Every entrepreneurial journey starts with a critical decision: choosing the right marketing strategy. For Noisy River Outdoors, creators of the revolutionary FlipKat portable kayak, the dilemma was in how they wanted to raise funds to manufacture the first 250 kayaks.
At first, one option stood out among the rest, crowdfunding through a platform like Kickstarter.
Because they did not want to give up equity to an outside partner, they saw crowdsourcing as a good alternative to giving up control. After some more research, they learned that these platforms came with their own set of pitfalls and costs.
Platforms like Kickstarter offer startups immediate access to a platform to raise funds, an avenue to validate their product through the support of backers, and an opportunity to expand their brand awareness far and wide.
Kickstarter offers startups rapid financial support. The average startup needs about $10,000. With Kickstarter, this crucial initial capital is more accessible, minus the traditional hurdles posed by traditional lenders.
Platforms like Kickstarter allow founders to raise funds without sacrificing company equity. This means full decision-making power remains with the creator, and the door remains open for potential future investments that might involve equity distribution.
Backers provide more than funds; they offer invaluable feedback. This early input allows creators to refine their products, ensuring they fit market needs. Plus, a successful campaign acts as a market validator, highlighting demand and potential success.
Every backer can become a brand ambassador. Successful campaigns often witness their reach expanding rapidly, thanks to these early supporters sharing and promoting projects, leading to invaluable organic exposure.
While Kickstarter presents a unique opportunity for creators, it also comes with its share of challenges. Notably, between Kickstarter's platform fee of 5% and potential payment processing fees of up to 3%, creators could see an 8% deduction from their total raised amount. Additionally, the responsibility of timely reward delivery can be daunting if you are just starting out like NRO. And while gaining backers is a milestone, transitioning them into regular customers is a distinct challenge. Furthermore, once the campaign ends, creators often grapple with maintaining the initial momentum without a structured system from Kickstarter to aid in that.
Kickstarter charges a fee of 5% on the total funds raised. Additionally, payment processing fees can take up to an additional 3%. This means that from a successful campaign, as much as 8% can be deducted, making it crucial for creators to factor in these costs.
Once funded, there's immense pressure on creators to deliver on their promises and provide rewards to backers within the stipulated time. Delays or failure to deliver can lead to negative publicity and erode trust.
While getting initial support on Kickstarter is a win, the real challenge lies in converting those one-time backers into long-term, loyal customers for sustained business growth.
After the initial success and buzz of the campaign, there's a need for a robust strategy to keep the engagement alive. Kickstarter doesn’t provide a direct system for this, leaving creators to figure out post-campaign marketing and engagement on their own.
This is where SEO shines. Not only does it drive organic traffic, emphasizing quality over quantity, SEO provides businesses with the tools to build a sustainable and loyal customer base without relying on third-party platforms. By focusing on SEO, companies can ensure that they're not just getting transient attention but fostering long-term customer relationships and building a top of funnel system that will continue to bring new eyes to the brand after they launch the product.
The strategy started, as always, with the customer. Who was going to be buying this product? After the discovery calls were had we boiled things down to 4 groups we wanted to target with our content.
Once we had our 4 content clusters selected we optimized the home page and all other key pages on the website to contain information about how this product benefited these 4 customers.
After the landing page content was optimized we went to work creating extensive guides that covered everything you would need to know when buying a kayak as any of these 4 shoppers.
Choosing A Portable Kayak For Senior Citizens
As you can see, these blogs are well over 1,500 words each and loaded with CTA’s, Keyword filled headings, images and video, and even an infographic breaking down the article for those who don’t want to read thousands of words.
Once those were written, we went out and built a few backlinks on sites dedicated to the outdoors that pointed back to these blogs. These were legitimate backlinks that were earned by the quality of the product. That always helps!
After the backlinks were built and Google was attributing keywords to the pages we went back to Ahrefs and analyzed the keywords we were earning. The keywords we saw value in, we updated the content to contain more info on, and the keywords we saw no value in we removed.
We rinsed and repeated this process over the last year+ and have created over 1,500 quality keywords and 75+ keywords on page one in a fairly competitive market.
The power of SEO lies in its potential for continuous growth. As the content matures on Noisy River’s site, the rankings will only continue to climb if the same efforts are put in. Unlike crowdsourcing, where the momentum might wane post-campaign, SEO is a strategy that can be refined and scaled over time. The main benefit? Owning the audience. There are no middlemen or platform fees. Plus, with SEO, there's a level of flexibility and adaptability in marketing strategies that's unparalleled.
Coupled with SEO, social media also acted as a formidable tool for Noisy River Outdoors. Taking them from 0 to 15,000+ Tik Tok followers and spending hours a week searching for like minded individuals and organically engaging with their content drove more leads than the SEO (although the behavior metrics fell short of the SEO traffic). Direct engagement with potential customers on platforms like Instagram or Facebook also provides invaluable feedback and fosters a sense of brand loyalty amongst those who interact with the brand. In the case of Noisy River Outdoors, this strategy bore fruit, growing their total following from essentially 0 to over 25k+ followers.
The results speak for themselves. Noisy River Outdoors, by sidestepping Kickstarter and focusing on SEO and social media, garnered over 2,000 unique emails from individuals who took time out of their day to request more info and learn about the Flip-Kat. This isn't just a number; it's a direct line to interested buyers that they can continue to retarget, learn from, and build upon. Their robust social media following is another testament to the power of organic marketing. Now, with this solid foundation, they're poised to launch the FlipKat with an enthusiastic audience eagerly waiting.