Hi everyone. Welcome to
kickoffLabs on growth. This week, we're going to feature my interview
with Bailey Nelson from Glowforge. Glowforge is a desktop 3D Laser
Printer Cutter Engraver. The company raised over $27 million during a 30
day crowdfunding campaign. In this interview, you'll learn how they set
themselves up for success by pre-launching the crowdfunding on
KickoffLabs and gathered over 10,000 email addresses with refer a friend
You'll hear how they
personalize the campaign in KickoffLabs, worked closely with the
influencers they discovered to keep them engaged and were willing to
give people steep discounts as a reward for bringing on additional
customers. They're one of my favorite customers to work with. This
interview gets pretty tactical as we review some of the copywriting
design details that they put into their prelaunch campaign that set it
over the edge.
All right. We are live.
Welcome to today's KickoffLabs marketing chat. Today we are talking to
Bailey Nelson from Glowforge, and we are going to talk about how to
launch the biggest 30 day crowd funding campaign in history. It's not
just an exaggeration. I mean, you guys, they raised a $27 million in
crowdfunding, by any measure is a phenomenal success. We have a Bailey
I'm Josh Ledgard, if you
don't know, founder of KickoffLabs. We help people run referral
contests, online promotions, and in this case helps them with a
prelaunch campaign that generated over 10,000 emails to see their
initial lists, and to really kick off that crowdfunding campaign,
because they had a very systematic way they went about it, which we'll
get into in the chat.
You and I were just chatting
before this webinar started. So, what's your background and how your
role has evolved at Glowforge?
My background, I originally
started my career in public relations, like at an agency setting. And
then I ended up moving back home to Seattle and getting into the startup
scene, which led to me meeting Dan, our CEO here at Glowforage. First
time with the crowdfund, I'd actually really only backed a couple of
kickstarters. And to be clear, this was not a Kickstarter. This was self
hosted, so we didn't have a huge database, or the huge community of
Kickstarter folks to draw from. So we really had to do that legwork
ourselves and getting our list into a good condition.
Back up a little bit, and for
people that aren't familiar, can you give people the pitch about what
Glowforge is and what you can do with it?
Glowforge is a 3D Laser
Printer. It's basically a desktop laser cutter engraver. It's about,
let's see, it's about the size of a big suitcase or something like that.
It sits on your desk, and it can cut leather, wood, acrylic, different
types of plastic, fabric, cardboard, things like that. So everything you
see in that picture there on our stealth mode website, that was made
with it. And you can see the laptop is engraved, because it can engrave
on different types of metals.
And so, it's an at home
tool, or a small business tool for, I mean, a ton of different people.
We weren't really sure who we were marketing to honestly at this point
with this page that you see. But now that we've done this really
successful campaign, we see that, it has more use cases than we even
imagined everywhere from movie props, to engraving serial numbers in
medical devices, to Etsy stores, and on, and on, and on.
That's really cool. Where did
the initial idea come from for this kind of product? I mean, 3D printers
have been talked about for a while where it's, you take the plastic
mold, and you produce something out of the plastic mold. Where did the
idea for doing something that does this kind of printing out of more
consumer, prosumer, consumer level come from?
My CEO Dan Shapiro, he is
the creator of the kickstarters bestselling board game called the Robot
Turtles. And it's a game to teach kids toddlers age, the basics of
coding. Basically, they tell the computer what to do in the form of
little turtles that move around. And he did it on Kickstarter, and he
wanted to do a special prize, where, a special founder level, or backer
level where you could get a physical little turtle to bring around with
you. And he likes maker spaces, and he likes tinkering with things. And
so he thought, "Oh, I'll go to a maker space and I'll get the little
turtles 3D printed."
And he did that, and he was
just so disappointed with the results. They took forever to print. They
were expensive, and they were just these little plastic things. And 3D
printing, traditional 3D printing with plastic filament can be awesome
for prototyping and for a lot of things.
But he ultimately decided to
make some turtles with a laser with cutting, with acrylic. And he was
able to make them look just like the board game pieces. And while
working with the laser, he realized that the lasers out there right now
are lacking a little bit. They're hard to use. If you buy something on
Ebay from China, I certainly couldn't use it.
And we have an old Chinese
laser here called Hugo, and it has its own old software. It looks like
software was built in 1995, and it took a lot of hand holding for me to
do anything with it. And so we're trying to reimagine that experience by
bringing the price way down, making it cloud based, and just making it
available for a lot more people to reclaim that idea of making things at
home rather than buying them all the time.
He really knew, Dan really
knew that he had struck gold with the idea when his two twins who are
seven started asking him to make gifts for their friends for birthday
parties rather than buy them with the laser. And he was like, "Oh,
everybody could use one of these."
That's really neat. You guys
ended up generating 10,000, over 10,000 email addresses with the
campaign. And that was before you started asking for money. What made
you want to generate leads first before you started just having a page,
like a pre-order page? Why not just put up a pre-order page or a
Kickstarter page right away?
