If you ask the creators of successful Kickstarter projects how they got funded, they'll probably tell you it was thanks to a strong community of supporters, press coverage, social media shares, or some other factor that they put a lot of time and effort into. But according to new research, the real secret to crowdfunding success may lie in the wording of a campaign pitch.

Georgia Tech assistant professor Eric Gilbert and doctoral candidate Tanushree Mitra studied the language used in every Kickstarter campaign launched since June 2012. After sifting through more than 45,000 projects, the team found that certain phrases used on the campaign page could predict whether it was going to fail or succeed.

"Our research revealed that the phrases used in successful Kickstarter campaigns exhibited general persuasion principles," said Gilbert, who runs Georgia Tech's computer social lab. "Campaigns that follow the concept of reciprocity — that is, offer a gift in return for a pledge — and the perceptions of social participation and authority generated the greatest amount of funding, [but] the language used to express the reward made the difference." 

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Gilbert and Mitra were intrigued by the huge variance between Pebble, the most successful Kickstarter campaign to date with more than $10 million in pledges, and Ninja Baseball, a well-publicized PC game that earned just one-third of its $10,000 goal.

"The discrepancy in funding success prompted us to consider why some projects meet funding goals and others do not," Mitra said. "The driving factors in crowdfunding success ranged from social participation to encouragement to gifts, all of which are distinguished by the language used in the project descriptions."

Based on the 100 most popular phrases used in the project descriptions they studied, Gilbert and Mitra listed the following five phrases as the top indicators of crowdfunding failure:

  • "Not been able"
  • "Even a dollar"
  • "Later I"
  • "A blank"
  • "Hope to get"

On the other hand, some of the top phrases found in successful campaigns were:

  • "Also receive two"
  • "Pledged will"
  • "Good karma and"
  • "Option is"
  • "Given the chance"
  • "Has pledged"
  • "To build this"
  • "Accessible to the"
  • "We can afford"
  • "Project will be"
  • "Mention your"
  • "Your continued"

The researchers noted that successful projects, which made up slightly more than 50 percent of the campaigns they analyzed, used the above phrases to express concepts such as reciprocity, scarcity, social proof and identity (belonging to a community) and authority.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.