5 Eye Opening Lessons From a Start-up Referral Marketing Campaign

Plug Toggl Campaign Lessons, Case Study

Recently we experimented with our first-time-ever referral marketing campaign in Toggl. Basically, it was very simple: recommend Toggl to your friends via your custom invitation link and win an iPad Air. We had several experiments and hypotheses included in the campaign and here’s a short summary of what we learned:

1. Everybody hates automatic pop-ups, but they work (in the short term)

10% of users saw a one-time automatic pop-up on their screen and even though nobody really likes these things, they performed 51% better than the other user group who just saw a small banner that was included in the Toggl tracking page. Still, I’m not sure it’s a good thing to use automated pop-ups in the long run. Even though it works better, it also irritates more people and that’s not our long term goal by any means.

2. Your in-house IT-guys find the campaign reminders annoying as hell, most regular users still won’t even notice it

The campaign got very vocal attention from within the Toggl office. Most of our developers who are used to looking at the familiar Toggl screen every day, very loudly declared that the campaign was so annoying that we would lose users instead of gaining some. Luckily, this was not the case – most users actually didn’t even notice that we had something new going on and the feedback from users who took part was really good.

3. More buzz in Twitter, but still Facebook referrals generate more traffic back to the site

We got so many shout outs in Twitter that we couldn’t even track those at some point, but surprisingly the web analytics showed us twice as much traffic coming to our page from Facebook referrals.

4. LinkedIn is more popular than Google+

Honestly, we didn’t have big expectations for these channels, but it was still interesting to find out that LinkedIn performed better than Google+.

5. Campaign success is gradual and not as direct as hypothesized

We thought that we would get lots of new sign-ups through the custom invitation links and mainly via e-mails and on the first days of the campaign. This wasn’t the case. The main success has been the gradual traffic increase that started to flow in at the time of the campaign and hasn’t stopped since. The custom links weren’t used as much as we predicted but the social media buzz really paid off.

Hope this gives some useful insights on start-up marketing campaigns and thanks to all the great togglers who participated! 🙂

By On March 4, 2014

  1. Hi Jon,

    Thanks for the feedback! And we didn’t use any referral software, the campaign was built by our own developers.

  2. Thanks Annika,

    Thank you for sharing this information with us. There are some very interesting observations here, I will keep them in mind when I have to make new decisions about my own marketing strategy.

    Now that you have taken your conclusions… Please STOP the experiment with your first-time-ever referral marketing campaign. I’m not an IT-guy but also I find the campaign reminder annoying as hell. I hate it that it can’t be turned of completely. Paying customers shouldn’t have to suffer this.