Well, I think we had an
email capture already on the page that had gotten maybe 800 that were
just like trickling. Dan had gotten a piece in the New York Times, and a
lot of people visited glowforge.com, this old stealth mode website was
really very vague, and you really wouldn't know what the product is, and
we weren't doing any marketing to drive people to it. When they brought
me on board, this first non-engineer marketing role, I was tasked with
choosing one social platform that we were going to really concentrate
So is it Facebook? Is it
Instagram? Is it Twitter? And I experimented with some campaign ideas
about each of those, and I of read, doing some research on preparing for
a crowdfund, and I happened across the Tim Ferriss article about the
Harry's razor launch, which of course, was KickoffLabs, but I did not
know at the time.
And so, then I just started
researching a ton of different referral campaign, reward campaign, list
building. And I thought, "You know what our social platform should be?
It should be email. Let's invest in email. Let's invest in building an
email list and developing a relationship with potential backers via
email first." And so, that's what we did. So I just really dug into it
and we did not expect to gather 10,000. That was above and beyond our
expectations, but it was great. It was really nice to know that we would
not be launching to crickets.
It's great to build a line
before you even build the line. That way, you know you've got an
audience you can talk to. One of the numbers that stood out, 21%
conversion rate is amazing, especially for, I tell people when they
judge conversion rates, it's based on what the expectation is, and you
guys were up front. I mean, I looked at your page. I mean, there was
going to be a cost. It's easy to get a high conversion rate if you're
going to be selling something for $5, but your product has a significant
cost in comparison and still did well.
But when you're trying to
find people who might be willing to invest the kind of money you guys
are going to charge for this printer, it's an amazing conversion rate.
And I think that number is helped a lot by the second number, which I'm
showing here, which is the viral boost from KickoffLabs. This is the
measure of the percentage of leads that came from a customer referral.
And you are obviously, probably much more inclined to sign up for
something if a friend recommended it. And so, this means that of those
10,000 leads, over 7,000 of them were referred from somebody else.
Yeah. Actually, and I want
to explain this without confusing everyone. But actually, this was so
encouraging to us that we ended up mimicking a similar campaign, a
similar referral program into our sales. So right now if you were to
purchase a Glowforge, there's a referral campaign to refer people to
buy, because we found that this being referred by a friend about our
product was so effective. So we actually have two referral campaigns.
The one that we're talking about during this webinar today is obviously,
the KickoffLabs one, prelaunch only. But we found it so successful that
we continued the idea into now. So people are still referring their
friends for Glowforge.
You guys didn't ... it's a
fairly simple page. I mean, I can show the two sites here. You've got a
top half of the page where it says the 3D laser printer that makes
beautiful things. But you did have something about this page that's got
to me and a lot of people forget is, is an incentive. And the next line
goes "Great into the incentive." Which says, "Our first Glowforge will
be half price. We don't want you to miss out."
How did you guys come up with
that as the incentive for somebody to sign up? And then the call to
action as a practice. I love that you guys did this. The call to action
button matches that headline says, you know, "Half off please." How'd
you guys come up with that? And what did you guys experiment with?
Well, we knew that we were
going to launch at half price. And Glowforge way is half price for the
first 30 days or so. That's the crowdfund that we're talking about. The
amazing $27.9 million. Those were all at half MSRP. They're still on
sale now for 40% MSRP because that's just something we can maintain
right now before we are in retail. But we knew that this was gonna be
extra special, because our price point actually began, it's actually
raised the incentive, but began at 1995.
So you're looking at a
$4,000 machine that they are getting for $2,000, and that was just for
the basic model. We knew that was huge, and we knew that our price
difference compared to other products, other similar products out there
is substantially lower.
People who did manage to
make it onto this site were referred by someone else who's interested in
lasers. Maybe it's some guy they know at their maker space, or a teacher
at a STEM school, and this would be an awesome product to have at their
school. So we assumed that they came here knowing that half off was a
big deal. And half off is a big deal for many products. But we actually,
we AB tested, and the heck out of this copy, and tried to change it a
couple times. I think this is the final variation that you have right
I do remember trying a
couple of different buttons and seeing which performed better, and the
half off please is just ... so we actually don't mention here at all
anything about referring your friends. So they just think they're
signing up for a mailing list, which they are and that's great. And that
was enough for us. And then they get the thank you page and see that
there's actually an opportunity to get even more than half off.
[crosstalk 00:12:33] this
page here talking about it. Once you signed up, you send people to a
page that looked at something like this. I'm sure you guys, again, try a
couple of different variations. And so, talk about the referral bonuses
that you gave people. You're not only incentivize people to sign up
right away with saying if, basically saying, "If you want half off, you
should sign up now." So now they've signed up, and at this step of the
process, you're trying to get them to refer friends. And obviously, it
was incredibly successful for you guys with that high viral boost rate.
But tell me about how you
guys came up with the referral program, and tell everybody a little bit
about this referral program you did.
