Marketing a Successful Kickstarter With Contests

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Ahron Burstin’s Picture

Ahron Burstin

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

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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.

In This Post

    Why You Should Run a Contest

    Generating as much awareness as possible and engaging your audience is vital to the success of any Kickstarter, especially one which is still trying to find it's footing. One of the most effective and cost-efficient ways you can do this is by running a contest and offering up a prize as incentive for users to enter your contest.

    When you run a contest you can ask users to enter by completing a huge array of actions which will help you cultivate an audience, promote your Kickstarter project and ultimately drive revenue.

    Let's take a look at some of the actions you can drive and the distinct features of contests which make them so perfectly suited for raising awareness and promoting your Kickstarter.

    Drawing Attention to Your Kickstarter

    Let's start with the obvious one. When you run a contest you can incentivise users to complete actions which are important to you, and if you're trying to grow a Kickstarter then getting users to visit your Kickstarter campaign should be at the top of that list.

    There's no better way to find interested users than by sending people to your Kickstarter and showing off what you've got. When you run a contest you can easily encourage users to do just that.

    Take a look at this giveaway ran by Spike the Beetle. They ran a simple campaign on Twitter which allowed users to enter the draw to win a prize by Retweeting this post.

    The post also encouraged users to check them out on Kickstarter, which allowed Spike the Beetle to use this contest to reach new audiences through Retweets and drive them towards their Kickstarter page. The post amassed a staggering 3,876 Retweets which lead to a substantial amount of Kickstarter visits and increased awareness, showing just how effective even the simplest of contests can be.

    In addition to getting users to visit you on Kickstarter, you can also use contests to get them to check out your Indiegogo page and website. You can also use contests to encourage users to watch a product video on YouTube, or interact with your social media posts which will allow you to further promote your project and encourage users to check out your Kickstarter page.

    HUDWAY had great success with this approach when they ran a simple giveaway which users could enter by visiting them on Kickstarter, watching a YouTube video about their product and sharing the campaign with their friends. This allowed HUDWAY to draw attention to their project which helped them find success on Kickstarter and exceed their ambitious funding goals by 500%.

    All of these actions will help you teach people about your project, raise interest and awareness and hopefully even find you some new backers. So if you want to drive all of these actions with ease then you should look no further than contests.

    Reaching a Huge New Audience

    One of the key advantages of running a contest is the huge amount of fresh eyes you will be able to get on your project.

    Giving away a prize is an inherently exciting undertaking which is bound to draw in an audience and get people excited. All this excitement should naturally lead to people liking and sharing your contest around their social circles, but if you really want to kick things into gear then you could try requiring contest entrants to share a Facebook post, Retweet you or even share around a referral link.

    Twitter contests where Kickstarters ask users to enter by Retweeting a post and following them on Twitter will regularly generate hundreds of follows and shares.

    These contests are a great way to reach new audiences, grow your following and raise awareness for your project. They're especially effective if the posts being shared around highlight your product and link off to your Kickstarter.

    Growing Your Following

    One of the most valuable things any Kickstarter campaign can have is a sizeable mailing list and an established social media following.

    Having an online following makes it easy to keep interested users up to date with your project's progress, announce any special promotions to a relevant audience, and of course, convert users into backers and drive revenue.

    Running contests is a great way for you to grow online following. A simple but effective type of contest you can run is one which simply asks users to follow you on Twitter to enter.

    These contests can easily be ran across a number of platforms, you can ask users to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or even subscribe to your mailing list.

    To make the most out of these contests you should consider requiring users to share your contest or Kickstarter with their own circles. This will allow you to reach a wider audience and grow your following more effectively.

    As well as being able to directly incentivise follows, contests can also help you grow your following by virtue of putting your project and social channels in front of a new audience, many of whom are likely to take an interest in your project and follow you without any extra incentive.

    Engaging Your Audience

    Aside from all the outstanding actions you can drive, contests are also fantastic for simply engaging an audience, rewarding your fans and putting out a campaign that will get people talking and thinking about your project in a positive way.

    You'll be surprised by how powerful engaging your fans and building up good will can be in the long run.

    Keeping Within Your Budget

    Contests aren't only highly effective, they're also cheap. When you run a contest the key expense you will be faced with is your prize, but since the best prize you can generally offer is your own product this shouldn't be too much of a hurdle.

    Running a contest is generally far cheaper than paying for advertising space, and usually a whole lot more effective, so there's really no downside.

    You will be faced with some additional expenses if you decide to run your contest using a 3rd party app, but the advantages you will get from these platforms significantly outweighs the cost.

    Running a Contest With Gleam

    Running a contest is one of the most effective strategies you can use to promote your Kickstarter and drive revenue. Running contests allows you to raise awareness, grow your audience and promote your project, setting you up for immediate and long term growth.

