Video –– it may have killed the radio star, but it’s helped fund a ton of crowdfunding campaigns!
“…what better way to engage the imagination than with a vivid, colorful, and entertaining video?”
According to a recent study conducted by MPW Media, the medium is crucial when it comes from taking campaigns from idea to reality. After analyzing 7,196 projects on Kickstarter alone, the company came to some rather shocking results: Pages with video were 85 percent more likely to achieve their funding goals!
More specifically, 48 percent of projects with crowdfunding videos achieved their funding goals, while only 26 percent did without. The categories that have the most to gain? Food, photography, product-design, and children’s books; where the likelihood of success increased by more than 200 percent! But, when you stop and think about it, it makes total sense. Sales & marketing is about painting pictures people want to live in. Translation: The easier your potential customers can imagine themselves using (and benefiting from) your product, the more likely they are to click that beautiful “Buy” button.
Engage the Imagination
And what better way to engage the imagination than with a vivid, colorful, and entertaining video? Of course, a crowdfunding video alone doesn’t guarantee success –– but (as we’ve seen) having one people actually WANT to watch does stack the odds in your favor. Which brings us to the question: What kind of videos are the most successful campaigns actually creating?
So, we decided to analyze the videos of the 10 most successful crowdfunding campaigns EVER to get an answer. While we couldn’t identify an exact formula for creating over-achiever-level campaign videos (ie. things like style, tone, and technical quality varied across the board), we were able to identify some key commonalities. If you read our Top Tips For Launching a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign post, you know there is a proven “sales message template” for structuring crowdfunding pages. We found ALL of the following campaign videos, without exception, utilized most of these elements. The ones that weren’t emphasized were usually tackled further down in the page copy.
So, without further ado, the videos of the 10 most funded crowdfunding campaigns as of September, 2015:
1. Star Citizen
Raised: $89 million+ to date
Funded: As of September 2015
Video Length: 11:08
Video Format: Dramatic “movie preview” style, followed by Interview style introduction with “medium shot,” interspersed with product demonstration.
Not only did Star Citizen go down in the books at the most successfull crowd-funded game campaign ever, their self-hosting model using IgnitionDeck allowed them to continue accruing funds long after the typical “30 day” period.
As with all the campaigns we’ll be reviewing today, video was crucial in helping them paint a clear picture of what backers would be getting. The video starts out with a “Star Wars-like” introduction, featuring scrolling text set to dramatic music: “They said console was the future; now they say mobile and tablets are the future. I say to you the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. I am a PC game.”
Shortly after, game designer Chris Roberts introduces himself and quickly tells us why he created the came, why we should care and why he knows what he’s talking about: “Ever since I saw Star Wars, as a wide-eyed 8-year-old, I dreamt of being a hot shot pilot traveling across the galaxy… Ten years ago, after 20 years ago making games (social proof) I took a break… Now I’m ready to come back, and I’d like to show you something I’ve been working on.”
He goes on to tell the audience he doesn’t want to build just any game, he wants to build a universe. Why hadn’t this game been built up this point? The technology just wasn’t there, until NOW (reason of interest). Throughout the video, Roberts talks to us from “the universe” he helped create. He walks us through the amazing graphic features of the game, showing us the technology is here and that you too can join this world if you back his crowdfunding campaign.
Biggest Strengths: This video’s biggest strength was the graphic depictions themselves. The medium worked particularly well for demonstrating what interaction with the final product would be like. Roberts also did a great job of providing the most important information up-front so viewers could decide if they wanted to continue watching or not.
2. Coolest Cooler
Raised: $13,285,226 (26,570 percent of goal)
Funded: August 29, 2014
Video Length: 3.21
Video Format: Voice-over with actors demonstrating product usage; alternating with an interview style product discussion (medium shot).
The video kicks off with the an image of a standard cooler, followed by a lively outdoor social gathering. A voice-over quickly sets-up the problem this product seeks to solve. “Why haven’t cooler designs changed in almost 50 years? Boring coolers are boring, break easily, and are a pain to get to your destination… I wanted a cooler that was really well built, but that I would look for excuses to get outside and enjoy. So, I created the Coolest.”
