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Creating Crowdfunding Media that Converts Views into Pledges

Based upon our experience working with thousands of crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter and/or Indiegogo, here are some basic tips for creating your campaign media—both producing your video and designing your page—so that it presents your project as persuasively as possible…

Backer Psychology

Your benefits-and-costs, influenced by your team, are always the most vital factors in selling your product! Although these factors can’t be changed by an honest pitch, it can still present them in their best possible light—and this light can significantly affect conversion rates. Your campaign media serves as your electronic salesperson, and so you should craft it to not only look great but also persuade well. It’ll persuade best as you apply the proven principles of sales psychology to it, especially as those principles relate to crowdfunding. We’ll now overview a few key principles of pledge psychology for you in this blog entry.

• Start With Whom

Just as you should design your product for the market, rather than for yourself, you should also create your media for your audience, not for you. So, before composing anything, it helps to understand clearly whom you’re trying to serve, which will vary from one campaign to another. Using their words and phrasing can help to help build rapport with them. It can help to remember that most (but not all) of them will have already pledged to other crowdfunding projects, although not necessarily any of yours, so you should accommodate them accordingly. In any case, after addressing “whom,” you can then proceed immediately to “why,” which is (hopefully) to benefit people’s lives.

• Features & Benefits

What sells is benefits, which derive from features. Presenting features is good, but presenting benefits is better, and presenting both is usually best—so, anytime you present a feature, it’s generally wise to translate that feature into a specific benefit. For example, saying that a music player “has 500GB of memory” is nice, but saying that it “has 500GB of memory so that you can take your entire music library with you wherever you go” is even better. People can think of such benefits on their own, of course, but it helps to save them the trouble.

• Showing & Telling

Telling is good, but showing is better, and doing both is best. So, anytime you tell people about features-and-benefits or your team or anything else, it’s good to show them the same thing. For example, showing an GIF of a device getting run over by a car without being damaged is far more powerful than merely stating “we’ll be making you this device from aerospace-grade titanium so that it will never fail you when you need it most;” however, by doing both, the accompanying text provides some helpful context to the powerful image.

• Emotion & Reason

As you show-and-tell, appealing to reason is good, but appealing to emotion is better, and doing both is best. Ultimately, emotion is always what sells, but reason still plays an important supporting role. Both vagueness and confusion can deter sales, so it’s important to eliminate these qualities from your pitch. Incorporating appropriate lifestyle imagery into your pitch can help to elicit the right emotions, but showing viewers long sequences of it (and nothing else) can waste their time and, as such, can lose their attention—so, instead of digressing, stay constantly on-message. A friendly upbeat confident tone often works well, whereas expressing either arrogance or desperation can deter sales.

• Practice Makes Perfect

As you develop your pitch, it’s good to practice it to perfection on actual prospective backers before you start to transform it into an actual video or page, which can help you to minimize any expensive revisions. And, having stated these general principles, we’ll now share some specific details about what (in our experience) constitutes effective crowdfunding campaign media.

Crowdfunding Backer Psychology

Campaign Basics

These following three items will help to draw curious traffic from elsewhere (such as your crowdfunding platform or social media) to your campaign page to learn more about your project, so it helps to choose them with this purpose in mind.

• Title & Subtitle

Arguably, an ideal title-and-subtitle should introduce your project and make it relevant to readers. Relevance is often achieved by expressing what your product does better than anything else currently in the world. Focusing on your product’s benefits is generally best, although it may help to mention features also. Along with this, it also helps to include good keywords to help the right searchers to find your project. Your title and subtitle should synergize with your main image.

• Main Image

Arguably, an ideal main project image should accommodate a play button at its center, attract attention to itself, look amazing, require no effort for viewers to understand what it’s showing, show at-a-glance how it benefits people, and arouse viewers’ curiosity to know more. Showing a lifeless product by itself will probably attract less interest than showing a product in action benefitting a pleased user. Also, good lighting can help almost any object to look more interesting to viewers. You may want to create not one but many project images and then rotate between them periodically throughout your campaign to keep it looking “fresh.”

• Categorization

Your project’s category and subcategory together determine the lists in which it will appear for people who are browsing Kickstarter. Larger categories like Design and Technology attract plenty of viewers but also plenty of competition—so, you’re more likely to get seen in smaller categories, although by fewer people. If your project fits sufficiently into more than one category or subcategory, then you may want to regularly transition between these options to maximize your project’s chances of getting seen by as many relevant viewers as possible.

Crowdfunding Video Production

Campaign Video

Your campaign video is arguably the single most important element within your entire presentation, and its most important element is its script. Such scripts often work well when they tell a good true story in which your product plays the role of hero by leading everyone to a happy ending. One campaign video script formula that often works well is to captivate viewers’ attention within 5 seconds, introduce your project within only 10-20 seconds, show-and-tell your product’s key features-and-benefits clearly at an even pace without wasting time, introduce your team, and conclude with a rousing call-to-action to pledge, all within about 1-3 minutes.

We recommend against using animation in campaign videos, by the way, in favor of showing real people happily using your real product, which helps it to seem as real as possible to them, even though it hasn’t been produced yet. It’s good to film your script in well-lit interesting (but not cluttered) locations, to have actors speak naturally as if talking to an old friend, to use separate higher-quality equipment to record sound, and to eliminate any muffled sound or blurry images or shaky camerawork that could distract viewers from your message. And to include both second-person narration and appropriate background music. We provide some additional details about some of these items in some of our other blog entries.

