Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

Examples of Referral Programs In Vaping and E-cigarettes: VaporDNA

Vaping. E-cigarettes. It’s a relatively new industry– the modern e-cigarette was patented in 2003, and it’s gotten particular popular over the past 3-5 years or so.

There’s even tentative evidence that it can be useful as a smoking cessation aid, and thousands of ex-smokers swear by it.

But it’s still somewhat controversial, and like with nootropics (see: Powder City), the industry is going through a phase of regulation.

We had a chat with Mike Li, the founder of Vapor DNA, to learn about their company, marketing efforts and their referral program:


VaporDNA background:

  • Team of about 30 people.
  • Mix of warehouse, office, retail.
  • At the time of the interview, Mike was the only person handling marketing full-time.

“What challenges are you facing now?”

  • Government regulations restricting sale & availability of e-cigarettes – it’s important for legitimate businesses to stay on the right side of the law.
  • Challenge of changing public perceptions – vaporizers & e-cigarettes are usually viewed in a negative light.
  • VaporDNA is working to show that it is a positive product, that helps people quit smoking: Mike says that e-cigarettes saved his life after trying to quit smoking for 7 years.

What does marketing look like for VaporDNA?

  • “SEO not that important– customers are discerning, and rarely just buy whatever pops up on Google.”
  • “PPC not a priority– it’s difficult to advertise. All the common keywords have been outbidded like crazy already.”
  • “Word-of-mouth and organic referrals are important, so we make sure that our customer service, product quality, and shipping speed are top-notch.”

“We believe that if we take care of people, they’ll come back and refer their friends.”

VaporDNA is very active on Instagram (23.5k followers) and Facebook (12.3k Likes).

“In this industry, customers talk to each other – they go to communities and share their experiences and recommend products and stores. so we work hard to build a strong reputation where our customers trust us enough to refer us online.”

“Why referral marketing?”

“People trust reviews more than ads. People listen to what other customers are saying. I have several businesses so I know the effect of getting word-of-mouth sales.”

“The e-cigarette community is really tightly bound together; it’s mostly 18-35, tech-savvy people who are active on social networks. People love to help each other, and people trust each other. Word-of-mouth referrals happen all the time, with or without a formal program. I just want to make sure I’m getting the most referral sales possible.”

“Why ReferralCandy?”

– Mike found ReferralCandy through search.

“For a fast-growing business, I like modular approaches– every part can be taken apart and re-arranged. I knew getting a referral program was important, but I didn’t want to build it myself and add another project. I just wanted to get it up and running, and ReferralCandy lets me do that quickly.”

What can you tell us about your referral program setup?


($10 off for advocate, $10 off for referred friend– with a minimum spend of $35)

“I took the consumer’s point-of-view – I just looked at it in terms of what would get me to refer a friend.”

“Knowing your customers and what motivates them is important, and has been a big part of making my referral program a success.”

Can you tell us about your experiences with ReferralCandy?

“Actually, once I set up my program, I’ve barely made any changes since. I trust it and know it’s going to work. I just upload coupon codes as needed, and that’s it.”

“I don’t mind being told to go in and upload new codes – it lets me know that they are being used, and that the program is working.”


Next: Referral Program Examples – An Epic List of 47 Referral Programs


Visakan Veerasamy

Visa is ReferralCandy's former Blog Editor [2013–2018]. He also co-founded Statement.sg, a fashion ecommerce label selling witty t-shirts. He's mildly Internet-famous for his elaborate Twitter threads. He hopes to enjoy a glass of scotch onboard a commercial space flight someday.

Add comment