We get questions every week from founders trying to understand raising capital online. Since 2014, our agency has helped over 100 startups raise over nine figures by marketing their digital raises; here’s some of what we’ve learned.
To everyone entering a raise, we recommend developing an algorithmic strategy and leveraging three fundamental digital marketing areas: content marketing, digital advertising and targeted outreach.
Content marketing funnels stimulate social sharing and take audiences down an experience through social, email, digital PR, influencers and long-form content, which can increase your investor conversion rate. We see most participation occur between touch points 7 and 17.
When it comes to advertising, first-party investor data has been our secret sauce. There are extensive databases to apply to prospecting ads, and retargeting is where the action happens. Regardless of outside assumptions, Facebook ads have been the single biggest and most scalable channel in the top rounds.
Anchor investors lead rounds with social proof, validation and momentum that can then be amplified with digital channels. No matter what, you’ll be conducting yourself online and offline during a raise, and you want the conversation to be seamless.
Equity crowdfunding has gained steam since the JOBS Act kicked in, yet many people still associate it with rewards-based campaigns, and that’s an important distinction to clear up. Essentially, the SEC regulates online equity sales through broker/dealer-licensed portals where startups can list their offering and conduct the raise digitally and compliantly.
Has Digital Fundraising Changed Investor Conversations?
Yes and no. You’re still in conversations with people, so you have to cover all the story elements that capture people’s attention and all the investment elements that make the opportunity clear. But, the investors have changed. Since opening investment up beyond accredited investors, the conversation has become splintered and broadened. Don’t let that deter you.
Digital social platforms (like Facebook and Instagram) provide advanced targeting, allowing startups to prospect for investors online the way they would for customers or partners. Organic social posts, blogs and articles, and elevated video content explaining the opportunity can drive interested traffic to portals where the offering terms can be explored further.
By incorporating what you learn from your online and offline experiences, you can test, optimize and scale conversations as you adjust voice, tone, copy and creative in your online campaigns. We’ve seen clients add a chatbot to their funnel and be able to manage hundreds of new conversations daily from increased levels of paid traffic.
Focus On Innovation
The advent of equity crowdfunding has paved a new path for technology startups with a focus on innovation. Total growth in regulation crowdfunding was nearly 300% in 2017, and distributed ledger technology solutions are positioning themselves as front-runners.
When you highlight your key differentiators as outcomes in your pitch materials both online and offline, your brand story can resonate with potential investors at a deeper level. Be sure to support claims with data.
Include Your Brand Story In All Of Your Funnel Elements
Investors are just like customers. No, really. Once you understand that, you can speak with them rather than at them. Since you’re their guide and advisor in this opportunity, they’re going to want to get to know you.
Our most successful campaigns last year focused heavily on sharing the founder’s identity. We’re in an age where it’s OK to be you. Dawn Dickson of PopCom is one of my favorite examples. She introduced her regulated-retail kiosk/OS startup as “black-owned” several weeks into their campaign, and ROAS (return on ad spend) hit a multiple of 11.
Pitch decks, explainer videos, infographics and white papers all need to paint the picture of you as a trusted advisor and your investors as the victor. Your data and presentation should paint a picture for investors to see a new world they helped create.
There’s so much to cover on this topic that it cannot all fit here. We’ll dive into more of the details in a further look at reaching investors online. For now, remember, a firm handshake and eye contact can go miles, and even farther when followed by an email with a sign-up form.