Carla is in the middle of her very own Kickstarter campaign. She takes a moment to reflect on the trials and tribulations of the middle of campaign Kickstarter campaigns.
Mid-Campaign Kickstarter Retrospectives
There’s a lot of people that do post Kickstarter campaign retrospectives, but I think you should do more than that. During the Kickstarter campaign, there’s always more things to do than you have time for, but to maximize your Kickstarter experience, it’s important to pivot early to fix any mistakes you might have made and emphasize the things that are working well.
Here’s some things you might want to consider:
- Social Media
- Kickstarter Page
- Overall Kickstarter Progress
Tracking. Now, before you start you really want to have Google Analytics set up so that you know what is working and what isn’t. I personally also use various domains and Rebrandly, which lets you take domain addresses like this: http://StellarLeap.Space/KSTIGR and redirect it to your Kickstarter page. It allows you to use Google Analytics but have the links look shorter and more obvious to what they are.
Ad spend. Advertising should be pretty easy to decide where to focus. You should be trying different images and different posts to see what works best on a more daily basis, but you also need to make more broad decisions as well. If you’ve tried several different ads on a certain site and none seem to be working, get rid of them or make drastic changes.
For social media, you should know about the percentage of people that follow you on each service that have backed your campaign. Is it a large amount? If so, focus more of your attention on the platforms that have less of a backing, if you have ideas on how to do that. If certain strategies have worked better than others, put more time and effort on those. Be willing to ask for help! Telling people about how you need their help to make your dream a reality is true and can also motivate people to back your campaign.
Demos should be getting backers as soon after the demo ends. If they aren’t, do you know why? Are you giving them enough information to be able to back? Can you make it easier for them to back? Are you demoing to people that can back? Are you exciting them enough about the game for the people demoing to tell their friends about the campaign? You need to focus on to maximize your time and demos only tend to do that if you can get more than one backer per demo.
Your Kickstarter page should be updated throughout your campaign, as reviews and interviews come in and just to keep things fresh. After you fund and start hitting stretch goals, those should be higher up in your campaign than they were in the beginning. Hopefully, backers will be checking back frequently to see new goals being released and that should be easy for them to do. Your page should have had a lot of effort put in before the launch, but there’s always something to improve on!
If you’re at the halfway point in your Kickstarter, you should be getting prepared for the end. If you haven’t funded, is it still possible? What do you need to do every day to make that happen? If you have funded, are you prepared for the possibility of doubling your current funding level? The campaign probably won’t do that well, but being prepared is always better than not! You should also be thinking about what’s gone well so far and what you’d like to do in the future, as you might forget things if they’re not fresh in your mind. Plus, it’s not like the work ends once the Kickstarter ends!
The main point of a Mid-Campaign Retrospective is to make sure you’re on track with where you need to go and that you have a plan for the finish line of your Kickstarter. You should do these as often as you need; weekly, only at the midpoint, or just every time you have some time to analyze how you’re doing and hopefully do a little bit better.
We at Weird Giraffe Games recently went over our own Mid-Campaign Retrospective with Stellar Leap and here’s some of the things we discussed.
Stellar Leap Mid Campaign Changes
- Reddit Ads weren’t panning out, so they’ve been stopped.
- Facebook Live has definitely had an impact, so I should try to do as many as I can without being too annoying. This includes both playthroughs and just talking about the game. Facebook posts with reviews haven’t done so well, but posts asking a specific question about the game with promises of being rewarded if their answer is chosen by being placed in the rulebook have definitely gotten more engagement. We’ll continue those.
- During demos, players all said they really enjoyed Stellar Leap, but if they didn’t back while playing, they didn’t seem to back, even though they were given a Promo card and card with an easy Kickstarter link. To try and make demos have more of an effect, I tried getting emails, in addition to giving out both cards, and then started sending personal emails out after, which definitely worked better! Always making sure to get contact info is important!
- Our tagline went from “Strategic space exploration game for 1-4 players in 40-80 min with variable player powers, hidden objectives, and game-changing events!” to “Space exploration game for 1-4 players with worker placement, variable player powers, & a strategic twist on dice rolling in ~60 min” to hopefully be a bit more enticing to backers. Worker Placement is a common mechanic that people like, moreso than game-changing events and ~60 min should sound better than 40-80 min.
- The mid-campaign slump hit harder than I thought it would, so an Exclusive Promo Card was born! It’s too early to know if this has helped at all, but I have high hopes.
- I thought I was going a bit overboard by ordering 10 reviewer copies of Stellar Leap, but it actually turned out really well. Between sickness, Hurricane Irma, work places going on strike and life happening, there were only 4 reviews complete by the launch and one added the day of, even though I had expected 11. (One reviewer completed their review in August, so their copy was sent on.) Having at least 3-4 reviews on day 1 was really important and that only happened due to over planning. (I do not place blame with any reviewer; this is an acknowledgement that none of us can control life as much as we’d like.)
- I had a few reviewers offer to review Stellar Leap prior to the campaign launching and I lined up to give them either the print and play or for another reviewer to pass along a copy of Stellar Leap. For the first set of reviewers, I definitely recommend researching and being really familiar with who you choose. I decided to take a chance on the people that contacted me and it really paid off! In particular, Christoph from Board Gaming FTW and David from Cardboard Clash were both fantastic and I’m so glad to that I responded. Not only did they finish their reviews, they provided great feedback and helped promote the game a lot. It doesn’t always pan out to respond to every reviewer, but you can at least gain more knowledge about who to work with in the future when it doesn’t for the price of shipping (~$15).
- I had lined up several interviews before the Kickstarter launched, but I decided at the beginning of the campaign that I should do more! Offering to be a guest on various podcasts actually worked and I was able to be on an additional 6 interviews, which has hopefully helped. It was also a lot of fun and I gained a few friends! It should help overall with publishing, too, as podcasts tend to get new listeners all the time that go back and listen to all the old episodes. Don’t be too scared to offer to be interviewed! People need content providers and you could be helping them out.
For the next campaign
- Even though I was able to get on a number of interviews while the Kickstarter campaign went on, I should line up all the interviews before the campaign starts next time to make things less hectic for both me and the interviewers.
- Setting up demos each week was stressful and didn’t give people much time to chance plans. Having all the demos set up in advance would have been helpful in more than one way.
- I tried getting on the BGG newsletter and the Front Page takeover, but both were taken by the time I checked. Definitely need to check far in advance, not during the campaign!
If you’re interested in checking out the Stellar Leap campaign, it’s on Kickstarter until October 19th! After that, there will hopefully be a far more in-depth Kickstarter Retrospective, as well.