Words Matter in Crowdfunding? That’s Music to the Ears

Leave it to science to prove what the heart has known all along.

A study by Georgia Tech, which vetted 45,000 campaigns on Kickstarter, has just released some fascinating data. It seems that the words you use in your pitch DO matter.

Can I just say duh?

The study reported that successful campaigns exhibited “persuasion principles” that their failed counterparts did not. The campaigns that put forth the concept of reciprocity, perception of social participation, and authority managed to grab a backer by the purse strings handily. The word Karma also scored high on the conversion meter. What a concept!

Conversely, words used in pitches that display a level of desperation or negativity were a downer and a turnoff. I am choking back another duh. Too many project creators waste their valuable time and space grousing that if they weren’t so poor they would have created a good campaign. Oy.

The researchers were thorough. They controlled for crowdfunding variables like categories, funding goals, pitch video, the strength of social media networks, and pledge levels, zeroing in on more than 20,000 phrases. Through that they created a dictionary of more than 100 phrases with “predictive powers”for success or failure. Here’s a sample.

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The results of the study only reinforce the basic principle that has made crowdfunding so successful from the beginning: the idea that if you are to create and maintain a connection to your audience your pitch must have a positive emotional resonance.

Those who live and work in service of the written word have understood this for a very long time. It’s what’s made the advertising and copyrighting world go round and round forever. When is someone likely to want to stick around to hear what you have to say? When your words make the recipient feel something inside. That applies equally in the crowdfunding space or when reading a poem.

This has been a bit of a stumbling block for some project creators. Often when topic of the importance of good storytelling comes up, they think they are being asked to recast themselves as Walt Whitman or Jane Austen. But the idea is to think of your words, and how you use storytelling, as a tool or business strategy. Maybe now that there are data to back up the idea, this message will have impact. With the failure rate as woefully high as it is, if it does science will have done the industry a great service.









  1. […] Hitching a ride to a relevant news story isn’t as much of a crapshoot as you might think. Want an example of newjacking? I recently newsjacked when I learned that Georgia Tech announced a study they just completed on how the language Kickstarter project creators use in their pitches affect whether people will open up their wallet or not. Since my crowdfunding focus is all about the importance of good storytelling, I jumped on it. Within 24 of reading about it I wrote this. […]

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