Our narrator then goes straight into why we should care by discussing all the redesign benefits, including a built-in blender for conveniently making cocktails outdoors, removable bluetooth speakers, waterproof USB charger, advanced storage systems, LED lights and a bottle opener (yes, I want to buy this NOW)! The reason of interest: A Coolest is a complete redesign of what a cooler should be.
The video goes on to address potential concerns, allocation of funds and demonstration of value. “I create products for a living, so I lined up top manufacturers to help me through every step of the process .. This will make sure you not only get your coolest on time, but that its high quality…
To move to the next stage requires expensive parts and the capital to buy our materials at a volume discount… If you were to go out today and buy all the gear we’ve packed into our cooler, it would cost over $500. By backing this campaign for $180, you’re getting a great deal!” Hard to argue with that right?
Biggest Strengths: The video closes with one of the clearest Call to Action (CTA) we’ve seen –– a graphic illustration pointing to the share button that says, “Please share this video so we can make your Coolest!” This simple action, likely generated numerous leads beyond their immediate “tribal network.” And, as Seth always says, it’s all about the tribe.
Raised: $10,266,845 (10,266 percent of goal)
Funded: May 18, 2012
Video Length: 2.47
Video Format: Interview style introduction with “medium shot,” interspersed with voice narration and shots of product usage.
Pebble’s video capitalized on it’s two greatest strengths: A clear brand philosophy – a smartwatch should help simplify your life; it shouldn’t try to replace your smartphone – and ample product demand.
In some ways, this was just the “right” product at the “right” time. The video quality wasn’t exceptional and it didn’t provide a clear CTA like our Coolest video. What the video DID do well was: 1. Clearly demonstrate the watch’s amazing features and streamlined design with footage depicting everyday use and 2. Provide substantial social proof: “We started with a prototype built from cell phone parts. That led us to our first commercial product, the Inpulse Smartwatch for Blackberry. The number one question we received was, ‘When will the watch work with our iPhone?’ Well, we’ve done exactly that.”
The company tapped into its grassroots following in 2015 with a campaign for a predecessor watch called Pebble Time. With social proof & credibility “through the roof” the campaign easily raised $20,338,986 or 4,067 percent of their goal. Clearly, Pebble’s got this down.
4. Exploding Kittens
Raised: $8,782,571 (87,825 percent of goal)
Funded: February 19, 2015
Video Length: 1:44
Video Format: Animation with voiceover.
Exploding kittens is a crazy-fun card game created by illustrator Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal. This video definitely gets the award for “most fun” in our Top 10 List. It starts with some quirky illustrations of various animals with a voiceover set to a suspenseful musical score: “Kittens, goats, magical enchiladas, explosions – all of these things – in a card game!”
Matthew then goes on to introduce himself and his partners, before explaining the rules of the game. Smart move –– People don’t want to play a game that’s impossibly difficult to learn (we’ve all been there). Reasons for interest are knocked off – “Kid-friendly, maximum-funness, and easy-peasy” – before the whole thing is wrapped up with a clear CTA: “If you’re the type of person who’s into laser beams, kittens, please back our Kickstarter… In exchange, we’ll send you the game. CLICK HERE to back our project.”
Biggest Strengths: Creativity, originality, and a clear CTA.
Raised: $8,596,474 (904 percent of goal)
Funded: August 9, 2012
Video Length: 2:58
Video Format: Interview style with “medium shot,” alternated with voice narrations over shots of “the team” collaborating/designing in the office.
The first thing we noticed about Ouya’s campaign video? Speed. Just barely coming in under the 3 minute mark, the company managed to pack a lot of information in very little time. Does the founder simply just talk fast or was this intentional? We don’t know.
What we do know is that Ouya did a great job introducing a compelling reason for speaking: “I love video games, but people are moving away from the television. There’s a lot of focus today on the mobile and web platform. Its easier to develop games for those platforms than the television. (It) costs a lot of money, (You) have to work with established players in the space. (So, we’re) trying to figure out –– how do we get them back to it?”
