How To Build An Email List For Your Board Game Launch

Email marketing is incredibly important when it comes to crowdfunding. After years working in the crowdfunding industry to help creators raise over $13M, the secret sauce to success is emails. Nope, it’s not your social media follower counts that will drive your project to success, but rather the email addresses that you’ve painstakingly collected that will get you there. 

You might be wondering, why are emails so important? I refer you to the 30% Rule. It’s the golden rule I live by with any launch (and you should too!).

The 30% Rule For Board Game Kickstarter Success

Your campaign is ready to launch when you can raise at least 30% of your goal within 24 hours using only your email list. 

There are 2 reasons for this:

Kickstarter Makes Money When Your Game Makes Money 

By reaching at least 30% of your goal on Launch Day, Kickstarter knows that you’re actually putting time and effort into promoting your game and that in the long run it will generate money for them. Knowing this they will then move to provide your game with additional promotions like newsletter inclusions or Project We Love badges.

The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) Effect

A game that is at least 30% funded right off the bat makes newcomers more likely to contribute. It’s just psychology of the masses: backers want to get in on the ground floor of something new, exciting and looks like it will be funded.

Again, the 30% Rule is the simplest and most reliable method to determine whether or not your board game is ready to launch, or if you’ll need a few extra months to prep. And now let’s dig into how to raise at least 30% of your goal on Launch Day. In this article, we’ll cover:

  1. The Basics Of Email Marketing
  2. How To Set Up Your Mailing List On Mailchimp
  3. Set Up Your Main Welcome Automation
  4. How To Get People To Your Email List
  5. How To Build Your Email List For Launch Day Success

The Basics Of Email Marketing

Before we move forward, let’s get you acquainted with the basics of email marketing. Now that you’re looking into email marketing, you’re probably noticing many words marketers are using to explain the health of an email list. Here are some of the most common ones that you need to understand:

  • Open Rate: this is the percentage of your email list that clicks to open your email. 
  • Click Rate: this is the percentage of your mailing list that clicks on at least one link in your email.
  • Subscribes (aka “subs”): the number of people who join your mailing list.
  • Unsubscribes: the number of people who leave your mailing list.

As with everything else in life, success leaves clues. After reverse-engineering the many campaigns I’ve worked on, there’s a really clear pattern for success.

Email Open Rates Pre-Launch

Average data across all industries conclude that email open rates are around 25% for an engaged list. But crowdfunding isn’t your typical industry.

With any Kickstarter launch, there’s a huge frenzy of activity within the 30-60 day launch period. That means we are looking for an open rate that is far from typical. To ensure a strong Kickstarter launch, you’ll want to see at least a 40-50% open rate for your emails.

Email Click Rates Pre-Launch

Open rates aren’t the end-all-be-all for email marketing. I’d argue that the most important metric is the click rate. The click rate tells you the number of people who actually interact with your email and use it as a way to get where you want them to go. The main way to get someone from your list to your Kickstarter page is through the click they make in that email. 

For a successful board game launch, look for a click rate of at least 8-10% on your main call-to-action. If the click rate is low or nonexistent, it’s your job to make sure that there are enticing, succinct and attractive call-to-actions available. 

How To Set Up Your Mailing List On MailChimp

After experimenting (and struggling) with a multitude of email marketing platforms, I’d recommend you get set up on Mailchimp

Frontpage of Mailchimp

Mailchimp is an incredibly intuitive platform that makes it easy for beginners and advanced email marketers alike to set up email campaigns and send out newsletters. And when it comes to email, you want the message you send to reach people who want to read your content; Mailchimp emails are optimized to effectively send into inboxes. 

I leave account setup to the step-by-step instructions on Mailchimp, but here are the secret tips to ensure your emails get optimized to send, opened, and clicked on.

  • Get your domain name verified on Mailchimp before sending any emails. This will save you a ton of headache when it comes to emails getting delivered.
  • Use your own name in the Default From Name section. This is more personal and starts building you up as the main protagonist in this launch journey.
  • Use an email that you frequently check in the Default From Email Address. Throughout this process, you want to be using your email as a way to respond to questions that people might be afraid to ask in a public forum. Ensure they have a way to get access to you!
  • Use one or less images (and not more!) in your emails. Emails with a lot of images tend to get marked as spam and rerouted to the Spam box. Leave showcasing your artwork to your Facebook Group.
  • Be sure to disable double opt-in. Double opt-in is quite redundant in nature; Mailchimp sends out another email to ask said person to confirm that they did actually sign up to your newsletter. Although it sounds innocuous, this alone can lower sign-up rates by 50%. 
  • Always include a big, bold call-to-action button in each email. Remember that we are training people to click on our emails so that they will ultimately click through to the Kickstarter campaign on Launch Day. 
  • Collect someone’s first name as well as their email address. Mailchimp has “merge tags” which allow you to better personalize your email newsletters. For Derek and Todd on your list, you can write “Hi *|FNAME|*!” and their emails will show up as “Hi Derek!” and “Hi Todd!” respectively. 

