Now you are set-up, what are the next steps to promote your campaign without spending a fortune?
The most successful crowdfunding projects are the ones that get off to a flying start. A successful launch with early donations and supporters spreading the word is the foundation you are looking for. Here are some tips to achieve this:
- A campaign marketing plan which includes funding benchmarks is vital. It needs to be flexible to consider the twists and turns of all fundraising initiatives, but you need an outline plan. We’ll discuss the marketing channels you can use in this blog.
- Check you have all the content and assets (text, images, video) that you need. Strong images are especially important to ensure successful content creation across your social media, posters, flyers, emails, press release etc.
- ‘Save the date’ information should be sent to your database). Use the most effective channels to reach this group: emails, social media, postcards, posters, flyers website, telephone etc. You want this group to feel valued and get excited, so they (a) donate early and (b) spread the word.
- Plan your launch event. This can be in person or a digital event. It costs nothing to run a Facebook Live (which can be shared across Instagram and Youtube) In addition to the live stream you can add to your timeline or share to be viewed later increasing your launch audience size. Whichever you choose, remember to get your invites out early to raise awareness and ensure more people will attend/view.
- Get active on social media before the ‘official’ launch to begin to build, engage with, excite, and expand your audience. Begin to use hashtags (see Social Media) and seek out groups or forums that will support your campaign.
- The Official Launch
It is important to have some initial pledges lined up for the first hours of the campaign. This not only provides a great start but also secures the social proof to promote that will encourage your wider network to pledge.
Your launch needs blanket coverage being promoted across all your channels. If you have staff/volunteers available, you can also phone supporters to encourage them to give. If funds allow you can promote the launch via a paid Facebook campaign or Search Engine Marketing (Google Adwords).
Remember a launch event on Facebook Live can still have the elements of a live event (speeches, performance etc).
Email your database as part of your soft-launch and when your project goes live. Provide regular campaign emails sharing the latest news and reminders to pledge (if they have not already).
If you have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system this will help you track pledges but if you do not Excel (or similar) spreadsheets will work, so that you can make sure you are sending the correct information.
When planning your emails think carefully about content. If you have an email system (Mailchimp etc) they have lots of tips on what makes a good email and strong content. The Charities Aid Foundation published an article giving tips which can be found here ( https://www.cafonline.org/charities/fundraising/fundraising-fundamentals/multichannel-fundraising/online-fundraising-channels/email-fundraising).
On most Crowdfunding sites you will have the opportunity to send “updates”
to your supporters who have pledged at no cost. This is a brilliant way to keep in touch and keep them engaged with your project; after all they may decide to pledge for a second time.
For these updates (which you can send as regularly as you choose) include thank you messages to new pledges and news, call to action etc. As the campaign continues these pledges will come from new supporters, so this is your chance to keep them engaged.
For those supporters who have not yet donated you can use email, social media, website etc to keep them updated and encourage them to pledge.
Finally updates tend to be most frequent at the start and towards the end of a campaign to encourage initial and final donations.
Press and PR
Coverage in the press, radio, tv or in blogs will spread the word about the campaign and drive more pledges to your project at little or no cost.
If you already have a press list – great. If not or you need a refresh, ask your network for contacts and research local media via social networks. Don’t forget bloggers and influencers.
Email them details of your project or contact them via social media. Make sure they have details of your campaign and include your campaign page web address.
Timing is key for pr coverage. A crowdfunding project is interesting just after it launches with initial pledges, hits target or closes. If your campaign is picked up by the press, this is a great story to promote on your updates, social media, and website.
You can spend money on Facebook Ads, sponsored Tweet/Instagram posts but we are going to look at how you maximise your social media organic (free) reach.
Some basic rules for promoting your campaign on social media sites:
- Create a Hashtag for consistent use across all platforms. Ideally this should be 1-3 words that are memorable, catchy, and easy to type. Use this when posting for branding and to help people search for you.
- Share a variety of content such as stories, pictures, statistics, jokes, progress towards your target, messages of support, behind the scenes updates etc. You can build these into your plan and can re-use content across the campaign (so do not worry about new posts every time).
- In your plan have an idea of how often you will post on your social channels. Ideally no more than once a day across any channel. You can use a system like Hootsuite that manages posts across multiple channels. There is a subscription cost for these services and a spreadsheet can manage posts free of charge.
- Make sure you have a bank of good quality images to use. A post with an eye catching, image is more likely to be shared than just text.
- Posts should feel personal (not formal) as all social media is about engagement.
- Your profile pictures should be promoting the campaign so that every time someone looks at your profile, they will see your crowdfunder.
Your website is the first impression many people will have of you. It should have the basics on who you are, what you do, and how people can support you. So, it is the perfect place to feature your crowdfunding campaign.
At the very least make sure your campaign is featured on your homepage. This can be as simple as an image, copy and a link to the campaign page.
Remember to update your website with the news stories as you update your supporters by email/social media. If your site has a blog or stories section, create, or post relevant information to the campaign there.
When spreading news about a campaign you should keep in mind traditional marketing channels to reach people who do not engage digitally:
- Design a simple poster or a flyer that you can put up or distribute on noticeboards or in local shops/offices, libraries, community centres, universities etc.
- Attend community events to spread the word. Ask local groups or organisations to be included in their next newsletter or if you can present your project at their next meeting.
Finally, you should keep supporters engaged ready for you next campaign:
- Say thank you as loudly and publicly as you can. It is a good news story and success breeds success for your next crowdfunder.
- Thank as many people as possible personally. It takes time, but it is worth it.
- Send out social media posts about hitting target and acknowledge the people who helped you get there.
- Keep your backers updated with your developments, such as the impact of their pledge. You want to keep their support for your next project. Remember If there are hitches, make sure you let everyone know. It is important to be transparent.
- If offering rewards, make sure you deliver on them and if they are going to be delayed or adjusted, keep your backers updated.
This article is culled from Non Profit Growth.
Thank you so much for this wealth of knowledge! I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with the marketing aspect, but this helps put things into perspective.