Kickstarter Stats 101: Should I Have a $1 Reward Level?

I’ve heard a lot of discussion lately about the $1 reward level and whether or not it really makes that big of an impact on a Kickstarter campaign. The common advice is to include a $1 reward giving visitors a way to engage and stay tuned about the project’s progress – with the hope that they will ultimately convert to a higher reward level later on.

My goal here is shed light on what the data says about the matter and illuminate any key insights.

I should note that this analysis did influenced my thinking when I created the reward levels for almost all of my previous Kickstarter campaigns (Peptide, Ion, Covalence, Virulence, My First Science Textbook, and Science Wide Open), so hopefully it can add some value to yours as well.

Okay, let’s get into the nitty-gritty details.

Kickstarter Success Rates Based Upon Having a $1 Reward

The main conclusion is that there does seem to exist a clear difference between the success rates of projects that have a $1 reward, and those that don’t. But, this difference is not obvious with all groups of Kickstarter projects. Let me explain further.

Success Rates of All Project Creators with $1 Reward

At first glance, the bar graph above doesn’t seem to say much about whether or not the $1 reward level matters. But what about when we distinguish between different groups?

The most drastic difference becomes apparent when you distinguish between first time projects creators, and all other creators. On average, first time project creators with a $1 reward saw a pretty large jump in overall success rates compared to first time project creators who did not have a $1 reward level.

Success Rates of 1st Time Project Creators with $1 Reward

What is interesting to note is that this difference is not seen in subsequent projects (e.g. 2nd project, 3rd projects, etc.) The average success rates are not identical for these subsequent groups, but the difference is a couple percentage points and it fluctuates back and forth, with no apparent pattern.

Kickstarter Success Rates Per Funding Goal Group and Having a $1 Reward

How about if we separate the groups based upon the amount of funding the project is seeking. Again, something becomes apparent. The $1 reward level seems to correlate with average success rates more significantly if the funding goal is low, compared to if it is high.

Success Rates of $1 Reward by Funding Goal

* Something to note about the graph above is that it does not show a 0%. This is a common method in statistics but an obvious consequence is that is makes the differences between our values “appear” to great variations visually, that are not actually accurate to the their numerical values.  

One thing I should mention from a statistics point of view is that the appearance of a graph or chart REALLY matters. Real life doesn’t give you straight lines or perfect circles. So when you see data that show a beautifully continuous curves like the one above, one should pay attention.

The average success rates were also determined for funding goal ranges in excess of $10,000 but the differences between these average success rates across all ranges higher than $10,000 were both inconsistent and negligible in magnitude.

My Personal Interpretation

Nothing I say here should be construed as truth or fact, rather a good reason for you to leave a comment explaining your own conclusions from the data.

I think there is one thing that’s fairly clear – A significant correlation does exist between having a $1 reward level and the average success rates of tabletop game Kickstarter projects. However, it seem to be more import for first time project creators or for projects with relatively smaller funding goals (e.g. less than $10,000.

In any event, I wanted to add a $1 reward pledge to my current campaign for Peptide: A Protein Building Game because I still think there are advantages to the $1 reward tier. Here’s one major advantage.

One thing I did in my first Kickstarter campaign (for Linkage: A DNA Card Game) is gather a list of people willing to commit to donating $1 on launch day. I wrote a blog post asking people to commit, I spread the word on Facebook and Twitter, I waved my magical wand and… just under 40 people committed.

Do the math, this is only $40, what the big deal? The big deal is that just over 30 of those people backed the project on day one with a full pledge to receive the game AND a handful even pledged much more. These $1 committed backers resulted in almost 15% of my funding goal!

This gave my campaign the necessary credibility that other potential backers, or more weary backers, may have needed to trust the campaign and hit the pledge button.

I would also recommend reading Kickstarter Lesson #113: Why Every Project Should Have a $1 Reward Level by Jamey Stegmaier from Stonemaier Games. He goes into a lot more detail some of the major benefits of having a $1 reward level on your Kickstarter project page.

$1 Reward and The Devil’s Advocate

Here’s point that James Mathe brought in a discussion we had the Kickstarter Best Practices Facebook Group.

You’re reading this blog, and likely many others similar to it, because you care about doing the research to run your project well. What if all the people who are doing researching on how to run a successful campaign on Kickstarter read this same advice, while all the others projects creators who don’t do their research and just launch aimlessly don’t include a $1 reward. What will happen?

Well, the data would show that having a $1 reward is “good” for a Kickstarter campaign because those with it have higher success rates than those that don’t.

But the people who did their research were much more likely to succeed than the people who didn’t do their research, no matter if they had a $1 reward or not. To the point, the common advice given in the blogosphere has skewed the data.

Has this happened? It would take some pretty pervasive advice to skew the data this much, and I would like to think it’s too early for that to be the case anyway, but I could be wrong. I still think having a $1 reward level is a good idea.

Questions to Ponder…

Are there other ways the $1 reward pledge can be really effective? Do you think it;s completely insignificant? Do you think I should add anything else to the analysis?

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