Marketing a Successful Kickstarter With Contests


Ahron Burstin’s Picture

Ahron Burstin

Delve inside to see how using contests can make or break your Kickstarter campaign.


Getting any new idea off the ground is undeniably a massive undertaking, but using a platform like Kickstarter to generate awareness and crowdsource funding can lighten the load and help bring your project to life.

With a well executed Kickstarter campaign you should be able to raise all the revenue you need, but this is largely contingent on you finding ways to generate awareness.

The sobering reality is that 65% of Kickstarter campaigns fail to reach their funding goals, but don't let this dishearten you. The reason so many Kickstarters never reach their goal is because they don't to put in the effort required to successfully promote their crowdfunding campaign.

78% of projects that are able to raise 20% of their goal go on to be completely funded, so just by reading this post and making the effort to promote your campaign you're already putting yourself in a position to succeed.

In this post we'll take you through one of the most effective strategies you can use to find an audience, promote your Kickstarter and jump start your funding journey. We're talking of course about running a promotional contest.

Running a Contest

Generating as much awareness as possible is vital to the success of any Kickstarter, especially one which is still trying to find its footing. One of the most effective and cost-efficient ways you can do this is by running a contest and offering up a prize to incentivise users to check out your product and enter your contest.

Not only will running a contest build hype and draw attention to your Kickstarter, it will also allow you to drive an array of powerful actions which will help you cultivate an audience, promote your product and ultimately drive revenue.

Take a look at this demo contest we made using our product, Gleam Competitions to get an idea of what your own contest could look like.

   Use This Template

By running this type of contest you can award entires to users who complete the actions you choose. You can drive traffic to your crowdfunding campaign and website or show off a video about your project from within the widget! These are all great ways to put your product on full display and attract potential backers to your project.

You can also use your contest to grow your mailing list, build your social media followings and encourage users to share your contest and crowdfunding campaign with their friends through Tweets, Retweets and Viral Shares. These are all outstanding ways to gain exposure and awareness, build an audience of potential backers and set yourself up to drive both immediate and future revenue.

Growing your mailing list and social media following is incredibly important for any Kickstarter. Building an online audience will make all of your future promotional efforts much more impactful as you will have an interested audience ready to go. This will help you promote your project, drive revenue and reach a growing audience through social referrals and word-of-mouth marketing.

With Gleam you can use your contest to drive traffic to any social media platform you actively operate on whether it's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and more.

During their Kickstarter campaign a customer of ours, Catan Boards, had enormous success when they used Gleam to run a contest focused on promoting their project, building a mailing list and growing their social following. The contest ended up driving close to 10,000 actions including over 1,000 viral referrals. The contest grew their Facebook following by 132%, their Twitter following by 313% and their revenue in the month following the contest increased by a truly awesome 300%.

When you run a contest with Gleam we'll facilitate every aspect of your campaign for you. This includes API integrations with social networks, tracking social referrals and even providing you with a hosted landing page to run your contest from if you don't have your own website yet.

If you want to grow your Kickstarter campaign and drive an array of awesomely powerful actions there's no need to look further than running a contest. With Gleam making it so easy to create and run a campaign that's sure to generate exposure and grow your crowdfunding camapign there's no cause for delay.

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Promoting Your Contest

Any time you run a contest or giveaway you need to make sure you're making the effort to promote it. People won't accidentally stumble upon your contest, you need to get out there and show it to them.

There are many ways you can go about doing this, here are a few of our favourites:

Promote it On Your Kickstarter Page

People who visit your campaign on Kickstarter are showing at least some level of interest in your project which makes them ideal contest entrants.

Promoting a contest from a Kickstarter page is as easy as announcing in on your page (or as an update) and linking off to your contest's landing page, whether it be on your own website or one of Gleam's hosted landing pages.

Encouraging project visitors to enter your contest by subscribing to your mailing list or following you on social media is a great way to convert incidental visitors into followers who you can continue to promote your project to and hopefully drive financial backing from.

Plus, getting visitors to enter your contest by sharing your campaign with their friends is a great way to turn one potential backer into many.

Announce it to Your List

If you've already started building a mailing list then it's well worth your time to send out an email announcing your contest and directing users towards it.

Your mailing list is likely to be made up users who have already backed or shown serious interest in your project so sharing your contest with them is the perfect way to re-engage them. This can help you encourage them to spread the word about your campaign or drive project backing if they haven't already done so.

Spread the Word on Social Media

Just like your mailing list, your social media following is likely to be occupied by users who have already taken an interest in your project, and possibly even some that have already backed you.

