I had actually forgot about this article. Since I started on preparing the new Burning Suns campaign I've probably unconsciously tried to block out the negative feelings or vibes from the first failed project.
But this is no good - you need to stick to the lessons learned, if you're going to move on successfully!
I want to talk about the "cancel of Kickstarter pledges". There's a lot of good articles out there about how you should price your pledges etc., so I'll stick to the "cancelling" part of it.
Hope you'll enjoy it :)
The percentage of backers cancelling their pledges is affected by many factors, after all, most of us have tried the same thing in a store where we in the last minute cancelled a purchase.
I've read on other blogs that the usual percentage is about 3-7%
When I started to experience backers cancelling their pledges for my first Burning Suns campaign (see old campaign / see new campaign), I was of course puzzled - "Who in the world would want to cancel their pledge for my awesome game?" :D
After some days it simply became too much of a headache for me - I had to know what people were thinking about my game and why they cancelled.
So I started to contact each and every one of the backers that had cancelled their pledge again.
This is the numbers I came up with.
- Total amount of backers: 357 (272 / 76% stayed)
- Backers that cancelled their pledge: 85 / 24%
- I contacted 80 of those backers and got 39 answers (49%).
The 39 persons wrote me many and long answers to my questions, which is why I've combined and simplified the answers into the following:
- Can't afford to back at the moment > 13
- Want the plastic minis in the base game > 7
- The money is needed on other Kickstarter campaigns > 5
- Already have similar games / won't get it played > 4
- Need more info (game play, reviews etc.) > 4
- Price is too high (compared to other games) > 2
- Caught an Early bird offer (after closer look, not for them) > 2
- The campaign didn't seem to succeed, so therefore a cancel > 1
- My plans was not what they wanted for the game > 1
This is of course hardly something to base a complete statistic on, but it still gives you some clues. Let me try to go through the here, so that we can share some pointers on what to do and what not to do.
(1): With 33% of the answers this is by far the most common explanation, but unfortunately also the only one of the explanations that you won't be able to affect or prevent in any way.
- People told me about their lost jobs, new additions to the family and so on. This is life - and things changes all the time.
(2): A mistake by my part, placing my butt between two stools (read my blog post about that here).
(3): It's not fun to get the "your project is not as interesting as this other person's project", but this is the essence of the explanation, and with soooo many Kickstarter campaigns being launch every week, it's just part of the business like any other product out there - fighting for survival.
(4) + (7): Although these answers are different, the occurred more often than this statistic can show. The "early bird offer" I had on my game was on fire. Which was good in the beginning, when people where arriving at the campaign and the 100 early bird offers where gone within 1½ day.
BUT, here's the catch! People jumped on an early bird with the "just in case" attitude, which meant that people also cancelled their pledge again when they looked closer at the game and understood it wasn't for them - which thereby had a negative impact on the momentum of the whole campaign.
In short: Don't use early bird offers (there are many other reasons I might go through in another post).
(5) + (9): Something you can avoid to a certain extent. You can't please all, but you should do your best.
(6): A problem I particularly face because my game company lies in Denmark. In general our game prices, salaries, shipping and production costs are higher and therefore the game will be a bit more expensive than many counterparts. But of course, this is closely related to (2), it's much easier taking more for a game when it comes with great minis.
(8): An unfortunate snowball effect when people are speculating in the outcome of the campaign and base their pledge decision on that (You can find the Kicktraq stats here). As you can see, I had 3 days in a row with -$200 as the biggest setback. This is a significant psychological setback for all involved, and though I don't want to sound dramatic, I believe such days can cost you the campaign!
If you want to understand your backers you have to get in touch with them, also the ones that for some reason left you.
- Get to the point.
- Keep it simple.
- Say thank you!
Here's the message I used, to get in touch with my "ex-backers".
I hope it’s okay I’m writing to you - I’m the game designer of Burning Suns :)
I’m of course watching my Kickstarter campaign like a hawk, and saw that you had cancelled your pledge for Burning Suns.
As a new and small developer, I have to learn fast and be ready to react on situations, so I can stay ahead of the big companies.
I would love to ask you a few questions (it’s of course completely fine, if you don’t want to answer them):
- What made you pledge in the first place?
- Why did you cancel your pledge now?
- What would make you go back to pledge anew?
Thank you so much for your time, I’m extremely happy with all the knowledge I can collect, in order to make my products, presentations and offers even better.
Kind regards Emil, SunTzuGames
What I haven't talked about yet - is the conversion from cancel to re-pledge.
Out of the 80 ex-backers I contacted and 39 of which returned with an answer.
- 2 of them re-pledged for a copy of my game.
- 9 was considering to pledge again and was following the campaign.
- 4 couldn't pledge now, but was eager to pick it up in stores afterwards.
The two last answers could be "anything", but I believe that I still had their attention - and this is also important during your campaign.
The really interesting part - is the 2 persons re-pledging! It's a conversion percent of 2,5% which might not seem like much. But every percent matters, plus those persons also have friends etc.! Both persons stated that they were thrilled to get a message from me, showing how much I cared about the project! This is what Kickstarter is all about :)
Until next time - happy gaming to you all!
Best regards Emil
PS: Sign up for Kickstarter alerts here!