In this week’s episode of Art of the Kickstart, we spoke with Daniel Whiting, Head of Revenue Generation at Kickbooster. Affiliate marketing is essential for launching new products. Crowdfunding is no different. Kickbooster offers crowdfunding creators an easy-to-use affiliate marketing platform and a pledge management solution. This lets creators focus on building community with their backers.
Listen to learn more about Kickbooster and its solutions for your next campaign.
Short on time? Here’s what we talked about.
- What is Kickbooster
- Understanding Kickbooster’s Affiliate Marketing Platform
- Tips for affiliate marketing
- Kickbooster’s Pledge Manager
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Welcome entrepreneurs and startups to Art of the Kickstart, the show that every entrepreneur needs to listen to before you launch. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, president and founder of Enventys Partners, the world’s only turnkey product launch company.
From product development and engineering to omnichannel marketing, we’ve helped our clients launch thousands of inventions and earn more than $1 billion in sales over the past 20 years. Each week I interview a startup success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert in order to help you take your launch to the next level. This show would not be possible without our main sponsor ProductHype, the weekly newsletter that goes out and shows you the best inventions that just launched. Make sure to check out producthype.co and join the Hype Squad. Now let’s get on with the show.
Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today I am super stoked because I’m speaking with one of our longest partners, Kickbooster today. We have asked Mr. Daniel Whiting, the head of revenue generation to join us on the show today. So, Daniel, thank you for joining us on Art of the Kickstart.
Thanks for having me, Roy.
So Kickbooster has been around, I think 2015, I believe. So you guys have been OGs in the crowdfunding game and you’ve truly created one of the top software solutions for crowdfunding creators. So for all those folks that haven’t had a chance to use Kickbooster yet, maybe they haven’t launched their campaign yet or didn’t know how to be able to use the system, Daniel, give them a little bit of background on what Kickbooster is and why they should be using it for their crowdfunding campaign.
Absolutely. First and foremost, our flagship product. So back in 2015 when we got started, we launched a software solution that allowed crowdfunding creators to launch affiliate marketing campaigns. Now affiliate marketing, also known as referral marketing or influencer marketing, essentially what it does is that it empowers others, whether that’s bloggers, whether that’s influencers, whether that’s your backers, whether it’s the media, pretty much anyone online, it basically empowers them to go out and promote your campaign, bring in pledges, and then collect a commission based on how many successful pledges they bring in. The commission rate is totally editable, customizable based on whatever the crowdfunding creator wants to select. This has been our flagship product for a number of years. We’re the first ones to really start doing it, still very well known with both Kickstarter and Indiegogo crowdfunding creators for this tool.
Now, about a year ago, we launched a new tool called Pledge Manager. So a pledge manager, kind of in essence what it is it basically goes beyond the basic backer survey tools provided by the platforms. Initially, the main focus was just allowing you to get better shipping information, get more info on the product variance they want, say, you’re offering a product that has different colors, different sizes, all that, and then make it more seamless for the whole shipping process once you’re all done and ready to send out those rewards. But it has evolved far beyond that. So a pledge manager now can enable you to do so much more. Things like include product add-ons, like as an upsell. So say you’re selling some kind of piece of electronics, an add-on might be extra cables or any kind of additional add-on gear you might want to upsell that makes sense for what the backer has already pledged for.
It allows them to upgrade their reward tier. So a lot of time might have elapsed between when they initially pledge and when they’re ready to ship, and now that they know that this thing is a reality, they say, “Oh, boy, you know what? I changed my mind. I don’t want one of those. I want two.” So now you get a chance to go up and do a reward to your upgrade after the fact. So that’s a key value add for any crowdfunding creator.
The other things that you can do is you can also include shipping charges, include taxes based on regional zones. Reasons you might want to do that, especially for the shipping is that a lot of time might have elapsed between when you’ve actually collected all those pledges and when you’re ready to ship. As we’ve seen in the last couple years, things like gasoline can skyrocket between point A and point B if there’s a year gap in between and the cal prices you calculated for that shipping initially might have changed dramatically. So it just gives you an opportunity to get the best price for what you need to charge for shipping.
