Post 3: What worked and didn't work for our Kickstarter Marketing

You have launched your Kickstarter and people are starting to back your project! But you want to get an additional boost beyond Kickstarter to help your project. Each project will have different success finding backers that are external from Kickstarter. For Emergence, 25% of our Kickstarter sales were from external sources. Here is a look at the different things we tried and the relative success we had for each attempt. 

When you spend money, the goal should be to become profitable. Don’t mistake “Profit” with “Sales”. Our most popular tier was the physical Emergence Board Game which was offered at $39 each. With a 33% margin, we estimated that our profit was $13 per game for that tier. For each incremental game sold, we did not want to spend more than $13 on marketing. If we spent more than $13/game, we would likely be losing money!

Let’s see what areas this worked for us:

For the above chart, you want Return on Investment(ROI to be higher than 1). However, for channels that we don’t have any marketing spend such as Geekwire or emails, the ROI is infinite, the only thing that it costs is your valuable time. I highly encourage “free marketing” as it doesn’t cost any additional money and has the potential to attract a lot of people to your Kickstarter

Emergence ROI = ((Our 33% margin – Marketing Spend) / Marketing Spend)
9.25 = ($7,896 - $770) / $770.

This simply means we earned $9.25 profit for every dollar spent for marketing

Facebook – 15.35 ROI

We tried 2 things for Facebook. The first being a free campaign where liked, shared, and commented on anything Emergence related. The second was paid Facebook ads. 

One of the more clever posts that worked for us was changing our profile pictures and then adding in a description why we changed our profile picture. It got us a bunch of likes and shares and it was a great way for our friends to know what we were up to without having to message each individual. 

The majority of our Kickstarter Backers from Facebook were “free” marketing campaigns we ran. Most people who bought through Facebook were likely friends, friends of friends, or friends of friends of friends who simply saw all of our posts. We were very active on Facebook using free marketing.

We spent $105 testing out different Facebook Ads with different messages. I think in total we ran 5 separate ads. The idea behind Facebook Ads is you pay money to see a post, and if they like what you posted they will click a button to check out your product. Here is the 5 different ads we ran, as you can see, only was was truly effective. 

Overall, Facebook was great for us as a “free” marketing channel”. I highly recommend using your resources and reaching out to your friends to support your campaign. Many of your friends and family will be excited to hear that you are creating a board game that is on Kickstarter!

Email Sales to Retailers – ROI… Very Good!

Remember earlier when I said the bulk tier is important later on in your campaign? It was extremely important to Emergence’s success because it gave us a channel to reach out to retails and offer retail specials. The general rule of thumb is that the retailers don’t want to pay more than 50% MSRP. The more games the retailers bought, the better the discount you should provide because you will save more and more on shipping. For example, if you ship 100 games to a retailer, per game it will be much cheaper than sending just 1 game. It’s generally cheaper per game to send multiple games in a box than 1. 
Below is a sample email we sent to one of our retailers:

Newspaper and PR – ROI very good! (no spend)

Geekwire is NOT a marketing channel. Really, it is a online news website that we were lucky enough to land an article. The truth is, that we reached out to dozens and dozens of newspapers to tell them our story. If you can craft a story that incorporates being local, and a fun tale then it will really help give the press an angle to work with.

We pitched it in emails as “High School friends, raise nearly $10k on Kickstarter in one day”.

We sent dozen and dozens of emails to news sites, and only a few actually got back to us. We were ambitious and sent emails to the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and Forbes (etc.)…. None of them responded to us . However, we were able to get some responses back from smaller newspapers such as the Bellevue Reporter and Washington Daily!
Below are some of the articles we were very happy to be featured in! PR is always good!!

Geekwire article on Emergence:
Bellevue Reported article on Emergence:
UW Daily article on Emergence:

Reviewers and Bloggers - ROI at 7.07

As mentioned earlier, Reviewers should be something you complete before you even launch your campaign. You can continue to get reviewers during your campaign, but ideally it is something you do beforehand. While most people get prototypes created by GameCrafter and Print and Play Games, we opted to save the money and instead hand make our prototypes. We detailed the process here.
We sent a prototype copy of emergence to the following reviews:

Also here is a list of all the reviewers who are willing to review games. Excuse the excel document, its a bit messy. 

Reddit - ROI 3.93

Reddit was a solid marketing channel for us. With Reddit, we did a mix of AMAs in the r/boardgames subreddit and paid marketing. With reddit, you can target specific subreddits that have board games. 
Definitely set up an AMA in the /r/boardgames subreddit because it is free to do, and because it informs a passionate community about your game.

Emergence AMA

When we paid for Reddit ads, we generally had more success paying for subreddits that were board game related. Unfortunately, the board game subreddits have a cap you should spend because there only a few thousand people who are active in the board game subreddits. As a result, I would recommend spending no more than $100 on reddit advertising.
After spending about $100, you have already saturated the board game community on reddit and you would have to move on to less profitable/focused subreddits.

Board Game Geek – ROI –(0.88)

I have heard that Board Game Geek can be a positive ROI channel for Kickstarter, however this was not the case for Emergence. We paid for a $500 banner ad on the website, and we believe it might have brought one or two sales to Kickstarter. The –(0.88) means for every dollar we spent on BGG marketing, we lost about $0.88 of that dollar… Throw away $0.88 for every dollar spent.

I’m not saying don’t use BGG for your Kickstarter Campaign! As a free marketing channel, Board Game Geek is great! It allows people to discover Emergence. As a Kickstarter Creator, you should definitely create a page on BGG for your game such as ours below:

If you are interested in advertising on Board Game Geek, here is a blog post on how to do it successfully. Unfortunately, we were not able to mirror the same success:

Other Marketing
There are dozens and dozens of other ways to market your Kickstarter that are not listed in this post. This post is simply a case study on Emergence, and will not necessarily translate to other board games. This blog post was simply for helping others from learning from our successes and failures. I hope the lessons from our campaign, will help you down the road!

-The Emergence Team