How To Get Traction For Your Crowdfunding Campaign
- Getting press is crucial to amplify your reach outside of your own community and CrowdPress power users.
- By increasing your social shares, page views,
- and backers you will find your campaign to rank high on CrowdPress.
Build relationships with influencers and journalists locally and internationally.
The process of getting press for your CrowdPress shouldn’t just start when you press the launch button. In most cases this will be too late. In fact, you should start to connect with local and international influencers as early as possible. Most journalists hang out on Twitter and they talk just about anything from news stories to bad pitches to the things that occur in their daily life. It’s relatively easy to engage with them there. Engaging with influencers and journalists turned out to be extremely useful, as it brought us quite a bit of extra coverage and social shares.
Figure out who would want to write about you.
You don’t want to go for a spray and pray approach and spam every journalist whose email you could get your hands on. Do your research on what audience will be interested to read about your product and what journalist is covering your niche. This approach allows you to create a targeted and personalized pitch.
An easy way of researching this is by running a Google search on news coverage of similar projects that have been crowdfunding. You can either do this on your own, which can be time consuming or you can rely on a service such as PressFriendly.
Come up with a compelling headline and keep it short!
Put yourself in a writer’s shoes. If you get 500 emails a day, you probably will only be able to read the subject lines of all the emails you receive. And even if that piques their interest they will likely just skim through the first three paragraphs of your email. So you better get your elevator pitch together when reaching out to press.
Create a pitch with different angles (founders, tech, customers, etc.)
At first we wanted to pitch our story as your typical Kickstarter launch story. Fortunately working with PressFriendly we realized that a crowdfunding launch is nothing special. Most stories have several angles that may make them newsworthy. Most of the time it can be angle that centers around either the founders, the technology, user benefits or current trends.
We found most tech journalists were intrigued by the user benefits of our product. And even among the tech press, different writers picked up on different features. Tech and gadget blogs such as Engadget and TechCrunch focused on Ambi Climate’s ability to automate your AC controls through smart sensors and clever machine learning algorithms. Apple and Android press like 9to5Mac and AndroidSpin emphasized our device’s ability to control your air conditioner via your iPhone or Android.
Of course we also pitched our story to local and regional journalists in Asia. These were more interested in our Hong Kong based team or that we failed on Crowdcrise, and then succeeded on Kickstarter.
Build a press kit: press release, high-res images, founder bios.
Having a press kit should be obligatory for every startup that takes PR serious. Some reporters may seek to differentiate themselves with extra founder quotes and product images. We thus prepared a press release, high-res images and founder bios that we hosted on our Dropbox. Hosting your press kit on Dropbox makes it easily accessible on smartphones.
Outreach in advance. Set an embargo to the release of your campaign.
It’s important that you start your outreach at least a few days if not over a week in advance. Some reporters may be away, some may be flooded with emails on the day you email them and thus require a follow-up by you. So it’s always good to give yourself a head start.
Beware of when you want to launch your product. We first wanted to launch our Kickstarter a couple of days after the iPhone 6 launch event. That would have been a bad move. Most reporters are swamped with work before, during and immediately after a major product launch. As you can imagine trying to get your emails opened during such a time is a major challenge for itself.
Cast a wide net.
We are now a few weeks into our Kickstarter campaign but that doesn’t mean our press outreach has come to an end. Together with PressFriendly we are still identifying new blogs. We are now reaching out to interior design and family friendly blogs that have a different audience than the one we have already reached with tech and gadget blogs.
Grow and engage your community
This is a no brainer. Having large community allows you to achieve more traction off the bat from day 1. This is important, as without early traction, a lot of press will not even bother to touch your project. There are far too many new projects and products out there. Writers want to make sure they cover only those are both interesting and successful.
Though it is pretty hard to grow your community organically in a quick fashion, there are some ways. For instance, we ran a giveaway for a gadget that appealed to our target audience. This contest alone added nearly a thousand subscribers to our mailing list and several hundred of additional fans. And all it cost us was about $130, which is pretty cheap given the amount of emails and fans it brought us.