After setting up the question, the founder introduces her product as the answer: “Ouya is… A new game console for the television that’s built on android open source technology.” The video goes on to provide a clear reason of interest, while demonstrating social proof by featuring interview clips from a variety of game industry experts, all supporting the claim that today’s console business is completely closed to the independent developer. And finally, it touches on the design process, important features, a revenue plan and a clear CTA.
Biggest Strengths: Ouya’s video did an excellent job of creating “the feeling” of being a part of something BIGGER than the product itself: “This takes a lot of guts and courage, to disrupt an established industry. if I wasn’t a female, I’d say ‘big balls!’”
Raised: $6,225,354 (778 percent of goal)
Funded: April 15, 2014
Video Length: 11:35
Video Format: Interview style with a unobtrusive, “camera-phone” vibe
Pono broke all the rules –– their video was too long, kinda grainy and they didn’t even clearly display the product! But… None of that mattered.
One word: Celebrities. The creator of Pono is none other than Neil Young (yes, that one). Young scored candid interviews with droves of high-profile musicians – Beck, Pearl Jam, Norah Jones etc. – who had just sampled music via Pono for the very first time. After nearly 6 minutes of glowing testimonials, the footage switches to Neil talking and driving: “Pono is about the music, the people who make the music. It’s about hearing what we hear; that hasn’t happened in a long time. We wanted you to be a part of this and help us launch this music eco-system into the world.”
The video goes on to illustrate the reason of interest with a chart that compares mp3 sound quality to that of listening to music underwater. And finally sums it up with the definition of Pono (Hawaiian for righteous) and an invitation to bring real music into the 21st century.
Biggest Strengths: Social proof out the wazoo, a compelling reason of interest, and a CTA that directs interested parties to a personal Website where they can read more content.
7. The Veronica Mars Movie Project
Raised: $5,702,153 (285 percent of goal)
Funded: April 12, 2013
Video Length: 4:52
Video Format: Comedic scripted acting
You know that inexplicably sad sound you heard while eating your breakfast cereal on that sunny day in 2007? Yeah, that was the sound of Veronica Mars fans around the world sighing in unison after hearing their beloved TV show had been abruptly canceled.
The show quickly developed a cult following, as fans of the show (aka. marshmallows) continued to gift friends and family with box-set DVDs. As often happens in these kinds of situations where fans feel jipped, talk of a Veronica Mars movie arose. And, thanks to the power of social media, Mars and her crew heard and answered the call. The video begins with a skit, featuring leading actress Kristen Bell and her Mars costars. A befuddled Bell who has just woken-up is trying to figure out why all these dudes are in her house. After convincing her a movie must be made, the question becomes how.
“I say we have the fans fund the movie,” says a costar. “We could offer all sorts of cool rewards to people who donate; things like signed movie posters, tickets to the premiere, or even an associate producer credit.”
After seeing the outlandish rewards everyone conjures up on their own (via thought bubbles), Bell turns to the camera and gives the CTA: “But seriously marshmallows, this is it… If we reach our fundraising goal, we’ll shoot the movie this summer. Check out the list of rewards and donate now.”
Biggest Strengths: An already huge fan following, a taste of the acting to come, and the inclusion of social handles for staying in touch at the end of the video.
8. Reading Rainbow
Raised: $5,408,815 (540 percent of goal)
Funded: July 2, 2014
Video Length: 6:15
Video Format: Comedic scripted acting; alternating with medium interview-style camera shots and product depictions.
Reading Rainbow was the 80s/90s educational learning program teachers played for their students when they needed to grade papers, take a break or reward good behavior. The show was hosted by none other than LeVar Burton of Star Trek. Burton partnered with producers to make a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of revamping the show for the “next generation.” The video begins with Burton walking into an elementary school administrative office, saying he’s there to film a Kickstarter video. And jaws drop. No one can believe it because, hello –– it’s THE Reading Rainbow guy!
At 1:15, the familiar theme song pops up, pulling at the heartstrings of the now-adults who used to watch the show, and LaVar addresses the camera directly with the reason of interest, a run-down of the show’s new digital features and an allocation of funds explanation: “One, develop Web-enabled Reading Rainbow; two, create a classroom version with tools teachers need; and three, subsidize the cost to classrooms. We also get some social proof by hearing about how many lives Reading Rainbow has touched and how many of the organization’s current digital experiences have been downloaded since launching their app (more than 13 million).
