Since we launched our most recent campaign for Traveler on Indiegogo a lot of people have asked me why we chose Indiegogo (IGG) instead of Kickstarter (KS). I thought I would detail the reasons we had for making the choice we did and some of the considerations you should have when making a decision for your own project.
- Agency preference – For our Traveler campaign we worked with a full service marketing agency that specialized in crowdfunding to help us create, launch, and build our campaign. While they have done campaigns on both platforms, they prefer IGG and are generally known as the premiere IGG agency. Our contact at IGG said, ‘if you have the money, they are the ones to work with.’ They have a close relationship with the IGG team and also prefer the additional marketing and advertising features that IGG has and Kickstarter doesn’t. More about this below.
- Our last Kickstarter campaign for Clapboss flopped and we were a little bitter. I don’t blame Kickstarter itself but I have a relationship with one of the hardware managers there and he totally dropped the ball on us. The campaign likely wouldn’t have fared much better but he had made promises to us for support but instead went radio-silent. After the fact we heard that the KS editorial team didn’t like the style of our video. Ok, well we liked it but if our contact would have let us know that when we sent him early cuts, that would have been wildly helpful and we likely would have changed our strategy. Again, the campaign had other things going against it but this experience left us looking for something different.
- Indiegogo support – In contrast to our experience with Kickstarter, the folks at IGG came out of the gate swinging with ways that they could help us with our campaign. Whereas Kickstarter is traditionally wary of providing even the faintest hint of a promise from their team, Indiegogo goes as far as writing a contract that details all the promotional promises they will deliver during the campaign. The IGG team and platform was not new to us either. John Vaskis, IGG’s current VP of Sales and former head of hardware, was one of the very first people we met in NYC when we were showing the Hemingwrite concept at the Engadget Expand competition in 2014. Initially, Patrick and I wrote off IGG because they were the underdog and we wanted to stick with the industry leader. That’s why we launched Hemingwrite on Kickstarter but despite that, IGG folks have stayed in touch with us and were always positive, helpful, and encouraging, never spiteful. Their persistence, good nature, and willingness to concretely say how they would help our campaign ultimately won us over. Interestingly, Julio at Kickstarter, their head of community and a friend, reached out to me when he saw our Traveler landing page wondering what he could do to get us to launch it on KS. At this point we were leaning to IGG but the decision wasn’t final. I let him know about our previous experience in very clear terms and to his credit they put together a proposal that was very impressive. I didn’t even know Kickstarter did that kind of thing. We had to seriously consider it but in the end we wanted to stick with our agency’s preference since that is why we hired them.
- Marketing and advertising features – Kickstarter and Indiegogo are more similar than not but the differences are quite important. The history is that IGG has been nipping at Kickstarter’s heals for years and they do everything they can to woo creators. That has resulted in a number of creator focused features that can ad up to big $$$.
A. Facebook pixel – this is a big one. IGG lets creators put their own FB pixel on their campaign page. This allows for conversion tracking and the ability to do remarketing. I told Julio that this was our biggest single feature request of KS and supposedly it is in the works over there but he wouldn’t give me a timeline. There is just no way around the fact that every campaign over 300k relies heavily on FB advertising and without a pixel, those campaigns are much more difficult to run. If KS wants to continue to win the biggest campaign creators, they need to be able to provide as many advertising tools as possible.
B. Secret perks – Indiegogo allows creators to create secret perks that are only available to people with a specific link. This allows for creators to offer special pricing or bundles to groups without showing the general public. You can also run sales using secret perks. In a KS campaign, all perks are public and must be made prior to launch. Indiegogo allows you to adjust perks as you go which gives a lot of marketing flexibility. For example, you can send an email to your house list to give people a second chance to get an early bird deal even though all the public early bird deals are sold out.
C. Multiple rewards – IGG allows backers to buy multiple rewards. It’s not as straightforward as adding multiple items to your cart like in true ecom stores but it’s better than nothing. This simplifies the perk tiers a lot and also allows for cross-sells. Kickstarter requires creators to make specific reward tiers with every combination of perks which forces people to have a very simple reward structure or on the flip side requires complicated calculators and hoops that the backer must jump through to calculate their pledge amount. From what I’ve seen in IGGs backend, it also keeps track of SKUs in addition to backer levels which I think will greatly help the nightmare that is crowdfunding campaign fulfillment.
D. Extensions – IGG allows creators to extend their campaign. There is a hard cap on any campaign to be no longer than 60 days but an additional ending provides a second urgency period that provides a good bump to sales. Kickstarter does not allow you to extend or change the period of the campaign once it starts.
- Potential for flash funding and partner support – Indiegogo has relationships with Arrow and Ingram Micro on the electronics and fulfillment side respectively, and both offer some form of flash funding. We’re aren’t banking on it but there’s a chance that we could get some money from them. That would be a cherry on top. Even if we don’t get anything, those two companies are big names and maybe they could help us.
- Curiosity – I’d never done an IGG campaign before and this seemed like a good time to try it out.
So we decided to give Indiegogo a shot. It wasn’t without apprehension though. Kickstarter has at least double the traffic and is without question the industry leader. Their reputation among consumers is better and the word Kickstarter is virtually genericized at this point.
It’s now November 9th. We are over 30 days into our campaign and have raised over 530k. I thought the very top end of a reasonable estimate would have been 500k when all is said and done. We beat that and there is plenty of time left! We’ll never know what the campaign would have done on Kickstarter but by any objective measure, the campaign has been a success on IGG. Both our campaign strategist and sales manager have stayed in close touch with us and have provided great support throughout including weekly catch-up calls.
So should you launch on IGG or Kickstarter? It’s hard to say. Do you have relationships at IGG or Kickstarter that you can leverage? Are you working with any agencies? You also need to consider that IGG is more lenient when it comes to the types of campaigns it allows on its platform. If you are trying to crowdfund anything related to sex, drugs, weapons, etc. IGG may be your only option. KS also has a much more creative crowd. If you are making creative tools or something artistic, Kickstarter is almost certainly the best bet. We had a unique situation that led us to IGG but for most campaigns, Kickstarter is still probably the best choice. I hate to say it since we have had such a good experience with IGG but the size of Kickstarter’s platform is very hard to beat. Even with all the hamstrung advertising features of Kickstarter campaigns, all the best digital marketers that focus on crowdfunding overwhelmingly prefer Kickstarter. That’s saying a lot. If they ever added the ability to have a FB pixel or launch secret perks, it will be that much harder for IGG to differentiate. I wish both platforms the best and hope that they continue to coexist so creators and backers have a choice.