Pre-Launch 101: Creating a List of Super Engaged Backers Before You Launch

The number one myth for crowdfunding is that if you launch on crowdfunding, people will immediately come to your campaign and you will get millions of dollars.

Again, that’s a myth.

In truth, crowdfunding platforms are multipliers: they build on the work you’ve put in and the crowd you’ve built for yourself. You can’t expect the crowdfunding platform to bring the audience to you right away, you have to start building one for yourself first.

That’s why the “pre-launch” phase matters so much. During this phase, you’ll get to do two key things:

  • Build a dedicated crowd that’s ready to support your project whenever you launch
  • Hone your messaging and figure out what works and what doesn’t work

Those two things alone can make or break a campaign. There’s no crowdfunding without a crowd and there’s no successful pre-selling without knowing what your message is and what works.

Landing Page Creation

The purpose of a pre-launch page, also called a landing page, is to capture people’s email addresses.

Think of it this way, salespeople used to go from house-to-house to physically knock on doors to sell something. In the modern age, emails are your new house address and inboxes are your new door knocks.

It’s not easy for people to give email addresses, so when someone signs up, there is a much higher likelihood that they’ll support your campaign.

There are a few things that a landing page needs to have. All other things are extra and count as the cherry on top:

  • Hero photo
  • The product value proposition
    • What is it?
    • What does it do?
    • Why is it exciting?
  • Include a clear incentive. Why do they need to sign up now?
    • The carrot i.e. sign up now to access the 40% off early bird deal

I’d recommend using a tool like ClickFunnels to quickly build your landing page. If you need help creating your landing page, I’ve created a free online video course, the Crowdfunding Starter Kit, to take you through the entire process.

Here’s an example below for a pre-launch landing page:

A lot of people get stuck trying to decide what features they should include on the pre-launch page.

Or sometimes, creators usually hone in on a feature they think is best – the reason WHY they created the product in the first place. However, other people (the larger market) might like something else about your product.

The best way around not knowing?

Ask people.

In this digital age, the best way to ask people is to create a survey with your top questions. Ask anyone and everyone you know to fill it out.

Friends.

Families.

Coworkers.

Ask these people to share in their networks so that you have the most information you can get.

Remember to ask them to leave an email address at the end of the survey! Collecting emails in this way is the easiest way to start building your crowd.

Here’s how to create a landing page that converts 50% of your visitors into people ready to back your project on crowdfunding.

Now let’s talk about some other ways to start building your crowd. There are both low-budget and high-budget strategies to think about, so be sure to vet what is right for your campaign before moving forward.

Low-Budget Strategies To Build a Crowd

Go into your crowdfunding campaign not expecting the platform to provide any funding (this prepares you for the “worst case scenario”). The way to get fully funded is to get your own audience, the way you direct them to your campaign and the way you motivate them to pledge to your campaign.

Everyone talks about advertising, but what happens if you don’t have the budget to do that? Can you still run a crowdfunding campaign? AND successfully raise the money you need to bring your project to life?

The answer: absolutely!

Let’s go over some low-budget strategies to start building your community from the ground up.

Friends, family and personal contacts

Getting a detailed list of anyone who you’ve ever met or somehow connected to you is a great first start for doing this.

So, let’s talk about how to create and organize a list of contacts.

Doing so will help you build an audience of who to communicate with.

There are people:

  • Who are discovering you through your product
  • Who you know or who are your friends and family and you’re connected to.

People in the second group might not have any idea you’re working on this but you have some connection with them. This segment is what we’re focusing on right now. We’ll split them into different tiers:

  • Tier 1: someone who you know pretty well and you’ve had contact with in the last 2 years. If you reach out they’ll say “oh yes, of course I know who this person is”.
  • Tier 2: someone who is an acquaintance. Someone you’ve met at some point in your life and have not contacted so often. Maybe a business colleague with. Someone who you’ve met through a mutual friend or someone you’ve just met once.
  • Tier 3: people who you haven’t met yet. People you’ve connected with through LinkedIn or friends you’ve made through Facebook.

The reason why we split them into different categories is because you’ll be speaking to those people differently according to your relationship with them. You’ll be speaking to them very differently depending on if you have a shared history or if you’ve just met a few times.

