Campaign creators face a ton of problems prior to launching a crowdfunding campaign. Where can they get their prototypes made? Who do they hire to create their campaign videos? How long should the video be? Most importantly, how long should their campaign run?
So how long should a crowdfunding campaign last? The answer is: 30 days. This is according to data collected by Kickstarter and other major platforms. It is the sweet spot where you can build urgency into your campaign but also make it long enough so that you can raise a good amount of money.
While this amount of time works for almost everyone, the sweet spot is what you want to hit. Truth be told, that is what determines your campaign's ideal length. This is different for various campaigns so let's take a look at what this is exactly.
Interest Versus Numbers
A lot of creators are inclined to run their campaigns for as long as possible. It makes intuitive sense when you think about it. The longer your campaign is, the greater is the number of people who you can approach and raise money from.
This allows you to increase your funding goal size and will help you develop your product even further. Charitable organizations think this way quite a lot. A lot of the platforms have a 60 day limit on campaign size and nonprofits opt for the maximum length by default.
This is a huge mistake.
The reason has to do with the way marketing is conducted for a crowdfunding campaign. In the early days of crowdfunding, the platforms used to deal with a smaller number of campaigns and as a result, creators could count on having their campaigns boosted by the platform's engine.
These days, crowdfunding is a business and the original creative dynamic is long gone. While there are many individuals out there creating products all by themselves, the majority of campaigns have businesses backing them with marketing agencies executing inch perfect plans.
This means you're competing for attention on the platform with these campaigns. The platform is going to promote the campaigns that bring it the most money, not necessarily the ones that are cool or creative.
Sounds harsh, but this is how it is.
The point is that you can't create a campaign on Kickstarter or Indiegogo these days and expect a stream of clicks without conducting any marketing yourself. In fact, it's best to not rely on platform directed clicks.
Even the ones that you do get need to be treated as a bonus. Adopting this mindset has a number of advantages and it also helps you develop your campaign's sweet spot.
So what does the sweet spot refer to? In order to understand this better, we need to dive in and look at what happens when a campaign is live and running. There are three phases that every campaign goes through.
The First Phase
This is the launch phase and lasts for around a week, irrespective of how long your campaign is. This is when you've created some marketing buzz and everyone is geared up and is waiting to contribute.
If you've done things well, your campaign will receive a massive boost and the platform's algorithms will push your campaign to its visitors, thereby giving you even more clicks.
Some creators reckon that they raise around 20-40% of their overall funding goal in this phase. You can imagine the amount of traffic and activity during this time!
From a creator's perspective, this is an exciting time. Clicks are flooding in and you'll be following up with your audience to make sure they're aware of what's going on.
You'll have to begin to start thinking serious about fulfilling your customers' orders and figuring out production and so on. Given the excitement of this phase, a lot of creators think that this is how things will always be.
As a result, they're often shocked when they hit the second phase.
The Second Phase
This phase is a dreaded one. It's a bit of a dead zone in terms of fundraising and it can seem as if you've hit a wall. A lot of creators get frustrated during this time and end up intensifying their marketing efforts.
However, this is the worst thing to do at this time. The lull in fundraising activity occurs because the highly dedicated portion of your audience has contributed. The only ones left are those who are making up their minds about you.
If you continue to push your marketing material to them constantly, you're just going to come across as an extremely pushy salesperson and they're going to be turned off.
I'm not saying you need to back off marketing completely. However, you need to plan for this phase beforehand and minimize it.
Minimising it does not mean eliminating it!
You need to give your backers this time to make their minds up about you. The larger the proportion of your audience these undecided people are, the longer you need to give them.
For example, if your audience is comprised of 90% undecided (those who need time to figure you out) versus another creator's audience that is comprised of just 10% undecided, your campaign will be longer than theirs.
This is because you'll need to allow people to make their minds up about you and leave them enough time to come back and give you their money. Bombarding them with messages about urgency is not going to work in this phase.
