Kickstarter Breakdown Pt.2 - Analytics, Research, and Ads

Kickstarter Breakdown Pt.2 - Analytics, Research, and Ads

Last post I explained how continuing an ongoing series influenced the design of our Kickstarter Campaign. In this post I’ll talk about our experiences with analytics, research, and advertising the campaign. I was going to write about printing as well, but the post was getting a bit long so I decided to split that section off for another post. 

Keeping Track

During the campaign we always keep a close eye on our numbers. To do so, we primarily use Kicktraq, which is a nice website dedicated to Kickstarter analytics. There are a couple of others out there, but Kicktraq is (and always has been) free and neither Vince nor I are particularly great at math, so diving any deeper into the numbers wouldn’t necessarily benefit us.

Research is of the utmost importance when running a crowdfunding campaign. First of all the information is all right there; Kickstarter itself never takes off old campaigns, so you can always see successful projects and use them as a template. Second, the market is always changing. It’s important to keep a pulse on what’s been working lately to make sure your project is utilizing best practices. 

Combined with Kickstarter, Kicktraq allows an individual to get deep into the nitty-gritty of crowdfunding. For instance, I can look at an individual project and see that on Day Twelve they had a huge day, far above their average. What caused it? If I then go back into the Kickstarter, look at the post updates, maybe I can correspond the bump with a specific press interview or promotion the campaign ran at the time. Maybe the source of press is something I can explore for my own campaign in the future, or the promotion is a good idea that I can keep in my back pocket. 

Researching failed projects is just as important as researching successful ones. What I’m talking about is the great looking projects that otherwise fail. The obvious ones, well… it’s not hard to figure out why they’re not working. But the good ones that fail? There’s a lot to be learned there. Was the reward price point too high? The goal too ambitious? Long video? Unclear prospectus? Market reasons? Ask yourself what is it that made this otherwise fantastic project fail, and see if you can avoid making the same mistakes. 

Seeing the Slump


The first ten days of our campaign. Quite the dramatic falloff.

 Here's a link to our Kicktraq for Skies of Fire: #1-2 Print

So clearly we got hit hard on day six. To this day we're not exactly sure how much the natural drop off is a result of Kickstarter's algorithims and how much outside factors contributed to the fall-off. Like I said, neither Vince nor I are statisticians, so we had only our intuition to go by, but intuition was telling us that something was off. 

There's a natural tendency to panic with a Kickstarter because of its limited timeframe and the emotional investment you are dedicating to the endeavor. It's hard to see the forest from the trees and all that. I think resisting the urge to panic is important, but being pragmatic about the numbers is equally as important. We knew based on our research that you can reasonably predict a Kickstarter's total based on the first two weeks, and our numbers were trending in the wrong direction.  

Experimenting with Ads

We decided to test out ads via facebook. The experience was very enlightening. It's a little bit frightening how nuanced you can get with targeted advertising but.... it worked. Our flatline saw an uptick. We didn't have the analytics at the time to really dig into it, but I think Kickstarter has since implemented more tools. The most important metric was there, though: we got over a plateau and climbed back up:

We started the ads on 4/19. Our numbers instantly went up.
Advertising is something we've been learning more about lately. It's a very tricky thing... advertising has a lot of negative connotations for a lot of people, including us. Still, it's the fundamental evil in this capitalistic world we live in. In order to be discovered you need to be seen, and that's the need ads serve. 

I think educating ourselves about ads has given us new perspective on the whole endeavor. It's ridiculous how much information is stored online. The big business of the internet is using data to identify and profile people, so companies can sell you exactly what they know you want. That, and porn. What a world we live in. Anywho --

Other Ad Services

This time around we had a lot of people emailing us offering their services. There were a lot of marketing companies and a couple of web developer-types who offered to drive traffic to our site. We were always open to see what people were offering, so we always asked them just that: what are you offering?

The funny thing is we almost never got a straight answer. Too vague, too technical, too simple -- the answers ran the gamut. I think this is because measuring advertising is a bit nebulous in general; it's easy to piggyback off of success, but it's hard to show direct correlation. At least, if the tools are not there as they weren't at the time with Kickstarter. 

Marketing is a rabbithole of a subject, but the bottom line is you should be careful with people promising things and offering their services. Most of the stuff you can do and learn yourself. In general, as a creator and entrepreneur the more you can do yourself, the better off you'll be. Never pay for something you can learn, unless your time becomes a more precious commodity. Luckily, we aren't at that point yet, so learning new skills is still the modus operandi for Mythopoeia. 

The Failed Thunderclap(s)

Advertising-wise, one thing that did not go as plan was our usage of the Thunderclap platform. Thunderclap is a service which offers to automate twitter messages / facebook statuses with an ad at a set time and date. We thought it might be a good kick off the project, but it never worked out.

Our first Thunderclap expired before we could get the Kickstarter off. We had about 25% of the backers we needed, but it became pretty obvious that we weren’t going to be ready before it went off, so backed off on it fairly early into its life. 

Plus, a lot of people we knew and thought would support us didn’t. I think this came down to us not realizing what we were asking was maybe perhaps a little unsavory in people’s eyes. It is, after all, sort of like hijacking a person’s profile and turning it into an ad, even if it were just for a moment. I asked my extended family to help us out with this and thought it would be easy - most of them had backed our first Kickstarter. Either through apathy or the aforementioned bewilderment most of them did not sign up for the service. 

We decided to try Thunderclap again during the campaign. We wanted it to hit about three days out from the end, figuring that it would help with out last days boost. We asked our backers to support the campaign in one of our updates but very few did. This was kind of the last indication we needed that perhaps Thunderclap wasn't for us. We never pushed the issue again and abandoned the second campaign, just like the first. 
The Last Days of the Campaign

Because the ads worked out well, we let the campaign ride for most of the Kickstarter. We stopped a couple of days before the final spotlight for Kickstarter would kick in. The last few days are always the best. We actually were all meeting for a creative pow-wow over in Bucharest, Romania. Vince had gone to London Super Con earlier in the year, and met an organizer from Eastern European Comic-Con. She offered to comp our table, so we all decided to meet, work, play, and plan the next step. 

Ray, Pablo, and Vince at Eastern European Comic-Con.
It was great celebrating with everyone and making new fans in Bucharest. In general, the European scene seems a little smaller but really, really enthusiastic. We literally brought our last box of books with us to Romania and sold out in under two days. That meant it was time to go back to the printer! 

Read Part I: Continuing an Ongoing Series

Read Part III: Digital vs. Offset Printing

Read Part III: Shipping


If you found this information helpful please be sure to check our comic, Skies of Fire. If you're already a fan, don't forget to sign up for our mailing listfollow us on twitter, and like us on facebook

Thanks all!
- Ray and Vince 
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