May 7, 2013 · Tips & Insights

Can You Refer Me? Turning Sharing Into Crowdfunding Contributions


At Indiegogo, we emphasize the importance of being an active campaigner, and a large part of this is spreading the word about your campaign — from shouting off a rooftop to hardcore marketing strategies. We discourage people from a “build it and they will come” mentality — once you’ve put love into building your campaign, it’s important to start sharing with others. Because Indiegogo is a data-driven company, we provide campaigners (and their contributors) with tools and analytics to help track and optimize the sharing process — so that they can reach the right people in the most effective way possible. These tools can be used in a variety of creative ways to find audiences and enthusiasts and connect with them in a meaningful way.

On our site, the basic unit of a “share” is what we call a “referral.” In each campaign’s Share Bar (pictured below), logged-in Indiegogo users can grab a unique link to the campaign, share with others, and keep track of the number of visitors they bring to the page (a.k.a. “referrals”). Campaigners can also track this referral traffic to their campaigns via the Campaign Dashboard.

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Our Insights team dug deeper into our data, and perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a strong positive relationship between the number of referrals a campaign has and the amount of funds raised (as well as percentage of goal raised). The bottom line: Sharing is caring for a crowdfunding campaign, and the more, the merrier. Still, referrals are not just numbers — there are real people on the other end of them. Therefore, you want to be pursuing quality leads through referrals by connecting with like-minded and similarly passionate audiences, rather than simply spamming the highest number of eyeballs possible.

Given the importance of referrals and the ability to track them, we encourage campaigners who are looking to add further momentum to their campaigns to try out a Referral Contest. This gamifies your marketing by giving a direct incentive to your contributors to share the campaign — i.e. “The person who is able to refer the most contributors to my campaign will receive X!” There are a number of ways of running a Referral Contest, and we’ve seen campaigners use a variety of creative point systems.

For example, the Robot Dragonfly campaign ran a number of contests that focused heavily on media referrals, incentivising their contributors to get the word out to bloggers and larger media outlets:

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Here’s a graph of their funding over the life of the campaign — can you see where their referral contests started paying off?

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Given that the potential rewards for participating in the game often had values above $150, there was clear incentive for people to put out the small, extra effort to share the campaign. This approach had a significant impact for Robot Dragonfly — not only in terms of contributions, but also in terms of general awareness that was garnered via the extra press. For campaigns centered around small businesses, products, or arts projects that will want to have a customer base or audience beyond the campaign, this type of referral game can go a long way.

Another campaign that was able to successfully run a referral contest was Game Golf, who centered the game around link sharing, using the stats in the dashboard to track activity:

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And here’s what the Indiegogo Campaign Dashboard looks like, where campaigners can track referrals:


Though product-based campaigns have been particularly successful with Referral Contests, there’s little reason other types of campaigns can’t leverage this strategy. And, whether or not you decide to run a content, basic referrals are important for all crowdfunding campaigns. With the sharing tools at your fingertips, there are nearly limitless ways to get your campaign out there and encourage people to contribute — get creative!


  • Sharing is one key to crowdfunding success
  • Indiegogo provides campaigners with tools to track referrals
  • Get creative with how you share your campaign and how you encourage others to share


Have another creative way of encouraging others to share your crowdfunding campaign? Tell us about it in the comments! 

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