Instead, you need to build trust with them and use your analytics to target them. Even if you aren't using analytics, it's safe to say you should be adopting a tone of trustworthiness during this time.
All of this will leave you well prepared for the final phase.
The Final Phase
This phase again lasts for a week and is the final week of your campaign. You'll find that you'll receive a boost during this time for two reasons.
The first is that the undecided people have now made their minds up and have chosen to give you money or have walked away. The second reason is that the platform itself will push your campaign a lot harder when it gets close to the end.
If your first phase went well and if you've hit around 40% of your funding goal, the platform's algorithm will push your campaign massively towards the final week. This is done because campaigns that are at least 40% funded have a good chance of hitting 100%.
That's when the platform also gets paid. Thus, it is in their interest to help you and they do this wholeheartedly. Your campaign will have a sense of real urgency and social proof at this point and you'll gain more backing as a result.
So, to take stock of all phases, we have a week for the first and a week for the final phase. It is that pesky in between phase that creates issues and this is ultimately what determines the length of your campaign.
If it's too long, you're only going to be stretching that awkward in between phase. Sure, you'll be giving your undecided backers more time to consider their decision but extending the length of time indefinitely won't convert them.
What I mean is that if a person cannot be won over in the time it takes them to make a decision, giving them more time to make that decision isn't going to change their mind.
Instead, you need to make sure you given them enough time, not necessarily more.
Adding the time for all three phases is what gives you the sweet spot in terms of campaign length. So how do you determine the length of the second phase?
Well, this is where your pre-launch activities come into play.
The most critical metric you need to figure out during the pre launch phase is the segments of your audience. Sure, you'll need to coordinate your email and social media marketing and everything else but these are logistics.
All of them serve the purpose of helping you get to know your audience. More specifically, it is their commitment that you want to gauge.
You can do this by measuring various analytics. Email open rates, click rates, social media engagement rates, polls and so on give you good insight into how responsive your audience is and which proportion of them are highly engaged.
This highly engaged segment is the one that will convert easily in the first phase. The rest are the ones who will need more time and will determine how long your campaign should be.
Let's say you have a small but highly dedicated audience. You won't need to run your campaign for longer than 18 days to raise money successfully.
After all, since you don't have a large undecided segment, what's the point of having a long second phase?
The larger the undecided segment is (in terms of numbers), the longer your campaign needs to run. Again, it needs to run long enough to give these people enough time to make up their minds but not so long that there isn't any sense of urgency to their decision making process.
If you run your campaign for 60 days, they might feel that they have tons of time to make up their minds and will simply postpone making a decision.
You don't want this.
Instead, assume that they'll need at least one week to make up their minds. Now, this period can be extended depending on the size of your undecided audience and the level of their indecision.
Measuring indecision is a bit of an art but it can be estimated pretty well by looking at response and engagement rates to your marketing. The larger the level of indecision, the longer you need to give them.
So where does this leave us? Here's a simplified method for you to figure out how long your campaign needs to be:
Measure audience segment proportions
Estimate a week as a base length for the second phase of your campaign to being with
Measure or estimate indecision levels
The greater the indecision, the longer your campaign should be
Total length of campaign = first + last + second phases = 1 week + 1 week + (1 week+length from step 4)
As a rule of thumb, this usually works out to being somewhere around four weeks which is why 30 days is such a universally accepted figure.
However, remember that if your audience is highly engaged and motivated to contribute, you don't need to run campaigns this long. Shorter campaigns will give you a better bang for your buck.
You can dive as deeply as you want to figure out ideal campaign lengths but at some point, you'll need to consider the law of diminishing returns. In other words, after a certain point, your efforts will return less rewards.
Use the 30 day rule of thumb is it seems like too much work. If you have a highly engaged audience, no matter the size, fix your goal appropriately and run a campaign for slightly longer than two weeks.