Wow! Thank you to everyone who has supported shared and liked Silicon Heroes on Indiegogo. We crushed our goal of $31,415 (pi to the 4th digit) early on Day 2! We are now over $39,000! Amazing! We have now covered all of our fixed costs so the majority of every new contribution will be donated to Girls Who Code and Code.org!
I learned a lot from last week’s launch so I’ll dive right into sharing some of my learnings. Here’s a breakdown of contributions by source to help set the stage.
I sent out three email campaigns last week which generated a total of 170 contributions. I used SalesLoft to send every email from my own email address and so they could be highly personalized. The first was an email to 207 friends. These emails were each handwritten. As expected, conversion rate was very high as these 207 emails resulted in 109 contributions (53%). The second batch of emails was sent to 253 people and these were customized using 5 different variables and resulted in 45 contributions (18%). Lastly, I sent out emails to 1219 people that were not very customized and these emails resulted in 16 contributions (1.3%). Obviously, how well I knew the person dictated which email segment they fell into and this had more impact on conversion than any personalization.
I learned one really key lesson with email marketing. Send your emails in small batches and A/B test the messaging. I sent the first 207 as one big batch. I found out very quickly (from my friends) that I had made a small error – my click to tweet link was too long by one character. So, for the next set of emails, I broke them into smaller groups and sent them an hour apart. Sending the smaller batches enabled me to see people’s questions and feedback and then tweak little things in the messaging. I would up sending out 4 pretty different messages. By the time I finished sending the larger blast of 1219 emails, I had honed in on the messaging that worked best (based on click data) and fixed a couple of errors.
Lesson #2: No one in the press wants to cover your story until you are already successful.
I had sent out ~30 emails to bloggers and reporters tipping them off to the Silicon Heroes launch. I received only one nice email back declining. I was really fortunate to get an introduction from a friend to Entrepreneur and they were kind enough to run a byline piece on our launch day. That was the only PR piece covering the story at launch. I wound up emailing a few of the journalists on my initial list as we approached our goal at the end of Day 1 just to let them know we had launched, we were approaching our goal and that we were #1 on Product Hunt for books. Amazingly, Huffington Post wrote a nice piece and TechCrunch covered us the next day.
The lesson learned with PR is that no one wants to cover your story until it is successful. So it’s better to focus your energy on marketing channels you can control and then use PR as a boost. Also, PR is not a one shot strategy. With an Indiegogo project, you have 30 days and that’s plenty of time to leverage successes into stories. I am extremely grateful to the writers and editors that generously shared the Silicon Heroes story. The direct data does not quite do them justice – only 7 total purchases came directly from links in their stories. However, these 3 stories generated over 3,000 shares on social media. That’s pretty incredible, and leads me to my next lesson.
Lesson #3: Getting Likes is Easy. Getting Conversions is hard.
Generating social buzz of a project like Silicon Heroes is pretty easy – it’s a unique project and it’s for a great cause. Just look at the Entrepreneur article I mentioned earlier – that piece has had over 2,300 social shares by itself. The lesson there is to write content that provides real meaning to your audience (the “give to get” approach). However, as popular as that article was, it only generated 3 direct contributions on Indiegogo. Yikes!
Let’s look at the impact of social shares from the direct Indiegogo funnel. The Indiegogo project has been shared on social 878 times. Those shares have led to 753 visits and 18 contributions (2.4%). This was shocking to me – the campaign was visited less than 1 time per social media post!
The lesson for me here is that in order to hit my goal, I’m going to need a MUCH bigger top of funnel. This is why I’m going to start Facebook ads this week. (That and Facebook has led to more contributions than Twitter).
Lesson #4: People like comic books more than customer service. At least on Product Hunt!
The Product Hunt community is awesome. Hiten Shah agreed to post Silicon Heroes on Product Hunt just after midnight. Right after he posted, Intercom (a company with thousands of raving customers) posted their book on customer service. I was immediately nervous but also competitive. I went to bed around 2AM and we were neck and neck with Intercom. I woke back up at 8AM to start my email marketing and saw that we had fallen behind. I emailed a few friends to see if I could rally some support but I wasn’t going to make it my main focus (since I had so much to do on launch day). I was so humbled that the Product Hunt community got behind the project. I looked at the 125 upvotes and I only know about 20 of the people personally so a lot of the upvoting was organic. It really helped that Product Hunt featured us on the top section of their main page for most of the day and Ryan Hoover even tweeted about us. It was so much fun to watch throughout the day!
The lesson I learned is that staying on top of the Product Hunt list requires strong influencers in Europe (before the US wakes up) and then a few champions in the US. I was lucky that Harry Stebbings championed Silicon Heroes in Europe and then Hiten Shah and Ryan Hoover tweeted about us during US daytime. I think that really did it for us. In the end, Product Hunt led to 10 direct contributions.
Speaking of customer service: I just want to quickly thank Marc Hofstatter at Indiegogo for his amazing support of Silicon Heroes. I’ve had a little technical trouble over the past couple days and Marc has responded quickly and routed me to the right support people who could solve the issues. Thanks Marc!
Lesson #5: Thank goodness for amazing friends, colleagues and the awesome tech community.
This brings me to my last lesson of the launch. I was overwhelmed by the support of my friends, colleagues and the tech community at large. People I know personally have contributed 80% of the contributions so far (which is par for the course for crowdfunded projects at this stage). The tech community has really helped spread the word and lots of people have sent in supportive emails and offered to help. Thanks to Alexis Cox, Tommy Leep, Kumar Thangudic, Aditya Kashap, Jason Lemkin, Hiten Shah and many others that have spent time with me, advised me and lent a hand.
I’m really excited for this week. I’m going to be launching paid marketing (via Facebook ads) and trying out a few growth hacker techniques on social media. Stay tuned!