A Fulfillment Journey with Kickstarter, P. 1

This is Part 1 of a series documenting my personal experience on Kickstarter.


I started a small personal project on Kickstarter a few months ago. The product is a small rectangle of recycled bike tube with snaps to close around your headphones. I called it Tango, shot a video with my friend @mikeambs, some product shots with @YungRama, and we were in business.

As I go through the stages of the campaign, I'll be posting a few observations here.

1. Twitter advertising for a low-cost product was not profitable.

I spent $250 on Kickstarter promoting the following tweet:

Over the course of a week, it generated 78k impressions and ~1200 clicks to the Kickstarter:
That's a lot of impressions! Unfortunately, those clicks didn't convert at a meaningful rate. When the Twitter campaign stopped on July 29th, we had raised $89 from people that weren't on our email list. One of those payments was declined, so it was further reduced to $69.

For a $250 spend, that's a big No-Dice on Twitter advertising. If the price point had been higher, or converted better, maybe it would be different. i.e., if the 3 backers I gained from the Twitter campaign had spent $165 each and there was a 50% margin on the product, we would have broken even:

  $495 Gross ($165 x 3)
- $250 Twitter 
- $245 Manufacturing & Fulfillment
----------------
  $0

So, if I had a margin > 50% or a price point higher than $165, the advertising would have a fighting chance at being beneficial.

Also worth mentioning is that people may have just, you know, not liked the product. Good products that people actually want are cheaper to promote :)

2. There is a built-in Kickstarter Audience.

We debated whether to even launch on Kickstarter and allow them to take a % of sales, but the advice I'd been given was that increased sales would more than cover it. That turned out to be True. Traffic from Kickstarter itself accounted for 37% of revenue:

37% of the $1,013 we raised is about $375. Given that Kickstarter itself will take about $50, that's a pretty clear benefit. Plus, it meant not having to deal with building a micro-site ourselves, which meant launching faster.

3. Email Conversions are hard to estimate.

I announced the launch of the campaign by sending an email to my mailing list of about 5,000 friends, family, employees and customers. I had expected it to convert at something like 3%, so the math would look like this:

5,000 emails * .03 = 150 people  
150 * $10/Tango = $1,500  

We would crush our $1,000 campaign goal on the first day. Yay!

Instead, after the first day we'd raised $250, and about half of that was from friends and family. I suspect their support was more to me than the Tango, or that they were at least biased towards the product due to it's relationship to me.

As it turned out, I needed that support. Without them, we wouldn't have even made it over the finish line.


That's it for now. More soon as we go through getting the Tango's made, packaging done, and finally– fulfillment by Whiplash.

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James Marks
29 August 2016
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