Analysis of a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign
Take a Deep Dive Into a Winning European Crowdfunder!
Crowdfunding is a vibrant and complex marketing option for entrepreneurs, which means there’s plenty to consider when developing your crowdfunding campaign.
We’ve covered many of the elements that contribute to a winning crowdfunding campaign in our pages Campaign Development and Campaign Marketing. To make the principles we’ve shared in those pages really come alive, we’ve analyzed a successful European crowdfunding campaign.
Below you’ll take a deep dive into the Kickstarter that took place in November 2017 by Somnox, a young start-up, who reached their goal early on in the campaign process.
If you’ve not already read through our guide to crowdfunding development and marketing, then head over now and get familiar with crowdfunding concepts. Then come back and we’ll get to work showing you how that theory works in practice, for a real campaign.
On This Page
- Somnox – “The World’s First Sleep Robot” Crowdfunding Campaign At a Glance – Campaign Facts
- Pre-Campaign – Background & How they Prepared
- Pre-Preparation – Research & Development
- Pre-Launch – Building Social Media Channels
- The Launch – First Few Hours
- Video Analysis- How Somnox Created a Crowd-pleasing Video
- Campaign Page – Design and Layout
- Copy & Connection
- After the Campaign
- Somnox Sleep Robot Kickstarter Campaign – Overall
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about taxes, company formaition, and residency in the U.S.
- Get advice on taxation, company formation, and residency in the U.S.
Campaign Business: Somnox, based in Delft, the Netherlands, is a young start-up comprised of engineers.
Concept: Somnox is a robot designed to help people get a better night’s sleep by helping them to regulate their breathing and by playing soothing sounds and meditations.
Platform & Campaign Page: Kickstarter, campaign page.
Date of Campaign: November 2017
Kickstarter Goal: €100,000
Amount Raised: €200,274
Number of Backers: 509
The concept for Somnox Sleep Robot came together during the middle of 2015 when the co-founders started work for a class project at the Robotics Institute, TU Delft. They decided to create a soft robot that would help people with insomnia.
After researching methods to help insomnia the team concluded that a slow and steady breathing rhythm would be the most helpful feature. After presenting their prototype to others the team realized that they potentially had a commercial business.
The team joined a Launch Lab, created by YES!Delft, which aims to assist start-ups to develop projects for a European market. They then spent several months developing their prototype and researching sleep issues.
In addition, they met relevant stakeholders and talked to users to see if there really would be a market in Europe for the idea. They bought an experienced entrepreneur – Philip Hess – on-board who became their CEO.
Interestingly, this fact is not explicit in their campaign literature, where the team is presented as fresh-faced, idealistic students. But it should be noted that they had the backing of more experienced professionals and mentors as they developed the project. This is relevant because it highlights the need for networking and building your contacts as an entrepreneur – whatever stage of the process you are currently in.
The LaunchLab support enabled Somnox to land a partnership with Auping, a Dutch company that produces mattresses, to help them with manufacturing and distributing the prototypes. They secured an initial €50,000 to help them fund development on their initial prototypes.
Once this preparation was in place they were ready to start building their crowdfunding buzz.
Somnox built cross-channel social media presences on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Youtube. They developed a great media strategy with the simple tagline – “would you sleep with this robot?” which ran in many media articles in different European and American outlets.
They shared relevant media on each channel. They created behind-the-scenes videos, shared articles about insomnia and sleep deprivation and other relevant issues such as stress and relaxation. They made sure to keep their engagement levels high with their social media followers. A quick scroll through their Facebook posts, for example, shows prompt and friendly replies to many comments.
In the lead up to launch, they ran competitions to win a free Sleep Robot if people shared social media links and signed up for their “Sleep Revolution” page. (This page is no longer active, but we believe was their dedicated campaign page where they captured leads and email sign-ups.)
They ran countdown posts and also created a live launch event as well as attending a TED-X event in Amsterdam. These actions show the importance of in-person networking to help spread ideas and gain backers, especially in the days running up to the beginning of the campaign.
Somnox hosted a campaign launch event and went live with their project on 14th November 2017. Within the first hour, they had raised €40,000 – which was 40% of their goal. This incredible start was no doubt down to the preparation they had undertaken in the months and weeks leading up to the launch.
They had many early backers who were keen to show their support quickly. This level of engagement was down to the combination of social media presence, in-person networking, and using incubator and media tools to gain experience, contacts, connections, and PR for Somnox.
Their approach to the lead up of the campaign was a great example of how building out a campaign takes time, and if done well can get a crowdfunder sewn up almost before it’s even begun!
