Study of Kickstarter Wording Offers Guidance for B2B Marketers

A recent study by two researchers at Georgia Tech looked at the language of Kickstarter campaigns and found that the words and phrases used went a long way in determining whether the project got well-funded or not. By examining what worked and what didn’t, we can get a little guidance for our own marketing campaigns. The study, titled The Language that Gets People to Give: Phrases that Predict Success on Kickstarter, was conducted by Tanushree Mitra and Eric Gilbert of their School of Interactive Computing.

Here are some phrases that determined money-raising success (with their percentage over the base rate):
project will be (18.48); difference for (5.60); has pledged (5.42); pledged will (4.01); pledged and (3.98); we can afford (2.94); their creative (2.71); given the chance (2.69); mention your (2.69); inspired me (2.57); project will allow (2.56); accessible to the (2.52)

And here are some that determined money-raising failure:
pledged (-7.12); dressed up (-4.64); not been able (-4.02); trusting (-3.91); all the good (-3.89); school that (-3.75); kids of all (-3.55); of the leading (-3.53); an honorable mention (-3.17); panel of (-3.17); is time for (-3.14); even a dollar (-3.10); easy and (-2.97); later I (-2.96).

Let’s look at some takeaways from this:

1. Sound authoritative. If people are spending money with you, they want it spent well. “The project will be” connotes confidence and key information.

2. Offer reciprocity. “…’mention your’, ‘also receive two,’ ‘we can afford,’ and ‘pledged will’ are among the top 100 positive predictors.” But people didn’t like “dressed up”—wasn’t tangible enough.

3. Provide social proof. The phrase “has pledged” shows that. “We see traces of social proof in the language of funded projects,” the researchers wrote, “often signaling the attention the project has already received.”

4. Be positive. Kind of obvious but sometimes we might think that being up front about our struggle is a good thing. Probably not. “…phrases which exude negativism (not been able), or lack assurance (later I, hope to get) are predictors of not funded.”

5. Personalize when possible. The phrase “used in a” did well; the examples they give are “send us a photo of yourself to be used in a collage” and “your vocal will be used in a similar way.” These attempt to involve people personally in your project/webinar/conference etc.

6. Indicate scarcity/give a deadline. The phrase “given the chance” did well because of this—“you will be given the chance to purchase our small batch pieces before the public domain.” The researchers wrote that “…exclusivity is often harnessed while making offers, leading to higher chances of acceptance.”

7. Appeal to a sense of community. The phrase “to build this” did well in this context—”…a large portion of our community has come together to build this.” The researchers call this social identity.

8. Try to be liked. “People are more likely to comply with a person or product if they like them,” the researchers wrote. The phrase “project will be” succeeded in this context: “…with your help, this project will be a success, and you’ll be able to enjoy our movie at a festival near you!” Conclusion: “People use similarities to create bonds, which are later leveraged to garner support.”

9. Be confident but don’t grovel. The phrases “secure the,” “gain a” and “guarantee a” all did well but “provide us,” “even a dollar” and “need one” did not.

10. Test new phrases. “December of” has done well in Kickstarter appeals but that may be because of tax reasons. “Another perplexing finding,” the researchers wrote, “was the occurrence of phrases like Christina (2.51) and cats (2.64) in our top predictors.” They guess that Christina Aguilera may be popular and the Internet may just like cats. “Good karma” also did well. I think we all want that.

Again the full paper can be downloaded here.

To subscribe to the SIPAlert Daily, go to the SIIA website.


Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

Adwords Now Promotes Tele-Measurability

Google has just launched a new Adwords feature that offers lots of useful applications for online marketers. It’s so slick, I am a little surprised it hasn’t received more press. Read more here.

SIIA Event Sept. 17 will Examine Software’s Transformative Impact on U.S. Economy

SIIA speaker seriesSIIA invites you to attend The Software Century: Increasing Economic Growth & JobsThe new event, which will explore the software industry’s role in job creation and economic growth, will take place on Wednesday, September 17 at 11:30 a.m. in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, HVC 215.

The Software Century: Analyzing Economic Impact & Job Creation will feature Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews and business leaders, who will provide their unique perspective on how software is reinventing the way businesses and consumers operate and is transforming the U.S. economy.