Once you have built a community, use it. With well-written newsletters and Facebook posts you can leverage your crowd for the maximum impact.
Rally your own network.
Don’t just stop at your community. Reach out to friends, family, relatives, co-workers, ex-boy/girlfriends, acquaintances etc. You basically want to contact anyone that you think could be interested and/or supportive of your project.
Personal email to all friends.
I reached out to over a hundred friends via Facebook and other channels such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Line and email to inform them about our project. At first this was merely to ask them for feedback on our campaign page, which proved to be super useful for nailing down our messaging. Yet further on this allowed me to get the conversation started and got a number of my friends interested in our campaign.
Gmail and LinkedIn export to MailMerge
For even further reach I recommend exporting your Gmail and LinkedIn contacts so that you create a list of all your acquaintances. With the creation of a Gmail MailMerge script you can reach up to 100 people with a personalized email every day. You don’t need to ask them to buy your product. Everything from sharing, visiting your campaign to even pledging as little as $1 will help you to rank better on Kickstarter.
Nowadays it is hard to get onto your friends’ newsfeed as you are competing with a ton of other information. It is far easier to get your friends’ attention by creating a virtual Facebook event and inviting all your friends to it. This will directly send them a notification. At Ambi Labs, we set up a virtual Facebook event a week in advance for our launch day. If your entire team invites all their friends, you can reach thousands of people with this simple trick.
Share & Promote
Sharing is super important. It drives traffic to your Kickstarter or Indiegogo page but it also allows you to rank better.
We used Thunderclap to make a coordinated social media effort.
It’s a tool that allows a single message to be mass-shared, flash mob-style, so it rises above the noise of your social networks. We launched a Thunderclap campaign a week in advance of our campaign. This allowed us to send out a social media message about our campaign on our launch day to over 100,000 people. If you are able to sign up enough people, Thunderclap can become a great tool to amplify your reach even further.
Don’t underestimate the power of forums, Facebook and LinkedIn groups as well as social bookmarking sites! They are a free way to spread the word to other communities.
I have compiled a selection of the sites I have used to share our campaign on my Evernote.
Make sure you also make great use of Kicktraq. Kicktraq is a platform and tool that allows you to track and predict outcomes of Kickstarter campaigns. What is important is how many daily users on Kicktraq are engaging with your project. The more people use the Kicktraq plugin to view your project and are sharing your Kicktraq profile the higher you rank on their Hot List.
Create a sharing page
People are lazy and even sharing is considered an effort these days. You want to make it as easy as possible for your friends and backers to share your Kickstarter. We have therefore put up social sharing buttons for our Kickstarter but also a few for the press we have been getting on our website ambiclimate.com.
Going the last mile with advertising
If you want to go the last mile, you also want to consider building a retargeting list through your website. You can use a service like Perfect Audience or AdRoll to retarget ads on Facebook and Google’s display network to all those who have visited your website before.
Unfortunately it’s impossible to track conversions on Kickstarter using advertising. So it’s hard to optimize your ad campaign for conversions. But if you are going for maximizing your campaigns reach, ads are a great tool to drive further traffic to your campaign.
Using Facebook you can also drive native ads such as a news article to an audience of a certain geography that is into crowdfunding.
For Ambi Climate Facebook has proven to be a great asset, as we are targeting only certain areas in N. America and Asia.
Crowdfunding is all about the backers. They are the backbone of your campaign and without them you wouldn’t be able to realize your dream. But at the end of the day, if your campaign isn’t being noticed then your past efforts will easily go to waste.
Preparing your PR and marketing your campaign shouldn’t be taken lightly and they need to be seen just as important as the creation of a good campaign page.
7 Ways To Generate PR For Your Crowdfunding Campaign
1. Build relationships ahead of time.
There are many reasons someone hires a PR firm like mine, but a big one is that we have relationships with the right people. That’s not something that comes from merely sending a pitch. The best way to get PR for your campaign is to be able to pick up the phone or send an email and say “Hey Bob, I’ve got a story I’d like to pitch you on,” and because you know Bob so well and he likes and trusts you, you know with 95% certainty that he’ll publish your story (or give you good advice on who to approach if he can’t). This type of relationship takes time, and that means working on these relationships with no promotional agenda for months or even years in advance of launching your campaign.
