Two Strategies to Recover Pledges and Failed Credit Card Payments on Kickstarter

Your campaign has been successfully funded – congratulations! But wait, some Kickstarter payments failed for some backers. You see that many of those pledges aren’t going through and backers (and funds) are being categorized as “Errored Backers”.

What do you do?

With a Kickstarter campaign, you can get people to pledge to contribute to your campaign, but you don’t get access to any of those funds until much after the campaign. Even more importantly, a backer’s credit card does not get charged until the end of the campaign and only gets charged if your campaign manages to fully reach its goal. 

With hundreds or thousands of backers being charged at once, it is completely normal for a portion of these credit cards charges to fail. Despite your best intentions to capture all payments, credit card charge failures can be from a variety of reasons such as insufficient funds or fraud protection from the backer’s credit institution.

What percentage of Kickstarter payments usually fail?

The image below is a percentage of failed credit card charges from 11 different campaigns (information courtesy of LaunchBoom). These campaigns have raised over $100K and have average pledge amounts between $47 and $526. 

kickstarter payment failed

From what we can see here, the average percentage of failed credit card charges hovers right around 3%. 

When estimating how much of your funds will actually come through, be sure to include into your projections that approximately 3% of your backer contributions will not even come through at the end. 

Two strategies to lower the percentage of failed Kickstarter payments

As mentioned earlier, when your campaign ends (and if you have successfully met your goal) then the backers’ credit cards get charged. Here’s a full breakdown of the timeline of what happens after the campaign ends. 

  • Campaign Ends — credit cards are charged. A percentage of backers become errored backers and have 1 week to fix their credit card.
  • 7 days after end — all errored backers become dropped backers and can no longer fix their credit card issues.
  • 14 days after end — money is transferred from Kickstarter to your bank account.
  • Soon after you receive your funds from Kickstarter — you’ll send a survey to your backers to gather important information about their order like their shipping address.

Here are two strategies to decrease the number of failed credit card charges.

1. Send personal messages to Errored Backers

When a backer’s credit card fails, Kickstarter immediately sends them a notification asking them to fix the issue within 7 days. This is useful, but you can also take matters into your own hands and communicate with your backers directly. It’s always better to hear directly from the campaigner (imagine hearing from the CEO fo your favorite brand!) so be sure to include this in your post-launch strategy.

Here’s how to do this after your campaign ends:

Go to Backer Report. 

Click the “All backers” dropdown then choose “Errored backers”.

After you’ve selected your Errored Backers, you have the option to message just those backers and can message them directly all at once.

The message(s) to decrease credit card failures

Here’s the first message, sent right after the campaign ends:

Hey there!

I noticed that your credit card failed to charge for your pre-order! I wanted to personally reach out to let you know that you only have 1 week to fix it in Kickstarter. If you don’t, then our team can’t guarantee that you’ll get your at your Kickstarter discount.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

-[your name]

Here’s the second message that should be sent 6 days after the campaign ends, one day before Errored Backers become dropped pledges. 

Hey there,

I just want to remind you that this is your last chance to update your credit card information on Kickstarter. If you don’t, then our team can’t guarantee that you’ll get your at the discounted price.

Please login to Kickstarter and correct your credit card information as soon as you can. You can save a new credit card to your account by heading to the Payment Methods tab of your Account Settings and clicking the green ‘Add a new card’ button.

If you don’t by tomorrow, you will be dropped as a Kickstarter backer!

Please let me know if you have any questions!

-[your name]

As you can see, this is a very generic blast to all Errored Backers. To get an even higher response rate, be sure to go through your Errored Backers one-by-one to personalize your message to them.

2. Get all missing information with BackerKit

how to recover failed kickstarter payments with backerkit

BackerKit is a tool that makes pledge management a breeze for your crowdfunding campaign. One of their best features (along with product upsells and address confirmation) is their ability to recover failed payments. 

With BackerKit, you import all of your backers into their system once the campaign is over. Thankfully, Kickstarter provides information of dropped pledges and backers with failed credit cards so their information will also be included. These dropped backers are entered into the system with a pledge of $0, but BackerKit knows which reward they tried to pledge for.

When you send out surveys to your backers, BackerKit also sends surveys to the dropped backers and gives them another chance to enter in their credit card information and pay for the reward they tried to buy on Kickstarter. Voila! Even more dropped pledges get recovered in this way.

Be sure to use this information to properly budget for how many payments will likely fail at the end of your campaign. More importantly, go into your campaign armed with the knowledge that you can do something about the (inevitable) failed credit card payments at the end of your campaign.

At the end of the day, recovering your Errored Backers and dropped pledges is one of many things you should do immediately after your campaign ends. You’ll also have to create a communications plan for your backers, set expectations and set up post-campaign pre-sale channels.

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