And then additional features, like new things that we’ve been adding are things like the ability to upload shipping tracking information so that backers can go in and see just what the status is and when they might be receiving it. So those are the two primary products that we’re offering now to any crowdfunding creator, whether they’re using Kickstarter or Indiegogo.
Amazing. So I know most of our clients use Kickbooster as an amazing referral tool and tracking tool for it. What are some of those hurdles that you typically hear that you have to overcome for creators, the reasons why they should be signing up for Kickbooster as an affiliate management platform?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, in an ideal world, when you’re running an affiliate marketing campaign, referral marketing campaign, influencer marketing campaign, whatever you want to call it, you want to be able to automate as many of the processes as possible. So, of course, there’s always an opportunity where you might be able to manually put something together on your own, but it is incredibly clunky, the payouts, the tracking, all of that. So what you get here with our system, very simple. You create an account, you decide what your commission rate is going to be, typically anywhere from five to 20%, although it can vary. It’s totally up to you. Whatever you want to charge.
Then once you’ve selected that commission rate, you create a booster page. Basically it’s just a page where any potential affiliate influencer or referral marketer can go get some information about what it is that your campaign’s all about, whatever it is that you’re promoting on the platforms. They can then register to become what we call a booster for your campaign. So they just quickly set up an account with us so that we can track all that, and then they get their own unique tracking link. Every affiliate gets their own unique tracking link, and with that link they go out into the world, whether they’re bloggers, whether they’re on social media, whether they’re sending email newsletters, they leverage that link in all of the content, all the material that they produce to help promote your campaign.
Every successful pledge that comes in through that link is then attributed to them. At the end of the campaign, all of the pledges are validated to make sure that none have failed, that none were canceled, that all are completely valid, and then commissions are automatically calculated and the payment’s made between the crowdfunding creator and all the affiliates. So it’s all handled in the back end. So you basically just kind of set it, forget it, you can go in and track it. We’ve got a multifaceted dashboard, you can go in and see how things are going during any given time. Essentially in a nutshell, that’s how people would go about getting started and how it works.
In terms of the other hurdles and things they might be concerned about, there have been questions about how do I control the narrative? How do I control the narrative about how this thing is sold? How can I control who said affiliates are? If you’re particular about where they’re coming from, you want to know a little bit more about them, you want to be a bit more selective. We can facilitate both of those things. So in terms of some kind of affiliate review, we have that feature in our dashboard. You can enable it at any time.
Basically what that means is that any affiliate who wants to sign up to boost your campaign has to go through a quick review process. They got to fill out a very brief form where they include things like their social media links, where they’re going to be boosting it or they’re going to include their website, a little bit of information about themselves. You go into our dashboard, you can review all the affiliates, manually approve or deny, or you can do it on mass, whatever you prefer. This gives you an element of control over who said affiliates are.
And then secondly, when it comes to controlling the narrative as to how set boosters are going to promote your campaign, we strongly recommend that you include what we call Media Kit, and basically that is just a digital folder with everything anyone would ever need to sell. So things like pictures, high-resolution pictures of your product, documents that clearly spell out the product features and the value props and all that kind of stuff that you would use yourself on your campaign page. Any videos you might have are always great. And then any other guidelines, and you can upload that link to your kit, whether you’re hosting it on Google Drive, wherever. You can upload that kit right through our dashboard so that any perspective booster who comes along, they can access that media kit. It’s basically a getting started quick guide and they’re off to the races.
So I know Kickbooster started this years and years ago. I mean, just to give our audience an idea of how big your affiliate community is, what’s the current size of it now?
Yeah, absolutely. So I did write down some of these stats in prep for this. So between January 1st and today we’ve had 57,000 affiliate signups coming from all various different places. In some cases, those are the campaign creators bringing themselves, but a large portion of those, about 47,000 affiliate signups have come from the Kickbooster Marketplace. So the Kickbooster Marketplace is essentially a site where any prospective affiliate can go and just browse all of the different crowdfunding campaigns that are currently recruiting boosters. So any crowdfunding creator who’s leveraging our service can opt to have their product featured up on there. It’s a quick database where you can search by all the different categories available at crowdfunding. If you’re an eCommerce merchant on Shopify, that’s also an opportunity for you to sell as well there. We’ve got staff picks and hot picks of ones that are really going off in terms of ones that are sold, ones that are fully funded, ones that are brand new.