At the event, SIIA will unveil a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind report on the software industry’s economic impact. As software has become essential to virtually all business operations across all industries, the new SIIA report – “Software Industry Driving Economic Growth and Job Creation” – will provide detailed data and analysis related to output, productivity, exports and job creation. The report’s author, Robert J. Shapiro, former Undersecretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs under President Bill Clinton, and SIIA Vice President of Public Policy Mark MacCarthy will discuss the study’s findings and implications.

To register for the event, please click here

Announced speakers include:

  • Bruce Andrews – Deputy Secretary of Commerce
  • Robert J. Shapiro – former Undersecretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs under President Bill Clinton; Co-founder and Chairman, Sonecon, LLC
  • Jason Mahler – Vice President of Government Affairs, Oracle
  • Bernie McKay – Chief Public Policy Officer and Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs, Intuit
  • Henry Lightsey – Executive Director of Global Connected Consumer-Global Government Relations, General Motors

WHO: The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA)

WHAT: The Software Century: Analyzing Economic Impact & Job Creation

WHEN: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

WHERE: U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, HVC 215


Sabrina Eyob is the Public Policy Coordinator at SIIA. Follow the Policy team on Twitter @SIIAPolicy.

Gaining New Readers Through Chat Platforms and Text Alerts

Since June, this appears at the end of stories on the Oxford (UK) Mail website:

“Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone’s contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.”

A good article on the Journalism.co.uk site chronicled the reasons why the Oxford Mail has gone to WhatsApp to reach more readers. (The fact that WhatsApp has 450 million users each day may be a good start.) I first downloaded WhatsApp about six months ago to communicate with a friend in Singapore and have continued to use it with friends and on trips overseas. It instantly recognizes the people in your contacts who also have WhatsApp and then uses the Internet to send the texts.

“It’s much more direct in turning around saying ‘come and read our story,’” Jason Collie, assistant editor of the Mail, told Journalism.co.uk. “Instead of hoping that yours is the one out of six or seven potential competitors that will be picked up by the readers.”

In the first two weeks they gained 200 followers. The Mail is careful not to overwhelm them, sending out only a morning and evening broadcast, plus maybe one more if there’s breaking news. A member I was speaking to at an INFO local dinner last night also warned me about sending out too many correspondences. He might have even used the word “desensitised,” which Collie does as well. There’s a point where we may turn off, the member told me.

The WhatsApp “alerts all link back to a story online,” Collie said, “so the website can only benefit.” Traffic announcements, appeals about missing persons, and breaking news provided the most click-throughs in those first couple weeks.

This also adheres to one of the new rules—that publishers are better off if they can get readers to tell them what they want. I just spoke with Andrew Leighton at Aroq Limited in Worcestershire UK, and he said that they are doing very well at getting many employees in their member companies—especially in their automotive vertical—to engage with them. The reasons for this are free trials and an email alert service that they just launched. “That caused a dramatic jump in usage,” he said. “They’re flexible, and the customer can choose the frequency” and the sectors they want to know about (there are about 40 of them).

“It’s all about meeting different demands,” Collie said. “There is not just one homogenous Oxford Mail reader who might buy the paper or might read the website or might see [news] on Twitter. There are different people who get their news in a different way and we’ve just got to supply it.”

Sending multiple messages to multiple lists can, of course, get complicated—blacklisting has to be constantly guarded against—but it’s essential to keeping users engaged. I was told last night that there is now a blacklisting program that measures on engagement and usage, so it’s vital to clean your lists and target as much as you can.

In April, BBC News India sent users of WhatsApp and WeChat information about the elections in India. WhatsApp users received three messages per day as push notifications, while WeChat users were limited to one. “The ‘technology barrier’ for messaging apps is much lower than that of other social media as users can sign up more quickly and send content more easily than on other platforms,” said Trushar Barot, assistant editor of the BBC’s UGC and social media hub.

Publishers are definitely finding more usages for the chat platforms of late. Yesterday I wrote how Access Intelligence has started to use an online chat system in their ordering process. They’re going through a company called Boldchat, saying it’s not that expensive given the value it can provide to frustrated users (and revenue that might otherwise go lost into the clouds). Chat platforms may also allow easier paths for user content, which many publishers still covet.


Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

9 Ways to Get Technology and Marketing Working Together

“Is moving this graphic from here to here really going to make a difference in your market?” asked Rob Paciorek, senior VP/CIO for Access Intelligence, speaking at a session on The New CIO-CMO Partnership at the recent SIPA 2014 Conference. “I think not, but if you can give us a compelling reason why it would, then we’ll spend the time there. These are the conversations we have. We try to sort through the noise and put some measurements to it. Let’s do a test; let’s do one page where we move it and one page we don’t. Maybe that will help us answer this the next time.”

