In June of last year, a few months into the global pandemic, Boz Zou reached out for help with his UVMask’s pre-launch campaign.
The catch? We only had 2 weeks until the campaign would go live!
I know what you are thinking… “$0 to $5M in 6 months?! That’s hardly achievable by most startups!”
And it wasn’t an easy journey — but the milestones we hit along the way were exciting:
In this in-depth case study of our UVMask campaign, we’ll break down exactly what we did to hit each of those milestones and take you behind the scenes of the most successful mask campaign ever.
So… how much should your campaign raise in the first 48 hours?
The truth is, even raising $10,000 in the first 24-48 hours sets you on the path for great success, given that the average total campaign raise on Kickstarter is $10,000 — total!
Let that sink in.
Your only goal, in the beginning, is to cross your initial funding target. This sets you up with the momentum you need to keep going throughout the entire campaign.
A fatal mistake startups make is simply setting their funding goal way too high. Like the guys from Ubuntu Edge:
Yes, you read that correctly — $32 million fixed funding goal.
When I came across the campaign back in 2013, I thought it was a joke. But they ended up breaking all records at the time, raising over $12 million!
Sadly, it was Fixed Funding — meaning they had to reach their goal in order to collect their funds — so no money changed hands.
Don’t be like Ubuntu.
For UVMask, we went with a modest $20,000 that we reached within a few hours of going live.
Now, you may ask: But what if the goal I set is not enough to cover my costs?
And that’s a great question!
The answer is — I guarantee you will not reach any meaningful funding if you started high in the first place!
It’s the age-old chicken-egg problem!
People see a high funding target, so they don’t back it in fear that the project will not get fully funded. Which means the funding remains low, and other visitors won’t back it because it doesn’t have social credibility — a very hard loop to break out of!
And sure, people probably know Kickstarter doesn’t charge money upfront, but this is a strong psychological block they simply can’t get over.
So my advice is to start low — as low as possible while also making it realistic (i.e. don’t put $5,000 if you are launching a campaign for an e-bike that costs $2,000).
You’ll have a 10x higher chance of hitting $100,000 if you started out with a funding goal of $20,000 and reached it, than if you start off with $100,000 right out the gate.
And remember — even if you don’t reach your desired end target, you can always cancel the campaign before the timer hits zero. No harm done.
So what’s the formula to set your initial funding target?
Imagine you are a band performing a concert. You need fans — or an audience — to show up.
If you have no fans, you can still play. But playing at an empty stadium is no fun! And you won’t be collecting anything at the gate either.
Now, let’s look at an example and do a little math.
If your product costs $200 and your initial funding goal is $20k, you’ll need 100 people to back you in the first 24-48 hours in order to reach that goal.
And assuming 2% of your subscribers (fans) convert — a fairly typical number in the crowdfunding space if you target the right people — you’ll need 5,000 subscribers before you launch!
So, how did we manage to raise $100k in the first 48 hours?
With an average initial price of $79, we were going to need 1,265 backers… and at a conversion rate of 5%, that meant over 25,000 leads!
But we only had 2 weeks to run a pre-launch campaign… so we had to think of something else…
The backbone of any successful crowdfunding campaign is the marketing brief — a document that assists the whole marketing team in understanding the product and customer, and identifying their needs, wants, and fears — to eventually set the right tone for the whole campaign.
Typically, we’d spend a week or two understanding our potential backer and putting together the relevant brief.
But we were running and gunning, as timing and being first-to-market was so critical to this campaign.
So instead of launching the campaign with a full-blown marketing brief, our Ads, Copywriting and Visual Departments got together to understand the product from all angles:
And while we were working and refining the brief, we decided to launch the campaign with the following initial position — UVMask inactivates 99.99% of all pathogens, viruses, and air pollutants.
We quickly set-up a simple landing page (a special page for collecting leads) that had the main differentiators clearly laid out:
We fired up Facebook ads and the results were instantly obvious:
We knew we were onto something big so we stepped on the gas to collect as many leads as we could before going live as the launch date was now set in stone — June 25th.
While we collected leads, we also ran a small email marketing campaign to warm them up. We sent 3 emails to each lead (although we recommend 5-7 in CreatorClub.com where we also share specific examples):
By launch day, we had just 2,000 leads… but we couldn’t wait…
So, we hit the button and launched our campaign!
