Do you have an indie game project or a project in a similar area? Are you concerned about running a successful campaign? We have now backed and reviewed a fair number of successful projects on crowd funding sites. We have also seen a fair number of projects fail.While we might not be experts on what makes one campaign succeed while another one fails, we have noticed some trends.
This article is not a guarantee for success. There are so many factors in a campaign. Each one is unique. That being said, there are plenty of mistakes which can send a potentially successful campaign to the grave.
Advertising and Engagement
Obviously in order for a campaign to be successful, people need to know about it. Getting the word out is key. Campaigns that are successful generally have reviews written up in various game related forums. The project creators put themselves out there for people to see.
Media outlets need to write good stories in order to get readers. But most outlets have plenty of campaigns from which to choose. As a campaign manager, you are far more dependent upon the media than they are on you.
Press kits are a key element to a successful campaign. Because they make it a lot easier for someone to review your project. The harder someone has to work to review your product, the less likely they are to do so. Include product images, logos, and banners. I use 640 x 200 and 600 x 200 for the featured images on this site, but have a variety of different sizes available. A clear product description as well as a clear description of who is involved in the project is also important. The more information you give, the better the review you will get.
Have a Good Base
Having a good base when the project starts really helps. If you’re scrambling to find an initial burst of supporters when the campaign starts, then odds are, your campaign has already failed. The more people who back the campaign, the faster the campaign will grow.
Social Media Accounts
Much of advertising and engagement boils down to proper use of social media accounts. I have noticed many campaigns using personal accounts to advertise their campaigns and products. There are a few issues with this. First, if you are using a personal Facebook page rather than a product page, a potential fan has to send a friend request. In the case of a product page, the person can simply like the page. In addition, separate pages feel more professional.
For a campaign to be successful, accounts should be set up as far in advance as possible and work should be done to gain a large audience of dedicated fans. If you plan on having multiple products and have a business name beyond the name of the product, you should also set up accounts for your page as well, although this should probably be done after the first campaign in order to reduce the risk of diluting your fan base.
Let the Backers Work For You
As the number of backers grows, make sure to keep them engaged. Successful campaigns generally have a lot of interaction between the project creator and the backers. Crowd funding campaigns are not “set it and forget it” projects. However, you do not need to do all the work. Ask the backers to become involved in the campaign. Have them find new sources of backers. You want the campaign to be successful, but so do the backers. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have thrown their support behind your project in the first place.
Proof of Concept
You are asking people to put money behind your project. What proof do you have that will actually deliver? Even if it’s a very rough prototype, having something that people can look at will help put them at ease.
A project needs to be organized. A clear timetable on production needs to be written out. We have seen many campaigns that are confusing. In many cases there is so little direction and explanation that people aren’t even sure what it is that they are backing.
Keep it Simple
Pledge levels need to make sense and they need to give the backer something that they really want. We have seen many campaigns with too few pledge levels or pledge levels that seem like they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Make sure that people who are pledging can get everything they want. Do not make it so that you are forcing them to pick between one benefit package and another. That’s the worst.
Most successful campaigns We have seen have pledge levels that include three well received benefits. There is almost always a campaign exclusive benefit. Something Different, for instance had Kickstarter exclusive cards. Only people who backed the Kickstarter project could get them. For video games, most campaigns had a tier for early access (alpha and beta testing). Finally, most successful campaigns have a tier which allows the backer to have some form of input on the project development. We backed Golem Arcana at a very high tier specifically because it gave me the option of creating a major storyline character.
Here’s a major don’t when it comes to reward tiers. Do not force your backers to choose between two rewards that they may want. If you offer two rewards in separate tiers, make sure that there is a tier that contains both of those rewards.
There’s little when it comes to campaigns that is more disconcerting than a silent project. You start to wonder if the creators even care about whether or not it succeeds. And if you’re not sure about whether or not the creators care about that, you certainly are going to have concerns about whether they’re going to actually deliver a final product. You don’t have to post updates every single day, especially if activity is slow, but you should post within the first 24 – 48 hours in order to thank initial backers and ask them for their continued support, especially since much of a campaign’s comes in during the first 48 and last 48 hours.
I use comments as a measure of potential success. They are almost like the campaign’s pulse. A campaign in which there are very few comments implies that the backers aren’t too interested in seeing the campaign succeed. Pay attention to the comment section. The comments section is also where your backers ask questions about the campaign. Leaving a backer hanging for days is a surefire way to hurt your campaign.
Overall, just think about what you would want from a project. You are most likely marketing to a crowd similar to yourself. If a certain benefit would interest you, then it would probably interest your base. If something in your campaign draft would turn you away, it would probably turn away your base as well. In the end, just be careful to plan out your campaign and build up an initial base. Then, as long as you have a good product and proof that you can deliver upon your promises, you will be likely to run a successful campaign.