2. Attend events.
One of the best ways to build relationships with journalists and contributors is to meet face to face. Rather than emailing them and inviting them out for coffee, find out what events the journalists you want to meet are attending. If you’re a tech-oriented hardware startup you might want to hang out at events like Web Summit, Startup Grind, or HardwareCon. In this environment it’s easier to chat with the press and get to know them than to approach them via email or phone. However, don’t go to an event assuming you’re going to land a story on the spot, or you’ll come on too strong. Instead, ask journalists what stories they’re working on and offer to help them with what they’re already doing, even if it doesn’t benefit you. By providing value first, you’ll become valuable to the journalist. Over time the opportunities will arise for you to be included in their articles.
3. Test and modify
Crowdfunding consultant Samit Patel has helped companies like smartwatch maker BLOCKS ($1.6M raised) and Joy, makers of the Octopus kids watch ($1M). One of his tips is to A/B test your email pitches. “We use software like Yesware to check whether a journalist is opening up our emails,” Patel says. “We A/B test different headlines and use automation to make this process simpler. If a journalist doesn’t open our email, we target a different journalist at the same publication with a different email and see what works best and keep refining it.”
4. Create a viral challenge
While I haven’t seen this tactic work on a large scale for a consumer product, it’s worth mentioning because it’s been used with great success for charitable causes. You likely remember the wildly successful ALS ice bucket challenge which attracted a massive amount of PR and led to breakthroughs in research. A modern incarnation of the viral challenge is Ben Stiller’s challenge to raise money for victims of the famine in Somalia, which has been attracting worldwide news coverage of late.
5. Make a video
The mattress company Purple has built its brand through video and innovative products. “Our two Kickstarter campaigns were record breaking in their categories and we give a lot of credit to video as a driver,” says Alex McArthur, Purple’s CMO. Purple’s first Kickstarter video generated 274,000 views on Kickstarter. Their second video, for the next campaign, generated a whopping 2.4 million views on Facebook and led to that campaign meeting its initial goal in one day, and ultimately raising $2.6M. “At this points our videos have had more than 400,000,000 views across all platforms, which has led to a lot of PR,” McArthur says.
6. Target your ads
Larry Kim, CEO of Mobile Monkey, has a clever way of targeting journalists with his content. “I would run ads on Taboola – those are the native looking ads that appear on news sites like CNN, etc. with an unusual headline like: ‘This Shockingly Brilliant Invention is Disrupting the [X] Industry’,” Kim says. “Alternatively I might run a similar ad on Facebook, targeting people who write for publications in your industry, to drive PR mentions. Typically the cost for Facebook ads is around $8 CPM, so for a small investment of under $50 you can get in front of most of the bloggers covering your space.”
7. Create an Info-graphic
Sometimes a little eye-candy to accompany your pitch can make all the difference. For example, Blackbird Label is running a Crowdpress campaign for men’s dress slacks made of custom yoga-pant material, so you can look professional at the office while feeling as comfy as sweatpants. They created info-graphics like the one below (click on it to see the full version), knowing writers will appreciate material that makes their articles more likely to be shared. They’ve also tied their theme to current political events (anything with Trump gets attention, it seems) to further strengthen their pitch.
In short, PR is an excellent complement to the crowdfund ecosystem. But before you pick up the phone or press “send” on another mass email, think about the strategy you’re pursuing. Match the method you use with the medium that is best for achieving your business objective. By doing this, you will be helping both your business and your campaign to succeed.
13 Techniques to Get Press Coverage for Your Crowdfunding Campaign
1. Develop a Relationship BEFORE You Need It
If I’m reaching you in the preparation stages of your Indiegogo campaign, awesome!
This is the best time to about forming relationships with journalists in your niche.
Because you don’t need anything from them!
You can send them a sincere complement or a genuine email commenting on their work.
We tend to do business with people that we know, like, and trust, and this extends to the realm of PR and press coverage.
Before you know it, you’ll have built up a list of journalists that know who you are and therefore will be far more receptive to your future pitch!
