Listen in on how Glowforge Launched the Biggest 30-day Crowdfunding Campaign in History

"We've found the KickoffLabs prelaunch campaign so successful that we continued the idea. So people are still referring their friends for Glowforge."

Bailey Nelson


New Leads

The number of subscribers that came directly from the campaign

$27 Million


Amount funded during crowdfunding campaign


Viral Boost

% of leads that came from a share URL

Key Takeaways

Take out the guess work and study campaigns that have the success you’re wanting to create!

Choose One Platform to Focus on

They invested in building an email list and developing a relationship with potential backers via email first.

Don't Just Stop After the Pre-Launch

They took the prelaunch campaign and replicated it into a referral campaign post launch.

Leverage Existing Email List

They imported an existing list of 800 leads so they could begin sharing with friends!

Utilize KickoffLabs Email Triggers

They used these emails to tell a story throughout the campaign, where each was an opportunity to prep customers for when the product was available.

"During our 8-week campaign, we captured more than 10,000 leads! It was nice to know we would not be launching to crickets."

"We just saw an incredible response, and sales went faster than we expected, and we had a internal wow."


Campaign Goal:

Implement a prelaunch waitlist to launch on Kickstarter

Key Features Used:

"We used KickoffLabs Advanced Fraud Prevention which includes tools like email verification, IP address blocking & more, to automatically show if leads were potentially fake."

Contest Type(s): ecommerce - waitlist - kickstarter - reward levels

Interview Bio

Bailey picture

Bailey Nelson - Glowforge

Bailey Nelson ran the pre-launch campaigns on KickoffLabs for Glowforge. She started her career in PR before taking the opportunity work at Glowforge in Seattle.

Full Transcript

Josh Ledgard: 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 campaign.

Josh Ledgard: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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 here.

Josh Ledgard: 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.

Josh Ledgard: You and I were just chatting before this webinar started. So, what's your background and how your role has evolved at Glowforge?

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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?

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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?

Bailey Nelson: 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."

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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."

Josh Ledgard: 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?

Bailey Nelson: 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 on.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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."

Josh Ledgard: 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?

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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 here.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Glowforge status page

Josh Ledgard: [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.

Josh Ledgard: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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 this.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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.

Bailey Nelson: Yeah. Yeah.

Josh Ledgard: 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?

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: It turns out they really were influencers in your space? Like, they-

Bailey Nelson: Exactly. Influencers, that's a great way to phrase it.

Josh Ledgard: 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?"

Josh Ledgard: 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 numbers there?

Bailey Nelson: 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, right?

Josh Ledgard: Yeah.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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?

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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 example.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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?

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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."

Josh Ledgard: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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?

Bailey Nelson: 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 purchased.

Bailey Nelson: 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 30 days.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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 work?

Glowforge landing page

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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 accidental promotion.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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 work.

Josh Ledgard: 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 well?

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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 number.

Josh Ledgard: Did you guys invest in any advertising?

Bailey Nelson: Pre-launch? No. We did not.

Josh Ledgard: Since the pre-lunch?

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: Did you guys go through a couple of variations of this?

Bailey Nelson: 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 like.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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."]

Josh Ledgard: 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-

Bailey Nelson: 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."

Josh Ledgard: And this is I think the email copy in the end you had when somebody would click, email a friend.

Bailey Nelson: Right.

Josh Ledgard: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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]

Bailey Nelson: Yeah.

Josh Ledgard: Then going back to, I know we're skipping around a lot.

Bailey Nelson: No problem.

Josh Ledgard: This was the tweet that you guys had to ... Is this the tweet you guys saw a lot of on Twitter?

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: We had so many people that were like, "Wait, whoa. And we actually-

Josh Ledgard: Did you get the email saying, "How did you get Bailey's picture?

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: What advice, or if somebody asks for advice, what advice would you give people who are going down a similar path?

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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 copy.

Bailey Nelson: 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."

Bailey Nelson: 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

Josh Ledgard: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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 folks.

Bailey Nelson: 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 give them.

Josh Ledgard: 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?

Bailey Nelson: 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, mikeplus1@gmail.com 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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 day?

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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 them.

Josh Ledgard: How would you say KickoffLabs works for you guys?

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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 for?

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: 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.

Bailey Nelson: So figuring out where board level is probably so different depending on your product.

Josh Ledgard: 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?

Josh Ledgard: 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.

Josh Ledgard: 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 launch.

Josh Ledgard: 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 your favorite podcasting service, and let me know at josh@kickofflabs.com.

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