First of all, we were really
careful with our copy. You can see is the below the link to share, is
that, "We made these links just for you. We'd be flattered if you use
them." It's not on brand for us to be really in your face or demanding,
just like, we did this for you, and we hope that you feel that you have
people you can share it with. So that was important, because the
referral program I know may not seem that it fits well with every type
of brand, especially if you've got a luxury feeling brand, or a little
more expensive products. Well, people, of course, I always want to save
money. You don't want to sound like you're discounting your product or
anything too much, so we had to be very thoughtful about how we executed
What I was looked like was
one friend signing up was $100. Five friends signing up was $150, and
then 200 for 10 friends. And then at 25, what we did was when anyone hit
25, I was keeping my eye on it, and I would actually contact them
personally and say, "Hey, I noticed that you referred a lot of people.
And what's your story? And can we work together? And so, I ended up with
what I think it was really, really just a handful, only 10 people have
done it. That ended up, they worked somewhere. We're involved in a
really relevant community for us. And so, we were able to just say, "Can
we offer you a bigger discount to reach even more of your community?"
And a tell even more people bought Glowforge.
I don't know if you want me
to get into this now, but we also had email triggers with each of these
milestones, which we found very effective and pretty much the key to the
success of this.
I want to go to both things.
I'm actually intrigued by the personal reach out. We get this question a
lot, which is, "Hey, if somebody does hit a high number like 25 or 50
referrals, what should we do for them to make it worthwhile? And you
were reaching out personally to these ... because you knew the number
was going to be low enough that you could do it.
Was that worthwhile for you
guys to reach out personally to them? Did you guys get a good return on
your time being invested in working with them directly?
Yeah, I think so. It wasn't
a large number, and it was an easy exchange. It was sort of like, "Oh,
we're going to unlock your discount amount. So for every 10 more you
get, it'll be another $100 or whatever it is. I can't actually remember
exactly what we offered, but it's pretty simple, and it was just like we
were disabled to add that to their account when they made the purchase.
I mean, if they had referred 25 people, they were people who knew
people, and who would be interested in Glowforge. Especially at this
early time, we weren't really sure who those people were. And so that
was really valuable to us.
And it was just cool to see
who these people were. That was interesting. You get this random name
and you're like, "What do you do that you know all these people that are
interested in buying a laser?" And it turns out that they were involved
with some kind of fabrication or whatever it is.
It turns out they really were
influencers in your space? Like, they-
Exactly. Influencers, that's
a great way to phrase it.
Something else that's the
best practice on this page that I love is that, you had friends sign up
in a level, and I tell people this all the time, is that they need to
have a level that feels achievable like two or three. Because I know if
you asked me today, "Get 10 people to do something." I couldn't get a 10
people to do anything today. I just couldn't organize them. I couldn't
get them to do it within a day's time. It would take a lot of effort.
But if you said, "Hey, can you get one to two, or two to three people to
sign up for something?"
I bet I could get one or two
people to sign up for just about anything in a day, in a day's time.
That's why we tell people to start out with a really low number for the
first reward. What made you guys choose one and five for your first
I mean, exactly what you
said. It feels attainable, and you probably have one friend that you
could at least say, not that that's what we want. We want people who are
hopefully also interested in Glowforage. But most people have at least
one friend that they can text and say, "Can you sign up for this because
it'll help me get $100 off?" If it's something they could right then,
Because like you said, if it
was 10, if it's 10 or if it's 20 or something like that, they're like,
"Oh, that's going to take me weeks, and I'm going to have to share it
again and again." And so we were hoping that it's just like, "Put this
out here now. See if you have someone ... " I mean, and tons of people
did. I remember looking at the data later, and many people only referred
one person, but that doubled, and then sometimes that one person they
referred was huge for us or whatnot. That's why we did that.
Tell us about the triggers.
So you've mentioned the email triggers at one and five. What happened in
each of those levels that people achieved?
Upon sign up for the mailing
list, they got an email from me, we decided to use ... although my CEO,
Dan is the main public figure for the brand these days. For the referral
campaign, the email referral campaign, it was really me. It was all
written in my voice that was very ... I mean, you'll see that as a trend
for companies right now. You'll see. I mean, I see emails from Josh from
KickoffLabs and whatnot. So lots of executives or marketing people try
to humanize and create a character and online persona for themselves
that potential customers can meet and feel connected to in some way.
We wanted to do that because
we felt I was relatable, and I'm also not a super laser, a fishing Nado.
I'm a normal person that thinks that this is cool and is learning how to
use it along with you. And I think that was friendly. And so, yeah,
there was an email from me for each one and each one I had a different
laser items. There was a selfie of me in each one that with an engraved
case. This is my phone, this is not a laser item, but I'd be like, "Wow,
I made this really amazing laser engraved phone case." This is not one
But in each one. When I had
a pair of leather laser made sandals that one of our designers had made
especially for my feet here. When I had this really cool travel purse
that's zipped up, and so many people responded to the emails. Just the
whole campaign, I would get some of your responses. "I'm so excited for
Glowforge. That's so cool. How did you make that? Can it do this with
this work, with that kind of material?" We just got people so excited to
see that we really already had a product, and we're doing things with
it. And that was just invaluable. And then, actually, on our launch day,
when I had this list of 10,000 plus people, I sent out an email to them
to announce that we've launched, because they were supposed to be the
first to know.
