It’s been a while since we ran our pin promo in late October, but I’d say it went very well. I can’t recall exact numbers, but we offered the pin at the $10 level and both a bunch of new patrons as well as a number of patrons move up to the $10 level. A few have left since them, but no mass exodus.
We offered a nice hard enamel pin to every one who joined at, moved up to, or was already a $10 or greater level. Including existing patrons greatly increased cost and time commitment. From a direct benefit side, it surely would have been better to limit the special offer as an inducement, but we felt it important to include all our higher level patrons. In the end, that meant sending out pins to nearly 250 patrons!
One little wrinkle that worked really well was that as we saw really good initial reception, I set a reach goal at which point ALL the qualifying patrons would get two pins rather than one. The pins only cost ~$1 each, with shipping being more expensive and the time commitment being costly as well. Including an extra pin in the package took negligible time. The promotion did, however, result in a big bump in signups.
The pins turned out awesome and, as noted above, were only about a buck each. Pin Game Strong delivered an awesome hard enamel product. A very small percentage had bent backs, so I’d suggest over ordering by 5%. (Not that so many were damaged, but to be safe. Also, while I did want to send previously damaged pins to our patrons, I felt comfortable giving them to folks who support us in other ways.)
I used these shipping instructions - https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/196322/dmosinee-s-guide-to-convenient-cost-effective-pin-shipping - and I’ve not had a single note about a patron receiving a damaged pin. I used these “EcoSwift 100 Size #0000 4x6 Small Kraft Bubble Mailer” from Amazon and preferred bubble wrap with ~1" bubbles… far better than the tiny bubble bubblewrap.
I printed shipping… one by one on PayPal. It’s a bit cheaper than paying at the Post Office and you can do it from from. You can create custom shipping labels with postage here on PayPal - https://www.paypal.com/shiplabel/create/ . I do a bit of shipping for our online store and the Dymo Letterwriter 4XL is AMAZING for printing self-stick US mailing labels… that exactly fit the Size #0000 envelops noted above. Unfortunately, international pins need to be printed on a normal printer, cut out, signed, and then taped on.
Shipping two pins in the US was something like $2.20. Shipping internationally was gulp $13.30!! No bueno. We’ve got a lot of international patrons and this hurt. Total cost for one $10 per month international patron was $16, plus the 10-15 minutes of labor to do the label, customs form, and packaging. I’d hate to exclude international patrons from anything, but this would make me strongly consider not doing a special promotion… or any other physical reward bigger than a postcard or simple envelop with a couple stickers.
Also, while the packaging method described above worked amazingly well… it takes time, time that quickly adds up. There’s cutting the cardboard strips, cutting the bubblewrap strips, QCing each pin, placing the pin(s) on the cardboard, carefully placing the bubblewrap over the pins, taping all of that together, making each label, putting the label on, putting the pins in the envelop, and then sealing the envelop. It took myself and my other coworker a couple days to get these out the door. I suppose we’re at an odd size for something like this. If we were smaller with fewer patrons, well it’d just take less time. If were were much larger, we’d almost certainly have administrative or customer service staff or an intern or someone to take on that work, at least in part.
Long story short: We gained a large number of $10 patrons with the special offer. It was a low cost (<$5) of provision and fulfillment for domestic patrons. It was expensive (>$15) for provision and fulfillment for international patrons. It was A LOT of work to create labels for and package all of the pins. All in all, I’d say it was worth it, but (1) I’d be hesitant to offer a special offer internationally that would require more than standard envelop packaging (unless the special offer started at $25 or higher) and (2) I’d be hesitant to offer up any item for special offer that was difficult to package.
Patron Feature Dreams:
- Ability for a creator to correct a patron’s address. (Even if they’d receive a message that required confirmation.)
- Integration of Patreon’s patron address list with PayPal or USPS or another very easy option. Manually entering 250 addresses in PayPal to create labels… not so fun (but better than handwriting that many addresses… and later having to buy that many odd postage amounts at the post office).
- A pay Patreon to fulfill option… stickers, shirts, pins, posters. Stuff that Patreon could figure out how to ship cheaply and effectively. Long ago, I used a short-lived platform WeMailStickers to send stickers… and it made my life better.