When I woke up the next morning to see how UVMask was doing, I was not surprised to see we had already crossed the $50k milestone.
And within the first 48 hours, we hit 6-figures!
A new campaign, from a new creator, with a brand new concept… and yet it was already trending towards 7-figures easily!
To do this for UVMask, we relied mostly on Facebook ads, our own community, and the Kickstarter algorithm which instantly picked us up because of the record-breaking action.
Here’s the breakdown for the first 24 hours:
That’s a 5% conversion rate — which means 1 out of every 20 visitors to the page backed the project!
The average order value was rather high at $161 — and this would increase even more over the duration of the campaign. And the funding per visitor was also high at close to $8.
These stats were enough to convince us that we were onto something big.
And they propelled the campaign forward, and on to become our most successful campaign to date with over $5.5M raised — and the 14th most successful campaign in its category on Kickstarter… ever!
It was also the most challenging, most draining, and most exciting (all at the same time) campaign we’d ever run!
Kickstarter would go on to close the campaign three times in a death-defying experience that words can’t even begin to describe.
Neither we nor any other mask was allowed to talk openly about viruses, bacteria, let alone killing them in under 1 second!
This brings me to one of the main reasons why UVMask was so successful in the first place and what helped tremendously in hitting the 6-figure mark so quickly.
Before I share that reason, please answer the following question in your head — don’t skip down.
Which of the following is the main reason for any startup’s success?
Give it a thought for a minute.
The correct answer may surprise you — it’s the timing.
In a must-watch talk on Why Startups Succeed, billionaire-investor Bill Gross sheds light on it.
UVMask launched amid a global pandemic where everyone on earth was in dire need of the best protection possible from the virus. We promised the ultimate solution.
Coolest Cooler’s first campaign launched in December and failed to reach its goal (thankfully), raising a mere <$100k.
Then, a few months later, it re-launched in the summer for a record-breaking $13M.
I often see winter products (jackets, ski accessories, etc.) launched in the summer/autumn in the hopes of backers receiving them for their winter adventure or holidays.
Or vice-versa, summer products get launched earlier in the year in the hopes of sending them during the summer period.
Don’t make that now-obvious, but an unwise mistake.
You must launch when your potential backer is thinking about the problem you are trying to solve. Not earlier, not later.
When your shipping starts doesn’t even remotely matter as much as the right timing.
(We’ll teach you this and many more advanced tactics on raising multiple, five, six, and even seven figures successfully in our upcoming launch of CreatorClub.com.)
The other main factor that contributed significantly to the initial success of UVMask was Facebook advertising.
With the help of the Sprint Crowdfunders’ Fund, we spent over a quarter of a million dollars on Facebook ads!
That might sound like a lot… but thanks to our tight preparation, we had our first sale from ads just an hour after the launch and achieved an average of 9 ROAS (return on ad spend) during the second day of the campaign.
All our ads had “just launched” badges or text mentioning that — it is essential to let people know about the early bird deal.
Not everything went well, of course, although you can’t tell 🙂
Yep! UVMask just “Lunched” instead of “Launched”! Whoops!
Did we turn it off? Nope!
Instead, this silly mistake brought us most of our early advertising results.
You see, the Facebook algorithm rewards advertisers for high rates of engagement.
And can you guess which form of engagement has the highest impact?
When the ad went live, a lot of people were eager to “correct” us. Nobody could resist commenting that it’s not “Lunched” but “Launched”.
And as comments are one of the highest forms of engagement, Facebook’s algorithms showed it to more people.
And we noticed some abnormally high conversion rates!
So instead of turning it off, we joined the jokers in the comments and began making our jokes too:
Tech I Want is one of the best sources of organic traffic in the TCF Ecosystem.
It’s always good to face your mistakes and make fun of them, especially when they’re the reason for great results!
So what lesson did we learn? Do you need to start filling your copy with mistakes from now on?
There’s a significant risk that this will backfire. That people will start reporting them. And that Facebook will block your ads. But always think of ways to increase the engagement of your ads!
Another key to the advertising success was broad targeting.
Dust, pathogens, viruses, and pollution are universal and realizing that gave us an idea to broaden our targeting for related interests/topics and those not that much related at first sight.