And it was a picture, a
selfie with me and the Glowforge. And it was the first time they'd ever
seen actually Glowforge. And it was taken in a hotel room. We were about
to take the Glowforge to makerspace New York the next day. And we had it
in the hotel room, and I was trying to take a selfie with the Glowforge
behind me, and it's really silly, but I went along with the whole story.
And so, that was all of the KickoffLab folks.
First Glance, first shot at
the Glowforge, and then they could click right to our site and see that
it was available for pre-order. So it was just a really fun experience
for everybody who had gotten several emails from me.
They were getting emails from
you, so they were getting trigger emails if they reached referral
targets. And then, what were you guys doing throughout the process of
your launch to keep in contact with them leading up to that pre-order?
We did a couple emails maybe
the couple weeks before. We didn't do much. We really didn't want to
like infiltrate people with a ton of emails, but I think in maybe the
first, like, you sign up for our list one, they were encouraged to
follow us on social, and we did a couple updates about when we'd be
launching then, but we were pretty hush-hush about our dates until maybe
two weeks before. I think we did email everyone and say, "Hey, we're
going to be launching in two weeks. And so if you are only one or two
away from your next referral level, do that now, because I'd love for
you to be able to get $300 off." Because it did stop if they weren't
able to refer more come September 24th.
So we did a couple separate
campaigns, but we kept it to a minimum. We didn't want to drive people
crazy. Like, "Oh this is not a company I want to buy something from and
then hear from every week."
But I think that the point
being you guys didn't just not communicate to them at all, and then
several months later, you send out a mail saying, "Hey, buy our
product." With their selfie. That wasn't the only male that most people,
only communication you guys were working towards. You were trying to
tell a little bit of a story through social, tell a little bit of a
story through the referral emails that were going out.
And then you sent, like you
said, those reminders saying, "Hey, in two weeks, we are going to be
giving you an opportunity." So you prepped them, so when that mail came,
when that first pre-order mail came, it was not a shock and people
remembered who you were.
Right, exactly. An I think
that also felt like something that they exclusively got to know,
because we didn't post anything on social that we were relaunching a
pre-order in two weeks or anything like that. It was like that group got
to know, and I believe we wrote that pretty intentionally so they would
know that they were really getting the first like, "Check your email
that morning, it's going to be there." And we actually sold it. I mean,
we made our first million dollars in 14 hours. So we sold at such a rate
that for some people getting in there that first day was really
important to them to make sure that they're placed on line as early as
it possibly could be.
I love people that just lead
into the next question, which was questioning what the time is, "Hey, I
got 10,000 people, what can I possibly expect those 10,000 people would
do?" So if you can share a little bit about the initial early results
that you saw from the pre-order. What happened when you guys did open
the pre-order now that you had an email list that you announced it to?
We had a big launch day. We
had press, and a press release, and we were launching at an event,
although the event was on day two. So at launch today we weren't
actually at an event, but sent out the email, and it acted as like
patient zero. You know what I mean? You can think of our KickoffLabs as
patient zero's for us, where even if they didn't buy, because I don't
have numbers on exactly how many of the people from KickoffLabs
I could do some data
digging, but I haven't done that recently. I do know it converted pretty
well though. But even if they were already excited about it, so even if
they maybe couldn't afford to buy, a lot of them posted about it, a lot
of them wrote back and were excited and so, yeah. I mean, we just saw an
incredible response, and sales went faster than we expected, and we had
a internal wow. It would sure be great if we could hit $2 million in our
And we hit that in like two
and a half days or something like that. And we were just like, "Wow,
it's great. Exciting." And both of these campaigns, the prelaunch
referral campaign and then the actual camp on itself, both were far
larger and more successful than we could have dreamed with such a small
team, so exciting.
Cool. So let's go back in
time a little bit. I want to talk about the gathering the initial
emails. So you set up that page once you started collecting the email
addresses using your site and KickoffLabs to power the referrals. How
did you go about promoting that page? And what worked and what didn't
Promoting. So, prior to
launching KickoffLabs, we had an existing email list, like we'd had just
did, I don't know, Google forms, capture or something like that to
collect emails. And when I came on board, I think they're always maybe,
there was less than a thousand. I was like, "Wow, we really need to get
more." And so, we did send an email to everyone who is already on our
list, because in some ways though, those were the people that were most
excited. They'd been following Glowforge ever since. They'd seen a
couple of tees or articles about that Dan and Tony were starting a
company, and it was going to be something to do with lasers, and so
they'd been on since that. And so, we definitely wanted them in our
campaigns. So we actually emailed them to let them know.
