Get FREE Traffic And More Backers With A Crowdfunding Referral Program

You love your project. why shouldn’t others? This is the basic principle behind a referral program. If you’re a crowdfunding creator, you don’t want to miss the traffic and backers that you can get with a crowdfunding referral program. Let’s see how.

Too often people fall into the “Field of Dreams” mentality where they think they can simply throw their idea out there and people will be drawn to it.

Field of Dreams Fallacy crowdfunding referral program

But it’s not quite that simple.

Yes, you have to share your passion project with others to bring the idea to new heights, but sharing and picking up referrals is more than just numbers.

Those are actual people on the other end. That’s why you should focus your outreach, rather than just shotgun-blasting a spam message across the web.

You do not want to waste time on frivolous digging; instead, you want to connect to people who are likely to have a genuine interest in what you are offering and who know people with similar interests.

How do you go about connecting people with similar interests?

One of the strongest marketing tactics is word-of-mouth referrals. And the closest projects that live online can get to word-of-mouth referrals is through digital referral campaigns.

According to the data, referral programs tend to have the most success when they are launched a month into the campaign or when 60 percent of the total funding goal has been achieved.

By timing your crowdfunding referral program this way, you already have a contributor base that is ready to be activated and engaged and can help give your campaign the final boost that puts it over the top.

Referral campaigns can be structured in many ways so be sure to understand your audience’s needs before deciding on ways to share, rewards, and prize tiers. By rewarding contributors for bringing in referrals, you ensure that you are not the only one out there sharing your project with other people.

One Kicka** Example of A Crowdfunding Referral Program

An example of a successful referral program is from FinalStraw, the world’s first collapsible, reusable straw. They built a massive community with their witty banter and relatable cause. The two founders ended up raising $1,894,878 FOR A REUSABLE STRAW. All this ON THE INTERNET. Let that sink in for a bit. $1.8 MILLION for a reusable straw.

So how did they do this?

  1. They introduced the referral program only to people who have already backed their campaign. This is done via the backer-only message option on Kickstarter. Sending this out to ONLY people who have backed the product ensures that everyone they’re talking to already has some skin in the game. These backers are more excited to make the product come to life and is therefore more likely to share the project.
  2. They set a reasonable goal for their referral program. Considering the low price point for the reusable straw they were marketing, it was reasonable for them to ask for people to find 5 people in their social circle to get their own FinalStraw.
  3. They created an enticing incentive to refer. These backers already WANT the FinalStraw. By successfully referring 5 people to the campaign, they’ll help with the cause AND get another free FinalStraw with their pre-order. Win, win, win!

Let’s take a look at their referral funnel:

1. Send an update to backers only.

Their update contains the same witty language backers are familiar with. It gives people the carrot (incentive) to click and learn more which is “find out how to get a FREE FinalStraw included with your order”.

FInalStraw Referral KS update

2. Direct backers to a dedicated referral page.

This is where things get interesting. They send people over to a dedicated page on Kickbooster. There, they’ve already set up the mechanics of the referral program. Here they further explain the steps to get that free FinalStraw and provide simple steps for people to refer.

By including their information on this form, backers generate their unique share link. When shared and someone backs from that unique share link, Kickbooster tracks the referrals. Backers can even come back to Kickbooster to check how many people they have successfully referred!

FinalStraw referral page


Donezo. That’s it. Simple as pie.

There are a lot of other great examples of referral programs on Indiegogo and Kickstarter so be sure to click around and check out a few live campaigns – you never know where your next great idea will come from.

Pro tip: Prepare your referral program EARLY. This is one really easy way to get FREE traffic by leveraging your existing backers.

When you do get started with a crowdfunding referral program, check back to make sure that it works with the rest of the rewards and perks that you’ve planned out.

For example, imagine that you’re crowdfunding a new card game and are already doing a stretch goal where everyone will get a free game travel case. There’s really no use doubling up on it and adding a referral program where people can get another travel case.

What kind of referral campaign should I create?

When you plan a referral program, it’s absolutely OK to create it any way you’d like.

Honestly, the more creative you are the more people will notice.

You can have just one referral level (like in FinalStraw) or you could tier additional rewards according to how many people your backers refer.

What do I mean by this?

For example, if you’re making a new kitchen product, you can tier rewards so that

  • 2 successful referrals gives the backer a unique add-on
  • 4 successful referrals gives the backer an additional one for free
  • 8 successful referrals gives the backer expedited shipping

Before getting started, read through the platform-specific rules of crowdfunding since they are constantly evolving.

You wouldn’t want your campaign to be banned for implementing an ill-planned referral program!

How do I track referral campaigns?

Indiegogo focuses its analytics heavily on referrals and the ability to track them. They encourage campaigners to boost funding with referral programs; which give contributors a little extra incentive to spread the word about projects.

You can run crowdfunding referral programs on Indiegogo without a third-party platform like Kickbooster, but on Kickstarter, you’ll pretty much always need one.

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