Export your Gmail address book

  • Go to contacts in Gmail
  • Click “export”
  • Select “all my contacts”
  • Select “CSV” format

Export your Facebook friends email list

  • Create Yahoo email (only purpose is to export list, we’re not using the email at all)
  • Click “Contacts”
  • Click “Import from Facebook”
  • Click “Continue”
  • Go to “Contacts” app on Mac
  • Click “Add Account”
  • Add “Yahoo” account
  • Select all contacts
  • Click “Export as vcard” (do this about 500 contacts at a time since there are file size limits)
  • Upload to vCard to CSV converter
  • Copy the first name and email into the same Google Sheets as the Gmail contacts

Once you have all your contacts in one big sheet, you’ll start deleting rows of those who you don’t know or who you don’t want to talk to about your project. The other rows that are leftover manually sort them into different tiers so you’ll know how to communicate with them about your campaign.

Boost on-the-ground tactics

Expand your reach by investing your time into other on-the-ground tactics.

  • Sell on the street to passers-by
  • Go door-to-door, asking for recommendations
  • Host a party at the house of a potential customer
  • Attend conferences specific to your industry
  • Speak at local MeetUps or public library events
  • Submit your project to the local newspaper

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Spend your time finding people, talking to people and building relationships. That’s the only way to get your idea, project and brand out there.

With these low-budget strategies above you have the opportunity to be directly connected with people.

There’s a higher chance that you’ll be communicating with these people 1-on-1 through phone calls, direct email, face to face conversations or even Facebook Messenger chatting.

This is highly valuable since you’ll be able to get customer feedback and insight even before you launch your crowdfunding campaign. You’ll be able to get answers to any questions you might be unsure of and even get answers to questions you never knew you had.

Talking to so many people and practicing your project pitch day in and day out will also help you nail down your pitch for when it does come time to create your crowdfunding campaign page.

  • Offer “friends & family discount”
  • Secret perks

High-Budget Strategies To Build a Crowd

If you have some dollars to spare, consider moving into using the higher-budget strategy most campaigns use to start building their crowd.

Paid advertising is a great way to generate interested leads for your project. Especially if you don’t have fans yet.

Facebook, Instagram and Google are the best so far at helping entrepreneurs generate email leads and build up a remarketing list.

For first-time entrepreneurs, Facebook and Instagram will be your best bet, the prices are low, the targeting is incredibly detailed and the reach is tremendous.

Know your audience with pixels

A pixel is a code of javascript on a page that renders when someone performs an action that you want them to perform.

Pixels can be set to track various things such as when someone views a page, or gives you their email or even when they pre-order your product. It’s essentially a special tracking code that will record a lead that you get directly from your advertising. This way you will know if your advertising is working or not.

Moreover, Facebook will be able to keep tabs of those who go to your website (even if they don’t subscribe) and you’ll be able to retarget them again down the line.

Useful links:

Beyond that, there are several facets you need to take care of to get your advertising started:

  • Image
  • Headline
  • Text
  • Destination URL (show something similar to what the ad is showing)

Also take into account the “under the hood” things about who the ad will be targeted to and how much budget you’ll be spending that you should also know.

Budget your ad spend

Mark Zuckerberg has made it as easy as possible for you to spend a lot of money without knowing that you can save money. The standard “boost your event” “boost your post” are inefficient ways to spend money on Facebook. The most efficient and targeted way to spend your dollars on Facebook is directly sending out information as sponsored ads.

When you’re budgeting for your project, be sure to work backwards to understand how many emails you actually need for your campaign to be successful.

Refer to my other article here for an in-depth look at how to budget ad spend for your campaign depending on your goals.

Remember to reserve some ad budget for what you will need DURING the campaign as well. This will be for running advertisements that get people to pre-order your products, rather than ask for their email.

Create your audience

Access the Ads Manager on Facebook to build advertising.

Before you make any advertisements, be sure that you have a relevant audience that you will be targeting your ads to.

The key to being successful with generating leads in this way is to tackle customer psychographics rather than demographics.

When you’re building audiences on the platform be sure to target factors like interests, occupations, TV shows, popular bands and shopping behavior rather than age or gender.

Explore the Facebook platform and take into account that you can target almost anything people can “like” or be a “fan” of on Facebook.

