7 ways to drive more customers to use your referral programs

1. Create an email for your post-purchase flow 📬

Look, we know this sounds simple enough. Yet, many brands aren’t promoting their referral program in their email campaigns.

There are two ways to approach this:

  1. Create a dedicated email that’s part of your flow. Whether it’s email #6 or #7 in your sequence, explain to new customers how they can join your program, how they can refer friends, and the benefits they get for doing it.
  2. Add a block in one of your other emails to promote your referral program. This is great for brands that don’t want to send a dedicated email about it, and you can highlight your program in more than one email.

If you’re going with option two, add your referral program to some of your transactional emails. These have extremely high open rates, so it’s a good way to capture customers’ attention about the program.

2. Turn referrals into a contest to gamify the experience 🎲

For some customers, a 10% off discount isn’t an enticing offer. But the opportunity to win a contest with a big reward? Now you’ve got people’s attention.

If you find your referral offer isn’t engaging your audience, it might be a good idea to switch it up and try something new.

Instead, gamify your referral program by putting customers into a pool to win a big prize. Every time they make a referral, they get more chances to win.

Here’s an example from Scott’s Cheap Flights.

3. Add a link in your website footer to call out your program 🗣

Over the years, online shoppers have been trained to look at your footer to find important links on your site. When they’re searching for something, that’s one of the first places they’ll go.

Want to have an immediate impact on your referral program engagement rate?

Add it to your footer and categorize it under a related section, like how EyeBuyDirect does in the example below.

4. Build an ambassador program to give your top referral candidates status 🎩

Take inspiration from Lululemon’s ambassador program page and highlight your ambassadors. This can be a level up for customers who do consistent referrals.

Lululemon has built an ambassador community that feels extremely human and inviting by featuring the top customers who promote the brand.

Also, featuring your top referral customers helps drive other enthusiastic shoppers to want to be featured on your ambassador page, too.

5. Tie it in with another campaign 🔁

Sometimes, the best way to raise awareness of your referral program and get customers excited is to tie it in with bigger campaigns that customers are already paying attention to.

For example, if you’re launching a new product or running a big sale, this is an excellent opportunity to use the attention you already have from customers to promote things like referrals.

Also, referrals and loyalty naturally go together, so build it into your loyalty program like Dr. Squatch did.

6. Run a bonus rewards referral campaign 💰

What better way to get customers excited about giving and receiving referrals than even more benefits?

This is exactly what EyeBuyDirect did, offering customers 2X the rewards for one full month for every referral they made.

While you don’t want to run these campaigns too often, they are good to re-engage previous shoppers and build up your word-of-mouth engine.

EyeBuyDirect also promoted this event on their homepage via their banner, so visitors could clearly see the event every time they visited the website.

7. Make it as easy and efficient as possible for customers to refer 🤝

If your program has too many steps for customers to make a referral, they’re not going to want to participate.

Think about it the same way you would with a checkout experience: a difficult process leads to customers abandoning their cart.

Two pieces of advice:

  1. Let customers refer with one click. In this example, the visitor can click one button and easily share their referral link on social media.

  1. Let customers send referral emails and texts right from their account page. When logged into a MeUndies account, customers can easily visit the referrals page and send their peers an email or text message with a referral link.

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