By day 4 of the Kickstarter, the momentum had built to the stage where the project had reached its €100,000 goal. By the end of the campaign, they had raised over €200,000.
Campaign Element Breakdown
In this section, we’ll break down the main campaign elements and discuss what the project did to add to their success with video, campaign page layout, and their communication. The video is always the most important element of any campaign page – so we’ll start there.
The Somnox Kickstarter video is a high-quality, professionally shot video that hits every element it needs to in order to persuade backers to join the project.
The video comes in at 3 minutes 20 seconds which is about average for a crowdfunder video.
The first 30 seconds. The video takes only 30 seconds to let potential backers know the problem – i.e. we spend 1/3 of our lives asleep, but 1 in 5 people suffer from sleep issues – and the solution. They offered their solution with a clean and simple line: “we made it our mission to bring the world better sleep with the world’s first sleep robot.”
Visually it only takes 30 seconds to show the problem (people tossing and turning in their beds), introduce the “face” of the company (Julian Jagtenberg, one of the founders) and deliver their solution with a shot of the sleep robot. The sound quality is excellent and the professional visuals and music suit the tone of the video.
Sharing this amount of information quickly and in a visually appealing way means that viewers have a compelling reason to watch the rest of the video to discover more. Nobody’s time has been wasted trying to figure out what the product is or what problem it solves. And, the problem it solves is something that is highly likely to be relevant to a wide range of people.
The Video Body
In the next portion of the video, from 30 seconds to the 2-minute mark, the features and benefits of the sleep robot are showcased using easy-to-digest visuals and narration. The benefits are backed up by reference to research that supports their claims about the efficacy of the methods they have chosen to help sleep (such as breathing regulation). This adds authority quickly and simply.
Then, the audience is drawn deeper into the narrative as Julian Jagtenberg adds his personal story by telling the viewer about how he had the idea for the robot because of seeing friends and family suffer from sleep deprivation.
It’s a good way to draw viewers in because it allows them to consider other people who might be interested in the sleep robot if they already sleep well, and shows the company in an altruistic, problem-solving light.
The Last Third
In the last third of the video (from around the 2-minute mark onwards), the team behind Somnox are shown, with descriptions of the research they have undertaken, shots of the team and behind-the-scenes style footage. They also give a shout out to their “high-tech incubator”, which further adds authority. The aim of this section is to reinforce that the team cares about delivering a product that’s helpful, and have the technical know-how to deliver it.
Finally, they refer to using sustainable materials and how they will manufacture the sleep robot (via a partnership with a mattress company). The aim of this is to overcome potential objections to backing in the form of backers worrying about their ability to deal with manufacturing and logistics. This is important because many crowdfunding campaigns fall flat after they have been successfully backed because the project has not nailed down this vital post-campaign aspect.
The Call to Action
The video ends with a clear and powerful call to action. The CTA asks for people to back the project and gives one last compelling reason to do so – to “bring the world better sleep.” This is a fantastic call to action. It’s simple, sincerely delivered, and includes potential backers in a team that adds genuine value to people.
Somnox Video Overview
The video works because it’s well-organized and gives compelling reasons to back the project, without adding any unnecessary information. The narrator and “face” of the video comes across as likable and sincere, and the shots that were chosen to show the team at work make the project organizers look professional and able to deliver what they promise.
The pacing of the video is excellent, quickly setting up what the project does, before adding more details for those interested. The call to action is simple and effective.
The video does have small flaws. There is one potential misstep, depending on individual viewer choice, using a shot of the founder getting out of a bed. This could be interpreted as a little corny, but it’s such a small part of an otherwise excellently produced video that it can be overlooked. In addition, sometimes the narration sounds a little forced. However, it is clear and sincere.
In our analysis of this Kickstarter video, we’d give this a 9/10.
The campaign page layout is clean and simple and uses the space provided by Kickstarter to add professional visuals, interspersed with copy to describe the project.
Somnox has added a gallery which shows the product and behind the scenes images. They have also added testimonials from well-known outlets such as Reuters, Business Insider, The Uk Times Newspaper, and more. Further down the page, they show a series of video testimonials from actual users. Because the company is from the Netherlands, they make sure to show an easy way to view subtitles for any testimonials that are not in English.
As you are drawn further down the page the team adds deeper information. They use graphics and images to give a step-by-step breakdown of how the product works. Next, they show visuals of the rewards and the cost of each reward – including special discounts for Kickstarter backers.
Then they show a behind the scenes look at how they designed the product. They give a “meet the founders” section and a timeline of how the project came into being. They include quotes by members of the team.