Think outside the box when you’re working with Facebook audience targeting. For example, a power bank product might appeal to those who love The Walking Dead and back-country camping. You never know until you try to get into the deep psyche of your potential customers.

Mastering high-level Facebook advertising strategy means that you’ve successfully figured out your audience psychographics and know how to target an audience based on that rather than the usual demographic set.

To be sure you’re getting the most targeted people, be sure to layer in interests like crowdfunding, Kickstarter or Indiegogo with your audience groups too.

An ideal audience size when you’re targeting an audience on Facebook is about 2 million people. Any larger and you’ll get more clicks, but lower conversions. Any smaller and you’ll likely be spending a lot of money per click.

You can make an audiences that target just your local area, or even audiences that target the entire nation or even target international locations.

If you’re looking to do a global launch for your product, be sure to also look into adding the top 5 countries interested in crowdfunding.

I’d recommend to split those out into their own audiences because the way they interact with each ad might be different and it will give us more specific information about which ads are working for which countries. Ad A might work well for the US, but horribly for Australia, but Ad B might be the complete opposite.

The top 5 countries interested in crowdfunding are:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • Germany

Lastly, the best audience will be those who look alike those who have already opted into your mailing list. Facebook has algorithms that match the characteristics of those who have been interested in the past with those who might be interested in the future.

As such, once you reach the threshold of 100 emails, be sure to start creating “lookalike audiences” to capitalize on emails you’ve already collected. Upload that to the Facebook platform and their algorithms will do the rest of the work.

Let’s look at an example for someone who might be interested in pre-ordering a cool new cooler product.

Choose the campaign objective.

To start off, we’ll go something more straightforward and say our objective is to general leads so “lead generation”. You’ll name the campaign “Landing Page Leads”.

Think of this Campaign level setup as a container for the advertising groups that you’ll be making.

Set up the Ad Set.

The next part is to configure the Ad Set level. This is where the majority of the targeting is done. You’ll figure out which groups you’ll want to target and create a separate Ad Set for each of them.

You can narrow down your audience to be more specific too. Say you’re only looking for those who like coolers and enjoying going to the beach. Click “Narrow Further” to get someone who meets both criteria.

For placements, Facebook automatically gives you placements everywhere: Facebook, Instagram and the Audience Network.

This is great for most instances, but if you have a really big Instagram following and you’re known as someone who is incredibly sincere and authentic there, maybe you’d want to remove Instagram targeting from your advertising.

As a note, if you end up using both Desktop and Mobile placements, you’ll probably be seeing about 85% of your traffic coming from Mobile anyway. That’s just the nature of the beast as more people transition more to scrolling through their Facebook on mobile.

When you’re setting up the budget and schedule make sure you ALWAYS click “Manual” under Bid Amount. Facebook automatically picks the “Automatic” choice since that is how they make most their money with people who don’t really know or understand advertising.

By clicking Manual, Facebook will show you an outrageous suggested bid to try to get the most out of you. Know that the average cost of a Facebook click is 38 cents. The golden range we’re looking at is between 45 to 75 cents. Paying more for clicks is just crazy.

Configure the Ad level.

The final part is actually making the ad itself.

I personally like using the Single Image ad, but here is where creativity and testing can take you far. Feel free to try Carousel ads vs Single Image ads to see how they perform to your audience.

Note that Facebook really dislikes text on ads. The rule of thumb is that all images must have less than 20% text on it in order for Facebook to approve it. Here’s a great tool to use to see if your image passes Facebook’s strict image guidelines.

Go here to Facebook to learn more about Facebook Advertising.

After you’ve start running your ads, make sure to keep track of the metrics to see which ads are actually giving you good ROI (return on investment).

If you’ve been running ads and it’s getting no clicks and no conversions, be sure to turn them off so that the budget you’ve set continues going towards ads that are actually giving you more leads.

In two weeks, be sure to revisit your campaigns and make decisions moving forward. Answer the questions below:

  • What is the cost to acquire emails this way?
  • Did you allocate enough budget?
  • Is it sustainable? For how long?

In the end, your pre-launch phase will be what makes or breaks your campaign so be sure to spend time on it.

Be sure to use a combination of low- and high-budget strategies to get the word out about your project and build a community from the ground up.

If you need further help with setting up your landing page and email marketing campaigns, check out the Crowdfunding Starter Kit.

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