And it just gives the affiliate an opportunity to just browse all the things available to them. And if they see something that speaks to their niche, say, I’m a technology blogger and I like talking about the latest gadgets, they can periodically come to our marketplace, look at what’s available. They see things that they like, they click it, they register to become a booster, download the Media Kit, and they begin to promote it on their various channels. And really it’s just kind of hands off on terms of the creator part. They don’t have to manually go through and get all these guys up to speed. They can just put it out into the world, put it onto Marketplace, and then start recruiting. So that’s kind of what we’re seeing in terms of the affiliate process right now for this year.
Amazing. So I know you guys have been included in hundreds if not thousands of campaigns, and some of those have gone on to raise over six figures just from Kickbooster referrals alone. What are some of the tips that you would give to creators to maximize the opportunity of a listing on Kickbooster to promote their campaign there?
Absolutely. As with anything, the most successful crowdfunding campaigns are… The strategies you employ to be successful with a crowdfunding campaign are the same strategies you employ to have a successful affiliate marketing campaign. So preparation, you want to make sure that you are getting everything ready ahead of your campaign launch.
So think about it from a prospective affiliate’s perspective. So your campaign, maybe it’s only running a month, maybe it’s only running two months. So if you wait until very late in your campaign, or maybe it’s only the day that you launch, before you even attempt to reach out to some major affiliates you have in mind, maybe it’s the media publications, maybe it’s some big influencers that are perfectly fit within your niche, if you don’t give them enough time to understand what it is you’re selling, get some content put together, start promoting that content on their platforms, it takes a bunch of time to get all this stuff put together. It’s not often instant. So getting started early, making a plan, making a list of major affiliates you might want to leverage.
From more of a referral marketing perspective, if you’re looking to leverage the power of your backers, which I think is always a fantastic idea, these are people who believe in your product, they believe in you, they’re getting in this thing early, so they’re going to be very likely to want to promote this as well. So mobilizing that community, letting them know if you’re building a pre-launch email list, that kind of thing, as you build it, you might want to let them know, “Hey guys, we’re also planning on launching a referral marketing campaign. Here’s how it works. Here’s how you register. Here’s your media kit.” Give them everything that they need to sell.
We’ve had campaigns that have kickoff events with anyone who’s signed up to become a booster right before their campaign’s about to launch. You might have the founder, the creator who it is, come up on and be like, “Hey guys, thank you so much for agreeing to be boosters for our campaign. Again, here’s everything you have to know.” Really just get them riled up, get the squad going, get them encouraged, get them out there and then they start selling. Keep the momentum going, keep communicating with them well. Don’t just do a one-time send at the beginning and just let it go. Continue to feed them, continue to feed them updates, continue to give them just like you would with your backers, the information that they need to keep the momentum going.
And then just beyond that, just the basics. Make sure that in that planning phase, you’ve thought out a good commission structure. Obviously you have to consider what your margins are going to be when you’re considering what the commission is that you’re going to go. You don’t want to give more commission than you’re going to make margin, but it’s a dance. Obviously you want to keep your margins nice and healthy, but you also want to provide a commission rate that’s going to be as enticing as possible, really motivate those affiliates. As previously mentioned, just to give you a ballpark figure, typically what we see is anywhere from five to 20%. The higher the commission, usually for lower cost rewards, it has to be worthwhile for the affiliate and the lower commission for the bigger items. If you’re doing an e-bike or something, it’s going to be a really high value thing. Something like 5% on its own is still very enticing, even if the affiliate’s only going to sell a couple of units. So these are some key things to consider as you’re putting together your campaign.
