Building your campaign page is only half the battle. Yes, you do have to put a lot of effort into creating your campaign page, setting your target, and building your rewards, but if you don’t do any actual campaigning once that’s all done, you won’t be successful.
Why you need to build contact lists
Before I push ahead, I’m going to bust the myth that I’ve had to break repeatedly for first-time crowdfunders:
A popular platform will give me all the traffic I need to reach my target.
This is not what’s going to happen. Yes, you could get some traffic from the website you’re on, but that’s on the off chance that someone decides to pass the time by browsing campaigns, finding yours out of thousands of others, and then is persuaded enough by your page to choose to support it. Do you see how many pieces need to fall into place for that to work out?
Let’s move on to the important part: how to reach and convert your network into contributors.
Step 1) Identify your audiences
Think of your network like a series of concentric circles, starting at your inner circle of close family and friends, then moving out to wider and wider circles that encompass your acquaintances, colleagues, social media followers, and strangers who are only vaguely connected to you.
For the purposes of crowdfunding, we’re going to use three circles, and we’ll label them according to how you’ll use them: your first wave, your second wave, and your third wave.
Before you start, open up a spreadsheet and create a tab for each wave (so three tabs total). Create columns in each tab for names, contact information (like phone number and email), contribution status (ex. contacted, contributed, declined, pending response), and a space for notes or comments.
If you’re daunted by spreadsheets, I’ve created a template to help you get started.
First wave contributors: These are the people you can count on to contribute to your campaign on the first day.
Your first-day contributions are the most important. It makes you look like a success to the next wave of people who are coming to look at your campaign. People are a lot more likely to contribute to a campaign they think will succeed, so a really good first day will help you get more contributions down the line.
In your first wave tab, start listing people who you think fits that bill: someone who will be on your team and excited to support you; someone who you can contact ahead of time and who can be relied on to contribute on the first day of the campaign. Aim for at least 20 to 30 people. These will probably be your highest contributions too (for instance, your parents are more likely to choose your $500 reward than a Twitter follower), so this list can be the shortest of the three.
Make sure to fill out as much information as you can for each name. On this list, you’ll want an up-to-date email address (or, even better, a phone number) that you can be sure will connect you with the right person.
Second wave contributors: Your second wave is one level out from close family and friends. Think of them more like acquaintances or connections; people you don’t need to reach out to personally and who won’t be counted on to contribute.
In your second wave tab, start listing names and contact information. Aim for at least two to three times as many contacts as your first tab, since you can assume that not everyone on this list is going to contribute to your campaign or even respond to your messages.
This is also the tab where the contact information is going to get a little spottier. You’ll likely have a combination of email addresses, social media handles, and probably some information taken from business cards.
Third wave contributors: Your third-wave contributors covers anyone you’ve never met or contacted before. These are the people you’ll bring in once your campaign is well on its way (i.e. past that 30% mark): the influencers, bloggers, random internet strangers, etc.
This list is going to require the most research on your part. You’re going to have to spend a lot of time looking up blogs, influencers, online groups, Facebook communities, Reddit pages, and whatever else you can think of that’s relevant to your campaign’s topic.
Aim for about 20 to 40 names or links. This list will be a lot shorter than your second wave since it’ll be harder to find people who are relevant to your topic. Whatever you do, don’t add people outside the realm of relevence because you’ll start to veer dangerously into spam territory.
Contacting your list
Step 1) Prepare your first wave contributors
As I mentioned above, this is all about timing. Start at your first tab. Make your way down the list and contact them individually. Make sure you reach out well before the start of your campaign and ask them to contribute on the first day it launches. (You’ll need to remind them.)
Update the “status” column of your spreadsheet to remind yourself where they’re at (ex. contacted Feb 1, pending response Feb 1, declined, etc.) For bonus points, highlight that entire row in a color that corresponds with their status (like red for declined, yellow for pending, green after they’ve contributed).
Step 2) Prepare your emails
Everything will move really quickly once your campaign starts, so you’ll want to get your important emails prepared ahead of time. These emails are going to get sent to your first- and second-wave contributors. Write at least four:
- The first one will get sent to your first-wave contributors as soon as the campaign launches. This will announce your crowdfunding campaign, give people the link, and tell them a bit about your project.
- The second email will get sent shortly after your first one, to your second wave, also announcing your campaign.
- The third will get sent midway through your campaign to give everyone a status update, the link (again), and a reminder about the awesome rewards you have available.
- The fourth email will get sent during the last couple days of your campaign to remind everyone that it’s ending, tell them where your campaign is at, and encourage them to make any last contributions.
You’ll have to modify the details of your emails the day you send these out, but by and large you can write most of it ahead of time.
Step 3) Launch! And send your first wave email
The minute your campaign launches, send your announcement email to your first wave. You can also contact them personally if you prefer.
Step 4) Send your second wave
Once you’ve reached your 30% mark (or are past that first-day rush of contributions), send your third-wave email, begin your other marketing activities, and sit tight for a few days. Make the same notes in your second tab as you did in your first to keep track of who’s been contacted and when.
Step 5) Bring in your third wave
Once you’ve passed the important 30% mark, start reaching out to your second-wave list, likely through a variety of methods (emails, Tweets, Facebook messages, etc.). If you’re lucky, they’ll see your campaign and how amazingly well it’s doing and share it with their audience. Again, make sure to keep notes in your third tab.
Step 6) Send your third and fourth emails
Send the next emails at the appropriate times and keep going with your other marketing activities.
You’ve now mastered contact lists!