Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

How to Get Your Referral Messaging Right

A good referral program is memorable.

The customer should feel compelled to tell her friends about the product.

She should be able to…

  1. easily think of friends who might need the product when she’s prompted after she’s made the purchase,
  2. recall the referral program easily later on when a friend mentions having a problem that could be solved by the product.

There are limited opportunities to expose customers to your referral program (e.g. your homepage, product pages, newsletters, reminder emails, etc.) so it’s important to make sure they’re effective.

Having explored the principles from Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick and Dr. Robert Cialdini’s Influence, we decided to look at a few examples of referral messaging that made us feel compelled to read on and act.

Examples of effective messaging in referral programs

1. Trunkster – Who doesn’t want to earn a free smart luggage worth $350?

Trunkster Referral Program CTA on Homepage

It’s true that advocates will only get a free Trunkster when they have referred 12 friends, but the chance to earn a free product is a powerful hook to get customers’ attention.

Learn More: Travel Accessories Referral Program Examples: Trunkster

2. Dropbox – Stand to earn up to 16GB worth of free storage space.


Dropbox had one of the most successful referral programs of all time, and it did it with a very simple promise– GET FREE SPACE. Sometimes the simplest promises are the best.

Learn More: How Referrals Built The $10b Dropbox Empire

3. GoldieBlox allows customers to give the gift of building.

GoldieBlox Referral Program portal ReferralCandy

It’s not just about a toy– it’s about a movement. GoldieBlox taps into its advocates and customers’ motivations by reminding them of the core mission of the brand and what it stands for.

Learn more: Educational Toy Referral Program Examples: GoldieBlox

4. Love With Food wants you to help your friends snack smarter.

Love with Food referral page

People who have felt the health benefits of good nutrition are very likely to want to share those benefits with their friends and loved ones. Love With Food appeals to that with “Help a Friend Snack Smarter”.

The core principle? Your referral messaging should represent your brand’s value proposition.

There’s a reason why your customers buy your product. They’re looking to solve some sort of problem. They care about solving that problem.

Your customers also care about helping their friends, to earn their friends’ approval and validation.

Your referral program’s messaging will be doubly effective if it addresses both of those motivations.

Further reading:


Read Next: How To Set Up Your Referral Program’s Incentives (With 12+ Examples)

Samuel Hum

As a finalist in Esquire's Best Dressed Real Man contest, Samuel is ReferralCandy's fashion ecommerce expert and resident sartorialist. He is obsessed with human behavior and social psychology.

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