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## launched with Joey Vigour’s Growl campaign. If you aren’t familiar with yet, it’s a word of mouth referral service for project creators. You can offer your backers special bonuses for referring others to your project. handles all the messy details so you don’t have to.

Joey get’s credit for the name, as well as the thanks for helping me get this done. Joey reached out to me in the planning stages of his campaign to inquire about a referral service. I was excited to get his inquiry as this had been an idea on my radar for some time and Growl seemed like the perfect chance to finally put that plan into action. Joey’s suggestions helped shape through it’s development. It was one of a variety of effective marketing strategies employed by Joey for Growl. If you haven’t seen Growl or the campaign yet check it out. It’s well worth your time – and Joey’s marketing genius employed a lot of daring and risky strategies that paid off big. While this article specifically focuses on, I’ll drop a hint that you may be seeing a more comprehensive marketing program coming soon from Joey and myself that incorporates along with some of the other strategies Joey used for the Growl campaign.

Growl ran from April 18 to May 10. We had a few issues out of the gate. The software was largely untested (a quick thanks to Ta-Te Wu for letting us run some early tests on his Cat Rescue project, but launch day for Growl was the first large-scale deployment of the platform) and some bugs popped up the first few days of the campaign. We quickly worked through these and by the end of the first week of the project the system was working smoothly.

Initially, the project page pointed backers to a special “referral page” for Growl. On this page users could enter the URL for their Kickstarter profile (to identify them as a backer of the project) to get a customized referral link. They could then post this link on Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere else on the ‘net. When their friends clicked the link to view the Growl project placed a small tracking cookie on their computer (at least for those whose browser security settings permitted it). With some help from the cookies and Google Analytics was able to determine when a backer referred one of their friends, and credit that backer with the associated reward. About 10% of Growl’s day 1 and day 2 backers went through the process of getting a referral link and sharing it with their friends.

Around two and a half weeks into the project we rolled out the messaging system. Many publishers will take the time to thank their backers via Kickstarter’s messaging system. Through the platform we simplified this process by providing a short list of customizable messages that could be sent to backers. This reduced the process of sending new “thank you” messages to a few button clicks. Better yet, each message came with a customized link specific to that backer that allowed them to click and share their customized referral link without having to take any extra steps (like entering their Kickstarter profile URL). Implementing messaging boosted the share rate well above 10%. At project end 18.39% of backers had received a referral link and shared it.

Growl was an interesting project. Joey took some steps to specifically have mass-market appeal (outside the normal alpha gamers who use Kickstarter regularly to fund board games). Therefore I’m not quite sure how these numbers will stack up for other projects. I am currently running some beta tests on a few other projects now to see.

By project’s end 258 new backers (3.32%) had discovered and pledge for Growl through a referral link. A total of $7,063 extra pledge dollars were generated. All in all 13,182 unique visitors clicked on a referral link and saw the Growl page. As expected the frequency of referrals mirrored the project’s backer curve: Many referrals came in within the first and last 48 hours, with a steady trickle throughout the rest of the campaign.

Altogether 145 backers earned the free shipping reward (by referring one friend), and 50 earned the extra deck (by referring 2 or more friends). Based on our estimates the rewards earned by backers will cost Joey $1,227.38 or 17.38% of the extra pledge dollars gained through For future campaigns I will likely charge a fee in the range of 5-7% of total referred pledges. This puts the total cost of (rewards + fee) to Joey under 25% of the pledges gained, or put another way: for every $1 spent on, he got $4 in pledges back (400% ROI).

We honestly had no clue what to expect with going in to the project. It could have been a blowout success or a total failure. All I could do is cross my fingers and wait. In the end, I see it as a moderate success. The early bugs and the delayed implementation of the messaging system certainly limited the effectiveness of the program, though to what extent I can’t be sure. What is clear is that isn’t a magic pill that will turn any project into an overnight success. While Growl was wildly successful was only one cog in the machine. However, I think has shown itself to be a good way to boost a campaign – affordably broadening the reach and increasing the backer count and pledge total over what could otherwise be obtained.

I am currently beta testing with several more campaigns in hopes of refining the product and gathering more data. If you are interested in trying out you can get on the mailing list at – I’ll be making it available to early adopters there. is also one of a suite of upcoming products for game publishers and project creators coming from BoardGameData. I’ve got some other cool ideas in the works that will leverage data to make intelligent decisions to boost your gaming business.