Create a Kickstarter-esque Referral Affiliate Program


How Delta helped the largest 30-day crowdfunding campaign in history by adding a Referral Program and without using Kickstarter.

A referral program is a great way to boost fund raising for projects. Just ask Glowforge. Delta Systems helped Glowforge in selling $27.9M worth of 3D laser printers in 30 days. But they couldn’t use Kickstarter because they wanted a referral program. The crowdsourcing campaign was a HUGE success and is currently the largest 30 day crowdfunded project in history!

Crowdfunding Kickstarter Referral Affiliate Program Screenshot for Glowforge
Crowdfunding Kickstarter Referral Affiliate Program Screenshot for Glowforge

Here are some relevant excerpts from Y-Combinator’s interview with Glowforge Co-founder Tony Wright

What if any partners did you use to help?

We ran the campaign on our own website, so we worked with Deltasys, a WordPress dev shop, to customize WordPress to take orders and do all of the referral system magic we wanted it to do.

What had highest ROI in your product launch preparations?

I wish we could know for sure. I think the video investment, both in terms of our own effort and the money we spent, was huge. Building our own site and referral system was big. I think it was way more effective than giving over the whole experience to one of the hosted options out there.

What percent of sales were from the referral system (meaning at least $100 discount)?

I believe it was about 30% were directly attributable to the referral campaign, but we figure there’s some additional splash. Users who come in via a referral link from one of our customers convert at about 6X more than users who came in through any other channel. Every time I use social proof in any marketing effort, I’m reminded of how powerful it is.

What drove $27.9M in sales? Referrals from x, remarketing on y, help from z…?

We had a 2-sided referral campaign. When folks bought a Glowforge, we gave them a special URL and said, “For each person who buys a Glowforge with this $100 coupon code, we’ll give YOU $100 off.” It turns out $100 is pretty damn motivating. We saw users buy AdWords ads linked to their referral codes. We had users post to Craigslist and Reddit with their codes. The result was that many of our customers saved hundreds or thousands of dollars and we didn’t have to spend much on advertising.

What is the best way to increase sales through word of mouth, by having people promote your products to their friends? Affiliate programs can be complicated to setup, but once that is done, these referral programs can bring in more sales by having your product fans market for you.

Drive More Traffic to Crowdfunding Campaigns

Do you want buyers of your pre-release product to be able to get a discount if they refer someone else to buy your product? Well, unfortunately, Kickstarter does not have a referral program. So if you are looking for a Kickstarter referral program alternative, give us a call to discuss using maybe WooCommerce or perhaps some custom referral system development.

Hack Your Own Kickstarter Referral Reward Affiliate Program

If you’re one of those do-it-yourselfers, the good people over at Medium posted a detailed tutorial on How to Create a Kickstarter Referral Reward Program.   If you’re a fan of Zapier like Delta Systems is, and you want to tie all kinds of systems together, check out Hacking a Kickstarter Referral / Affiliate Program with Google Analytics + ShortSwitch + Zapier + Formstack + Leftronic.  Or give us a call and we’ll build it for you.

Build a crowdfunding campaign that supports referrals

Many people are trying this as well. We’ve seen posts on Upwork that “Need someone to Create a Kickstarter Referral Rewards Program”.

Who knows, maybe if we would have written this article back in 2015 when we helped Glowforge, perhaps we would have been listed as one of These 5 Companies Help Crowdfunding Campaigns Succeed.

Let’s Discuss Building a Referral System