Before we discuss Kickstarter vs. IndieGoGO let’s review important crowdfunding data from Ethan Mollick’s Dynamics of Crowdfunding study of Kickstarter:
- 75% of the money you raise will need to come from your contacts and social nets (in most cases).
- Most campaigns get funded for less than $10,000.
- Projects with 25% or more funded in the first week have an 80% chances of meeting their goal (so first week is critical).
- Review the study’s campaign quality dimensions: video, no spelling errors, updates and a great story.
- 50% of projects meet their goal.
- Most projects JUST meet their goal (big over drafts are outliers).
Reading those stats you might think why bother using a crowdfunding platform. Why not just put an ask on your site. If 75% of the money comes from YOU anyway why cut them in? You pay for legitimacy and security or the perception of security. Getting money from friends and friends of friends is hard.
If people don’t trust a platform they don’t break out their credit cards. Kickstarter just had a pledge that broke the billion dollar mark. People using Kickstarter raised about $500M last year. Kickstarter has the magic trust formula. On the off chance your campaign is going to break records you won’t do so on your website. Mom and dad might give you money on your site, but had to break out much past that.
Which Crowdfunding Platform Is Better
Kickstarter is bigger and more established, but both platforms are Google PageRank 7s. Kickstarter’s “pagespread” is 681,000 to IndieGogo’s 448,000 (pages indexed in Google). Root domains linking in: Kickstarter 235,223 vs. 121,661. LEI (Link Efficiency Index) has Kickstarter creating .346 links per page indexed vs .272 for IndieGoGo so Kickstarter is about 20% more efficient at creating inbound links.
YOU bring most of the money to your crowdfunding projects. Since the platform is providing 25% or so of your funding these technical SEO numbers are close enough to be a push. You are almost equally likely to get the 25% you need from either platform.
Both platforms run and merchandise home page features based on “popularity” algorithms. Since IndieGoGo has fewer projects you have a GREATER chance of getting a homepage feature on the smaller platform (less competition). If you are Neil Young it makes sense to use Kickstarter. If you are not famous it makes sense to use IndieGoGo since you have a better chance they will feature your content when your social net pushes your popularity numbers (views, clicks, shares, donations) up.
IndieGoGo’s terms are more forgiving and they work with nonprofits. Kickstarter’s project guidelines are strict and if you don’t fit into one of their categories you can’t use their platform. IndieoGoGo has more categories and they are more forgiving. Here are Kickstarter’s strict categories:
Everything on Kickstarter must be a project.
A project is something with a clear end, like making an album, a film, or a new game. A project will eventually be completed, and something will be produced as a result.
Every project on Kickstarter must fit into one of our categories.
Our categories are Art, Comics, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film, Food, Games, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater.
From Kickstarter Project Guidelines
Kickstarter is always ALL OR NOTHING
If your donations reach or exceed your ASK you get the money minus the platform’s fee. If your campaign comes in $5 short you don’t make the money. IndieGoGo has a “keep what you earned” option, but you pay more. I don’t suggest the “keep what is donated” option. The drama of the deadline is worth a significant amount.
If you are close and have several hundred donors they will help you rally to make your goal. As Mollick’s study shows most campaigns come in just above their ask. There is a lot to be said for having a common goal, needing to ask for and receive help.
Achieving a goal like a crowdfunding campaign ASK knits a supportive tribe together. So, no matter what platform ALL OR NOTHING is an important and dramatic helper in achieving your goal.
If you are Amanda Palmer, have a cool phone/watch or have star power Kickstarter is probably where you belong. If you want to have more creative latitude, more categories such as “animals” and have an option to keep whatever you raise then IndieGoGo is better.
Both platforms are so close in techncial SEO they create a push for the 25% they should be counted on to raise. Don’t make the newbie crowdfunding mistake and assume the platform is going to provide more than 25% of your money. If the platform does and your campaign becomes a record breaking outlier then GREAT, but don’t count on it.
Create an ASK that can be well explained based on your needs. You don’t have to show a P&L for how you plan to spend the money, but being clear about why you need the amount you request, where your amount came from (what that amount will allow you to do) and sharing plans for the future helps create trust.
Don’t worry about perception
Do what is right. Tell your story honestly. Develop great incentives and rewards and you should win. If someone questions answer honestly and be sure to do so in a public forum (social media or on the campaign itself). You WANT people to question you on YOUR platforms. The surest way to encourage helpful questions is be HAPPY when someone asks a tough question.
Remember the 1%, 9% and 90% Rule. 1% of your visitors will contribute content or money. 9% will contribute social shares and support. 90% will read. Do the math. For every 10,000 people who see your ASK 1,000 will help. If your ask is $1M and your average donation is $50 you will need 20,000 donors. To get 20,000 donors you need 2,000,000 visitors (give or take).
When I ran an Ecommerce site we had 14,000 unique visitors a day. It took a LOT of energy, money and time to get there. If you have 30 days in your campaigns timeline and don’t already have a SUBSTANTIAL network do yourself a favor and DON’T Ask for a million bucks.
Better to ask for $30K and blow it away than the other way around
I see A LOT of campaigns where there is NO explanation of the ASK. There is no story about how they came up with the amount of money they need. They don’t share what the money is intended to do. HUGE mistake. When money is involved people want to KNOW what you are going to do even if they give you a buck. Be specific about how you arrived at your ask. If you have a mnemonic that turns your ask into something easy to understand USE IT.
Mnemonic Example: For every $48 dollars we shorten our development cycle by half a day. For every $199 raised we can create new content. For every piece of new content we gain customers worth $1,000. Numbers are BORING and no one makes a decision to buy based on them, but they sure make decisions NOT to buy if your logic seems slapdash or random.
Want to see a great, well thought out campaign? Review the Pebble Watch Kickstarter ($100K Ask $10.2M Get).
Which platform is “right” for your company or brand is up to you. The platforms are close enough to each other that their 25% contribution should be good to go on either.
UPDATE: My co-founder Phil Buckley Sent me an update to my post:
There’s some more interesting data for your Kickstarter vs Indiegogo post that you might be interested in.
When you do a site: search you get as “estimate” of pages in the index, but you can click through and see how many are actually there… which I did. https://www.google.com/search?
Indiegogo actually has more pages being displayed in Google’s index than kickstarter!