The key is communication, Paciorek said. He presented with his colleague Heather Farley, divisional president, Access Intelligence. After giving an example of the hard but rewarding work involved in bringing their departments together, Paciorek said with a chuckle, “There’s a reason that our offices are right next to each other; it hasn’t always been like that.”

Here are 9 highlights from this excellent session, available—like all the other SIPA 2014 sessions—to members through the SIPA website.

1. Improve engagement. “This is a huge issue for us,” Farley said. “We spend a lot of time on our web design and user interface. This is where it really starts. There’s a great team that sits in New York and they can go through our sites and say, ‘This is where your content is sticky, this is where people are spending the most time on—this kind of content. Here’s your heat map, here’s how people are moving through your site.’ [If you can] understand those things and be able to tweak both on design and the kind of content you’re using, that gives you that higher level of engagement.”

2. Find the right people. “The holy grail for my team is finding technology people who understand business,” Paciorek said. “For instance, one member found a little team of freelancers to work on things he couldn’t get to. So now he’s also a project manager. There’s a technology person willing to give up a little piece for advancement of the company.”

3. Use quizzes. Access has been very successful with quizzes, provided through a technology company called SnapApp. “These really test your knowledge and have been great engagement tools,” said Paciorek. “It’s fun content.” Farley added that they are also sponsored and provide page views for advertisers. “We also get tremendous feedback. Editors will hear from readership, ‘it’s too easy,’ ‘it’s impossible.’ I hear from our CEO when he gets 100% on his quiz.”

4. Ease conversion. “We’ve been able to use pre-populated forms so that when you come it’s easier for you to buy,” said Farley. “There also might be a way to pay through your Amazon account. The easier we can make it, the better.”

5. Facilitate online chats. Shopping cart abandonment, they both said, can be frustrating. One answer has been the implementation of an online chat service. Paciorek said that might be something you identify more with a Verizon, but it only costs about $200 a month. “And we don’t have a huge customer service team—just 3 or 4 people man the chats for all of our websites, so it’s something you can manage.” He showed a chat that produced a subscription. They use a company called Boldchat.

6. Foster retention. Farley said that not enough attention is paid to renewals. “In our world, we’re totally focused on analytics at the corporate level. Technology needs to work with marketing more on this. It’s the difference between nice to know and need to know. This is what marketers care about. We need more of this [engagement] data. How do we take this piece [of information], boil it down and make it consumable. It helps to get our marketers focused. How do you bring them up the spectrum to understand what the important numbers are?

7. Hold get-togethers. “It’s not always easy,” Paciorek said. He talked about a time when a relationship between a key technology person and key marketing person was broken. “It was costing productivity for [Heather’s] and my team. So we got the best people together for half-day team meeting. We gave both teams the opportunity to express what was happening. There [emerged] a better understanding of what the problems were. We shared expertise. The marketers were impressed by a digital person who said, here’s a cool project I do on my own time. A marketer said here’s all the revenue I drive. The key is we recognized something wasn’t working.” They’ll try to hold these once a quarter now.

8. What if your organization doesn’t have a CIO? “You have to make sure somebody is managing technology,” Paciorek said. “Reach out to all of your friends who found technology solutions. How did implementation go? Did you use a consultant? Create some other kind of group in your company. Use SIPA conferences for this. Reach out. And try to find your own references at SIPA…Do your due diligence.”

9. The new challenge. Farley said that they’ve talked about launching a series of micro-sessions for their employees. Technology might give a demo or show how to analyze a piece of data. “With the goal of moving people up the technology chain,” she said. “Folks under age 35 are so sharp, but technology is the marketing [for them]. Technology can’t be your strategy. So it’s more of a challenge,” especially as more people from that generation join your company.

Again, here’s the link to this excellent session and others like it.

To subscribe to the SIPAlert Daily, go to the SIIA website.


Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

Intellectual Property Roundup

Indies Fighting Google, Amazon for Control of .Music Domain Name (Billboard)
The American Association of Independent Music has announced its intention to give the music industry control of the domain name .music. In doing so, the coalition will go up against Google and Amazon, which are also pursuing .music for their own purposes.

