Launching my first special offer, feedback, results, etc

There’s been a ton of hype around Patreon’s new Special Offer feature, and rightfully so. It’s something that several successful Patreon campaigns have done without the system in place, and now that we’re empowered with the tools on Patreon’s side of things, it can be a really effective tool. Or at least, I hope it can be in my case. What I hope to do with this thread is chronicle my experience with my first foray into special offers, explain what my thought process is going into it, and update this post with results and findings.

Setting the Stage

I am one of the many NSFW artists who were directly impacted by Tumblr’s policy changes in December. What could have been an absolute disaster turned into a huge promotional push for me across my other social media platforms, as well as Patreon. Thanks to the increased awareness I am up 215 patrons for the month of December, mostly in my $1 tier. January 1st marks my two year anniversary on Patreon, a fact that I am utilizing to drive this first special offer. All of my work is digital, online, audio voice over stuff. Never before have people had any physical piece of merch or content from me. (P.S. Hey Patreon, I know you’re working on that Merch thing. Ya boy would love beta access to that when it happens.)

The Plan

On January 1st through 15th, new and existing members of my $10 tier will not only get all the perks of being at that tier, they’ll get a special thank you post card from me, signed and mailed to them. On New Year’s Day a video promoting the offer will go up, cross posted to Patreon, Twitter, etc. and hyped over the next two weeks while also highlighting some of my favorite things I’ve done over the past two years on Patreon, as well as what is yet to come.

The Reasoning

I think in terms of getting your money’s worth on my Patreon, the $10 tier is the sweet spot for me, but the tricky part is making the patrons in the lower tiers realize that’s the case. I currently have just shy of 100 patrons in that tier, and a whopping 600+ in the tiers below. I’m not just pushing the special offer itself, but all the goodies you get in the $10 tier along with it because ultimately it’ll be that value that keeps those new pledges there well after the special offer ends.

So, the nice part about this particular Special Offer is that from day one, it has already paid for itself, it’s a great thank you to those who have already been supporting me, and great way to attract both old and new patrons to a tier that has a ton of holding power. I am incredibly hopeful that this could turn into a massive push into 2019 for me. Special offers like this open a door for me to create perks that I don’t normally do, like physical rewards and such.

I’ll report back after a week or so to tell you all how it’s going, if there’s anything I would change or do differently, and whatever feedback I can offer. I’m also happy to answer any questions if you have any. Thanks for reading!

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WOW! That’s really impressive. We’ll be thinking good thoughts for early 2019 for you.

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Thank you so much for sharing this, @YuuriVoice! It’s great to hear your thought process behind it all. I can’t wait to hear how it goes; I’m sure your community will get such a kick out of receiving a postcard from you. Keep us posted :smiley:

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And that’s a wrap! Earlier today my first Patreon Special Offer came to a close. Let me run down the results and then offer what feedback I have.

Results

Over the two week period I saw a total of 49 new or increased pledges to the $10 tier or higher, bringing my total membership at the $10 tier to 139. In my eyes, that’s a pretty big success given that a thank you post card doesn’t exactly get everyone out of bed.

Edit: The stats Patreon shows you includes new pledges and upgrades beneath the tier your special offer was listed at. While I suppose there is a chance that people who looked at your page specifically for the Special Offer then signed up at a lower tier, I think this actually bloats the numbers and gives you an unrealistic look at the success of your Special Offer. In my case specifically, I have regular content releases at the $5 tier that I promote and I net a few new patrons any time I post. That, being lumped in with the $10+ tier results doesn’t do me any favors. If anything, people who signed up at a lower tier and weren’t encouraged enough to go to the Special Offer tier should be a sign that my Special Offer wasn’t as effective as the stats would want me to believe. I don’t know if lumping those patrons in with the Special Offer stats does anything than offer a pat on the shoulder. The total I mentioned in the original post was tallied by me personally. The bloated numbers tell me I’ve got 80 new or increased pledges, which is true, but that’s as a whole, not specific to the special offer.

Thoughts & Tips

For other creators looking to give Special Offers a shot, I’ve got a few words of advice.

  • Special Offers are not primarily for gaining fresh pledges. You’re going to find the most success targeting people who have already been on the fence, and existing patrons in lower tiers. I’ll speak frankly, if what you’re creating isn’t already driving people to pledge, a special offer will rarely be the solution.