This makes social media an ideal place to promote your contest. Not only can you reach and drive further action from relevant users with an interest in your project, but the social nature of platforms like Facebook and Twitter make them ideal for encouraging the sharing of your contest and Kickstarter campaign which will help you reach new users and connect with potential backers.

As well as promoting your contest on social media you should also be using the same platforms to actively promote your project itself. Running a contest will draw a lot of attention to your social channels so it's important that you use them to promote your crowdfunding campaign.

Encourage Peer-to-Peer Sharing

Promoting to your mailing list and social media followers is fantastic for engaging users who are already aware of you, but it you want to expose your contest (and your Kickstarter campaign) to a brand new audience then you should be encouraging users to share your content around their own social circles.

This can happen naturally to a certain extent via Retweets, Facebook post interaction and other such means, but it order for you to maximise the effectiveness of these social referrals you should consider directly incentivising them. When you run a contest with Gleam you can offer entries to users who Retweet one of your posts, Tweet a post about your contest or campaign, view a particular Facebook post or refer their friends to your contest with a unique referral link.

All of these actions are outstanding ways to kickstart the online sharing of your contest and expose your Kickstarter campaign to a sizeable new audience. So if you want to make the most of your contest then you should strongly consider using some of these actions.

Give Away an Awesome Prize

Putting together an engaging contest and savvily promoting it will help you engage your audience and grow your Kickstarter, but there's another important factor you still need to consider: your prize.

The prize you choose to give away will play a major role in the success of your contest, as it will be people's primary incentive to enter it. When choosing a prize there a few key points you'll want to consider:

  • You need to provide users with sufficient incentive to enter. Your prize should be valuable enough to justify the effort of entering the contest.
  • Your prize should primarily appeal to users who are likely to take an interest in your project and become potential backers. There's no point driving action from hordes of users who will never be interested in your Kickstarter campaign.
  • You should try to offer a prize that users can't get anywhere else. If you're offering a prize that people want but can't get elsewhere, they'll be pretty inclined to enter your contest.

The obvious choice for a prize which ticks all of these boxes is your own product. It should be valueable enough to users to incentivise entry, it will appeal exclusively to relevant users who are interested in your product, and it's highly exclusive. The only other way people can get their hands on it is by backing your project (and that's not something you should be complaining about). To top it all off, you already have complete access to your prize, making it the perfect choice.

Depending on what your product is you may want to give away a single product to one luckly winner or offer up multiple prizes to multiple winners. Offering up multiple prizes can be a great way to boost entries, as the more likely people think they are to win, the more likely they are to enter.

If you have a variety of products available you may even want to give away a prize bundle made up of all your different offerings, this can be a great way to boost the value of your prize. You can achieve a similar effect by offering a unique, limited edition or personalized product as a prize.

Another great way you can boost the value of your prize and reach huge new audiences is by partnering up with other brands to run a collaborative giveaway.

Partner Up

Partnering up with other brands and Kickstarters who offer complementary products is a brilliant tactic which can help you gain massive amounts of exposure and put your project in front of scores of potential backers.

Running a partner campaign essentially involves teaming up with other brands to run a contest where users can compelte actions benefitting both you and your partners for the chance to win a prize pool made up of products from everyone involved.

If you want to run a partner contest the first thing you will need to do is find a brand (or some brands) to collaborate with. The trick to finding an ideal partner is choosing a brand that offers a product that complements yours rather than competes with it. This will help you reach a highly relevant audience with an interest in your project without your product being overshadowed by your partner's.

For example, if you're developing some sort of outdoor adventure product you should try teaming up with other adventure brands and Kickstarter campaigns.

Greenbelly, a customer of ours who had great success on Kickstarter with their on-the-go meals, achieved outstanding results when they partnered up with other outdoor brands who offered backbacks, hamocks, outdoor clothing and more to run a collaborative giveaway.

You may have to reach out to a lot of established brands and emerging Kickstarters before you find the right fit, but if you keep at you should be able to find exactly what you're looking for.

Running a partner campaign has two key advantages over running a solo contest:

  1. You will get access to a much wider and more valuable prize pool at no extra cost to yourself. This will help you keep things affordable and make entry a whole lot more appealing.
  2. By teaming up with other brands and sharing the promotional efforts you will be able to gain exposure to a massive new audience you would have otherwise had no way of reaching. This is especially true for emerging Kickstarters who partner up with more well established crowdfunding projects or already launched brands.

Flyte Socks, a customer of ours who used contests to draw attention to their Kickstarter and smash their funding goals also had enormous success by partnering up to run a contest.

