With so many failed projects out there, there’s a whole mess of noise that potential backers have to wade through. On average, most campaigns are going to fail, so unless you eat every meal at an all-you-can-eat uncooked pork buffet, there’s only a limited amount of shits you can give per day.
So how do some projects go viral and others die in obscurity?
Whether you’re aware or not, invisible algorithms that filter content on every website play a huge part in determining which projects get seen. It’s these algorithms that choose who gets to see your campaign before they even have a chance to give a shit about it.
This means that if the algorithms aren't convinced people care about your campaign, everything you do to promote will get buried by the almighty machine-gods.
Signal to Noise
Ever since the first spam email was sent in 1978, email providers have been wrestling with how to let legitimate messages in while keeping the “EARN $8 00K A DAY WRKING FROM HOOME” emails out of your inbox.
Spam has only gotten worse over time. Every single day, 269 billion emails are sent and mayyyyybe only a couple hundred are ones you’d want to read (like anything with the Wednesday Frog. Aw geez I love it.) It’s a never-ending cat and mouse game between scammy spammers scamming hapless email users into open their messages, and noble email providers trying to keep email, you know, usable.
So these spam filters, God bless them for their service, do their best to keep the BS out of our inbox.
Social media websites have followed suit because well, they had to. If your social feed is clogged up with garbo, you’re not going to spend every waking hour on their platform. When you’re browsing Instagram, you only want to the real good posts, not the fluff. What exactly is the good stuff is in constant flux, check out this super-handy timeline of all the changes Facebook has made to their news feed since 2006.
- March 2016: Facebook prioritized live videos in news feed
- August 2016: News feed to predict & highlight informative post (according to FB's estimate of what you'd find informative)
- January 2017: Video prioritized based on completion rate
- March 2017: "Reactions" are weighed more heavily than "Likes"
- January 2018: Local news to receive higher priortization
It's not just Facebook, across the whole internet, algorithms determine what gets seen and by whom, and all the algorithms care about is how much a user is going to give a shit about the content.
- Netflix uses over 2,000 different user profile styles, along with minute-by-minute analysis of content for emotions, themes, set pieces, and more to maximize the effectiveness of their recommendations.
- In early 2017, YouTube responded to companies like Amazon pulling ads from their platform by algorithmicly mass-demonetizing YouTube channels, destroying many smaller channels in an event now known as The Adpocalypse. and as of this 2017 report, YouTube prioritizes videos 5-8 minutes in length with large numbers of tags on videos.
- Reddit isn't just about upvotes, it relies on algorithms to sort which stories rise and fall.
- Even holdouts like Snapchat are moving to algorithmic sorting to keep up with other companies.
Algorithms are everywhere on the internet.
Here’s a truth:
If people don’t behave like they give a shit about your message, you are spam and you will be treated as such by every platform you’re on.
“But I’m just trying to raise…” Stop. So is everyone else.
70% of mail sent globally is spam. Unless you’re actively working to not be, you’re a part of the problem.
This is why no one cares about your campaign: it looks like spam therefore it is spam.
So now let’s focus on how we avoid getting our messages thrown in the great dumpster in the cloud by looking into Deliverability . Deliverability is a percentage measure of the amount of your messages that actually make it to the target user. If everything you send gets flagged as spam, blocked, or filtered out because it’s not relevant, your deliverability is garbage and you should be a sad panda because your campaign is in an uphill battle. And sad pandas are awful in combat.
To put it in a less goofy and more boring way, having a combined email / social media list of 10,000 with 5% deliverability isn’t worth nearly as much as a list of 2,000 with 40% deliverability. The more relevant you are to your audience (deliverability) the more the algorithms will put your content in front of them.
It’s sounds simple in retrospect, but it’s easy to get blinded by all the online marketers who swarm campaigns with promises of hidden riches in their super-awesome-pre-made-list of people who you've never talked to before.
There’s a lot of people in crowdfunding out to make a quick buck.
How Do I Improve Deliverability?
Ok so now to the specifics, how do these services determine what to filter and not?
Every service is completely different in how it optimizes and filters content, and those methods change nearly daily, but here’s some broad strokes criteria many use.
1. Open Rates / Engagement – What % of emails do users actually open of yours? How often do they click on links you send? How long do they spend reading the email? This applies both to email and social media.
If you’ve got a history of 50% of your people opening your emails / interacting with your social media posts, you’ll have a completely easier time getting your campaign’s message out than if only 5% of people interacted with previous messages. Email filters are all about giving priority to the stuff you interact the most with simply because it means you keep using the service.
2. Sender Reputation / Source of Email – If your website or IP has a reputation of sending out crap or users flagging you as spam, your messages definitely won’t get to their destination. Sometimes scammers try to jump around by switch/hide domains and IPs, so newer sending locations are treated with more caution (throttling).
On the other hand, if you’ve had people on your email list for a year before launching a campaign, you’ll be a much more trusted sender and get the benefit of the doubt. (Hey how about that, who would have figured that email lists were important?)
3. Message Content – Every part of every message sent is scanned by the provider to determine how likely the user is to actually want the message. Content that involves loans, dating, prescription drugs, and so on is obviously flagged, but simple things like how many links you use and using link shorteners can effect how likely your message is to actually make it to your customer.
4. Spam Traps - Many email providers now even use spam traps, dummy emails that, if they receive any email, immediately flag the email as spam across their entire network. Imagine buying one of those “ultimate super fancy backer email lists” that just so happens to have a Yahoo email on it that’s been converted to a spam trap. Now you can’t talk to any Yahoo based emails from your email.
That’s a whole lot to digest, let’s simplify.
To maximize the chance of your campaign’s marketing success, keep your deliverability high by ensuring your relationship to your potential backers is
Algorithms assume, rightfully so, that most people shouldn’t care about your campaign. The default is to assume your idea is bad and no one is interested, and in aggregate, that's the correct decision.
It’s up to you to convince them otherwise.