This post gets pretty granular and data heavy, so if that’s not your thing we’ve summarized actionable information here. To get into the popular section of a category on Kickstarter, the three biggest drivers are:
- Backers per day
- Percent funded
- Total raised
Backers per day is much more heavily weighted than the others, so you really want to blow up your backer-count, and you really want to do it early on, because 50 backers on day one is 50 backers per day, but 50 backers on day 10 is only 5 backers per day.
One easy way to pump up your backer count is to include a reward for $1 or some other nominal amount that allows people to become backers with minimal investment, and since backers are more heavily weighted than dollars, you’ll be handsomely rewarded for it in regards to the popular algorithm.
The best way to juice your backer count early on is to have huge hoards of people waiting to back your project so that when you launch, you can drop them all in at once, but that’s for another post.
Now for the full analysis.
As of today, the “popular this week” section of any given category on Kickstarter pulls six projects randomly from the top few projects of that section to display on that category’s front page. For product design, it pulls from the top 15. Theater pulls from the top 12.
In order to figure out how Kickstarter decides what’s most popular, we took the top 15 projects in the Design category and analyzed their % funded, number of backers, dollars pledged, and days live.
Backers per day
The most heavily weighted metric within the “popular” algorithm is number of backers per day. A project that has 50 backers on the first day will typically out rank a project that has 50 backers on its second day, even if that project has raised more money and is funded to a higher percentage, as is the case with the number 1 and 2 spots in our analysis.
Following backers per day, percent funded and total dollars raised are the next drivers, though their impact is significantly less weighty.
Now, to hacking the algorithm. “Backers per day” is time-sensitive. 50 backers on day one equals 50 backers per day, but 50 backers on day five is only 10 backers per day. You’ll notice that of the top 15 projects in our analysis, only three have been live for 10 days or more, because with each day that passes, their “backers per day” number gets cut down and it becomes harder and harder to compete with the projects that have only been live for a few days.
Therefore, your best shot at getting into the popular list is on day one, while backers per day is still only divided by one. In the product design category, you don’t need to be number one – just top 15. At the time of our analysis, the project with the lowest backers per day had 44, meaning that if you had been able to drum up 45 backers on the first day, it’s very likely that you’d be in the top 15 and therefore the popular section of the design category home page.
Here’s the same data, sorted by backers per day:
Total dollars and percent funded
You’ll notice that, when sorted by backers per day, the projects aren’t in perfect order. Somehow the number 11 position slipped in to the number 3 spot.
In reality, though, the number 3 position took number 11′s spot, because number 11 has more backers per day. However, the number 3 position has significantly more total funding ($230,592 vs. $85,133) and is funded to a higher percentage than number 11 (576% vs. 209%).
In addition, the number 5 position, when sorted by backers per day, is actually number 14. So why was it able to earn the number 5 spot? The total raised is below average for this group, but if sorted by percentage funded, it would be number two.
If you want to be included in the most popular section on Kickstarter (which you definitely do), you need to blow up your project on day one. Build a following before you launch then dump everyone into your project as soon as you go live. If that propels your project into the most popular section, Kickstarter’s traffic is likely to drive success for the remainder of the project.
This is the best Kickstarter launch strategy, hands down.