    As awesomely effective as running contests can be, they're not without their drawbacks. Managing a contest can often prove to be quite difficult, especially if you want to drive multiple actions or engage users across multiple platforms.

    This is where 3rd party apps like Gleam Competitions come into the picture. If you use a 3rd party app you will be able to run your contest from a single location which you can drive traffic to from sources such as Kickstarter, Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else you're active. You will also be able to drive an array of powerful actions which will all be automatically monitored and validated for you so you don't have to waste your time following up on individual entries.

    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 On Gleam

    By running this type of contest you can easily award entries to users who complete the actions you choose, and you can easily capitalize on all the great benefits of running a contest we discussed above.

    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 a Gleam campaign 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 an ever-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 or anywhere else.

    During their Kickstarter campaign a customer of ours, Flyte Socks, 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 over 20,000 actions and helped them grow their mailing list as well as their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followings. Best of all, the contest helped Flyte exceed their funding goals by a truly awesome 700%.

    Smashing Funding Goals With Giveaways

    Take a look at how Flyte Socks used Gleam to pre-Launch their business on Kickstarter and exceeded their fund goals by 700%:

    View Case Study

    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 campaign you've got nothing to wait for.

    Want to Grow Your Kickstarter?

    Check out more ways to grow your Kickstarter with Gleam or run your own contest right away!

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    Promoting Your Contest

    Any time you run a contest or giveaway you will need to make sure that 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.

    If you're running a contest on a single platform like Twitter, Facebook or YouTube then you should be devoting the bulk of your promotional efforts there. But if you decide to use a platform such as Gleam to run your contest then you have the opportunity to drive traffic to your contest from any number of sources and really maximise your contest's participation and effectiveness.

    There are many ways you can go about promoting your contest, 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 customisable 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 promoting it in a savvy way 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 valuable 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 lucky 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.

    This is the approach taken by Cooler Master who ran a contest with Gleam and gave away several tiers of prize bundles comprised entirely of their own products.

    By giving away their own products, Cooler Master ensured that they would only be attracting relevant entrants who would be happy to complete actions such as visiting their Kickstarter, watching a product video, checking them out on social media and sharing the campaign with friends.

    The campaign was a huge success, generating over 40,000 actions and helping them drive some serious revenue. Their project has now raised a fantastic $122,000 from a goal of $68,000.

    If you have a variety of products available then it's a good idea 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 and appeal to a broader audience. You can also 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 complete actions benefiting both you and your partners for the chance to win a prize pool made up of products provided by 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 camping meals, achieved outstanding results when they partnered up with other outdoor brands who offered backpacks, hammocks, 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 substantial 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.

    Check It Out

    Partner With Influencers

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

    You can try reaching out to prominent 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 collaborator 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 your project involves video games or some sort of gaming accessory 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 targeting influencers with a highly relevant and engaged audience.

    For a great example of how Kickstarters and influencers can partner up to run giveaways take a look at this campaign from DREVO and JSL Reviews.

    DREVO were looking for ways to drive revenue for their keyboard on Kickstarter, and they decided to team up with a YouTube influencer to run a collaborative giveaway.

    DREVO reached out to JSL Reviews and provided him with an advanced release DREVO Blademaster Keyboard for him to review and give away. Viewers were directed to the video description where they were provided a link to the giveaway's landing page.

    Users could easily enter the giveaway by completing actions such as visiting DREVO on Kickstarter or Facebook, or subscribing to their YouTube channel. These actions allowed DREVO to connect with a new and relevant audience and promote their Kickstarter. JSL also got great value from the campaign, as users could also enter by subscribing to JSL Reviews on YouTube or following him on Twitter, making the contest a clear win-win for everyone involved.

    The contest was a resounding success, driving thousands of actions and allowing DREVO to get loads of fresh eyes on their Kickstarter which helped them smash their funding goals, raising $435,000 from a $20,000 goal.

    This type of campaign is easily something you can run yourself. If you want to drive an array of different actions then it's a good idea to use a 3rd party app like DREVO did, but you can also keep things simple if you want.

    You can easily run a contest where all users have to do is comment on a YouTube video, Retweet a Twitter post or comment on a Facebook post made by an influencer. You can also get the influencer to link off to your Kickstarter from these posts as a way to generate awareness and drive traffic.

    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.

    Learn More

    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 audience 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 campaign 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.

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

       Use This Template On Gleam

    Running a contest like this will help you build widespread awareness and understanding and help cultivate an audience so as soon as you launch, you're launching to an excited audience who are easily reachable via email and social media.

    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 established 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.

    Check It Out

    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 undoubtedly 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 new-found 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-engage 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 particularly 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.

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    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.

    Ready To Run Your Own Kickstarter Contest?

    Check out our documentation on setting up your own Competition or get started right away!

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