Google Analytics Screenshot

How the New Google Analytics in Kickstarter Helped Us Better Understand Our Backer

In building a crowdfunding campaign for a product with a price tag upwards of $1k, the single most important thing is building trust among the press and among potential backers. It’s all fun and games when you’re pledging $20 for a novelty item that tickles your fancy at the moment you’re aimlessly browsing around online, or even when occasionally splurging with a couple hundred bucks for the newest gadget. It’s an entirely different ballgame when you deciding on purchasing a piece of sports equipment for yourself or your entire family (in our case ranging from $1.5k to $5k, respectively). That’s when the decision process gets longer and more meticulous. People want to know exactly what they are buying and who they are buying it from.

To deliver to the market the great-quality product that would convince these meticulous shoppers we first had to build a great team and find great partners. We developed our product to the point where there were no more surprises regarding production, way beyond the prototype stage that is typical of Kickstarter projects. That way we could be sure about every detail concerning quality and delivery times, and, more importantly, that way our backers could be sure of it, too. An average pledge amount of $1.1k would indicate that we succeeded in communicating our values and principles in the buildup and throughout the duration of our campaign.

In short, those who have done their due diligence on us are confident enough to back us, as is reflected in a quote from one of our backers:

“You had great prototypes and lots of specifics about how it worked. Next, the price point was in the right range to be competitive with known-factor products (other SUPs).”

Even after a great launch event, though, and after the initial burst of super enthusiasts and friends had backed us, we still had to work hard to find more of these, the right backers, who were prepared to do their research on us. Analyzing the effectiveness of our promotional activities proved to be more challenging than we expected at first.

This is where the new Google Analytics in Kickstarter proves to be invaluable. We put a lot of effort into eliminating all potential surprises, but this certainly was a pleasant one. Until recently, Kickstarter only had its official dashboard as an analytical tool. In its latest version it is simple to use and informative, but it also has its limits, which at least we at SipaBoards exhausted pretty quickly. We had a lot of questions that we wanted to have answered ASAP, but the dashboard simply did not provide answers for. For instance:

  • Where are our visitors coming from?
  • At what and for how long do visitors look before backing?
  • Where are the actual backers coming from?
  • What kind of PR/promotions help drive traffic to the page?

Kickstarter’s Dashboard at Its Best

Project Video Plays

Before Google Analytics integration was enabled we relied on various Kickstarter dashboard hacks to keep up. The only measurable thing we had was the number of video plays. Even though this number has no scientifically proven link to the number of backers, we took it as a KPI and tracked it daily.

I tried to remind myself each day at around the same time to write down the absolute number of plays and then put the number into a spreadsheet to calculate the difference in views for each day. It was usually between 2,000 at the beginning, but there was a clear correlation between the major outlets publishing our PR and the increase in daily pageviews.

We found another use in the video plays metric in the form of calculating the conversion rate. If we had 2,000 video plays in a day and 5 new backers this would give a .25% conversion rate and we would again monitor this number over the next few days.

Simple spreadsheet to track plays

Where are you from, my dear backer?

Even though Kickstarter provides referral data for backers and though it is quite accurate, it is still not detailed enough to be useful, especially in the case of Facebook. Reading many Kickstarter tutorials and consulting other teams, we decided to run a modest $50/day advertising campaign on Facebook, which was an experiment of its own, but it was rather difficult to know which ads were converting to visits, let alone to backers.

We tried several hacks to get around this but found out that the only way was to route the visitors through a dedicated landing page (on a dedicated domain name), which would eventually show up on the Kickstarter dashboard. This works, but you have to build and maintain the landing page, and getting a new domain for every experiment gets boring quickly. And if the landing page is not optimized excellently, you lose those 5 or 6 cents you paid per visitor to Facebook anyhow.

Google Analytics Powered Backing

Right in the middle of our campaign, on 29 April, Kickstarter announced that creators could now add a Google Analytics tracking code to their Kickstarter profiles. We noticed this during one of our many, many updates to the profile. All of a sudden a GA field was there. Even if you have no technical experience, GA is a simple thing to use, and it is also easy to glean real value from it.

After completing setup, we headed over to “Real-Time Overview” and were pleasantly surprised to see that at that very moment we had 18 visitors on the page. Of course you have to wait at least a couple of hours for GA to give you any mineable data, but the next morning we started digging in. When we did we realized the following 3 ways GA data could be used to our advantage:

  1. Looking at New vs. Returning Visitors
    The first thing we wanted to know was how our visitors were using the site. After the first 6 hours our ratio between new and returning visitors was 95:5, but it climbed to about 85:15 in 24 hours (due to more data being captured). In and of itself this was not that important, but combined with the fact that returning visitors had a 10x conversion rate compared to new visitors, this was a great news. It also supported the theory that our average backer returns to the profile several times before actually backing us.
  2. Goals for Analyzing Backers
    Kickstarter also allows you to set up a conversion goal, so each backer gets counted as a completed goal. This is helpful because you can use this data to figure out what sources are driving those visitors with more potential to back, or you can analyses which parts of the profile visitors read through before backing (e.g. if they read comments they are likely to back).
  3. Analyzing the Behavior of Visitors from Various Sources
    This is another nifty but simple trick with GA, since you can add referral info to any Kickstarter URL. In this example:

    the “?ref=Get-it-now” part is the added info that shows up in GA. This is useful because you can add a unique identifier to every press release, advertisement, or social media push and know precisely whether someone landed on your page through that link and, more importantly, what they did while they were there. Having that option from the start of our campaign would have been invaluable, as we could have identified which activities were producing visits to our Kickstarter page.

Better late than never. Get your SipaBoard now!

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