Image by Yours Truly 😉
This article now includes all Kickstarter campaigns that launched from 2020-01-01 and finished by 2021-05-07. The significant increase in sample sizes has resulted in major changes to the approach and outcome of our original analysis. Significant portions of this article have been rewritten to reflect those changes.
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. It’s also 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 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 40,000 campaigns to do just that!
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.
So let’s dive in!
As you might expect, Tuesdays are the most popular day to launch by a decent margin.
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?
“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.
When it comes to a question as hotly debated as what day to launch your Kickstarter campaign, it’s important to take extra care to identify and address as many of these confounding factors as possible. So let’s get started.
Remember how I mentioned that all the mega campaigns love 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 make Tuesday look better than it really is.
So, let’s identify and adjust for these Kickstarter hits.
It’s a bit difficult to explain the process, but I was able to use combinations of a creator’s prior track record and funding goals to identify groups of Kickstarter projects that had >99% chance of success before they even launched. I’d say that’s about as “guaranteed” as you can get!
Now, of these campaigns, let’s take a look at what day they prefer to launch.
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.
On the opposite end of guaranteed successes there are guaranteed failures. Anyone who’s been around Kickstarter has come across a campaign like this at some point. Maybe these creators don’t value community or transparency, or their funding goal as just far too high. Many times, it’s a combination of all three. These campaigns would have failed no matter what day they launched.
Let’s graph these campaigns by the day they launched to see if we need to adjust our analysis around them.
Once again not surprisingly, Tuesdays have the fewest campaigns that would struggle to fund no matter what day they launched.
Now, you might think this is actually proof that Tuesday is a better day to launch – that fewer campaigns struggle on that day precisely because it’s a better day to launch. That’s possible, but I think it’s more likely that this is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Let me explain.
Creators that put in the preparation will almost certainly run into someone that says to launch on Tuesday. After researching it a bit, they’ll find even more people that say the same thing. With so many people saying that Tuesday is best, that’s when they’ll likely decide to launch. 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 struggle.
Campaign’s Last Day
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.
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? We’ll need to even the playing field for this as well.
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.
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.
The last factor we’ll want to take a look at is one that hasn’t been mentioned much in our previous Kickstats articles, and that factor is the percentage of campaigns launching on a given day that are tabletop games. Two things we know about the Tabletop Games category are that it’s the largest category on Kickstarter and also one of the most successful. So if tabletop game creators happen to have a preference for launching on any particular day, that could easily skew our results.
Anyone familiar with the tabletop gaming space shouldn’t be surprised to find that Tuesday is, by far, the most popular day to launch tabletop games on Kickstarter. So we’ll definitely need to account for that as well.
Other Lurking Variables
Most likely, there are plenty of other lurking variables out there that I haven’t thought of or that we don’t have enough data to detect. A great example of the latter would be prelaunch marketing efforts, which definitely have a major impact on success, but are particularly difficult to track. For now, though, we’ll have to work with the data we have and the confounding variables we’ve discovered in it.
And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for… What day of the week is the best day to launch a Kickstarter campaign?
I have to say, I’m a bit surprised by these results! I know for many people this is just confirmation of what you’ve known all along, but I was among the group that thought Tuesday’s success was entirely due to other factors. Even after adjusting for those other factors, though, Tuesday doesn’t give up its lead, although it is smaller than the raw data would suggest.
To be fair, there’s still a good chance that Tuesday’s success is largely due to a self-fulfilling prophecy. I mean, if all the big campaigns launch on Tuesday, then you’re conditioning a large number of backers to come to Kickstarter on Tuesdays, where they just might find other campaigns they think are worth backing. An argument could be made that that could happen with any day of the week, and Tuesday just ended up being the day that was chosen.
Whatever the reason, though, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Tuesday really does seem to be the best day to launch on Kickstarter.
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!