The vast majority of people in the world aren’t going to buy even the most successful projects and products. Most of them won’t know about the product or won’t care. But for any product, there are at least some people who are intrigued but don’t actually place an order–I think it’s worth learning from those people.
A few months ago, we ran a preorder for Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest, which is now available from retailers worldwide. We sold a little over 4500 units during the 4-day preorder, which is good, but there are over 10,000 Stonemaier Champions. I was curious why the other 5500 Champions didn’t preorder the game (not that there’s any expectation that they would, but it’s a good audience to survey for this topic).
So I polled Stonemaier Champions with a question regarding their decision NOT to preorder Libertalia to see what we can learn from it. 98.5% of people who clicked into the survey said that they did actually preorder it, so they did not answer this question. Keep in mind that people could select multiple answers (most did).
The two biggest answers (reasons why Champions didn’t back it) were “gameplay didn’t appeal to me” and “timing didn’t work for me.” After that, a few medium-level answers were “art and aesthetics,” “theme/setting,” “reviews,” “already own the original,” and “I didn’t know it was available.” The last reason is cut off; it says, “none of the above, and I plan to buy the game”.
I tend to focus my time and energy more on customers who choose our products instead of those who don’t (see #6 on this list about mental health for creators), but I think there are times and key targets to learn from potential customers who decided not to order.
This is one of the biggest reasons to use both a newsletter for launch notification notifications AND the prelaunch page (if you use Kickstarter or Gamefound). The prelaunch page concept is great, but it doesn’t enable creators to contact people who sign up but don’t actually back the project–basically, you don’t have a way to follow up with them to see how your project could have been more compelling. With your own newsletter (particularly if it’s product-specific), you know the target audience and can learn from them.