We created their link for
them. Their social id, and we sent them an email with it, and we're
like, "Hey, we're doing this program, now if you wanted to refer
friends, we want to make sure that you're going to be able to get a
discount, because you're our first backers." That was the first way we
did the first, and one of the biggest things we did to promote it. And
again, that was like a patient zero situation where a lot of them had
influential communities and helps get the ball rolling for us.
Another thing that happened
to us, and this was really totally by accident, but we ended up on the
front page of Reddit accidentally, believe it or not, because any
marketers out there have ever tried to market on Reddit. It's not a
great idea. They don't like it. If you're on Reddit, you don't go to
Reddit to see advertisements. You go to Reddit to be real and talk about
cool things that people are doing, or whatever, talking about anything.
But after we'd launched our
KickoffLabs campaign, and we overnight got, I don't even know, 400 or
700 signups, or something we thought, "Oh, wait, what?" And we had a
picture, an image on our website of settlers of Catan board that was a
laser engraved and cut, and it's gorgeous. And someone had pulled that
and put it on Reddit, and then someone had said, "Oh, it's from this
website." Anyway, and so that gave us another accidental organic boost.
And we did some follow up on Reddit. We actually ended up hiring an
artist to make that game board so that we owned the design, and we're
able to offer it to people who are interested. But, yeah, that was an
We had some more press that
promoted the page, and we had ... Let's see, what else did we do? A
little bit on social, I think we ... but, oh, but the main thing was
that it just did it itself, because people were tweeting, the link so
much. I mean, Glowforge was on Twitter thousands of times before it even
launched. It was almost a little bit like we actually had to make some
roles about with our community about not just spamming their referral
link on every topic. W"e'll cut you off." Which was kind of funny to
have to do. We didn't expect for it to be like that successful.
That's really neat. I love
the story about the happy, the accidental promotion. It's great that you
guys ran with it, because that's how a lot of things happen. Like all of
a sudden people will notice like, "Hey, this community online mentioned
this." And it happened because you had a great hero image shot on your
website. Then from that hero image, people took action and said, "Hey,
this hero image is really cool," because you created something that was
shareable, because it was really cool. And then you guys went and just
further encouraged it by producing it, by licensing it and making it
And it's great to hear that
people were sharing, almost oversharing the referral links. Are there
things that you guys tried to do to market that say, didn't work very
Not really. Like I said,
because before launch, we just couldn't share a lot about our product.
We really were being a little bit more stealth and weren't doing too
many big initiatives to push it. We launched this KickoffLabs campaign,
and I think exactly two months before we launched, is it was about eight
weeks. So we collected all those addresses. And in that time we were
also building the new website, and I was project managing that, and
building the referral campaign and do it and stuff. And so, no we just
let it do its thing, but believe it or not, I mean, we had a little bit
of press, a little bit of pre-launch press then that drove impressions
to the site and helped.
But I honestly got to a
point where I think if we kept it going past launch, we could have
gotten even more and more and more, because it just gets exponential at
all. It got to a point, I remember like I used to go home and get on
TweetDeck and see how many people were tweeting their referral links,
and be really excited if it was five. And then it got to a point where
it was 20, and then it was 50, and I just couldn't even keep track of it
anymore. And so it just really started working once we were at a certain
Did you guys invest in any
Pre-launch? No. We did not.
Since the pre-lunch?
Yeah. Yeah, since the
prelaunch, we do Facebook ads. That's been our big one. And actually,
the reason that we were like, "Hmm, Facebook might be a great place for
us to invest," was because of KickoffLabs because we saw it as a big
referral source. And Twitter too, but Facebook, because Facebook, we had
this beautiful shareable image. I think you might have a picture of that
our co-founder whipped up that had some cool Glowforge made props in it,
and so we saw people sharing that a lot too.
Did you guys go through a
couple of variations of this?
Yeah. Yeah, we definitely
did, because, I mean, like I said, when this started, it was just me
working on it, and I had been tasked with finding something too that was
going to be the winner for us, a social platform day to concentrate on.
And I said, "Ah, email, our referral campaign, that's what it's going to
be." And so, it was really just my pet project at first, and so, I had
made, and I'm not a designer, I had made a little image like that on, I
dunno, some design program online. They just wasn't as beautiful or up
to par with the Glowforge design standards as our co-founder Tony would
And so when we saw how much
that was getting shared, he was like, "Oh, we better have a much better
image." I mean, and so it's funny, you can see there that it says Half
off please. But that's not actually a button. That's just an image. We
replicated the experience of the website there.
It's a great technique. And
some people ask, should they have the text in that image, or just the
hero image in this shot? I like this combination of the text and the
image and the copy, because you guys had such great copy, and you are
consistent with the message between the image and the copy because it
says Glowforge, the desktop laser. So it's a great, immediately you're
saying what it is, and then you're saying what you can do with it.