The video wraps up with a clear CTA and a description of some very personable rewards, including recorded outgoing voicemails by LaVar, dinner with LaVar and the wearing of his Star Trek VISOR!
Biggest Strengths: Huge pre-built fanbase, effective comedic script and the invoking of nostalgia.
9. Torment: Tides of Numenera
Raised: $4,188,927 (465 percent of goal)
Funded: April 5, 2013
Video Length: 6:45
Video Format: Comedic scripted acting; alternating with medium interview-style camera shots
Want someone to “fall in love?” Make them laugh. Want someone to open their wallet? Make them laugh. Want someone to fund your crowdfunding campaign? Well, you get the idea. Our video begins with a man (Brian Fargo, leader of Exile) walking on a suburban neighborhood sidewalk. A black limousine rolls up, and it’s window rolls down. A 9’ish year old boy, whom we’re told is the CEO of “Metric Driven Games,” tells Brian to get in. A hilarious conversation ensues depicting just how maddening it can be for creative game developers to partner with big-wig investors.
At 1:52, the video switches to interview style where Brian goes into his spiel: “Thanks to Kickstarter, I don’t have to have conversations like that anymore. I was awed by the support you gave us with our Wasteland 2 Project… We are making the kind of games we like to play, and we are making games for you, the people who put their faith and trust into us.” Brian further explains why fan-based funding allows them to make better games, before handing the peton over to the company’s conceptual artist who outlines the concept of the game over camera-work depicting conceptual renderings and character drawings.
The video ends by circling back to the core concept with a CTA: “This the game we want to make: A game of passion, depth, and emotion. A game that lets you decide the answer to the question –– What does one life matter? We’re looking to find that answer. Will you join us?”
Biggest Strengths: Capitalizing on success of previous campaign, a compelling/clearly articulated game concept and demonstration of capabilities to get the job done.
10. Project Eternity
Raised: $3,986,929 (362 percent of goal)
Funded: Oct. 16, 2012
Video Length: 6:26
Video Format: “Hollywood movie” preview-style introduction, followed by medium shot interviews and product renderings.
The video begins by setting-up the concept of the game in dramatic fashion. Text flashes across the screen: “One good life. An extraordinary life. What levy must be paid for such a thing? If the gods won’t answer it’s for us to decide.” And just when you’re ready for something “epic,” Feargus Urquhart, founder of Obsidian Entertainment, pops onto the screen, presenting the reason of interest: “A whole new fantasy role playing game that has compelling story lines, deep companions, tons of exploration, moral complexity, and fun tactical combat.”
The video then delves into the process of how GOOD games are actually made, letting us know the allocation of funds. He goes on to say the organization has won a number of rewards for their dialogue writing and characterization (social proof). What makes this game different?
It’s an M-rated game that explores mature themes and topics.
The rest of the video features interview clips with a variety of Obsidian creatives talking about what they most love about the new game. They’re genuinely passionate about the work they do and it shows. The video ends with a clear CTA (noticing a pattern here?) and a simple “Thank you.”
Biggest Strengths: An entertaining introduction that hooks interest and allowing the passion of their employees to shine.
As you can see, there’s no right or wrong way to make a stellar campaign video. The approach you take will depend on your product, the size of your network, and your inherent strengths. But the most successful campaign videos DO include some of the same key elements that you can also implement. Here are our final take-aways:
- Speak to the camera comfortably, confidently and like you would a friend.
- Have a clearly articulated REASON OF INTEREST.
- Get endorsements from famous people whenever possible!
- Include SOCIAL PROOF and examples of previous successes.
- Use comedy if it makes sense for your project (and you’re funny).
- Tell potential backers how you will ALLOCATE FUNDS.
- Invite people to be a part of a community or movement.
- Tell people exactly what you want them to do (CTA).
- Tell people how they can stay in touch (ie. social, Website etc).
- Thank people for helping you.
Ready to crowdfund your next big thing? Do it with Ignitiondeck, WordPress’ most powerful crowdfunding plugin and themes, and reap the benefits of self-hosting. For more tips on crowdfunding, read “How to Crowdfund Like a Marketer”.