Crowdfunding sites like CircleUp, Indiegogo and Kickstarter are a form of social media geared toward fundraising. And a crowdfunding campaign landing page, in simple terms, is a low cost content management and e-commerce system. Social channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube are natural extensions for crowdfunding campaign outreach because friends, family members, and colleagues use social -- and these people are often early supporters.
But social media is difficult to use for targeting and managing subscriber communications, especially for people you’re not engaged with on social channels. So what should crowdfunding campaign teams do? That big stack of business cards and LinkedIn email addresses may be a pot of gold.
Speaking from experience as both a crowdfunding supporter and campaign leader, most crowdfunding campaigns are not effective with cross-channel opt-ins and communication. This negatively impacts crowdfunding results. Consider implementing an email marketing strategy before launching your crowdfunding campaign.
Search Engine Watch recently talked with Kyle Lacy of ExactTarget to discuss these issues. The conversation focused on opt-ins, channel preferences, segmentation, and how to avoid becoming a penalized spammer.
Erick Mott: Is using email to request contributions for a crowdfunding campaign (especially consumer products where a contribution is a "pre-order") considered spam?
Kyle Lacy: It all depends on how the email address was acquired at the beginning of the relationship. An email solicitation is completely normal and encouraged if the individual agreed to be sent email in the first place.
Through our Subscribers, Fans, and Followers research report, Channel Preference 2012, we actually found that 77% of consumers prefer to receive communication via email when it is a solicitation or promotional item. (Download the free report at www.exacttarget.com/sff).
EM: Aside from possibly alienating people, what are potential penalties when marketing your crowdfunding campaign via email?
KL: It all depends on how the email address was acquired in the first place. If the individual agreed to receive promotional messages, it is a given that promotional messages will be sent. (See CAN-SPAM details for more guidance).
EM: Virtual teams with small budgets often manage crowdfunding campaigns. What is the best way to collect and organize email addresses of familiar people -- like family members, friends and former colleagues – into an opt-in database?
KL: It depends on list size. With a smaller list, it may be easy to personally email each contact and ask them if they are okay with receiving crowdfunding campaign messages. For larger lists, I recommend sending out an opt-in email.
For the individuals that agree, start marketing. Former colleagues could be a different story. It doesn't matter the type of connection, you need to make sure you’re getting approval to send promotional email. Don't carpet bomb.
- You don't want to get penalized.
- You will raise more money.
For the individuals that do not respond or unsubscribe, be sure to remove them from the list.
Remember, an opt-in is extremely important to the health of any email marketing campaign.
EM: What should crowdfunding teams do to let their contacts know via social media that they’re running a campaign and to opt-in for related communications?
KL: It pays to be liked. According to a recent case study by Forrester Research, Inc., Facebook users who liked the Facebook page of a popular smartphone manufacturer were 5.6 times more likely to have purchased the brand’s device than non-fans. Simply put, consumers tend to buy from brands whose Facebook pages they like.
If it pays to be liked, it stands to reason that your page should garner as many likes as possible. I recommend using your subscriber list to grow your fan base by emailing invites to your Facebook page.
Create great content that is then shared via social media. Encourage people to click through to a tab (i.e. Facebook) or landing page where you’re encouraging them to give their email address. Social should be a community-driven platform, which encourages email acquisition.
EM: Do you have any data that shows consumers’ cross-channel activities that can help crowdfunding teams drive awareness, opt-ins and financial support?
KL: Here’s some data from our Channel Preference study to help with this question:
Five Key Takeaways
- Implement an email marketing strategy well before launching a crowdfunding campaign.
- Don’t spam people. Your team will create more trust, improve crowdfunding results and avoid CAN-SPAM and community penalties.
- Use social media to request email opt-ins for crowdfunding campaign news, opportunities, offers and issues.
- Use email marketing tools from companies like Constant Contact, ExactTarget and MailChimp (to name a few) to segment your audience and send key messages for greater relevance and response.
- Remember that many people are not comfortable responding to and sharing financial-related information on social channels. Email marketing provides more privacy and personalization; email and social work well together to achieve crowdfunding goals.