Crowdfunding Page Design

Campaign Story

While your campaign video needs to remain concise, the rest of your campaign page should ideally present your project as thoroughly as possible without either needlessly multiplying words or becoming redundant.

Your story’s content should include both images and text. Text should avoid any overly-salesly language or professional jargon, but should instead use plain conversational English—English that’s simple enough for an inebriated teenager to understand clearly, and that has been proofread to perfection by a native English-speaker who understands proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Boring walls-of-text should be broken with relevant images that show what your text tells. Images are excellent for clearly conveying complex concepts, but you should use GIFs sparingly to keep page-loading fast (which you can measure through websites like Pingdom). And you should also minimize links to other websites that risk losing your audience.

Your story’s structure generally works well when it initially “hooks” visitors, leads with benefits, follows with costs, and finally resolves any concerns about your team. We’ll now review each of these four sections in greater detail.

• Hooks & Headers

Your campaign page should generally start with a good brief hook to assure the right viewers that it’s worth their precious time to proceed. What often works well for these hooks is to summarize your entire sales pitch into a single power-packed paragraph and/or a simple infographic, accompanied by some poignant praise from reporters, experts, celebrities, and/or “ordinary” people like your backers. Just as your video’s hook shouldn’t take too much time, your page’s hook shouldn’t consume too much vertical space before proceeding to the rest of your presentation.

After you’ve captivated people’s attention, they’ll usually skim down the rest of your page, pausing only to read whatever catches their interest—so, it’s important to accommodate page-skimmers through logical structure, obvious section headers, strategic use of bolding, relevant images, et cetera, to help them to easily find whatever details may interest them. By contrast, a disorganized stream of random content will tend to lose sales.

• Features & Benefits

Your campaign page should always focus first-and-foremost on benefits, as described above, because those are what sell best. It’s usually good to present your benefits in order of persuasiveness, which order is unique for each project, although promises to avoid pain are often more effective than promises to bring pleasure, and charitable aspects typically rank lowest in selling products. Focusing on what your backers truly want and then trying to channel those existing desires toward your product is what will motivate them to buy.

• Costs & Checkout

If viewers find your benefits sufficiently desirable, then the next thing that they’ll usually want to know is if they find your costs sufficiently acceptable. So, in your costs section, they should be able to see instantly what their options are for rewards, plus how much each option will cost them. Prices often involve a range from early-bird to retail, so it’s good to place those prices side-by-side to facilitate instant comparisons. Yes, viewers can obtain this same information from your page’s right column, but it’s not presented in a very convenient format—so, it’s helpful for you to reorganize this information into a new format that’s as convenient as possible for your prospective backers to understand. As for effective rewards structures, we addressed this subject thoroughly in a previous blog entry.

Although you don’t want to ask people for money before you’ve sold them, the moment after you’ve sold them is an ideal time to ask them for the sale. Sometimes, sales are lost simply because nobody bothered to ask for them. So, because people examining your costs section may be ready to pledge, it’s helpful to add bold call-to-action buttons to your rewards graphic (and perhaps to additional places on your page where you might have sold people) and then to link all of those buttons directly to your rewards checkout page. These tasks should help to render checkout as effortless as possible for your backers, which is important because decreased “friction” will increase sales.

• Personnel & Partners

After considering your benefits-and-costs, those who like your offer will suddenly find themselves faced with the prospect of entering into a business relationship with your team—and, although some may pledge readily, others may hesitate due to lingering concerns about your team. This is especially relevant in crowdfunding because most backers are serial backers who endured at least one disappointment that they don’t want to repeat. So, it helps to resolve such concerns and, moreover, to help people to feel genuinely good about doing business with you. Customers feel better about transacting with you whenever you seem genuine, likable, trustworthy, competent, and guided by laudable values. So, it helps to develop these qualities in your team and then to manifest them accurately to others.

Presenting your team accurately in its best light can be achieved through many different items. At the very minimum, showing photographs with both names and titles (or even a brief video in which you greet backers as if you were meeting them in person) indicates openness, which contributes to trust. Company vision statements can showcase values that inspire others’ support. An engaging true product creation and/or development story can sometimes help build rapport while demonstrating virtue. Images presenting both schedules and budgets (even if most people don’t care to read the details) can provide evidence of competence. So can information about reputable partners. And references to your relevant past successes (especially any previous crowdfunding campaigns) can help to instill confidence that your current venture will also succeed. Et cetera.

Your team section might also be a good place in which to invite your backers to become your affiliates and/or to share your project on social media. Recruiting viewers to help others to pledge is a secondary priority, though, and your primary priority should always be helping them to pledge. Whenever they pledge, you can thank them personally, while adding a customized invitation for them to “help spread the word” about your project, which may supplement any sharing invitations that you’ve included on your page.

• FAQs & Answers

Although you may anticipate some of your viewers’ frequently-asked questions in advance, you’ll need to wait until after your campaign launches to start answering them in this section. Some such questions may indicate that your media needs revision. Thankfully, you can continue to revise nearly everything about your media until the instant that your campaign ends, at which moment it’ll “freeze” in place forever. Elements that you can’t change after you’ve launched include your campaign page URL (which is derived from your title), your start date, your end date, your funding goal, and the description of any reward as long as it’s being claimed by at least one backer.

Speaking of questions, is there anything that we omitted above that you’d like to learn more about for creating your own campaign media? If so, then please tell us in the comments below

You can also find all of these same tips (and more) in our comprehensive Ultimate Crowdfunding Success Guide, along with plenty more advice for running a successful crowdfunding campaign from conceptualization to fulfillment. Please download your copy today!