As an e-commerce business owner, you already know that you need an arsenal of digital marketing tools to connect prospective new customers with your products. The more targeted these marketing tools can be, the likelihood increases that this new traffic will convert to actual sales. It’s not just about getting a large number of eyes on your product—it’s about getting the right eyes on your product. One surprisingly effective way to pull this off is to create a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Here are the key points you need to know to rock one of your own.
Crowdfunding Is About More Than Raising Money
Using a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter or Indiegogo can raise money for your e-commerce business in a few different ways. The most popular option is to use crowdfunding to raise money for a new, soon-to-be-launched business or brand new product that’s not on the market yet. So if you already have an established business and product line, you may have a much more challenging time getting buy-in from visitors to your crowdfunding site.
Most successful crowdfunding campaigns in the e-commerce sector focus on building excitement for something new and different. The idea is “we have this amazing new concept that you’re going to love, but we need your help to bring it to market and make it happen.” This creates a sense of investment and a feeling of ownership in your new customers, which easily translates to product loyalty if the campaign is run well.
Instead of just focusing on how much money you need to raise, it’s crucial to focus on emotionally engaging your prospective customers. You want them to feel so excited about your new business or product that they not only contribute to your crowdfunding campaign, but also share it on social media.
A great example of this concept in action is the DODOCase Virtual Reality Cardboard Pop-Up Viewer, an affordable and accessible virtual reality viewer. Their Kickstarter campaign focused on building childlike excitement and emphasized that backers would be buying an innovative product they couldn’t get anywhere else.
The result? DODOCase substantially beat their fundraising goal of $25,000 by raising $63,000.
First Things First: Design a Thoughtful Campaign
In your enthusiasm for your product and with dollar signs flashing before your eyes it can be tempting to slap together a quick crowdfunding campaign in order to begin raising funds immediately. A much savvier approach is to take your time constructing a thoughtful campaign pre-launch. Statistics show that the first few days after you launch your campaign are the most important, with most successful crowdfunding campaigns hitting the mark at 30% funded within the first week alone. If you throw together a haphazard crowdfunding campaign that doesn’t resonate with customers, you will miss out on that super important early momentum and traction.
Your campaign should be completely cohesive in style, design, and voice with your overall brand. When in doubt, hire a digital marketing expert or agency to create your crowdfunding branding and landing page content.
You should also have already performed enough market research to feel confident that you have a business or product idea that people want and that will sell. This is critical.
It’s also a good idea to scope out the competition in your niche. What are other e-commerce sellers offering as incentives for backers? Where are they pricing their product?
You Must Prepare for Obstacles
It’s important to realize that the majority of crowdfunding campaigns fail, with less than a third realizing their fundraising goal. This news isn’t intended to discourage you, but rather to emphasize how important it is to know the common pitfalls and obstacles in crowdfunding in order to avoid them. By planning ahead for obstacles, you will seriously increase your chances of launching a successful campaign.
Here are a few common obstacles to prepare for:
- Lack of an audience. You should already be working on building brand recognition before you launch your campaign. This looks a little different for each e-commerce business, but at a minimum you should have a killer website, an email marketing list that regularly sends your prospective customers valuable and engaging content, and active social media channels (whichever apply best for your ideal customer).
- Lack of a prototype & inventory. While you may be hoping to hold off on production until you raise funds, the truth is you will need to pay for a prototype and market with it, and ideally a small amount of inventory ahead of time. This way you can send sample products to journalists, marketers in your niche, and anyone else who seems interested in promoting your product and helping you to get the word out.
Utilize All Available Resources
As crowdfunding continues to grow in popularity, more resources are popping up to help you create a campaign that rocks.
One potential pitfall with crowdfunding is that after your campaign ends, product fulfillment and invoicing can easily become unmanageable. The software Backerkit helps streamline your post-campaign fulfillment, keeping customers happy and reviews positive. Another cool resource is to use a social media scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to automate, streamline, and schedule your campaign-related social media posts. Finally, we really love the free Jumpstart theme from Shopify. This allows you to create a storefront that fully integrates with your crowdfunding campaign, while boosting your campaign’s SEO and allowing you to easily make pre-sales.
As you can see, running a successful crowdfunding campaign requires a lot of upfront work and is probably not the right marketing method for every e-commerce business. If executed in a thoughtful, deliberate manner, however, crowdfunding has the potential to invigorate your brand, drive new business, and even help cover your business expenses.