2. Target Relevant Publications With This Technique
Google is going to be your best friend as you’re creating a media list.
Basically, a media list is a list of all the relevant publications you’re going to be reaching out to with your campaign pitch.
Likely, these publications or reporters have written about this topic in the past, and maybe even covered a similar product or campaign.
One thing that I like to do is plug the name of a similar campaign or product into Google. Then, you can filter the search results by “news” or within the last six months.
You’ll quickly see which journalists have been writing about this product. They’ll be much more receptive to your pitch, because that’s the type of story they cover!
3. You Must Send Samples For Product Reviews
Gone are the days when you could have a blogger write up a product review by just checking out your demo video.
With so many failed Indiegogo campaigns, you now gotta send the blogger a sample of your product. They need to be able to play around with it before they’re gonna write about it.
If you haven’t already, I’d recommend making this a part of your budget. Have a handful of sample products that you can send out to YouTubers, bloggers, Instagram influencers, and journalists.
Once the journalist gets the product, don’t forget to ask for their genuine feedback. Everyone has a busy life. Quite simply, sometimes they’ll entirely forget about the product unless you remind them.
4. Share Your Expertise, Not Just Your Product
Journalists are interested in a STORY that will drive traffic to the overall media publication. That story doesn’t have to put your product at center. They can also write about you.
If you have a particular expertise, you can position yourself as an expert in the eyes of the media. You can:
Comment on a story
Share your personal journey and what you’ve learned
Reveal a new trend in your industry
Typically, you’ll also get a chance to plug your product, project, or website.
5. Be Willing to Advertise and Promote the News Article
This is one special technique that was discussed on my podcast episode with a fellow crowdfunding expert.
Naturally, a journalist wants to look good in the eyes of their boss!
If you’re willing to advertise the article on Facebook, or if you’re willing to drive traffic via other means, then they’ll be far more likely to see the decision to write about you as a “no-brainer.”
This is one of the reasons that major media publications are more than willing to write about controversial figures and celebrities. There is a built-in audience of people interested in that news, meaning there will be plenty of traffic.
6. Send out a Press Release!
You can use a free or paid media service to send out a press release for your campaign.
This is an easy way to gain access to the email inbox of journalists that have opted-in to receive news updates. Some press release services will also syndicate your news around the web.
While a press release should not read like an advertisement, it’s actually a tad similar. You’re trying to convince a journalist to write about you based on your web copy.
To give you an example, you can send out a poorly written press release to ever journalist on earth, but it doesn’t mean you’re gonna get a story. You can also send out a well-written press release to 20 journalists and get a few stories.
7. Consider Hiring a PR Agency
A PR agency will do all of the legwork for you. They’ll write your press release, reach out to journalists, send out press releases, and do their best to get you any form of coverage.
This all sounds great, but you’re also gonna be paying a hefty fee, as you’ll be retaining the services of an expert and staff helpers.
There is the rare occasion where a PR agency has a special relationship with a blogger or a YouTuber, but in my experience, the relationship doesn’t matter as much as the story.
Now… you can honestly do everything that a PR agency does yourself.
That’s why I’ve put together a free course that walks you through how to get press coverage.
I’ll share with you some of these pitching secrets and also ways that you can get more backers for your Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign.
8. Your Goal: Get Your Email Opened
One of the things that you will notice about online marketing is that your goals change as you go. Your first goal might be to get traffic. Once you’ve figured that out, the you’ll need to convert that traffic into leads, and finally into sales.
The same works for getting press coverage. First, you must get the journalist to actually open your email. Reporters get TONS of emails every single day. Yours can easily get lost in the heap.
Once you get that reporter to open the email, then your goal is to either get a reply or have them so intrigued about the story that they contact you.
In order to get a journalist to open your email address, you’re going to need to use an app, like Boomerang, to actually tell whether or not they have!
Otherwise, you’re flying blind. You can’t tell if your actions are effective or ineffective.
I’d recommend making your subject line similar to other articles that they’ve written in the past. The more that you personalize the message, the better.
