We may find ourselves in a new world during this pandemic, but it’s quickly becoming clear that many tried and true tactics of crowdfunding are as true as ever.
Early signs show that crowdfunding may offer businesses refuge in economically uncertain times, and we’ve seen many campaigns flourish using the same strategies, only with simple adaptations for the post-COVID world.
Here’s a cheat sheet of the tactics we’ve seen work best for campaigns since the pandemic began.
Focus on Facebook and Instagram ads
Facebook and Instagram ads are some of the most effective tools for generating leads for your campaign, and until recently, it took a lot of budget to produce results on these platforms. But in the wake of COVID-19, competition for ads on social media has dipped as larger companies have reduced their marketing budgets, meaning that smaller businesses have unprecedented access to social media ad space.
Coupled with the additional time people are spending on social media as they stay at home, it’s a recipe for generating more leads on a reasonable budget. We recommend A/B testing your marketing and branding assets to optimize click through rates and conversions to increase your return on ad spend even more.
Be transparent with product development challenges
The pandemic has thrown a wrench into the world of supply chain and logistics, seriously impacting product development and fulfillment for all types of businesses. If you experience any delays in finalizing your product or delivering it to your backers, it’s important to be open about the challenges. It’s an unusual time to say the least, and your backers will most likely be understanding as long as you keep them updated.
We recommend being proactive about any changes that may affect the delivery of your product. Whether you’re having trouble sourcing a specific part for your product, or your factory is experiencing delays, let your backers know as soon as issues crop up so they can adjust their expectations accordingly.
In addition to the two pandemic-specific tactics above, we’ve also found that the fundamentals of crowdfunding are as true as ever. Here are the foundational crowdfunding tactics that have proven helpful to campaigns in good times and bad:
A/B test early and often
Raising funds requires you to pique the interest of potential backers first. Email marketing is one of the best ways to capture the attention of potential backers; that’s why it’s crucial to get serious about subject line testing. It’s simply the most effective way to ensure your marketing messages resonate with your audience.
To increase the ROI of your pre-launch marketing emails, A/B testing is the name of the game. We recommend A/B testing your subject lines and your email content in small batches early on — anywhere from 1% to 5% of your total list, depending on your total list size — to ensure higher open rates and click-through rates. Whichever batch wins should be send the remainder of your list. The better your conversion rates, the fewer emails you need to send for a successful launch, which keeps backers from feeling badgered. Most email software will allow you to do A/B tests on their platforms, and even if you’re not using any email software, segmenting your list manually can be just as effective.
Indiegogo’s Pre-Launch Pages are also a great place to A/B test your messaging and positioning. Simply create two different Pre-Launch Pages, and activate an A/B test so that visitors to your page will randomly see either Variant A or Variant B of your page. Both your variants will have the same URL. We’ll take care of dividing your traffic between your two variants on our end. That way, you’ll be able to test different images, text, and layouts to get a feel for what resonates with your community, and the performance of your two different Pre-Launch Pages will be reflected in the Activity section.
Start conversations with backers on social media
Even as lockdowns begin to be lifted, we expect to see consumers spending a lot of time at home, which means they’ll also be spending more time on social media. And as the saying goes: go where your customers are.
This is a golden opportunity to establish meaningful relationships with your customers on social media. If you initiate helpful conversations with your potential customers, you not only will increase the chances of them backing your campaign, but you’ll also build a reputation as attentive and accommodating, which can help attract new customers in the future through word of mouth. But a word to the wise: it’s important to stay positive, even if some backers don’t. If things ever go south with a crabby backer, just remember that empathy and maybe even some light-hearted humor can help turn things around.
Post regular updates
On average, campaigns that raise at least $100,000 post seven updates during their campaign stage. Regular updates are key even in the best of times, and in a pandemic, this is probably especially true. People feel on edge about nearly everything in their lives, and information helps you stay proactive about them turning that anxiety in your direction.
So what kinds of updates are best? There’s no standard template since all campaigns are different, but we recommend a mix of product-related updates — things like where along your product development journey you are — and fun updates — maybe a short video of someone using your prototype in an unexpected way.
When in doubt, make a video
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but according to research by Forrester, video is worth 1.8 million. Whatever Forrester’s methodology in actually quantifying that, the number boils down to one thing: whenever talking to your prospective customers, default to video whenever possible. Explaining your product? Make a video! Finalizing your product development? Make a video! Hungry for dinner? Make dinner. Then make a video about it and send it to your backers!
In our experience, text- and image-heavy explainers have their place, but video can capture your company’s personality with richness and simplicity. For example, the team behind the Babymaker e-bike recently put a human touch into their “seven days left” video, which helped push them over the $10 million mark in their campaign. If you’re looking for a good place to start on your video journey, check out how to craft a quality pitch video for your backers in this guide.
Leverage Indiegogo’s ad tracking pixel
Like they say, what isn’t measured isn’t managed. Well, Indiegogo is the only crowdfunding platform that lets you use Facebook and Google Pixels to measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. Ad tracking pixels are small visual elements that live on your campaign page that track where your backers are coming from, how long they stay on the page, page conversions, and more.
In addition to the basic tracking capabilities that Facebook Google provide, Indiegogo’s pixel integration gives you e-commerce and UTM code tracking. Simply install the pixel on your campaign pages and get a dashboard full of insights on how people are finding your campaign page and what they’re doing when they get there. In the end, you’ll get better ROI on your marketing spend.
Run referral programs using Indiegogo’s referral tools
Word of mouth is powerful, and Indiegogo makes it simple to harness its power with our referral tools. Not only do we have out-of-the box referral contests (check out our article on them here), but we’ve also partnered with Kickbooster, the first affiliate marketing tool that allows campaign creators to incentivize others to spread the word about their campaign.
Kickbooster is designed to help campaign creators motivate affiliate marketers, influencers, journalists, and even their existing customers by offering a commission-based reward for successfully referred pledges. All you need to do is design a branded Booster opt-in page, set a reward, and invite people to participate in your program. The best part is that you get extra exposure and only have to pay when they provide you with a referral.
Cool ideas will always prevail
COVID-19 has forced businesses to re-evaluate what they do, how they do it, and in some cases even why they do it. Of course, businesses considering crowdfunding are no exception.
In order to be truly successful in this new world, entrepreneurs will need to take cues from the markets they serve and strike the right tone with their target customers. After all, consumers, just like all of us, have had a traumatic few months, and successful entrepreneurs will likely be those who respect this fact the most.
So if you find yourself wondering how running crowdfunding has changed since the pandemic started, think back to the fundamentals. People are still excited to see new projects come to life, and if history is any indicator, cool ideas will always prevail.