How Growth Pilots Helped Glowforge Raise $28 Million in Pre-Orders in 30 Days

The Glowforge 3D Laser Printer


Pre-order (aka crowdfunding) campaigns are playing an increasingly important role in the development of new products. At Growth Pilots, we’ve worked with many companies to help promote their pre-order campaigns.

One of our favorite such companies is Glowforge. Glowforge reached out to Growth Pilots to help maximize their pre-order campaign sales in a relatively short window of 30 days. They had an amazing product and great press coverage, and they wanted to leverage paid marketing channels to efficiently drive as many pre-order sales as possible.

Within that 30 day period, we helped Glowforge achieve $28 million in pre-order sales and execute the most successful 30-day crowdfunding campaign in history.

Our Approach to the Glowforge Pre-Order Campaign

The first step in developing our strategy was to define who the target audience was for the campaign. From there, we would be able to figure out which paid channels and targeting methods to use in order to most effectively reach the people we wanted to target.

But one of the biggest challenges with running a pre-order campaign is that the product doesn’t exist yet. This makes it difficult to know precisely who the users are going to be since there’s often very limited customer data available.

We dealt with this challenge by defining a potential audience based on a number of factors, including data on existing pre-order customers provided by Glowforge, success signals from related products and market research, and internal insights from our experience working with other hardware clients.

As a groundbreaking product with an attractive price point for both consumers and professionals alike, the Glowforge 3D Laser Printer was in a class of its own. We wanted to make sure and develop a targeting strategy that would appeal to both audiences. That way, we’d be able to figure out which audience would perform better and allocate spend accordingly.

Channel Selection

We determined that the channels showing the most promise for Glowforge’s pre-order campaign were Facebook Advertising and Google AdWords.

For Facebook, we implemented a tiered Lookalike Audience targeting strategy to reach audiences similar to people who had already pre-ordered Glowforge products. Using lookalikes let us reach highly relevant audiences at scale. Lookalike audiences are particularly effective for pre-order campaigns where there is a general lack of first-hand customer insights.

With AdWords, we wanted to capitalize on the large number of people who were searching for Glowforge brand terms because of their recent press coverage and the vast reach we were achieving with Facebook ads. We also wanted to capture people higher up in the conversion funnel who were looking for broader terms and related products who might have been interested in the Glowforge 3D printer.

We knew that the combined impact of press coverage and paid advertising campaigns would cause a dramatic increase in traffic to Glowforge’s website, so we also needed to develop a remarketing strategy to capture people who visited the site but hadn’t yet converted. The challenge when doing remarketing for popular pre-order campaigns is that they receive a lot of press attention which ultimately attracts a lot of irrelevant traffic visiting out of curiosity about the product with no intent to actually buy.

Anticipating this problem, we developed a relevancy-focused remarketing strategy on both Facebook and Google’s display network (GDN) to re-engage only the highest-quality site visitors and get them to take a second look at pre-ordering during the course of the crowdfunding campaign. This let us avoid wasting ad spend on remarketing to site visitors who had no purchase intent.


The Glowforge 3D Laser Printer couldn’t just do amazing things, it also looked amazing. We wanted to leverage the Glowforge 3D printer’s strong visual appeal as much as possible in our creatives, which we knew would get higher engagement rates from people clicking, commenting, and sharing on Facebook. That’s because higher engagement rates on Facebook ads lead to higher relevance scores, which in turn lead to a more competitive ad with a lower cost per click (if you’re interested in how this works you can read more here).

To make full use of how great the Glowforge 3D printer looks, we developed creative recommendations that focused on high-quality shots of the product in various settings. Glowforge had also developed an outstanding video that we used as a creative source for Facebook video ads, and these video ads ended up performing extremely well.

Here are a few examples of the image creatives we used in our Facebook campaigns:

Glowforge Creative Examples for Pre-Order Campaign

Glowforge’s Pre-Order Campaign Results

The Glowforge pre-order campaign was launched in September 2015 to strong customer demand and a wide array of press coverage Our multi-channel paid acquisition strategy leveraged this initial demand to significantly accelerate the volume of pre-orders at a very favorable CPA.

As a result, we were able to help Glowforge achieve a record-breaking $28 million in pre-orders in the first 30 days. The crowdfunding campaign was such a success that Glowforge asked us to continue to drive pre-orders for them well beyond the initial campaign throughout the rest of 2015, during which we continued to achieve extremely favorable CPAs at scale.

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