How to Leverage Previous Kickstarter Campaigns
Sam Schirmer - 09/20/2016

We're Back

So it's been a little while since our last blog post, but that's honestly because we've been working our asses off getting Private Die assembled and shipped to backers, then preparing for our next project: The End is Nigh. We're obviously excited to bring another game to the public, but this time, it feels different. We actually feel... prepared.

We Learned a TON

Leveraging our lessons we learned from our first campaign made preparation for this second campaign much less stressful. We worked just as hard, and maybe even a bit harder, but there is less of an unknown factor going into it. We know the key to a successful second campaign is using the infrastructure we built with the first campaign. Here's a quick list of things we did in the first campaign that are helping immensely when building this second one.

1) Alert Previous Backers

This seems obvious, but there's smart ways to go about it. The key to marketing is not to just trumpet your message or product to the uninitiated masses and depend on them to love you for it. The goal is to build an engaged audience. A warm list, so to speak, of even a few people that have proven to have even the slightest amount of interest is exponentially more useful than a massive list of cold contacts.

After the Private Die Kickstarter funded, we got a CSV file of all the backers and their contact information. We use a CRM/marketing automation tool called Hatchbuck to organize our contacts list and track vital information, such as engagement with our newsletter, website visits, and campaign metadata. The ability to send out a Kickstarter update to all Private Die backers to announce our new campaign, coupled with the awesome flexibility that Hatchbuck grants us to hone in on non-backers allows us to get our message out to everyone without being super spammy.

That last bit is important. With great power comes great responsibility. If we have your email address, we definitely understand that's a privilege, and we don't take it lightly. We do everything in our power to avoid spamming inboxes, and using Hatchbuck allows us to progressively remove contacts from our status update emails as soon as they become backers. When someone makes a pledge, they cease to get emails from us until the conclusion of the campaign, while non-backing contacts still receive periodic updates/nudges. People generally don't take kindly to being spammed, and the technology exists to prevent spamming people, so just use it.

2) Reviewer Networks

We sent out a bunch of press releases and demo copies of Private Die to all sorts of reviewers. We ended up with some good reviews, some non-responses, and some people that clearly just didn't actually write/record the review they agreed to and starting ignoring our inquiries. That groundwork is done now. Keep a list of the reviewers that were not only just good, but responsive. Those are the people that need to receive a demo copy of your new game.

Sure, shotgun out press releases to a few new people because, hey, why not? But demo copies? That costs money. Don't waste them, and take care of the people that took care of you. That means demos, word of mouth, Twitter shout-outs, and back-links. We have a shortlist of reviewers that we will be reaching out to for every campaign in the foreseeable future, and it's really useful. The Roll for Crit guys have been amazing, by the way, and we cannot recommend them enough.

3) Social Media

Personally, I hate social media goals and unlocks for campaigns. I think they're stupid. That said, I can be an idiot sometimes, and in this case, my opinion goes against all the data we've collected and read on the subject. Do them. Do everything you can in your power to get followers. Back to point #1 though, you want REAL followers. Going on and buying a bunch of Russian bot followers does nothing aside from maybe getting your account banned. Do it the right way.

I could talk all day about how to grow social media, and it'd be a way worse resource than whatever you'll find on the front page of Google, so I won't bother. In the context of this article though, make sure you get your backers engaged with you on social media before, during, and after your campaigns. Kickstarter campaigns are magical in that you have a 30 day period where people are hyper focused on you. Use that to build bonds that will last longer than those 30 days. Give updates via Twitter. Offer promotions for Facebook likes. Anything. This is your chance, so don't squander it. Already screwed this up with your last campaign? Start now.

In our case, we've been snowballing Twitter followers since the Private Die campaign, and now we're at almost 800 legit followers, and we have people direct messaging and tweeting at us that we don't know in real life. That's a huge boon because, again, point #1. Engagement. These people have gone out of their way to listen to us. When we announce an awesome new game coming to Kickstarter, these people want to know about it.

Put It All Together

Being able to directly speak to the backers of our previous campaign via updates and a segmented mailing list is invaluable. Avoiding the sunken time and cash wasted while trying to weed out legitimate reviewers is is invaluable. Having almost 800 people getting push notifications when we tweet something after a while (like a new game announcement) is invaluable.

All of these things were built up in our first campaign, and effectively using them in our newest campaign is going to be the key to success for us. As I type this, we are less than 9 hours from launch, and though I'm tired and ragged from prep work, I feel we are far more prepared than last time. Fingers crossed.