Amazing. Well, let’s dive into the pledge manager side, because I think that’s a super interesting spot because I know a lot of creators, it’s typically an afterthought in terms of, “Oh, I thought the platform was going to do all of that for me,” where that typically isn’t the case unfortunately, and that’s why you guys have created the pledge manager side of this through talking to the community, talking to the creators and saying, “What other pain points do you have that we could potentially solve with our massive software team?” And I think Pledge Manager fills that gap. When should someone look to getting set up with Pledge Manager? Is there a certain amount of backers or a certain time in the campaign when they should be starting to get set up with you guys on it?
Right. Much like when you’re prepping for your campaign, your crowdfunding campaign or your referral marketing campaign, the earlier you put some thought and put your strategy together, the better. Why is that so important? So for instance, let’s say you’re coming up with the key elements. What are the cost of your various reward tiers? What is in each reward tier? One strategy might be to keep a much more streamlined reward tier structure with the costs and the price of each as low as possible with the knowledge that you’re going to be able to charge things like shipping and taxes later on through your survey. So it’s just another way of enticing people early on with a more enticing offer, it’s more simple. You know they’re also going to be able to purchase some of these things as an add-on, as a reward tier upgrade.
People have a lot more confidence later on in this process when they know that the campaign is being successful. They know now that this thing is going to happen. It’s not just a wishful dream that, “Hey, I’ve got this great idea, let’s see if it works.” The market has spoken, we’ve raised our funds, we’re going to do this now, now that people have that confidence like, “Oh, boy, this is really going to happen. It’s not going to be much longer until we start to see the action happen, the production happen.” They’re much more likely to want to get the add-ons, get the reward tier upgrades, but you want to think about that early on.
You want to make sure you do your research into what platform you want to use. So you’re using the Pledge Manager, which features are you going to use? Are you going to do the add-ons? Are you going to include your shipping in that? Are you going to include your taxes in that? Are you going to do reward tier upgrades? What are said upgrades? So you want to make sure you get that set up really early. You don’t necessarily need to implement anything with the tool at that point. You just need to make sure that you’ve put the thought in.
Then as soon as your campaign is kind of coming to an end, now’s the time where you might want to start activating and enabling a pledge manager. You can’t really get going with a pledge manager in earnest until the campaign has begun and you start to be able to import backer data and all that kind of stuff into it. So that just kind of gives you a sense, there’s no need to actually pull the trigger until you start it. You could wait also once it’s all done before you get it all set up. But again, you should have at least put the thought in prior to getting it started, because it can alter your entire strategy around it. So just a couple things to consider around the timing for that. And ultimately, it really depends on your strategy around how early or how late do you want to send your backer survey compared to when your production date and your shipping date all is. So make sure you give some thought to the macro calendar of your entire program.
Speaking of the macro view on things, Kickbooster’s been a pioneer in the software side of things for helping not only crowdfunding campaigns, but obviously post crowdfunding and all the things needed there. Where are you guys headed next or where do you guys see some of the opportunities to create further opportunities to work with these creators?
Yeah, no, absolutely. What we’re most actively working on is just continuing to add new and additional features to our Pledge Manager. Every new Pledge Manager customer, we come in, they come in, they have often just really good suggestions. Some people have a very unique idea that’s different than the bulk of people doing their thing, and often it’s like, “Whoa, that’s a really good idea. I don’t know if anyone else has really thought of that.” So again, things like including that shipping information, the tracking info, it’s a fairly easy, fairly simple concept, but a lot of backers have thought that it’s a really cool feature. But we’re going to continue to add new and additional features to our Pledge Manager. We’re looking at things like pre-orders, stuff like that. So all of these things combine into just making this a more rich, more fulfilling experience for the crowdfunding creator, just giving them more tools to do what they want, the way that they want it.
On the referral and affiliate marketing side, a big change or quite a big change since when we initially launched is just the absolute explosion on the influencer side of things. Affiliate marketing has been around since eCommerce really got started. If we put two together, it’s a perfect model. It makes a lot of sense for anything online selling, which is why we brought it in for the crowdfunding model. It is a really, really, really effective way to boost sales and pledges online.
