From pre-launch to running a successful campaign, get the most from your crowdfunding marketing with these resources
You can run a crowdfunding campaign for free but it might not be the best use of your time and resources. You shouldn’t expect your entire crowdfunding marketing strategy to be free. Crowdfunding a product or service is just like running a business and budgeting a little to marketing promotion can go a long way.
Remember that after your campaign has gone live, time is very precious and many free crowdfunding marketing ideas may take too much time. Learning where to put your money down will help you drive as many people to your campaign as possible during that limited amount of time.
Offline Crowdfunding Marketing
Despite the fact that crowdfunding is an online phenomenon, offline outreach and crowdfunding marketing is still a very effective tool. Even if your campaign doesn’t benefit the local community directly, there is still something to be said for old school marketing ideas.
If you didn’t throw a crowdfunding pre-launch party, you need to host one as soon as possible after the launch. Even if you did host a pre-launch, consider hosting another party towards the end of the campaign. After a few weeks of crowdfunding, you should know enough new people to build interest in another event.
Of all the crowdfunding marketing events or advertising you do, the event branded around your own campaign will be the most effective at helping you meet your funding goal. People are there to talk about and be sold on your campaign. Even if they just wanted to get out of the house, there will be that feeling of obligation to at least listen to your pitch. As with the pre-launch, gather a team of enthusiastic supporters before the party to build your strategy:
- Key talking points around the campaign
- What does the campaign mean for different people?
- How to ask for a pledge and how to handle common rejection excuses
- How to ask for non-monetary support like outreach to a group or professional services
One of my favorite ways to get buzz for my own projects, whether online or offline, is through gigs on Fiverr.com. Fiverr is a freelancer site where people post jobs they’re willing to do starting at $5 each. You can find everything from local grassroots marketing to online promotion. The best part about it is you can try several different promotions to see which work best without spending a lot of money.
Next to the campaign party, conferences and trade shows are the next best thing to a targeted audience. I’ve talked to campaigns that funded their entire goal from one conference, simply by having a demo model that people could try out. This is why I recommend planning your campaign dates around a large event. After really seeing your product, people can immediately go to the campaign page to lock in their pledge.
Your budget may not allow for booth space but you can still carry a demo model of your product around with you. Without the focus of a formal booth, you will need to actively approach people to talk about your campaign.
- Lead in with your 30-second pitch
- Ask questions and genuinely get to know who they are and their business or personal needs
- Ask if you can show them your product or service
- Emphasize how it is applicable to something you heard them mention
- Aggressively ask for their support on the campaign and ask for a specific reward level
- Offer to show them the campaign page on their tablet or phone, or offer to open the page on yours
- Get their business card
Online Crowdfunding Marketing
The problem with online marketing is a terrifically-low click through rate (CTR) on advertising. Research from Coull.com shows a CTR of just 0.1% for display ads. That means 1,000 people will need to see your ad before one person clicks through to the target.
Social media click-through rates are not much better. Rates on Facebook were 0.5% to 2% while ads on Twitter were as high as three percent. The performance of Twitter ads may be short-lived and it’s expected that, as more ads are placed on the site, the effectiveness will fall in line with other media.
In fact, each one of us sees about 1,700 banner ads each month. Do you remember any of them?
So the question becomes, “How to advertise online without throwing money at it?”
Don’t just make one crowdfunding video
Looking at the graphic on advertising effectiveness, the answer to the question should be fairly obvious. Click through rates on video advertising are consistently higher than any other form and as high as 12% on mobile.
Of the different places to spend money on your campaign, I will repeat that video production should be one of the top on your list. You do not need a Hollywood saga but should spend enough for production and editing. The use of video can really take your campaign beyond script and evoke the emotion you need to build community.
Fortunately, video production is one of those things that gets much cheaper in bulk. Getting the professional out to your site may cost a few hundred but once he’s out there it may only be a marginal expense to shoot several different scenes. Take advantage of this and draw up at least three videos, each no more than two or three minutes long. You’ll need one as your main campaign video but the others can be used to really bring out the story.
For your additional videos:
- Make it a series – If you can craft a compelling story and then split it across the series, you might get some serious buy-in as people come back to see successive videos. Your product or service may determine the mood but get creative. Your series does not have to be a factual commercial, but could be a thriller-comedy-action saga where your product just happens to feature prominently.
- Cover different needs or emotions with each – If you’ve got several really good selling points to your campaign but they get lost when all included at once, focus on each through a separate video. Odds are better that one of your messages will resonate with viewers.
Beyond the obvious places to upload your video series, there are a couple more that may surprise you. Of course, YouTube should be your first stop followed by Vimeo and Vevo. The three offer paid packages but you should only need the free features.
Beyond images, Flickr is also gaining popularity as a video-hosting site and boasts 16.5 million unique visitors a month. Don’t forget to post your videos and share across Facebook as well. The fact that videos are not yet as prevalent across these two sites will help yours stand out and drive traffic back to the crowdfunding campaign.
Paid Crowdfunding Advertising
Even on the horrible click-through rate of online advertising, it can find its way into your marketing strategy.
You will need to have a good idea of how your articles are doing on social media. If you don’t publish regularly to a blog and then promote through social media, at least try writing up four or five articles related to your campaign.
Measure the reach and social sharing of each article to find out if any do particularly well. Given some feedback from your network, you may even be able to improve on an article with a new title or feature image. The top performing articles in terms of clicks and campaign support will be the ones you want to use for your paid crowdfunding promotion. You already know that these will convert random visitors to higher engagement on a free-sharing basis, they should also do well when promoted.
Running your social media promotions can be exhausting. Keeping information going out to supporters and putting your message out right when they’re online means sending out several updates per day on each social media website. Using a social media management tool like Hootsuite Pro makes it much easier. Hootsuite lets you connect all your social media profiles to one page and send messages out from one site instead of from each social platform. You can schedule all your updates for a week in advance and not have to worry about it.
Besides testing which article to promote, you will also want to test which advertising network to use for your crowdfunding marketing. Start out with a nominal budget across Google, Facebook and Twitter. You can expand the test to other platforms if you like but these three are generally the most popular and cost-effective.
Looking through the results of your test run should give you a good idea of where to focus a higher marketing spend. Beyond the absolute number of visits and clicks, look to how many people were actually converted to campaign backers. You may need to reach out personally to any new backers during those specific days to find out how they became aware of your campaign.
While display advertising is the most popular, paid content performs better and will get more of your message across. Looking through your outreach list of bloggers and influencers, paid content may be the answer if there are any that you just haven’t been able to reach otherwise. Blogging or running a highly trafficked website is a business and most offer some kind of content promotion.
Ask for a media packet which will show traffic statistics to the site. The site will likely offer banner advertising but a paid post will be more effective at reaching people. Paid posts are just like regular ones, where either you or the blogger writes an article for publication. Your click-through-rate on content will likely be a little higher compared to display advertising but you should use 1% as a conservative estimate. If a 1% CTR on their website traffic will draw more people than the lower click-through on display advertising at a comparable spend, then it might be something to consider. The best thing about working directly with a website or blogger is that there is always room for negotiation. Don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price or a package deal.
Within paid crowdfunding resources there are also crowdfunding consultants and promotion. Be careful here and check out my post on avoiding crowdfunding promotion scams.
Even the United Way has to spend money on marketing and your crowdfunding campaign will likely be no different. Budgeting a little to crowdfunding marketing can save you a lot of time and help reach people that you might not otherwise. Be smart about where you spend and how much you spend on any one resource and there is no reason why promoting your campaign cannot help you meet your crowdfunding goal.