Kickstats: What's the Best Day to Launch?

Kickstats: What's the Best Day to Launch?

 

UPDATE: This analysis now includes Kickstarter campaigns that ended through 2020-10-02. Results are largely the same, though some small nuances have changed.

Introduction

One question I've been obsessing over as we work toward Rucksack's Kickstarter launch is the same question that seems to be on every Kickstarter creator's mind. What day of the week should we launch?

Everyone kind of "knows" that the day you choose makes a difference - there's just something about it that makes sense. On top of that, it's one of the easiest tweaks you can make to a campaign. So why not help yourself out by getting this simple aspect right?

The trouble is, which day is it that's actually best? You can find all sorts of input online for that question, but most of the evidence is anecdotal or reason-based. How many people can definitively say that one day is "this amount better" than some other day? Well, my goal for this post is to use the stats from over 20,000 campaigns to do just that!

Arguments

As I mentioned earlier, it's not too hard to find plenty of opinions on this question. The general consensus seems to be that weekends are bad, since people are out and about and not really browsing Kickstarter. Fridays aren't good either, since people are rushing to finish up their projects for the week. Mondays should be avoided as well, since people are trying to catch up on any work they didn't finish from the previous week.

That leaves Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. They'd all be about the same, except that Fridays/Weekends are bad, so you'd want to give yourself as much time before that to gain momentum for your campaign. Thus, Tuesdays are the best!

Those arguments are perfectly reasonably, but there are opposing arguments as well. Despite the thought that workers are busy catching up on last week's work, Mondays are actually the most popular day for online shopping.

On top of that, since Tuesday is generally considered the best day to launch on Kickstarter, it's also the most popular day to launch. That could lead to over-saturation, causing it to no longer be the best day due to all the different campaigns that are essentially competing against each other. Then add to that the fact that many of the largest campaigns love to launch on Tuesdays, which puts it into sort of a "self-fulfilling prophecy" situation by making Tuesday's success rate look higher, even though those campaigns would have succeeded no matter what day they launched.

All that leads to the possibility that Tuesday isn't the best day for your Kickstarter launch. In fact, it might be Monday. Or maybe it doesn't really matter after all.

My Hypothesis

With the above arguments in mind, my official prediction is that what day of the week you choose to launch your Kickstarter won't really matter. If pressed, I'd say that Monday and Tuesday are probably better than the other days, but by so little that you wouldn't even notice.

So let's dive in!

Analysis

As you might expect, Tuesdays are the most popular day to launch by a decent margin.

Kickstarter launch day popularity

But popularity means nothing. In fact, having too many campaigns launching on the same day could cause unnecessary competition, actually making it harder to succeed. What we really want is success rates. What day of the week has the highest success rate for launching campaigns?

Raw Kickstarter success rates by week day

"Ha!" you say, "Tuesday's are the best day to launch!" Well, not so fast. We have to be very careful of potential lurking variables - those sneaky factors hiding in the shadows of your data that love to screw everything up.

Lurking Variables

When it comes to a question as hotly discussed as what day to launch your Kickstarter campaign, it's very important to take extra care to identify and address as many of these confounding factors as possible. So let's get started.

Guaranteed Successes

Remember how I mentioned all the mega campaigns loving Tuesdays so much? These campaigns would have succeeded no matter what day they chose.

For example, the hit board game, Frosthaven, blew past its $500,000 goal within the first few minutes! Now, do you think that if they'd launched on a Sunday instead of a Tuesday, they'd suddenly fail to fund? Of course not! It doesn't matter what day they launched, they were virtually guaranteed success. The fact that they chose Tuesday only serves to artificially inflate Tuesday's success rates. 

So, let's identify and remove these Kickstarter hits. To do that, we'll have to separate projects based on how quickly they funded. For our purposes, I've decided to use the 3-day mark: If a Kickstarter campaign reached the fully funded mark within 3 days of launching, I assume they would have succeeded no matter what day they launched.

Kickstarter success rates by launch day

Just as expected, Tuesday has more guaranteed successes than other days of the week. This speaks a little to the artificially inflated success rates of Tuesdays.

Struggling Campaigns

On the opposite end of the guaranteed successes, there are also campaigns that - for whatever reason - struggle to gain any traction. These are campaigns that just aren't going to fund, and tweaking what day they launch really isn't going to save them. Where guaranteed successes would likely fund no matter what day they chose, struggling campaigns would likely not meet their goal no matter what day they launched.

Identifying these types of campaigns is a little bit harder, but I decided I would define a struggling campaign as one that ultimately ends with less than 10% funding. In those cases, I would say it's safe to conclude that even if launch day matters, it wouldn't be able to make up the extra 90% needed for those campaigns to become successful. 