Create beautiful things from leather, wood, fabric, paper and more. And
then you're saying, get half off. You're back to your half off copy. But
then the texts headline says secure Glowforge laser printer for half the
price. And something that I see a lot of people do when they're
marketing, is they feel like, "Well, I've already said half off, so I
don't need to say it again."]
So they'll say something
else, and then before you know it in a tiny little advertisement space,
they've said three or four different things. And I say, "Well, why don't
you stick with the main message, which is what it is and your offer?"
They say, "Well, I already said that." But you don't realize that people
who are looking at this on their Facebook feed, they may only read one
of the three different things that show up here. And so, you want to
make sure they're consistent, and they're saying the same thing. And you
guys did a great job with that throughout the-
I think that's another thing
that we tested, actually, too. I do remember doing a couple iterations
with this copy and really deciding to focus on one thing. Because
something like this pre-launch was pretty challenging actually, because
we didn't have any images of the product to share. So it was like, "What
is it?" And so instead we really had to leave with the things that can
make and really just that half off. Like, "We know you might not fully
understand what the product is, but you can get it for half off. So just
make sure that you're looped in so you don't miss out on that."
And this is I think the email
copy in the end you had when somebody would click, email a friend.
It's a little bit small to
read probably, but just to say the subject is simple. Glowforge 3D laser
printer. And the copy says Glowforge is launching their 3D laser printer
soon, and the first units are going to be half off. I just signed to be
notified when available. You should too. And so you're just
pre-populating an email with a simple message.
Yeah, and I'm sure people
changed it and whatever, but the core message being there, it's
important, because maybe a lot of people didn't change it, and that was
just, we can try to have a little control over making sure they explain
it right. I remembered that was the notified I signed up to get
notified. The notified where it was one that we played with a lot, like
with the half off please. I think for a while we had, notify me, and we
tried a couple different things.
You went through a fairly
typical progression. I think we did some research and pulled up that you
guys went from looking at the web archive of the page. You guys went
from a simple like submit on the Google form page, subscribe, which was
slightly better than submit, and then to notify me, and then eventually
to the get half off on the page. People started to realize how important
that call to action is to align with your incentive. And I'm sure each
one of those changes made a step in the conversion rate.
We also did a lot of testing
with the different places that we had the email capture. I don't know if
you can tell from the shots that you had, but we had it right there
front and center on the page. Yeah. And then we had one at the bottom.
We had top ups.
That doesn't feel like ...
You didn't miss an opportunity to make sure people knew there was an
email signups. You had, this is a KickoffLabs exit intent widget. It
looks like popping up saying, "Sorry for popping up. We don't want you
to miss out." Again, I love the personality to the copy because, you
don't just say "Don't miss out." You're not shouting at the person.
You're just like, "Oh, sorry, I want to do this, but I just want to make
sure you heard about our offer.
I had to fight for the
bounce widget a little bit I remember. And not, not fight for it, but I
had to think about it, because it does feel a little in your face, a
little rude or something, a popup, everyone hate popups. So I looked
very carefully over how effective it was. And I remember we tried
different times, like have it bounce after however many seconds. But we
found it effective. I mean, it was gathering addresses. Certainly the
most effective, I remember at one point I had a breakdown of where on
the page people were actually choosing to submit. And there was a time
that the one on the bottom was working even though it says it doesn't
have as much like fun copy.
It had a half off please,
and everything. But I think it was just because people needed to read
the website, and I just wanted it to be there again because, goodness
forbid that they forgot. I think we even ended up putting the email
capture on Dan's blog at one point too. So we just tried out all sorts
of things to get them the best that we cut out of, and we were really
happy with it.
I think the reality is, with
a product like this, you never really know what copy is going to
convince somebody that, "Yeah, this is, this is it for me." It could be
like somebody who's reading the top of the page like, "I'd love to make
something that Looks like that at the top of the page." And they sign up
at the top of the page, and that doesn't convince people, they get down
to the bottom and it says, "Oh, push button printing." "Oh, I could go
for push button printing. And then that's the one that convinces them.
And when somebody makes the decision, they say, I'm interested, you guys
had a form there to capture [crosstalk 00:37:47]
Then going back to, I know
we're skipping around a lot.
This was the tweet that you
guys had to ... Is this the tweet you guys saw a lot of on Twitter?
Yeah. And again, I mean, we
iterated this one a few times too, but, yeah, "I'm already on the list.
Please retweet." And people did. It was crazy. I wasn't sure how
comfortable people were really going to be with tweeting this kind of
thing, because I know sometimes I enter a really cool contest to win
apartment makeover and everything like that. But you have to tweet all
these links that your friends, and it feels spammy and a lot of people
are just hesitant to do that these days. And I just wanted to make this
really straight forward. I'm already on the list. That sounds like we
wanted to make it clear that it wasn't like ... we wanted to make it
clear that the person tweeting it was like already on the list.
Like I'm already doing this.