So what has changed since then is really the social media aspect continue to just blow up more every year, more and more and more and more, more platforms coming out. Like 2015, people weren’t really talking about TikTok and stuff like that too much then. So we continue to work on ways on connecting better and better, one-to-one with creators and influencers out there on social media. So right now we’re working on ways that we can help improve, make those connections between them, help people find the creators, content creators I should say, that are in their niches. So that’s something that we’re going to be focusing on heavily in the days, weeks, months to come for the referral tool.
Amazing. Well, I know the audience is going to be excited to see all of that. Daniel, with that, this is going to get us into our launch round where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. You good to go?
Yeah, we’re good to go. Let’s do it.
So what inspired you to work with entrepreneurs?
So I will say it was quite a shift for me. Previous to working at Kickbooster, I was the exact opposite. I was working for MasterCard in their marketing department, not on the consumer side, on the cyber security and fraud side. So our customers were banks, major banks all over the world, major merchants. So not exactly what you’d call an entrepreneur. And it was really interesting. It was very fast-paced. I learned a lot. But an opportunity came along with Kickbooster and I just thought, boy, it would be really good to stretch my legs a bit more with the entrepreneurs. It’s been a while since I’ve worked on that. I had worked on it in previous lives with some agency experience, that kind of thing. But there’s just so much more passion. This is people’s passion in products. They are the ones day in, day out, this is their livelihood, this is their baby, and you just see such a high level of passion, which is why it was very exciting to me to get back into the entrepreneur community.
Amazing. So if you could meet with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?
Any entrepreneur throughout history? Oh, boy. I mean, some of them are just so polished and they’re like… At this point, are they even really an entrepreneur? Mark Cuban’s always kind of neat. I always kind of like him. He’s always out there talking about stuff. I guess he’d be a pretty good choice. He’d be at the top. I don’t know if he’d be the number one, but he’d definitely be someone I’m coming up with off the top of my head right now.
All right. Speaking of coming off the top of your head, what would be your first question for him?
What would be my first question for him? So I guess, I mean he launched his first major thing, and if I’m led to understand it, it’s internet radio. I used to do a lot of radio DJ and stuff when I was in college. So my main question for him is, when you first launched this product idea for internet radio, did you foresee how it would end today with Spotify and all these kind of things, and how would you change it? I know there’s still a lot of issues right now with artists kind of being underpaid and stuff like that. So much like in the entrepreneur world, you see these artists. So I’d like to pick his brain as to whether he ever gave some thought onto how to create a better model where artists might be able to come out on top.
All right. DJ Daniel, I got you. What book might you recommend to our startup founders and listeners out there?
Oh, boy. This is less or just like a startup or entrepreneur thing, but just to really help… For me, it’s just been a really interesting mindset to get into. I’m reading this book called Sapiens, and it’s just about human development in general and how we get this sense that we’ve been around forever, but humankind as we know it and civilization, is a blip on the radar. And the author really drives home the concept of how ridiculously fast humans have evolved from living in the wilderness with a stone tool to flying into outer space. And he just really does a very interesting job of putting a lot of perspective and asking really interesting questions around that. I would recommend that to anyone, whether you’re an entrepreneur or not. It’s just a really interesting book.
Absolutely. Great read. What advice would you give to a new inventor or entrepreneur that’s looking to launch their product?
Yeah, I mean, you honestly need to explore every avenue. And I know it seems daunting. There’s a lot on your plate, everything is left up to you, but knowledge really is power and you really need to try and wrap your head around every aspect of it. So if you’re getting to the marketing phase now, affiliate marketing is a really effective way, especially in our space, but it’s not the only tool. You shouldn’t be dependent on any one channel or any one tool. You should be making sure you’re exploring everything, ads and email marketing, all these kind of things.
So make sure that you’re spending the time to wrap your head around it. And if you’re really pressed for time, make sure you’re recruiting someone who does know what they’re doing so that you’re not burning cycles trying to figure it out and risk having the project go sideways on you. So if you don’t have the knowledge yourself, definitely worth recruiting someone you know, whether that’s a friend or you’re going to go with an agency, whatever it is, make sure that you’re getting that person in place. And then experiment. You never know. Challenge assumptions. There’s a lot of guidelines, rules of thumb that will help you get started and wrap your head around it. But, nothing is black and white. A method and an approach that didn’t work for someone, might work for you. So never be afraid to just challenge assumptions and trying new things.