Finally, they use the bottom of the page to overcome objections to backing the project by addressing potential challenges. This is the only section that does not have images or video – which is a great move because it softens the blow of any potential risks associated with backing the project.
Overall the page is well designed within the boundaries of the template that Kickstarter offers. There are plenty of visuals and it’s easy to digest. It is potentially a little long, however, the main robot product is between €399 and €599 so they give as many reasons as they can to persuade backers to make that investment.
The rewards for the Kickstarter began at €1 and the top end is €8,499 or more. The rewards begin with a simple thanks and then range from sleep socks to an early version of the sleep robot and then discount packages.
The higher-end rewards involve meeting the team behind Somnox and bulk discounts on bigger orders of the product.
They offered an early backer version of the Sleep Robot for a heavily discounted price. This was a smart move because it encouraged people to back quickly and help them meet a good percentage of their target in the first few hours – which they achieved. In fact, one of the keys to the success of this Kickstarter was early backers – they got 40% of their goal within the first few hours.
The rewards are laid out clearly and the savings and discounts are shown.
The copy for the campaign page is of great quality. The main headlines and banners spell out key benefits of the sleep robot quickly and clearly. They show guarantees with a 30-day return policy and add authority in the first few lines on a large advert before they even begin to explain in depth what the project is.
From there they draw the reader further down the page by adding deeper information. They clearly set out the problem with evidence and statistics to back up their claims. And, they spend time dealing with possible objections and concerns about how the product works.
They spell out the benefits and features with bullets and adding images and other copy support tools. Interspersed with this are snippets that show they are taking a collaborative approach to the project – which is a perfect tone for a crowdfunding project.
One way they do this is to give their social media links and ask for them to be shared. They also have a Facebook Messenger “ask us anything” button which they share with the offer that potential backers can talk to their experts about the project. They also added Livestream “ask us anything” sessions to their campaign where potential backers could talk to them about their project.
The updates section is filled with vibrant copy which shows plenty of gratitude and excitement about the project. They make sure to thank backers, and also include candid photos of the team celebrating early success with the campaign. Each update is written in a chatty and enthusiastic tone – like a friend giving you an update on their new venture. This combines with the more formal copy on the main campaign page to personalize their messages to backers.
Overall, the content on the page is effective, answers objections, and gives an impression of professionalism mixed with an exuberance that makes the project team very easy to like. They made sure to keep in regular contact with backers and to keep communication channels open.
After the success of the Kickstarter, Somnox stayed on top of their game by continuing their media blitz. They’ve now been featured in many mainstream media websites and magazines, and have built a commercial website.
They spent most of 2018 on growing their global presence and developing their product to be commercially ready. They regularly updated their Kickstarter campaign to let backers know how manufacturing was progressing. They released their companion mobile sleep app and started developing an online sleep course.
They hit some road-bumps which delayed the manufacturing process, as some of the materials they were using did not pass certification checks. They added explainer videos to let backers know in detail what the issue was and how they were working to resolve it. As of January 2019, their revised timeline for shipping products is mid-February – March 2019.
It’s not uncommon for production issues to rear their heads with these kinds of projects. However, Somnox seems to have dealt with the potential PR negativity of this problem really well. The comments section on their Kickstarter page remains mostly positive, and they have taken the time to reply personally to all comments asking for updates and news.
The addition of a long explainer video to let backers know about the delays was an excellent choice and it appears they have retained the goodwill of their backers, despite a delay in production.
Somnox is a great example of how to use campaign development and marketing to ensure a crowdfunding campaign is successful – before, during and after the active campaign period. The product itself has great reviews and was extensively researched and tested to make sure it is useful and something people will actually get value from.
In the lead-up to campaign preparation, the team ensured they did a great job of researching and building contacts and networks that would support them in their journey.
They used social media and PR tools extremely well to support them in building a buzz for their campaign. The campaign itself was well-organized, with a great video, and campaign page. They presented the idea clearly, professionally, and using excellent images and copy to support them.
Somnox considered all angles when it came to persuading people to back their campaign. They used research and examples to show the depth of the problem and made it very clear how the sleep robot would solve it.
They were very responsive to their backers on social media and on their campaign page. They gave regular updates and built their connections with their audience by being honest about problems and retaining a positive attitude, as well as being realistic about the challenges they were facing.
The result was a Kickstarter that was very successful and helped them to build a core of support, as well as a focal point for other marketing efforts and additional services to build their brand. As long as they are able to meet their new manufacturing timeline, there’s no reason to think that Somnox will be anything but wildly successful in the months and years to come!
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