Like, you know me, and you know that I wouldn't do something that's
going to be annoying or spammy or anything. You know me and I'm on the
list. And I guess that was the idea behind it, this consistency of you
trust my judgment, you should check it out. That's the idea behind a
whole referral campaign. It would be so interesting if we could really
delve into how the numbers between referring people that you actually
know in person, and then just maybe influencers that you follow in,
which one's more powerful? Because I would wager that it might be people
that you know in person for messaging like this.
If came in from a referral, I
would actually say, "Bailey thought you'd like this." And if we had a
picture of Bailey, we put a picture of Bailey there on the website. That
[crosstalk 00:39:38] to making it more personal like you're doing with
the rest of your copy.
Yes. And how we did that
was, I mean, we worked on a customization with you. I believe we did
that through full contact, meaning that it uses the person's email
address to pull their photo from any public social handle or anything
like that. So yeah, if I clicked through and say, "Bailey is getting
Glowforge at half price, and she doesn't want you to miss out." And that
was pretty cool.
We had so many people that
were like, "Wait, whoa. And we actually-
Did you get the email saying,
"How did you get Bailey's picture?
No, no. We were wondering if
people would be freaked by it, but I think we all know that our faces
are very public online if we've allowed them to be. It can't be too
surprising anymore. But we continued that personalization into our
current referral program to ease the faces, because we thought that was
pretty effective. I'm glad you mentioned that. I actually totally forgot
that we did that with KickoffLabs as well. And that's where the genius
began, of course.
What advice, or if somebody
asks for advice, what advice would you give people who are going down a
I mean, I would definitely
advise that they invest in doing any customizations that they think are
going to make it better. I mean, one thing that I remember having to ask
a designer for, or just push back on a couple of times was that we
really wanted the blue lines, how many you've gotten. We really wanted
the Chevron arrows pushing forward. And we thought that visual was
so important. And I remember like feeling silly having to be like,
"Okay, but can it look exactly like this?" and drafting it up. But I
think those details are why it was so effective.
I worked really hard on the
emails, and the selfies and all that. And I think we could have totally
launched this with a third of the effort and it would have done okay. So
if I was going to do it again, I would put this much effort, maybe even
more if that's possible into it, because I think just the extra
personalization and the extra, making it feel ... Our main goal was the
reason that we did custom, and the reason that we wanted all the
specific copy and everything, we wanted this to feel ... our ideal
situation with that someone comes in through KickoffLabs, and then
eventually purchases the Glowforge, and then they're a Glowforge owner.
And we will have an ongoing brand relationship with them for years as
they use their Glowforge.
And we wanted this to feel
seamless, like not feel like a totally different company that was maybe
trying to sell you something, and then hopefully you bought it. We
wanted it to feel seamless. And so, since our website has changed, maybe
not completely seamless, but the feeling behind it though not being too
pushy, and just putting in that extra work with the personalization was
just so worth it.
Tell me a little bit about
the personalization and the copy, because I think when you say level of
detail, and considering you're thinking about the details, when I look
at all of the assets now put together for the campaign and I see it, it
feels like you guys sweated like every word of copy. And I think that's
a good thing to tell me about the process of how you guys devolving the
Yeah. I told other team
members that I'd share some of the emails that are, the Bailey emails
that came at the one in five. So maybe they'll still get posted in a
follow up post. You can see the actual copy. But I mean, literally the
process was Dan and I and, whoever else we could wrangle in sitting in a
room and talking through the copy and me reading out loud and saying,
"Does this sound ... I want to stay on genuine. I want to get people
excited about Glowforge, but I don't want to come across as I'm just
pushing something on you and it's expensive product, and we do want
people to buy it, who want it and who are excited about it."
It was a process of sitting
down and writing it out loud together, and it's a little painstaking at
times. But just that extra effort, I don't know. That's how we continue
with everything we write here. And I think it makes all the difference,
and I wouldn't have believed that like a year ago
I tell people all the time,
it's like, no matter what the visuals are on the page, you can't be
sloppy with the words. Because the web, I mean, if you look at websites,
no matter what website it is, it's generally at least 70%, 80% texts.
It's not the 30% of the people. I mean, it's important to sweat both
aspects. And I always tell customers that the visual should back up the
copy, and the copy should back up the visuals. Neither one should have
to stand on their own.
But if you had to pick one to
stand on their own, it should be the copy. It should be able to stand on
its own. Like if somebody were just reading it through a screen reader
or just text, it should tell a compelling story and sound interesting to
Well, and especially for us
and maybe other companies who are using this as a pre-launch or like a
teaser campaign, or whatnot. I didn't have amazing visuals, and I didn't
have a lot of specific product information that I could share. So I
really needed to get people excited with the idea behind the company,
and the people at the company and the things that we were making,
because I didn't have a beautiful hero shot of the Glowforge to show
them, and I didn't have a detailed tech specs page to show them. The
copy being more about the people, and you being part of this big, big
new thing that was coming was, I had to do that. That's what I had to
A couple of more questions
that I'm just pointing from the chat that just recently came up. We
talked earlier about the 10 people that got to 25. How did you guys
manage fraud, like people trying to take advantage of the referral? And
did you see much of that? Was it a big problem for you guys?
