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Pledge levels


Simple pledge level structure

Don't flood people with choices. The easier time your backers have of picking a reward level (both in terms of cognitive load and time), the more people will actually back.

Something like a $1 level, a core reward level and a premium reward level is a great way to keep focus on your product while still offering a nicer experience for those who care, without being confusing.

The $1 pledge level is important

This is also suggested in the previous point. Don’t make it $2 or $5. Have it be $1. $1 is easy to spend. It’s a great way for people to get their foot in the door and get project updates in their inbox. You get to engage them and show them what kind of a project creator you are. They will also get the 48h reminder email and they can upgrade their pledge to a higher one any time during the campaign. Kickstarter gives backers the option to pledge any custom amount without a reward, but that doesn't work as an alternative to the $1 pledge, because backers cannot upgrade their pledge from that.

Core & Premium

A lot of people just want the least expensive option. Also, a lot of people want the best possible version. Most of the time, these are irreconcilable. Similarly, as creators, we want the most number of people to experience our products, at the same time, we want to make the best possible version. This is a way to serve both parts of the market.

When it comes to board games, premium versions could include things like metal coins and foil cards to add an extra level of mmmmmm to the experience. It might be easy to think everyone wants the premium option, but that's not the case. Don't make people miss out on your product by increasing the entry price, but note, that it's called core, not basic. Your core backers deserve as much love as your premium buyers. They will use your product all the same. In a lot of ways, the core reward is your true product.

CRITICAL State how many copies a single backer can buy

This is also mentioned in the Project page section. You can include this number in each pledge level's description so that people find it easier. Something like: Add $X for each additional copy to the maximum of 3 copies.

Since shipping services state their prices in ranges, it’s quite possible you can fit more than one copy in the package, if it’s light enough. However, it’s unlikely, that you can ship 5, 10 or 100. Figure out how many copies you can send for the price of shipping 1 item and state that number on your project page.

Form prices with unique combinations

This is because Kickstarter - in their infinite dumbassary - does not tell you which pledge level a backer chose - only how much they pledged. So if you have a core reward level for $10, a premium one for $15 and a backer sends you $30, you have no way of knowing if they wanted 3 copies of the core reward or two of the premium one. In this case, you’ll have to message backers and ask them which variation they wanted - and God knows if and when they will respond. You can also ask them in the post-KS survey.

Having your core reward level be $9 and the premium $14, solves this issue, because their multiples will not match. Of course, this messes with the already pretty hard problem of price formulation.

Display the price in USD as well

If your project is not in USD, display the approximate USD price in the description of each pledge level. Showing the EUR price might also help if the product is not in EUR. This is because most of your backers will be from the US, even if you’re not a US based creator - and a lot of US backers get scared by foreign currencies.

Mind retailers

Give retailers and opportunity to signal their interest during the campaign. Instead of having a retailer pledge, you might see in a few campaigns, feature a message for retailers instead. Something like: Retailers: Please pledge $1 and contact us for bulk options.

State your shipping

If you are using a pledge manager (more on those in the next section) and you don’t charge shipping through Kickstarter, make sure to state that in the descriptions of your pledge levels as well. Something like: '🌍 Shipping will be calculated after the campaign.’ Marking this info with an emoji is a technique I saw in one of the projects. I think it’s a great idea, because this is very important for backers.

Exclusives

This is more of a NOT-TO-DO. Especially in the earlier days, many creators advertised perks that are only available if you buy the product through Kickstarter - to make backing the project more appealing.

Think about what a KS exclusive item means. It means you are limiting the best version of your product to only the first, say, thousand people that will own it, who got it through Kickstarter. Everybody else in your lifetime will get an inferior version. If you believe in your product, you don't want to do that to people.

Moreover, people might see they missed the 'good' or 'full' version of your product and so they just won't bother pick up the 'inferior' version from your store. It doesn't matter if you think and say that the retail version is principally the same, people won't see it that way. Also, if you keep selling your product with the KS exclusives on your webshop after the campaign, people will notice and call you out on your BS in your next campaign.

This doesn't clash with the advice of offering a core and a premium pledge level. People can make their own choice there. Here, they cannot.

Early bird

Similarly to the above point, avoid promising exclusive stuff to early bird backers. Later potential backers will see they could have gotten more for less and they will be too disappointed to back.

Early bird pricing is more acceptable, but even that's hard to swallow and may turn around some late joiners. You can mitigate that by offering a very generous limit to how many people can claim that reward level. Be sure it fits your budget or skip early bird pricing all together. Absolutely no one will mind.

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