  • Let people know what else they’re getting at the tier you’ve chosen. Hit potential Patrons with the “But wait, there’s more!” it works, even if you feel like Billy Mays when making your pitch. Letting the world know how much value accompanies that your Special Offer is key.

  • Don’t slack on your usual content during the Special Offer! Patreon slaps a big ol’ “THIS CREATOR IS RUNNING A SPECIAL OFFER” banner on your page during the Special offer, not just on top of the page, but under the relevant tiers as well. Getting the usual traffic to your page will serve you well.

  • You’re best suited viewing this as a chance to boost your sustained growth rather than create explosive growth. While you could certainly design a special offer to create that massive boom, I think you might be setting yourself up for failure unless you’ve genuinely got lightning in a bottle.

Feedback

There are a few thoughts I’ve gathered in the hours following my Special Offer wrapping up, let’s dive in.

  • I was wondering if there would be some sort of cool landing page when your Special Offer ended, highlighting key stats like how many increased or new pledges you received, what sort of increase percentage there was, when peak dates/times were for new/increased pledges and things of that nature. There’s not. There’s nothing, actually, just a new benefits entry. This was incredibly disappointing. Edit: Okay so there is exactly this but it wasn’t clear to me where it was at first! That was my biggest gripe and now it’s really a non issue. Awesome!

  • I’m a creator that doesn’t have any tiers that require shipping addresses. I knew early on that was going to be an issue, but the solution is extremely convoluted and I’m worried that Patrons might slip through the cracks because they have to jump through extra hoops now. Maybe there’s a solution that could be baked into the Special Offer sign up in general, when you select that it’s a physical reward it pings relevant patrons to edit their addresses or hit a check box that gives you access to it. In the end, this is on my lack of foresight more than Patreon.

  • On that note, having a “message all Special Offer members” option would have saved me a lot of stress. Maybe it’s there, but I couldn’t find it. Wound up having to message all my patrons to try and get them to update their shipping info, and it’s a little stressful having to ping 700+ members with something convoluted like getting me their shipping address.

That sums up my thoughts on the process. Overall, I realize it’s a beta and that’s why I’ve taken the time to give my feedback and outline my whole process to show an example of how a creator like myself would utilize the Special Offer system. I think right now Special Offers work very well as a function and there’s a significant room for growth, specifically in regards to statistics and information that can be used by creators to make an even bigger splash moving forward.

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Thank you for the thoughtful write-up @YuuriVoice. We’re so glad that the special offer worked for you, and it sounds like you integrated some great promotion practices.

We’re working on giving more visibility to the offer results card that is a bit hidden in the Pledge Growth dashboard, and we’re also thinking about ways to improve the experience of collecting shipping addresses for physical special offer goods. Thanks for all the feedback! It helps us make better decisions around how to improve the product. Cheers!

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It bears repeating just how miserable and stress inducing this whole address thing is when you’re not already collecting addresses for rewards. Having people essentially have to go and re-edit their pledge makes them wonder if they’re going to get charged again, there’s no real feedback if it worked or not, and on top of that it’s a huge pain to get the word out to patrons about this in the first place. As much as my fans love my content, they don’t love walls of text trying to explain what hoops they have to jump through to get something they’ve already paid for.

Special Offers create a unique, new avenue for purely digital/online creators like me to do things like physical rewards. I get that having the existing tier edited to require physical benefits ahead of running the offer would eliminate some of the burden, but if you’ve already got 100+ people at that tier, you’re still going to face this barrier.

Now, maybe I’m dense and am missing something. I am admittedly prone to making things harder on myself than it needs to be, and a little bit of planning ahead could have mitigated some of these issues. I still feel great about the Special Offer, and once I get this address thing hammered out, it’s a huge success. At the moment though, this has made my first shot at physical rewards a huge source of stress when I was already taking measures to avoid exactly that.

This sort of thing seems to be a fundamental hurdle with the way adding bells and whistles to existing reward tiers already works. This happened when I added Discord as a reward, people had to refresh their pledges and there are still tons of people who haven’t exactly figured out how to connect their Discord despite my best efforts to explain.