In doing that, we got a BIG help from Google Analytics — the Affinity and Other Interests categories help to discover directions that we didn’t even consider.
We sorted out all the sources according to transactions and carefully checked out which source had the highest eCommerce conversion rate.
So we went ahead and created ads on Facebook targeting people with those interests, which helped keep the momentum going. The best performing interests were News, Business and Finance, Cooking, and Astronomy — yes, we were as surprised as you about the last one!
The last strategy we used that worked really well was answering comments.
Every day, we received a considerable amount of questions and comments on all our ads.
So, we divided that work amongst the team and managed to answer all of them.
But answering hundreds of questions and comments a day — especially when they are about specific technical features — is no easy feat!
But we created an internal FAQ file with all the answers that we could copy and paste, and were done in no time!
Reacting quickly to your community shows you are committed to 1/ providing excellent customer support 2/ timely answers to urgent questions and 3/ responding to concerns backers might have.
As you can see, people were actively searching for UVMask on Google during the Kickstarter launch:
To achieve high SEO rankings, you need to include your product’s name in both the URL on Kickstarter and in the main headline on the campaign page.
Some creators opt-in for short headlines for their URLs, but that’s a mistake from an SEO perspective.
You want to use as many keywords as you can in your headline so that Google picks it up more easily and ranks you higher for certain words.
Initially, until Google learned about “UVMask” it was only suggesting UV Mask for those who searched for it, but that term already had quite a few searches already.
A cool trick we used into tricking Google to start ranking UV Mask higher was sending a press release containing the words “UV Mask” (written separately) in the headline:
Since prnewswire.com generally receives a lot of traffic and is also high domain authority, Google picks up the word combo and starts showing it higher and higher.
Now, let’s talk about getting into big-ass media outlets and how we did it.
Some significant challenges we faced:
When a journalist gets pitched a product that promises 99.99% protection against viruses and bacteria, they expect to see proof verifying the claims.
The certification was in the process but was taking longer than expected, which wasn’t helping.
UVMask uses a first-of-its-kind consumer-grade UV-C light. This form of LED tech has never seen practical implementation in face mask purification.
The light intensities and time required have been too impractical to purify effectively at the speed we breathe. Until UVMask came along!
However… journalists from top media can’t share a story and encourage their readers to buy a mask with all these claims without testing it first!
They will never risk their reputation, no matter how creative and groundbreaking our (or your) idea is.
As you can imagine, amid a global pandemic, the market was flooded with all sorts of masks!
One reply from a journalist says that after their first and only mask-related article, they got 18 pitches, all asking:
“Would you be interested in covering our mask?”
When you add no certification and no samples to the fierce competition, getting noticed by the reporters becomes quite the challenge!
And even with all these challenges, we managed to get featured in quite a few places:
We conducted deep research into all of our competitors during the Kickstarter campaign and collected up to 20 popular masks performing well in the media.
We then reached out to all the journalists who covered them.
We focused on the product features, and we tried to show its uniqueness by mentioning the main problems that lead to the creation of UVMask.
Here’s the structure we used for some of the pitches that got us coverage:
As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest obstacles was the lack of media samples. To work around this, we used several tactics.
Whenever journalists asked for review samples, we sent them replies asking about the possibility of publishing an article now and providing them with an exclusive sample unit when we started mass production.
That strategy ultimately got us featured on Forbes.
Once we got UVMask published there, we started to include the name “Forbes” as an example of reputable media who had agreed to these terms, making us more trustworthy.
The next successful strategy was just being honest with journalists.
In the pitches, we mentioned that we only had a few samples available and that we couldn’t send them as we used them to create promotional content.
We instead suggested having video calls and showing them our product or sending them pictures directly from our office so journalists can be confident that we have an existing, working prototype.
As a result, we didn’t get any negative responses from the media about not having samples. Here’s what the Forbes journalist wrote:
Now, here are the key strategies we used to raise an additional $1.5M using two simple tools — BackerKit and CrowdOx (now owned by BackerKit) — that helped us manage what color, size, and add-ons people wanted.
I know, it sounds too good to be true, but it happened:
You are probably wondering, what on earth can help raise so much money?