Absolutely. So what’s the last crowdfunding campaign you supported?
The last crowdfund campaign I supported, we were looking at a game. I got it for my kid. He’s listening right now. Her birthday’s coming up, so I won’t tell them what the actual game is, just in case she goes and checks it out before her birthday comes along, before Christmas comes along. We’ll see when it comes out. But it was a recent tabletop game that I supported, so I’m hoping that that is successful and that it comes down in time because she was really excited about getting this game. So, that’s what we’re hoping for. But I’m going to keep it a secret so she’s not listening.
All right. No, I love it. All right, Daniel, last question. And again, I know you get the opportunity to speak with and talk with lots of startups and founders out there. So very interested to hear your take personally on what the future of crowdfunding looks like.
That is a really interesting question, and I think if you’d ask someone a year ago, they might give you a very different answer. I think we’ve seen some very big shakeups in crowdfunding. Both manager platforms have just hired new CEOs. Kickstarter kind of got off to a false start with the whole blockchain thing, whether they meant to or not. That is a harder question to answer than I feel like at any time in the last couple years. I have a strong sense that both of these platforms with the new CEOs, the new leadership they have in place are going to be, like I mentioned, really challenging. Long-held assumptions around where they’re going and what kind of tools they’re going to enable.
From my understanding though, they’re really taking a step back. They’re really trying to collaborate more with the creators. The Kickstarter has opened up that committee of crowdfunding creators to bring in good advice to the product, to the executive folks at Kickstarter. So I think there’s going to be a lot of interesting developments in the next couple months, but I think they’re just really in kind of taking stock of everything mode. I think a lot of them are just kind of taking time to see what was working, what wasn’t working, and then reassess. So it’s going to be interesting, be hard to guess. So, that’s what I’ll say on that right now.
Fair enough. Well, Daniel, this has been amazing. This is your opportunity to give the audience your pitch, tell them where to go and why they should be using Kickbooster.
Absolutely. So just to wrap up guys, look, if you’re looking to raise more for your campaign, go check out kickbooster.me. We’ve got both tools, like I mentioned. We’ve got the affiliate tool, we’ve got the Pledge Manager. The key thing with the affiliate marketing one, the one that really makes it enticing, it’s zero risk. You only pay commissions if the campaign is successful. So if you go out and the campaign is unsaleable, you’re not left on the hook trying to pay out all those affiliates. So, that’s a key thing. You only pay for successful pledges. You don’t pay for clicks, you don’t pay for canceled pledges, you don’t pay for failed pledges. All that stuff is synced at the end, thereby eliminating risk even further. So a very key thing to consider there, all you’re really on the hook for is the very low monthly subscription fee. Everything else is totally based on performance, is totally based on success. So really little risk in trying it out.
On the Pledge Manager side, look, if you’re looking to go to the next level, you’ve got all these people on the hook, they’ve already backed you, they’re already interested, the perfect opportunity to do some upsell. It’s the perfect opportunity to include shipping and taxes further down the line once you’ve got more information on where they are and what the costs are going to be to you. So again, just eliminating risk and increasing the opportunity to raise funds. That’s what I’ll say.
Amazing. Daniel, thank you so much. Audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit the website, artofthekickstart.com for the notes, transcript, links to Kickbooster, and everything else we talked about today. And of course, got to give a huge shout out to our crowdfunding podcast sponsor over at ProductHype, the top newsletter for new products that just launched. Daniel, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.
Thanks, Roy. My pleasure.
Thank you for tuning into another amazing episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a better business, life and world with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode as much as I did, make sure to show us some love by rating us and reviewing us on your favorite listening station, whatever that may be. Your review really helps other founders and startups find us so they can improve their craft and achieve greater success like you. And of course, be sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for all the previous episodes. And if you need any help, make sure to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be glad to help you out. Thanks again for tuning in. I’ll see you next week.
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