Not sure what kind of solution there could be, I realize that Patrons have to confirm that they want me to have their address and there’s no real easy way around that in my current situation. Just throwing this feedback out there because I’m sure I won’t be the only one that has this struggle.

Thank you for listening, and for all of your hard work!

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Hi @YuuriVoice! Popping in here to let you know that we made some improvements to the shipping address collection experience. In essence, when setting up your Special Offer you can now indicate whether new patrons should be asked for a shipping address at the time of pledge, and an email should be automatically sent to patrons pledging to a special offer tier to ask that they check their shipping address. More details are available in the help page: https://support.patreon.com/hc/en-us/articles/360019139611-Special-Offers

Thanks for helping us improve the product with your feedback. If you’re planning on running another Special Offer in the near future, please let us know how it goes!

Ursula

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This is very cool! I’ve been making plans to incorporate Special Offers into my Patreon on a regular basis and the one hesitation I had was the shipping address situation. I adjusted my settings to collect patron addresses at all of my tiers to prevent any future headaches, but knowing that if anyone who for some reason doesn’t have their address updated for me will be alerted and reminded is a really big relief. I’ll be sure to share more of my Special Offer adventures in the future!

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@ursula That’s great news about the address collection improvements. I have a few questions -

  1. Are existing patrons required to confirm their address in order to be included on the fulfillment list, or is the email they receive just a reminder that they can choose to ignore? I’m hoping it’s a requirement, or that we have the option to make it a requirement.

Reason: I just finished fulfilling a special offer for a tier that was already collecting shipping addresses (since 2014), but several of my patrons had outdated addresses, especially the international patrons who get my snail mail rewards by email instead. I sent out reminders and confirmed as many addresses as I could, but I have yet to see how many packages will be returned to me, and one invalid address was rejected upfront by my shipping service.

For a sales model where creators eat the cost of shipping, it can really hurt to send out packages to the wrong address - worse than not having an address and not being able to send a reward. I required international patrons to confirm their addresses by private message before sending their reward and only 2/3 of them have replied. An automated system that only includes people with confirmed addresses in the special offer would be great.

  1. Are both first and last name required in the shipping info now? Over the years, I’ve had to manually collect last names from patrons who provided full addresses but only a first name. Mail can’t be forwarded without a last name; this was the cause of most of my returned mail early on. At least some of my special offer patrons had been around long enough that they still didn’t have a last name in the system with their shipping info.

  2. Does the new system collect phone numbers? They’re required on customs forms for international fulfillment. That’s another thing I had to collect manually from my patrons. I had to use my own phone number on the rest of them.

Thank you!

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@bob_artist , that’s a great question, and thanks for offering the context. It really helped understand where you’re coming from, and can see the value of making the update a requirement. The address confirmation is not required, so a patron can choose to ignore it. If it’s important for you to know whether they’ve updated it or not I would recommend sending your own message in addition to the one sent by Patreon automatically.

The last name is not required in the shipping info. The patron can enter any name.

A phone number is not collected either, but I will pass on the insight about international shipping to the team thinking about that experience.

I realize they’re not the answers you were looking for, but I am grateful to you raising these important questions.

Ursula

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Thank you so much for the information! And no worries - I just appreciate that our ideas and concerns are being considered!

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I’m in the same boat. I’ve had patrons tell me they’ve updated their address yet it’s not showing. I’ve told them time and time again, with the supposed special offer email, and I still can’t see their address.

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Hi @pattyloof, I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been having trouble. Do you know if the patrons who’ve updated their address did so on their pledge page? https://www.patreon.com/pledges
If they support multiple creators, it’s important they update the address for you specifically.

If they continue running into issues I would recommend you direct them to Patreon’s support so that they may assist, or troubleshoot if necessary.

Ursula

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I didn’t even know about the page you linked to, so it’s very unlikely they did. They probably just updated their profile and thought that would do it.

This is another example of how opaque Patreon is to users. I just wish there was a header or banner or something making it super obvious what to do. It took me almost ten minutes just to figure out that you can only see addresses on the Relationship Manager page in desktop if the browser screen is the width of a phone. :pensive:

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Why can patrons use different addresses with different creators they support? Most people I assume only use one shipping address at a time. Seems unnecessarily complicated? It would make more sense to only ask the address once and then use it site-wide.

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