Many crowdfunding campaign creators will tell you that simply getting a campaign live is one of the easiest parts of the whole process. To ensure success, you’ve got to build a robust infrastructure to support your efforts before, during, and after the campaign itself.
We’ll be focusing on what happens during the campaign in this article -- the difference between a massively successful crowdfunding campaign and one that limps to the finish line without reaching its goals often comes down to effective mid-campaign strategies and tactics.
Stretch it out
If you’re a week into a 30-day campaign, with pledges rolling in and the pledge total ticking inexorably towards your goal, you may want to consider adding stretch goals. These can be activated during a campaign to draw more pledges in exchange for additional features and/or functionality added to your core offer. But you'll want to plan ahead and have them laid out, or prepared to release based on how your campaign runs, before you launch.
Stretch goals are not added pledge tiers or other bonus offers that provide a specific thing in exchange for a specific amount of money (we’ll get to that later). Rather, they benefit all backers through higher-quality productions, add-ins to the core offer, or something similar.
Stretch goals are used quite often on campaigns for printed products, particularly board or card games. The two most successful game campaigns on Kickstarter, Kingdom Death: Monster 1.5, and Exploding Kittens, both made extensive use of stretch goals, though they implemented them in much different ways. Let’s take a look at Kingdom Death’s stretch goals:
Both Kingdom Death and Exploding Kittens made use of snazzy graphics to detail the full range of their stretch goals, and with good reason. People respond to visual cues, whether it’s a compelling video or a thermometer-style stretch goal tracker.
By displaying all stretch goals in order like this, Kingdom Death created a sense of urgency that helped compel its backers to pledge so much money that the campaign smashed through every stretch goal and then some. Each tier added higher-quality art and design or new game components that shipped with every copy of the core game.
Kingdom Death also offered a number of other incentives and mid-campaign offers to maximize its results. The complexity of the game, and the wide range of possible add-ons and expansions, led to the creation of several fan-run “pledge guides” that helped backers understand which items came with which pledge packages, and how to get the most out of their pledge dollars.
In many ways, Kingdom Death is somewhat of a prototype for how to maximize your crowdfunding campaign results with savvy mid-campaign promotions and add-ons, which is why it shouldn’t be too surprising that this highly complex, miniature-heavy game with phenomenal art and design wound up amassing more than $12 million in pledges. This is not a game for first-timers, but its campaign certainly maximized its appeal to hardcore board game fans.
Exploding Kittens, on the other hand, leaned heavily into humor to develop and promote its stretch goals. Rather than focus solely on dollar values, it created a list of “achievements” that would unlock its stretch goals when enough were met. This is both an innovative approach to stretch goals and a mechanism that should be familiar to anyone who’s spent any time playing video games in the past decade.
Exploding Kittens had three primary stretch goals: one was based on the number of backers, and when the campaign reached 100,000 backers, it converted an expansion deck into a standalone game, instantly upgrading a tier that drew support from more than 200,000 people by the time the campaign ended. Other stretch goals were based on completing a certain number of achievements -- 20 achievements earned everyone a more well-crafted game box with two decks, while 30 achievements added a “surprise” to every box.
Where Kingdom Death built its stretch goals around money raised, Exploding Kittens’ stretch goals focused on building and engaging with its massive following. It’s unlikely that your crowdfunding campaign will have a Facebook page with 100,000 likes -- or get 25 fans to post selfies with goats -- but Exploding Kittens had the benefit of having The Oatmeal comics creator Matthew Inman as part of its team. It made sense for a game that was heavily promoted to a site with millions of followers to incorporate the size of its fan base into its stretch goals.
One game targeted hardcore gamers, and the other appealed to casual players. They were both phenomenally successful, and they both utilized stretch goals in a way that made sense for, and encouraged participation from, their target audiences.
Don’t stretch yourself too thin
These campaigns were successful because they’d figured out how to incorporate higher-quality production and additional objects into their core offer without losing money on production. This is easiest to accomplish for campaigns that only need to produce straightforward objects like playing cards, game manuals, or miniatures.
Producing 100,000 sets of playing cards will most likely cost less per set than producing 10,000. This is why researching your options for production is so important before you start your campaign. If you know the break points past which additional units will cost less to produce, it becomes much easier to set stretch goals you can meet without running over budget.
CrowdOx works primarily with campaigns that can make good use of stretch goals, but there are a number of campaigns that should think carefully before implementing this strategy mid-campaign. Any product that requires complex engineering can very easily run over budget if a stretch goal adds any additional elements to the manufacturing process. The easiest stretch goals to implement with engineered products are simple color changes to the core product, but even this can wind up costing more than it’s worth. Producing ten differently-colored casings for a 1,000-unit production run can quickly tank any economies of scale you were hoping to get by reaching a 1,000-unit production run in the first place.
A creative endeavor that doesn’t have an explicitly-defined end result for its stretch goal can also wind up being more trouble than it’s worth. Developing a video game is never as straightforward as it seems from the outset, and adding a stretch goal of new levels or additional playable characters can quickly absorb time and resources beyond the added revenue the stretch goal brought in. The same can be said of film or music or design campaigns, where promising a certain sort of creative output simply may not work for your project.
Make more from the same crowd
Stretch goals make sense when you’re trying to encourage more backers to pledge. What do you do when you’re trying to get the same backers to pledge more money?
Just ask a few of the campaigns we’ve worked with. CrowdOx campaign management gives you the opportunity to offer one-click upsells and add-ons to backers of your primary crowdfunding campaign. In some cases, this can double the total money raised, but in many cases, it adds another 50% to the total from your Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign, just by offering your backers an easy way to pledge money for additional items after the campaign’s over. A campaign for a board game with miniatures can offer its backers a limited-edition CrowdOx-exclusive miniature to raise additional money, or it might offer a nicer set of cards.
Creating visibility for additional campaign pledge tiers, and for post-campaign pledge options, provides campaign creators with a straightforward way to increase their total campaign take. By raising the average pledge value for your campaign, you increase its chances of breakeven-or-better success without necessarily needing to attract a massive audience. Many of our most successful projects have been complex games with plenty of opportunities for upsells, but we’ve also worked with a number of consumer products as well.
Are you ready to maximize your campaign’s results?