I’m currently advising a startup that is designing and crowdfunding an innovative new LED desk lamp called HEAVN.
I figured I would use the opportunity to test out a real-world example with some of the 3rd party crowdfunding campaign planning tools available: TMinus10 vs. Crowdster vs. KickTraq vs. CrowdLogs vs. KickSpy.
TMinus10 is an easy to use crowdfunding campaign planner tool with three very practical tool sets. Here are the results of using it for our campaign planning for the HEAVN lamp.;
- Xray searches for similar campaigns on kickstarter and indiegogo and shows aggregate statistics on how much they’ve raised, what their rewards sizes were, how much people on average donated.This is useful in two ways: First, these averages help you to figure out how to best set your fundraising expectations and your reward levels. Secondly, having a good list of comparable campaigns is an important starting point for building out your media list and PR efforts.I told it to look for other lamp-related crowdfunding campaigns and these are the results:
This shows how for many lamp campaigns, $95 was the sweet spot for donations, and we should keep that in mind when setting up our own reward tiers.
- Calculate figures out how many twitter, facebook, email, and blog reach you will need to reach your funding goal. This is useful for goal setting, but also often as a much needed reality check. People need to see that without a crowd, they’re not realistically going to be able to succeed with crowdfunding.By showing the results of your often unspoken audience, view rate, clickthrough rate, conversion rate, and average donation expectations, it forces you to really confront the scope of the marketing effort you will need to succeed:For HEAVN, we’ve only just started building out our audience, so it was interesting to see just how little we could expect to raise from our modest early facebook, twitter, and email followers:
- Grow lets you search for twitter users that have promoted similar campaigns to make friends with. A paid account or free trial includes buttons to directly follow or message from within the TMinus10 console, making the workflow much easier.The best way to grow your crowd is by reaching out and building relationships with key journalists and influencers in your space that can validate what you’re doing, and share it with their audience. The first step is to identify and create a list, then to follow and message them to get things started. This tool streamlines the process. Tminus10 is basically a simpler version of some of the much more expensive tools used by marketing agencies to expand media reach, though currently it is just focused on twitter.
Most of the functionality of TMinus10 is free, but if you want to use the integrated follow and tweet features in the grow panel, or the calculate tool, it costs $50 for one month or $100 for three months. Well worth it for the time you’ll save.
Krowster also offers a set of analytics and campaign optimization tools, plus the paid feature, CrowdBuilder, which lets you target twitter followers, and you can buy media lists of journalists in specific niches.
- Social Capital Gauge: Similar to the calculate tool in TMinus10, the social capital gauge allows you to enter your twitter and facebook followers, and estimate how much you can expect to raise. You also set what category you are funding in, so I assume it uses average conversion rates from similar campaigns, which is a good approach.According to Krowdster, with our modest early following in the design category we can expect to raise about $1,500, less than TMinus10 estimated, as that calculation also included email list and blog readers. Again, the lesson is the same, how much you can expect to raise will ultimately rely on the size of your audience times a realistic conversion rate. This tool is most useful as a reality-check.
The tool also shows the success and failure rate on Kickstarter vs. Indiegogo, and shows you success rate of campaigns based on how many twitter and facebook followers you have. They don’t give us good odds.
- Campaign Optimizer: Because our campaign isn’t live yet, I plugged a comparable campaign into Kicktraq’s Campaign Optimizer tool:
It looks at your campaign and makes a bunch of helpful suggestions of how you stack up to successful campaigns. For the example it suggested updating the title, description, adding a website link, adding a facebook link, and adding more perks. It also shows some statistics about average successful campaigns in your category.
- Crowdfunding Analytics provides tons of aggregate statistics on platforms, campaign categories, campaigns, rewards, creators, and supporters.
Another note, the category selections also include popular categories in languages besides english, you’ll see a good smattering of spanish, french, german etc. useful if you’re campaign has a focus outside of the US, which actually helps with our HEAVN lamp campaign example, as the team is based in Germany.
- CrowdBuilder requires some serious integration with twitter to get set up. You have to go into the app developer console in your twitter settings and set it all up, this requires you to have an phone number associated with your twitter account, and to spend some time getting various API keys from your twitter settings and entering them into Krowdster.Once you go through the authentication process your get a dashboard that lets you add hashtags, and then the app will automatically follow people that post with them, with the option to unfollow if they don’t follow you back within two days, to automatically like anything posted with those hashtags, and to automatically retweet anything posted with those hashtags. Basically it puts your twitter on autopilot. Pretty cool.
It even suggests popular hashtags correlated to the ones you enter and keeps track of how many reciprocal likes and followers you’ve accumulated from each active term you’re tracking. If you’re goal is to grow your twitter following, this tool seems well worth the cost.[UPDATE] I’ve been running the twitter tool for about a week on autopilot and it’s been doing a pretty good job of getting me more followers:
- Media Lists are very exciting. One of the most important and most time consuming parts of running a crowdfunding marketing campaign is creating the list of journalists you want to contact, and to just be able to buy a pre-made list is very tempting. Krowdster has created lists of about 200-550 journalists in various common rewards-crowdfunding categories. $50 gets you 3 lists, which download as simple well organized csv spreadsheets. For HEAVN I found lists of journalists covering the subjects of: Product Design, Gadgets, and Architecture. Though I have to admit I am curious about the 510 journalists covering taxidermy.
Here’s what the downloaded file looks like:
On the other hand I’m also skeptical about the media lists. There’s no way to know how old these contacts are, or how many people this list has been sold to. The site says it’s to be used for one-on-one contact, but I wouldn’t be surprised if people regularly BCC the whole list, causing the journalists on it to automatically ignore any unsolicited emails regarding crowdfunding.I emailed Krowdster to ask about this concern and they said that the “lists are licensed from the leading media data provider in the US and contain valuable contacts. They are proven to have supported Crowdfunding campaigns in their categories.”
Kicktraq & Crowdlogs:
Kicktraq and Crowdlogs track current live top kickstarter and indiegogo projects, and shows statistics and analytics about them. They don’t offer many tools for project founders.
There also used to be a program called Kickspy, but it decided to shut down after getting some negative feedback from Kickstarter.
Does anyone know if any tools I’m missing? If so please leave a comment in the LinkedIn discussion thread here: https://www.linkedin.com/grp/post/6568366-6072700048242724867?trk=groups-post-b-title