The truth is, it’s simply a continuation of your hard work during the live campaign period on Kickstarter and Indiegogo InDemand and is helping you utilize your existing backer base.
These tools allow raising an additional (up to) 25% of your total funding. In our case, after raising over $4.2M during the live campaigns, we raised an extra 25% ($1.5M) in our post-campaign efforts.
They allow backers to upgrade to higher product tiers (i.e., from 1x UVMask to 2x UVMask at a discount), buy other related products, purchase add-on accessories, and even leave tips while choosing their delivery address, mask size, and order details.
In essence, you increase the AOV (average order value) from each customer by (up to) 25%.
The way it works is the following:
Let’s get into the details.
I’ve laid out the numbers from the crowdfunding and pledge management platforms (BackerKit and CrowdOx) we used to manage backer shipping information and product preferences.
The AOV on Kickstarter was $210 and slightly higher on Indiegogo as we naturally raised the price to accommodate the higher fees (from 5% to 8% if you come from Kickstarter).
The AOV on BackerKit was higher as we ran a mini-launch of another product called UVMask Lite — a stripped-down version of UVMask without the batteries and UV-C light.
That mini-launch alone brought in over $100K in a week while backers were waiting to get their hands on the original UVMask.
The next primary strategy contributing massively towards increased AOV was adding many complimenting accessories, add-ons, and products that made the overall experience better.
Here’s an example:
Bought a mask? Great! What else would you need?
That’s right, filters!
Silicone straps, in case yours have worn out.
If you are into a more comfortable experience, you could go for the premium straps!
We offered tons more ideas for people to choose from that made their experience with the product better, more efficient, and more enjoyable:
Do you see a trend here?
Everything started with UVMask and then morphed into an ecosystem of products that you would be interested in and spend some money on.
Think of the “Frequently bought together” section that you see on Amazon that is looking to offer you completing products, services, and accessories.
So for your gadget, make a list of all potential accessories, services (Apple Care, anyone?), apps, and complementing products that could make the experience:
We already had a Facebook VIP group which we advertised heavily during the prelaunch campaign, in our Kickstarter updates and on the campaign pages itself.
So to get more insights on our audience, we started posting different polls.
This type of post is more effective when your campaign is live. Your audience already knows about your product and what to expect from it.
Another tremendously important aspect to consider during your live campaign is:
Now, you might be wondering, how on earth are cancellations useful, these people don’t even care about my product anymore?
And this couldn’t be further from the truth (although some really don’t care anymore, and that’s totally fine!)!
These people actually had a reason for why they canceled in the first place and finding out that reason will help you shape your message in a way that you get inside your customers’ heads!
Right after each cancellation, we sent a survey asking them of that reason and offering to win them back with a special discount if they decided to do so.
We received extremely helpful feedback that literally transformed how our page looked when we moved from Kickstarter to Indiegogo (more on this later).
How come, you may ask?
And the answer is – we started to dig deeper into people’s hopes, fears, dreams and desires.
And it changed everything!
Our conversion rate stayed the same and even increased on Indiegogo!
Right after the live Kickstarter campaign ended, we had to find a way to keep taking pre-orders.
We had built up all these traffic sources linking to the project, and that we had to leverage the left-over traffic.
To do that, we moved to Indiegogo InDemand — a pre-order platform (essentially a Kickstarter competitor) that allows a no-deadline campaign.
Think of it as a pre-order store with everything you need to keep sales rolling in. There, we raised an additional $1M:
Another great trick we used with Facebook ads is to utilize a tool that allows us to change the end destination URL of the ad.
That way, all our successful Kickstarter ads were automatically transferred to Indiegogo without being stopped, which would have dramatically decreased their performance!
Raising $5.5M+ within several months is never easy.
It’s never by accident, it’s really hard and it comes with its own set of challenges.
The reality is, you don’t even need to raise that much in order to be successful in the first place.
Did you know that Peloton started with a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, raising only a ‘mere’ $300k, for now, a billion-dollar company?
Currently, they sell billions of dollars worth of bikes every year, have 3,000+ employees and are over 9 years in business.
The simple truth is, you need to get started and you need to keep going.
Ideally, you want to have partners who you can trust along the way.
Apply to work with us today and turn your idea into the next success story.