaign. We think one month is a minimum for building a significative base.
The two main axis are in terms of community building are Facebook and emails.
Facebook is often the main communication vector for BtoC projects, especially if you target 18-40 years old people.
Here are the actions that have had the most significant impacts on growing our facebook community :
Posting on facebook groups that match with our target : We knew we wanted to target backpackers and travelers. We were lucky that this is the characteristic around which there are possibly the most facebook groups (e.g. Les Frenchy à New-York, backpacker SouthEast Asia…). Moreover, these community groups have more engagement than average. All together we posted on 300-500 groups. The post has to be friendly, non-commercial (we suggest it to be feedback-oriented) and as visual as possible.
Facebook contests on our page : The simpler the better. A Like and Share Contest can lead to a crazy reach. We did one before the campaign and one before the end of it. A thing you can do is align the interest of contestants with yours by increasing the prize if you go beyond a certain threshold in what you collect.
Facebook contests on other pages : You can throw such contests on third party pages as well. Many pages will be glad to have something cool to offer to their community while gaining some visibility thanks to the post Shares.
Email remains very effective in terms of conversions. It is also the place where you can deliver longer and more detailed content to build a more engaged community.
The Newsletter tab of Facebook is very practical for that. An incitation you can use is an early broadcasting of the crowdfunding video.
You should also create a landing page, especially if you’re lucky enough to have some print press. You can use tools such as Strikingly or LaunchRock to build one quickly.
c- On the platform
Publish News frequently. Keep in mind that News are mostly for contributors and followers of the project. It is therefore a distinct audience from your mailing base even though there is
It’s a very important network for some sectors, including fashion of course.
10 - Track your actions
Tracking clicks and conversions is very important and it’s also possible on crowdfunding websites ! To do it, just ask the crowdfunding website what the link format is to build a tracked link !
That's it for our 10 tips. Do you have other tips that helped you at succeeding your campaign ? Do you have a question regarding one of the tips ? Leave your comments :)