Judges Toy With One-Strike Policy on Patent Damages (The Recorder)
Facing increasing waves of Daubert motions in patent litigations, judges can’t seem to agree on what penalties to impose when the challenges succeed.

A Federal Court Rejects Aereo’s Request to Argue It’s a Cable Company (The Washington Post)
Aereo’s seemingly last-ditch argument to save itself won’t be given an airing in court, according to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Study Shows Patent Trolls Target Rich Companies (The Washington Post)
New data from the National Bureau of Economic Research confirms that patent trolls overwhelmingly target companies that are either “flush with cash,” beset by other lawsuits or have tiny legal teams that trolls likely perceive as weak.

Google Wins Victory in Row With German Publishers (Re/code)
A German regulator handed Google a victory as it said it would not pursue a complaint brought against the Internet search engine operator by a group of publishers for giving users access to their news articles.

Man Jailed For Filming ‘Fast and Furious’ in Cinema (BBC)
A man has been jailed for 33 months after recording Fast and Furious 6 from the back of a cinema. The upload of the film was downloaded more than 700,000 times.

Monkey’s Selfie Cannot Be Copyrighted, US Regulators Say (Ars Technica)
United States copyright regulators are agreeing with Wikipedia’s conclusion that a monkey’s selfie cannot be copyrighted by a nature photographer whose camera was swiped by the ape in the jungle.


Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA. Follow Keith on Twitter at @keithkup and sign up for the Intellectual Property Roundup weekly newsletter here.

Two Research Studies Reveal Keys to Working Better

Think small. And work together.

That may be the conclusion coming from research in two recent studies. The first was conducted by University of Houston marketing professor Melanie Rudd, and reported on in the Science of Us department of New York Magazine.com.

Rudd gave 50 adults a 24-hour challenge: One group was asked to do something to make someone happy, while others were told to make someone smile. After accomplishing this, the people who had made someone smile said they felt both happier and more confident that they’d actually achieved their goal than the people who’d simply tried to make someone else happy. Rudd found similar results when she asked people to try to save the environment versus increase their own recycling efforts for one day.

“If you can meet or exceed your expectations of achieving a goal, you will be happier than if you fall short of your expectations,” Rudd explained. Common sense? Not so fast. “A separate experiment in the study showed that people incorrectly predicted that they’d feel happier by going after the bigger, more abstract goal of trying to make someone else happy than they would after trying to make someone else smile,” wrote reporter Melissa Dahl.

This certainly can apply to our everyday business life. I am going to be much better off trying to write two Member Profiles and one Member News column a month rather than just saying, “I need to increase the spotlight on members.” In my personal life, I’d like to blog more about the arts but have had trouble getting started again. I think I’m looking at it wrong, saying, “I need to start blogging every day now”—intimidating!—instead of, “I need to write a post about this movie I really liked.” And then feeling good after writing it.

Another interesting theory comes from Priyanka Carr and Greg Walton of Stanford University. As reported by Heidi Grant Halvorson on the Harvard Business Review Blog, they found that we respond positively to the idea of working together, regardless if we actually do or not. Two groups were formed to solve a difficult puzzle.

“People in the psychologically together category were told that they would be working on their task ‘together’ even though they would be in separate rooms, and would either write or receive a tip from a team member to help them solve the puzzle later on. In the psychologically alone category, there was no mention of being ‘together,’ and the tip they would write or receive would come from the researchers.” In both groups, people actually worked alone.

The people in the together category “worked 48% longer, solved more problems correctly, and had better recall for what they had seen. They also said that they felt less tired and depleted by the task.” The puzzle also proved more interesting to them when working together, “and [they] persisted longer because of this intrinsic motivation.” The word “together” can have a huge impact on us. We connect, we belong, we have the same goal.

I’m working on a new information outlet for members. An email this morning from a colleague in New York who is working on the project with me went a long way to settling my stomach. And, of course, he’s not doing the work for me, but it just sounded like he is supporting me, and yes, we are in this together.

“Executives and managers would be wise to make use of this word with far greater frequency,” Halvorson concludes. “In fact, don’t let a communication opportunity go by without using it. I’m serious. Let ‘together’ be a constant reminder to your employees that they are not alone, helping them to motivate them to perform their very best.”

To subscribe to the SIPAlert Daily, go to the SIIA website.


Ronn LevineRonn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering diversity, Newspaper in Education, marketing and leadership before joining SIPA in 2009 , and then SIIA in 2013.

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