Crowdfunding has become a viable source of startup funding for entrepreneurs. Over $2.2 Billion dollars has been pledged to the 100,000+ crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter since the platform opened for business April 28, 2009. Crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo, GoFundMe, RocketHub and a multitude of others have transformed crowdfunding from a novelty to a legitimate source of capital.
The allure is great. Still, a crowdfunding campaign requires significant planning if it will be successful. Crowdfunding platforms are designed to help entrepreneurs, innovators and visionaries of all walks of life fund projects in exchange for a piece of the pie. Their primary interest is traffic on their platform, where your project will be funded. However, you can significantly increase the success of a crowdfunding campaign; and perhaps more importantly, growing business after the campaign; with simple, strategic integration with your own website.
1.Help Investors Find Your Crowdfunding Campaign
The competition for the attention of audiences is fierce; during the crowdfunding campaign, and after the campaign when the company must continually grow its reach to be successful.
The website is often under-utilized by those preparing for, and promoting, a crowdfunding campaign. Many entrepreneurs put all your eggs into one basket by keeping everything on the crowdfunding platform. However, when starting a business, launching a new product, or initiating a long-term relationship with customers, the website can play a vitally important supporting role during the crowdfunding campaign, and growing the business after the campaign.
The website can be extremely effective in expanding awareness of the crowdfunding campaign and building your first customer base.
Optimize For Search – Everywhere!
Search engines Google and Bing come to mind when people hear “search”. Search is performed on numerous platforms, which should be on your radar if you want to make it as easy as possible for investors to learn about your crowdfunding campaign, and your business.
Investors, media and influencers search on social media, news sites, online magazines, forums, and multiple other platforms. People use more than words to search. Audiences use #hashtags on social media and search to find out what people are saying about topics they are interested in. Voice search from mobile devices and apps like Apple’s Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana make it more important than ever for brands to publish content that meets customers wherever they are.
Optimization of every aspect of your campaign on the crowdfunding platform can help you reach more supporters. Optimization of the website and related “owned media” (video, blog posts, press releases, social media profiles and updates, etc.) can help you bring more audiences to the campaign, and serve your business well, long after the crowdfunding campaign ends.
Every brand must become a publisher, especially startups seeking crowdfunding, capital or customers – and what brand doesn’t need customers? Never distribute content across the web that you have not published first on your own website and supporting channels (YouTube, social media, etc.)
Always Publish On Your Website FIRST!
Why is being “First to Publish” so important? The domain that publishes original content is credited with that content and when optimized and published properly, can appear in search engine results in minutes , vs. the months it could take for a new website to be indexed. (I outline how to plan and publish content in detail in chapter 18 of my book Million Dollar Websites). Publishing content is not only an excellent way to drive real, quality traffic to the website during the campaign, it is a fabulous way to improve the quality score and authority of your website in the eyes of search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. Point press releases, emails, etc. to the appropriate page or post on your website for optimum results over time.
2. Earn Trust of Investors, Media and Search Engines
Captivating the attention of crowdfunding investors is only the first step. The first experience individuals have with the brand will have tremendous influence over what they decide to do next.
From the moment the startup launches and throughout the life of the business – the website must be considered to be more than a marketing tool, it is a vital business asset. The website must be the leading, most comprehensive resource about your product or service, and the ultimate destination for interaction with audiences, including social media and crowdfunding platforms.
Kickstarter, Indegogo, GoFundMe, RocketHub, and other crowdfunding platforms, introduce your brand to potential investors. It is incumbent upon you to earn the trust of each individual, earning their investment in your vision. These investors could be among the most powerful customers and influencers your brand will ever earn…so never squander the brief moment you have to earn their trust and ability to help you expand the reach of your campaign.
“Raising money from the crowd requires building trust first, both in yourself and your project. A professional looking website with contact information not only signals to potential backers that you are real but it also gives you the opportunity to provide more in-depth facts about your project than what’s possible on a Kickstarter page. A website is also an great destination to send people to before your campaign launches and after it closes. You can use your website to communicate with backers and depending on your project type even do more pre-sales.”
Josef Holm, Crowdfunding Advocate. Founder & CEO @Krowdster
The website also promotes trust (authority) with the search engines, which will serve your business well after the crowdfunding phase has ended and your business is actively competing for customers.
Whether you have spent months or hours preparing for your crowdfunding campaign, you may only have a moment to win them over.
3.Tell Your Story
The website must project the voice and value of the brand. The website is also where you have the ability to tell your project’s story and your back-story, as you choose. Take advantage of being the publisher and producer, make your story interesting and compelling.
Balance Right and Left Brain Storytelling
I had this image printed on one side of my business card as a reminder of the two ways to win hearts and minds.
Your audience will decide within seconds of learning of your crowdfunding campaign whether it is something they are interested in funding. This is where emotion meets logic. How well you are prepared to appeal to both sides of the brain will significantly impact your success.
5 Essential Ingredients to Telling Your Crowdfunding Story
- Who you are.
- What you seek to fund (product, service, app, book, movie, etc.)
- When your product will be available for sale.
- Where your product stands in the competitive landscape (your unique USP).
- Why investors should support your crowdfunding campaign.
- How you will invest investment earned from the crowdfunding campaign.
Go crazy! Use every opportunity to share your story on the crowdfunding platform, and everywhere else your target audiences congregate.
Remember: All Roads Lead Home! (the Website)
Find a few additional insights and tips in my SFIMA Pubcon slide deck: All Roads Lead Home: 10 Compelling Reasons the Website Should Be Primary Brand Destination .