9. Find Relevant Journalists with Images
An easy way to find relevant journalists that you can pitch regarding your Indiegogo project is to plug the image of a similar popular Indiegogo product into google.
You’ll then be able to quickly see all of the other publications that have used that image. They may have written a review of the product or announced the campaign launch.
10. Trade Up The Value Chain
This is a technique that’s very common among PR professionals. In simple terms, once you get a media hit in a smaller publication, you can use the influence of that hit to get even more hits.
You can plug the URL of that publication in an application like SimilarWeb to find sites that are similar and in the same niche. You can then reach out to them. Since you’ve been written about by a publication in the niche, the chances are higher you’ll get coverage.
Once you get a bunch of these smaller blogs to write about you, you can then bring this emerging story to a larger publication.
11. Spike Intense Emotions
The only reason that news is reported is because it spikes a high emotion in the viewer. That emotion could be:
Anger or outrage
Inspiration and hope
A feeling of similarity to the story
There are many more emotions that can get you into the media. For more, check out my course on how to get into the press.
You could strategically seek to spike one of the above emotions. Maybe your product is controversial. Maybe you have customers in the community with inspirational stories.
12. Capitalize on a Trend
Trends flow through the media landscape all of the time. Typically, a trend is a piece of news or a story that every publication is writing about. It’s a part of the global conversation.
When you attach yourself to one of these trends, you’ll instantly become relevant. You’ll also be another angle that the publication can use to highlight the trend.
These trends don’t necessarily have to be innovative or huge. You could even just capitalize on the trend around summer time to talk about beach-going products (Hint: Coolest Cooler).
13. Contribute Value
Finally, the best way to get press release coverage for your Indiegogo campaign is to contribute value to a publication. You can also contribute value to an individual reporter.
What do I mean by that?
Journalists, bloggers, and reporters are just like you and me. They’re inherently lazy.
If you can write the majority of the story for them, they’re going to see it as less work to write about you.
By this I mean… you’ve giving them a clear angle, lots of assets to make the story interesting, and even text that they can literally just copy and paste to get the job done.
Now, not every bloggers is like this. For example, if you try to write a story for me, I’m going to ignore you.
However, if you pitch me with a bullet point list of different things you can share on my podcast, I’m more likely to pay attention to you.
It gives me an idea of how the interview could go and the value that you can bring to the audience.
Create a media list of all the specific journalists who cover your topic and with whom you want to connect. There’s very little benefit in sending a press release or email to a generic inbox hoping it will find its way to the appropriate person.
Include the journalist’s email address, when you can find it, as well as Twitter handle. Read journalists’ articles to ensure the reporter is the best fit for your story.
Follow your media prospects on Twitter.
Not only can you then more easily scan the stories they cover to ensure a topical fit, but sometimes reporters will seek story sources via their Twitter feeds as well. Also, you may be able to direct message them if they follow you back.
Find out how much traffic each blog gets via TrafficEstimate or other sources, and also research whether they have other opportunities such as e-newsletters or social media channels to promote your story.
Don’t make editors work hard to help you. Create your press assets in advance: press release, high-resolution photos, and a list of key points that you feel are most compelling to communicate about your project. Don’t forget to include a screenshot of your campaign in progress.
Don’t send the same email to every journalist. You want them to know you understand their audience and style, and why your product or campaign is a good fit for their readers.
Don’t be a pest, but if you don’t get a response from the first email or outreach, one follow-up email or call is appropriate.
Don’t forget offline outreach. In an effort to get press, one entrepreneur made an appearance at a local bookstore and literally drew a 20-mile circle on the map around their appearance location. They then contacted all the news stations and papers within that radius to get them to cover the event because journalists are more likely to cover a story if there’s a local angle.
I know that these are a lot of techniques to apply and it can almost feel overwhelming.
There are so many things that you can do to stand out on Indiegogo and other crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter.
That’s why I’ve put together this step-by-step course to show you the absolute BEST ways to get in the media and blow past your crowdfunding goal.
Believe me, you’re gonna be happy you enrolled. Just one of these techniques could mean the difference between a failed campaign or thousands of dollars raised.
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