Flyte Socks partnered up with three well-established menswear brands and ran a partner giveaway which helped them gain massive amounts of exposure and grow their social followings. This contest was paired with another solo giveaway they ran with Gleam and together the two contests grew their mailing list and social following to over 10k members each, as well as drove a substancial amount of revenue which helped them exceed their Kickstarter funding goals by a whopping 700%.

Learn How to Run a Partner Campaign

Find out everything you need to know about using Gleam to partner up with other brands and run powerful giveaways.

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Partner With Influencers

As well as partnering up with other brands and crowdfunding camapigns it can also be worthwhile to collaborate with relevant social media influencers.

You can try reaching out to prominant influencers in your niche and asking them to promote your contest and project to their following in exchange for dedicated actions in the contest, the interesting content and value your contest provides their audience, or even a bit of money.

This can help put your contest in front of a relevant and engaged audience and expose your Kickstarter project to potential backers.

The key to successfully partnering up with an influencer is to choose your collaborater very wisely. You want to ensure you're only reaching out to people whose audience is likely to be interested in your project.

If you're producing furniture or household decorations you should be reaching out to lifestyle bloggers. If you've developed a travel gadget then travel bloggers and influencers are the way to go. If you're project involves video games or some sort of gaming accessories then reaching out to Twitch streamers is good approach.

There are even influencers who primarily operate within the crowdfunding space who are definitely worth reaching out to. Whoever you decide to partner with, what's most important is that you're only targetting influencers with a highly relevant and engaged audience.

Run A Gleam Campaign With Influencers

Learn more about finding the right influencer and how you can setup a partnered Gleam campaign to expand your audience.

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Run a Pre-Launch Contest

If you haven't yet launched your Kickstarter campaign then running a pre-launch contest is a great way to build some hype, grow your list and develop an audeince so that when you do launch, you're launching to a crowd. This can help you generate some immediate backing and get the ball rolling on your camapign right from the jump.

When you run a pre-launch contest you should be trying get entrants to sign up to your mailing list, follow you on social media, learn more about your project and share your contest online.

This will help you build widespread awareness and understand and help cultivate an audience so as soon as you launch, you're launching to excited audience who are easily reachable via email and social media.

If you run your contest with Gleam you can easily drive all of these actions and much, much more.

   Use This Template

Running a pre-launch contest will help you build a sizeable following, but you will still need to get the ball rolling on your contest.

You can do this by promoting your contest from your personal social media accounts, offering extra entries to users who share your contest via Retweets and Viral Shares, or partnering up with more establilshed brands or Kickstarter campaigns to tap into their audience.

Learn How to Pre-Launch Your Business With Gleam

Find out how you can use Gleam to run a pre-launch campaign which will build awareness and drive action before your official launch.

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Engage Your Audience

When you run a contest to promote your Kickstarter campaign you will be able to put your project in front of a lot of potential backers of develop a large following. This is a huge victory for your Kickstarter, but there's still more work to be done.

Using your contest to build a relevant and sizeable following will undoubetly aid the growth of your Kickstarter, but in order for you to get the most out of your contest you will need to do everything you can to engage your newfound followers and convert them into project backers.

Here are a few tactics you should be using:

Ramp Up the Online Promotion

In the aftermath of you contest you will be left a sizeable new audience that has already shown a clear interest in your project. If you want to drive some serious funding growth from these users then you will need to re-engage them and guide them towards backing you.

You can do this by sending out promotional emails and posting on social media.

If you run you contest with Gleam you can easily collect emails from every entrant, which makes re-engaging them with a timely email a breeze.

When you're trying to re-enagge your contest entrants and drive funding growth it's important to focus on messages on showing users why they should be backing your project.

Highlight the benefits of your product and make it clear to your audience why they want what you're offering. Showing your product in action is always a good idea.

Remember, the best Kickstarters are those which are bringing something new or unique into the world, you need to show your potential backers why you're one of them.

Offer Everyone a Reward

A great way to convert contest entrants into Kickstarter backers is by offering them a special discount. You can do this by creating limited time only rewards and offering your product at a discounted price for a limited period of time. You can then promote the special offer to all of your new email subscribers and social media followers.

This is a great way to drive further action from the interested and attentive audience you attracted with your contest. Giving them that little bit of extra incentive may be all it takes to get them to take the plunge and back your project.

Offering a limited time only early bird reward can be a particualrly powerful strategy in the aftermath of a pre-launch contest as it will help you convert backers right out of the gate and get your campaign started on the right foot.


With these tips in mind you should be ready to run a powerful and engaging contest which will grow your audience, promote your crowdfunding project and help you drive immediate and long-term funding.

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