Yeah. All right. That's
funny that you mentioned that. No, we did not see a lot of it. We saw a
few individual cases of it, and I actually reached out to those people
and told them, "I can tell that you just made five variations of your
email address, firstname.lastname@example.org and mikeplusfive@ ... referring
himself. I mean, it was seriously so isolated and I was actually very
worried about it, because I did a mock of this campaign before I set it
live, and I sent it to our team, which at the time was like, for
software developers or something.
And right away they did
that, and made up, big email addresses and they were like, "This is what
people are going to do." And I was like, "Oh, no. That's terrible." But
that wasn't the case. I didn't do anything very technical to manage it.
I kept a close eye on our submissions, and they were pretty easy to
spot. And I know that you guys have some documentation and talking
through how one might advantage fraud, and they basically just got
removed from the list for doing that. We had some rules and regulations.
It wasn't an issue.
A quick question from the
stats, and I can share my screen really quickly, but on the total
conversions, there's one day in particular, like you've got this
constant spike of about 300 conversions per day over the two months. And
then there's one day when it looks like you get up to over 900 email
addresses collected in that one day. Do you recall what happened on that
I don't recall. I mean,
there's a couple things that it could've been. It could've been the
Reddit day. Like I said, Reddit spiked maybe the day after even, just
because, I think we saw on Google analytics something like, 1200 people
came to our page from Reddit, and then 400 of them or something signed
up, and then a lot of them shared. And so I actually think that might've
been a Reddit aftermath.
Also, one of the investors,
Brad Feld, has a great blog and talks about new products that he has
invested in or just thinks that are rad. And I know when he posted about
us that was one of our bigger days too. So that could have been it.
But I'm thinking that it was Reddit, which was again, just sort of an
accident. We were lucky enough to have happened to us and then acted
quick. I mean, that was one of the days that I was at the office till
after midnight lasering up a board for the posts so that we could give
them the files, which are actually still alive, if you have you want
How would you say KickoffLabs
works for you guys?
I mean, I think right now if
you ask any of our co-founders, one of the main successes behind our
launch in general was referral. I think it worked great. I think
anything, it was a really nice way to start off my time here at
Glowforge with a bang.
And I was so pleased to have
it be so easy for someone non technical like me. I mean, although I work
at a hardware startup and stuff, I don't have any coding experience or
anything really. And I just had this idea, and they let me run with it.
And I was really able to be the main contact and the main project
manager of the whole thing and have a lot of control over what the end
result looked like. And I'm just a marketer.
Is there anything that you
thought that I should have asked or that we should have asked that we
didn't? Or anything we didn't touch on that you were sure were prepared
I guess, I mean, I know that
when I was starting to campaign I didn't know what to offer as reward
levels, because it was really hard to determine, I thought it was tricky
to determine like what people were going to deem valuable on a $2,000
purchase. Because the Harry's campaigns. I mean, we were like, we were
looking at that and it was so hugely successful, but they were able to
offer a $5 reward or more value actual physical items that people would
get. We didn't have anything like that.
And for a while we played
with like, "Oh, if you get 10 friends, should you get X% off of
purchases from our catalog that won't be launched for months and
months?" And that didn't sound very exciting. And so we played with ...
I don't have a lot like anything really scientific to share with you
about how we came up with the numbers, but we thought $100 down to like
a good discount and it, and it was, and it was enough to really get
people to ... I think I always would love to know in an alternate
universe if we had just started with $50, if it would've been half as
effective. I think the $100 feels like a lot to people even though it's
really a small amount on this giant purchase.
So figuring out where board
level is probably so different depending on your product.
I think you guys went about
it the right way. And like you said, you have to weigh it against the
cost of the product, and you consider like a marketing budget if you're
willing to give a discount in exchange for the referral, like how much
is a referral worth to you? And the only generalize advice is where we
talked about earlier that I give you, which is make sure to have
something in both the low end and the high end and be prepared for a
couple of the high end, a smaller percentage obviously, and at the low
end be prepared that there's, if you do one to two within five, there's
going to be a great deal of people that fall within that range. And so
what can you do to make those people feel special at scale?
I love the concept of the
product. I love the story. You did an amazing job managing this
campaign. You guys are fun to work with, one of my favorite customers
that we've got so far. It wouldn't matter if you guys had collected it
for ... it wouldn't matter, but it wouldn't have mattered if you had
like a thousand or 10,000 emails, I would've wanted to tell your story
because I just think you guys did a great job all the way through the
process that way other people could learn from and hopefully have
learned from throughout this webinar.
So check out Glowforge. If
you haven't checked out kickofflabs.com. If you want to manage and run
your own pre-launch campaign and gather email addresses before you
Thanks for listening. It's
been fun to watch the downloads happen from all over the world of our
first two podcast episodes. Shout out to most of the seven continents so
far. If you liked this episode, give us a positive review on iTunes or
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