(The following is a reprint of the story we wrote for Venture Beat. It can be found here).
Let’s be honest. After jumping through hoops to get your crowdfunding campaign live, your video is many times an afterthought. We recently analyzed over 200 campaigns to gauge how important videos are in crowdfunding.
A quick bit of background: Crowdfunding campaigns are open on average 93 days. Issuers must meet their funding target to receive invested capital; otherwise, it goes back to the investors, and the campaign is considered closed and failed.
We analyzed 243 closed campaigns. Of those, 51 percent (123) got funded. These campaigns are raising more capital than their failed counterparts — a lot more. On average, they raise 16.5 times more per campaign than a failed one, capture an impressive $277,000, and monumentally overshadow the average $16,000 a failed campaign raises. Given the SEC does not allow failed campaigns to keep their funds, it is imperative for issuers to ensure all their campaign efforts are fine tuned.
Our analysis focused on the campaign video as a highly visible, yet commonly misunderstood fundraising driver. We dissecting each video’s essential components through a weighted quality-rating system based on a 10-point scale. A perfect 10 video exceptionally demonstrated the following elements:
- Ability to engage the audience’s attention
- An idea that compels an investor to invest
- Strong emotional pull
- Solid product or service testimonials
- Meaningful and professional speaker engagement
- Video production quality, including the music
- Solution effectiveness to a market problem
- Investment opportunity and market potential
- Team introductions and confidence in their execution ability
- Funding needs and plans
Campaign videos scoring in the range of 0 to 3 points are considered poor, 4 to 6 points average, 7 to 8 points good, and 9 to 10 points excellent.
Videos rated poor typically do not engage the audience or compel an investor to invest because of missing key information about the product or because the product or service present more questions than answers. These videos also lack professional production quality.
Average videos have most the essential components listed in our weighted rating system but are somewhat lacking in professional production quality, audience engagement, business opportunity details, and funding needs.
Good videos are professionally done and provide solid audience engagement with a compelling business opportunity. They address most components in our weighted-rating system but leave out one or two key details — most commonly an explanation of a business’s funding needs and plans.
Excellent videos are professionally done, emotionally engaging, and provide a compelling business opportunity. They tick all the boxes in our weighted-rating system, leaving the investor informed, confident, and excited about the investment opportunity.
In addition to categorizing videos by quality, we also tagged campaigns by the type of audience they target: 1) “Explainers” are essentially commercials tailored for the consumer audience, leaving out key investor information (i.e. the investment opportunity, market potential, team introductions, experience, and funding needs), and 2) “Pitches” are videos with a message tailored for the investor, including everything an explainer does plus what they typically leave out.
For a video categorized as an explainer to score well, it needed to strongly engage the audience through its production quality, emotional pull, testimonials, and creative business solution, since it lacks more concrete business information.
Our findings led us to four recommendations:
1. Investing in quality reaps maximum returns.
The majority of campaigns funded (82 percent) have a video of average quality or better. Having at least an average quality video is becoming more of a prerequisite for an increased chance of meeting the funding target, but this doesn’t ensure above average funding. In fact, successful campaigns raised an average of $277,000. If you look at the chart below, you will see that those with an average quality video only raised $222,000 — 20 percent below average, while those with good quality videos raise 16.5 percent more than the average. Not surprisingly, campaigns with excellent video quality do even better, raising 32 percent above average.
Intero Ristorante is an example of an excellent campaign video that helped the company raise double its funding target. The founders engage investors with a compelling story, background, and business mission through a professional quality video.
A word of caution: Even though campaigns with no video have a smaller success rate, when they do succeed, they raise more money than campaigns with average quality videos. If you are looking to just make your minimal funding target, then your campaign has a good chance of falling into that 82 percent of average quality videos that are funded, but investing in quality clearly yields maximum returns.
2. Pitch videos get funded more and raise more funds.
Our data shows it pays to inform your investor audience. We divided campaigns into those with no video, those that used an explainer, and those that used a pitch. Those using pitch videos show a much higher funding success rate (75 percent) than those with explainer videos, which were funded 18 percent less. And those with no video at all were funded 67 percent less than pitch campaigns. Campaigns with pitch videos are also raised more money — $294,000 on average — which is 6 percent more than the average funded campaign, 7 percent more than those with explainer videos, and 25 percent more than funded campaigns with no video at all. So, at a minimum, when putting your video script together it’s a good idea to answer some of the questions an investor might have about your company, team, or market rather than just explain how your product works.
3. Length doesn’t guarantee funding success.
Does video length matter? Well, yes and no. We analyzed video lengths by categorizing them into short (0 to 1.5 minute), medium (1.5-3 minute), lengthy (3-5 minute), and very lengthy (over 5 minutes). We found that short, medium, and lengthy videos all have a funding success rate above the average 51 average ( 69 percent, 71 percent, and 62 percent, respectively), which further signals that having a video is better than no video, regardless of its length.
Medium to lengthy videos, ranging anywhere from 1.5 min to 5 min long, raise the most capital in total and raise more than the average campaign by 4 percent and 16 percent respectively. Interestingly, the majority of pitch videos fall into these two categories, thus honing in the point that it’s worth taking the time to appropriately inform potential investors.
Campaigns with very lengthy videos appear to be an anomaly. They raise more than 2 times the average funded campaign ($601,000 on average) but are only funded half the time (they make up less than 5 percent of all funded campaigns). They also vary wildly in the amount of capital raised — anywhere from $64,000 to $1 million. Since a very lengthy video doesn’t guarantee six-figure funding, and it’s possible to have funding success with any reasonable length of video, length should be viewed in terms of how well you have informed and engaged your investor audience with the critical video quality components.
4. Positioning your campaign amongst quality brings greater returns.
Only 43 percent (104) of the campaigns we looked at had videos. Of this group, we rated 54 percent as being of good or excellent quality. We found the quality unevenly dispersed throughout the various equity crowdfunding portals. Of the 56 total campaigns rated as having good or excellent quality video, 45 percent ran on Wefunder, with Microventure and Start Engine coming a far second, hosting 16 percent of campaigns with top quality videos. Since we know that higher quality videos bring higher returns, it makes sense for issuers to position themselves within a portal that curates a higher level of quality campaigns. Looking at the chart below, you will also notice that Microventures and StartEngine have a higher percent of excellent videos. (And Microventures’ average funded campaign is $295,547 vs. Wefunder’s $284,631, although Seedinvest wins that race with the average funded campaign of $413,698).
Investing in a video specifically tailored for your equity crowdfunding campaign shows dedication and commitment to your potential investors. It also visually displays for them what you can accomplish and, subconsciously, what you can execute with capital. What the data shows is that if you are looking to raise a minimum of $50,000, investing in a decent video will most likely ensure your funding target is met. But if you are looking to raise at least $277,000, investing in an excellent quality video will maximize your returns.
A final point of consideration is your actual return on investment. Given that competition is strong among videographers and that a professionally executed video can be done for as little as $5,000, the potential returns on a good campaign video versus a poor one are significantly greater — almost 6x more.
Be sure to take a look at our story from yesterday on how your social media following is likely to affect the success of your crowdfunding campaign, too.
Sherwood Neiss is a partner at Crowdfund Capital Advisors. He helped lead the U.S. fight to legalize debt and equity based crowdfunding and coauthored the book Crowdfund Investing for Dummies.
Stephanie Willard is an analyst at Crowdfund Capital Advisors and is currently working on an MBA with a focus on finance and global affairs. She is passionate about finance as a vehicle for equitable economic development.