Kickstarter struggling campaigns by week day

Once again not surprisingly, Tuesday's have the fewest campaigns that would struggle to fund no matter what day they launched.

Now, you might think this actually is proof that Tuesday's a better day to launch - that fewer campaigns struggle on that day precisely because it's a better day to launch. Possibly, but I think it's more likely that this is a "self-fulfilling prophecy".

Kickstarter creators that put in the preparation and do their research will almost certainly run into a blog somewhere that says Tuesday is the best day to launch. After looking into it a little more, many of them will conclude that maybe Tuesday really is the best day, since so many people seem to think so. And thus, they'll decide to launch on a Tuesday. It couldn't hurt, right?

Then, because of their hard work, preparation, and research, their campaign succeeds! But their success was due to the work and research, not the day they launched.

Essentially what we have is that Tuesday's popularity as a launch day is due largely to people that are more likely to do the work and research. The creators that don't do as much research and work aren't as likely to come across the arguments for a Tuesday launch, so aren't any more likely to choose Tuesday. Thus, Tuesdays will have proportionally fewer campaigns that are struggling.

Campaign's Last Day

Yet another possible confounding factor is what day of the week a campaign ends. Tuesday campaigns are far more likely to end on a Thursday than any other day of the week.

Popularity of Kickstarter launch and end day combinations

So what if it's not the day you launch that matters, but the day you end?

Well, we already showed that the day you launch is more important than the day you finish, but we also showed that the day you finish carries a good bit of weight. So when we say Tuesday is the best day to launch, we could accidentally really be saying that a launch/end combination of Tuesday/Thursday is the best. But what about Tuesday/Sunday combinations, or any other for that matter?

To account for this possible confounder, I'll be using a statistical method called Coarsened Exact Matching to help readjust the weight of the last day more evenly.

First-time Creators

Lastly, we'll also want to check for first-time creators, since they have lower success rates. If inexperienced creators like to launch on a particular day of the week, it would make that day look worse than it actually is. So let's check the distribution of first-time creators by launch day.

Percent of first-time Kickstarter creators per launch day

For the most part, the days aren't too far apart with how many first-time creators are launching, but the gap between Sunday and Tuesday is large enough where it's probably good to account for it, just to be safe.

I'll be using Coarsened Exact Matching to adjust the weights of first-time creators here as well, just like I did with the Campaign Ending Day.

Other Lurking Variables

There are likely plenty of other lurking variables out there in the data that I haven't thought of, or that we don't have enough data to detect. An example of the latter could be a campaign's category. It's already well-known that different categories have different success rates. So, if certain categories are more likely to launch on certain days of the week, they would definitely be a confounding variable.

Unfortunately there are so many categories that, even with thousands of Kickstarter projects, we still don't have enough data to account for it, at least not yet.

For the time being, we'll have to work with the data we have, and the confounding variables we've discovered in it.

Results

And now, the moment we've all been waiting for... What day of the week is the best day to launch a Kickstarter campaign?

Kickstarter success rate by launch day

Conclusion

Turns out my hypothesis wasn't too far off. For creators that have a reasonable chance of success or failure, the day you launch doesn't really seem to have much of an impact after all.

The weird part is that, if there were a day that's better than the others, it would likely be Sunday. We have to be careful not to say that Sunday truly is the best, of course, since its confidence interval (the light purple region) overlaps several other days, which means that any lead it has could simply be due to randomness of the sample analyzed. [UPDATE: As more data has come in, we see Sunday being pulled down, which highlights what I said about being careful with the interpretation of results.]

Maybe we creators can finally start choosing launch days based on their convenience for us, without having to worry about negative impacts.

What are your thoughts?

Did these results surprise you? Are there important factors that you think I may not have considered? Let me know in the comments!

2 comments

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David Miller

David Miller

Great post and a wonderful read.

As you mentioned, a little research brings up Stegmaier who recommends Tuesdays (and ending on a Sunday).

He also recommends starting and ending in the same month—something I agree with because, to me, it creates a sense of urgency in that I can’t tell myself that I can back it next month.

I also think launching on, or just after, the first or fifteenth of the month helps since backers may feel more flush with cash from payday (that may be Stegmaier as well).

So Tuesdays near a payday and a start and stop in the same month. =)

David

David

Thanks for your kind words! I always enjoy your comments.

I’m really interested in testing out the month-related theories as well, like starting on the first or fifteenth and keeping it in the same calendar month, like you mentioned. Unfortunately, it will be a while before I get to those, since I only have 6 months of data so far, which is still too small. Maybe I can take my first look around February or March, when I finally get a full year!

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