As a project creator, we've all been there. You already have some pledges but things have slowed down, and you're wracking your brain trying to figure out new ways to get people involved in your Kickstarter project. And then, it gets worse. One, maybe even two backers cancel their pledge.
While I still feel the blood drain from my face every time I get an email that someone has cancelled, it's important to remember that it's not the end of the world. And it's probably not a direct reflection of your project either. We have over 1800 backers on our Princess Bride project right now and I can say that that number would be quite a bit higher had we managed to retain everyone.
When I first started on Kickstarter a little over two years ago, I noticed that a lot of people hated canceling. They used to wait until they were sure about a project before they backed it because they felt guilty if they didn't back the project through to the end. Personally, I'm glad this has changed as it helps build momentum for a project and shows that it's viable with every backer that comes in, even if it is only for a brief amount of time.
What do you do if they cancel?
I reach out to each and every single backer that cancels and ask them why. I may not get to it immediately, it may take a week or two, but it always gets done. It doesn't have to be complex, just a simple "hi, I'm trying to make my project better. Do you mind taking a few moments to let us know why you canceled backing of our project?"
I can't tell you how many people in the past have told me that I'm the first and only project creator that has contacted them. Many of these cancelled backers come back at a later point in the project.
And even if they don't, this is a valuable opportunity for you to find out what you may be doing wrong. At the very least, it helps evaluate what the public perception is.
Why don't they respond if I ask?
Many backers won't respond for various reasons:
- they don't like confrontation,
- they forget,
- they don't have time,
- and the worst one, they think they've already told you.
Kickstarter has a comment form for backers to fill out when they cancel a project. It doesn't say anywhere on there that you, as a project creator, will not receive that feedback. I've had some backers angrily reply to me saying that they already told me once until I explain that. This is one thing I'll never understand, why is this feedback not passed on to the project creator?
Why do backers cancel?
The reasons that they cancel are even more numerous. The top things I've heard are:
- unexpected expenses: babies, marriages, medical, etc
- backing too many projects
- looked at their budget and just had to cut back, obviously Kickstarter projects aren't a necessity
- Wanted to like the project but maybe it just didn't develop the way that they had expected or certain rewards they wanted never appeared
The thing to remember through all of this is to not take it personally. Not everyone is going to like your project, and some people may change their mind along the way. Focus on making the best project experience for the backers that you do have, as well as the ones that may come in. Asking backers why they left is the first step towards doing that, not the last.