Set Up Your Main Welcome Automation

The Welcome Email is what marketers call the message that is automatically sent to people immediately after they subscribe to your email list. I like to compare this email experience to inviting people to come visit you at your home. If they accept the invite, you want to be sure to give them a hearty hello or warm embrace when they show up to your front door. That’s the same with this email process, those who accept the invite (sign up for your email newsletter) want to be welcomed with open arms. 

The Welcome Email should warmly welcome people to your audience, re-introduce your vision for the game and provide a strong call-to-action (CTA) at the end. This email alone is incredibly important for your Kickstarter game launch for a few reasons. 

One, by keeping an eye on the open rates for this email, you’ll quickly know whether you are targeting the right audience or not. If you are seeing open rates below 40% for your first email, it’s time to go back to the drawing board to find an audience that will be much more interested in your game.

Moreover, if you’re seeing that less than 8% of people click on the CTA in your email, it’s time to revisit your CTA to ensure that it’s enticing enough. The end goal is to get people to open and click, so that they can be directed to your Kickstarter page when you launch.

In the Free plan on Mailchimp, you can create one automation with one email, which is really all you need to get started. What’s more, when setting up your email, there is unlimited potential for you to get creative with fun email newsletter designs for your board game launch. 

Screenshot of how to set up an automation email to welcome new subscribers

How To Get People To Your Email List

The process for getting people to your email list is quite simple in theory, but more complicated once you get into the finer details of generating traffic. The simple structure for how to get people to your email list is this:

  • Set up an email marketing platform (like Mailchimp that we’re talking about today)
  • Create a landing page that hosts an email signup form. If you need to get a domain, I’ve found that Namecheap is the most affordable option.
  • Direct people to your landing page to start populating your email list

Again, this is simple in theory, but in practice there is a lot of nuance in creating an effective landing page to host the signup form. That’s why I’ll be writing about landing pages in more detail in another post on the blog so be sure to stay tuned. 

In the meantime, here are some ways to get people to your email list:

Link Back To Your Landing Page In All Public Channels You Own

You’re probably already on Facebook talking to a lot of people about your game. If they click back to your profile, will they be directed back to the landing page for your game? Or, if you’re someone who is very active on Twitter, does your Twitter profile include a link back to your landing page for people to click through to? 

Directly Ask People!

I see you going out to playtest your game every chance that you get. I’m sure that at every single event, there are people who want to keep in touch with you and get your game once it launches. At the end of each playtesting session, whip out your phone and have people directly sign up to your email list. You can either have your landing page up and ready for this, or take it a step further and have the Mailchimp app downloaded to your phone for a direct add.

Spend Money On Advertising

Facebook ads will dramatically shorten the time it takes you to get the word out about your board game. Rather than collecting emails one-by-one, Facebook Ads will allow you to quickly do this on a massive scale and reach far corners of the globe. 

These are just a few ways to get people to your email list. I write more about this in the article How To Use Content To Market Your Kickstarter Board Game Launch

How To Build Your Email List For Launch Day Success

Now what do you do with all these people on your email list? Well, it’s time to get them pumped up about your launch!

Usually the open and click rates decline the more you email people so I’d recommend sending emails at a minimum. Most of your conversation with your potential backers should be through your Facebook Group

Remember the 30% Rule we talked about earlier to ensure that your campaign activates the Kickstarter algorithm? To activate this, follow this exact step-by-step guide to harness the power of your email list to get you to a successful Launch Day on Kickstarter.

1. Get People Ready For Your Launch

One week before your launch your Kickstarter campaign, be sure that everyone on your list knows about your launch. Where they can get it, what date the campaign goes live, the exact time you will launch, and what special pricing you will launch with.

2. Ensure That There is A Reason For Them To Back Early

The Kickstarter algorithm rewards campaigns that quickly raise funds on Launch Day. Ensure that your launch plan includes an enticing reason for people to back your game early on Launch Day. Typically, this means offering the lowest game pricing (or an extra component thrown in) only within the first 24 hours of your launch. 

3. Link People Directly To Your Kickstarter Page

There will be people on your email list who have been waiting for weeks or months to pre-order your game on Kickstarter. Send an email to them on Launch Day when your campaign goes live. Make backing an easy task for them by providing a big, clear CTA in the email that will take them directly to your Kickstarter page so they can get backing. 

Before you go, be sure to join the Kickstarter Board Game Marketing Facebook Group to learn the most up-to-date marketing methods for your board game!

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