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But setting up is not enough—you need to promote it regularly. You wouldn’t spend money on a new poster and not put it up, or redesign your webpage and not publish it.
Your first step should be to launch your referral program to your customers.
Once that’s done, it’s time to promote your referral program and ask for referrals.
After all, you’ve got plenty of new customers, some of whom don’t know about your referral program. And by asking nicely, you might remind your existing customers of the referral rewards.
Here’s our guide to promoting your referral program to your customers, arranged from easiest to hardest. Steps 1-4 are signposts; things you can set once and benefit from long term, while steps 5-7 are campaigns you can run regularly to nudge your customers into making more referrals.
Step 1: Showcase your referral program on your website
Adding a prominent link to your website is the easiest way to showcase your referral program.
Returning customers will take note, especially if they’re keeping an eye out for discounts. It’s also a great way to introduce your referral program to first-time customers.
Some merchants worry about having too many offers on their front page, but I think consumers are used to it. Top ecommerce brand Bombas has two offers on the front page; the announcement bar highlights the referral program, while their newsletter discount appears at the bottom of the screen:
Bombas also regularly updates the front page with new offers and sales
Here are examples of places where you can showcase your referral program on your website:
A: Announcement bar
Like Bombas, Vivo Barefoot chose to highlight their referral program in the announcement bar of their website:
B: Top menu bar
Threadbeast placed the link to their referral program in the top menu bar. I love the copywriting here—who can resist a CTA like ‘Free Threads’?
Christy Dawn showcases their referral program in the footer at the base of their website:
D: Referral widget
LECHUZA has a pop-up widget on the bottom left of the screen that draws the eye of the browser and offers them the chance to get rewarded.
E: Customer account menu
Everlane highlights their referral program in the menu after you log in to your customer account—making sure it catches your eye when you’re checking on the status of your orders or delivery.
The text sparkles in rainbow colors to draw the eye.
There are no limits to the various places you can place a CTA for your referral program. If you need more inspiration, here are some suggestions:
Step 2: Prompt customers after they confirm their purchase
Another place you can set up signposts for your referral program is right after checkout, during order confirmation. It’s the perfect moment when customers are excited about their purchase and feel positive about your brand.
You may feel this is too early in the process, especially since those customers have not tried/received your product. That’s okay. All we’re doing is building awareness early, and it’s an easy step to take.
One option is to customize your order confirmation page like Baronfig did:
While health supplements brand Saturo displays a pop-up after purchase:
Translated, it says: “Give you and your friends 10 Euros”
Step 3: Send smart email reminders to coincide with customer highs
Sending email reminders is another step that is simple to automate, and can pay off immensely in terms of motivating customers to get more referrals.
You can improve the effectiveness of email reminders by sending them at emotional highs during the customer journey, for example, right after purchase.
Here’s an example of a simple, but effective post-purchase email from Beretta Farms:
‘Sharing what matters’ is true for referrals too
Riff Raff and Co applies a more advanced version of this strategy. Instead of a single email, the brand uses an email flow that hits at three moments in the customer journey:
- Right after checkout: when the customer is looking forward to their purchase
- 3 weeks after purchase: when the customer has received the product and is excited to try it out
- 6-8 weeks after purchase: after the customer has used it for a while and is convinced it works
Hard to say no to a free toy!
Setting up a flow for the reminder emails is easy, and increases the chances that customers will share their referral link at least once.
Here’s a simple reference for the best time to send referral reminder emails to your customers:
Step 4: Highlight your referral program in your packaging
One of the emotional highs in the customer journey is right after your customers receive their purchase, and are excited to unbox and try their new purchase.
You can catch customers during this peak by featuring your referral program on the packaging of your product, like in this example from Riff Raff and Co:
Redesigning the packaging to include the referral program can be tricky. A simpler alternative is to print a brochure that’s attached to your packages. Riff Raff and Co did that as well:
While skincare brand Yours has a card insert with a discount code that customers can share with their friends:
These next few ideas are campaigns you can run regularly to get more referrals.
Step 5: Incorporate your referral program in social and email content
You’re already working on content marketing for your ecommerce brand. Incorporating content about your referral program is easy, and lightens the workload for your marketers.
Riff Raff and Co created this cute custom image for social media to promote their referral program. The series of images are shared every three months, in rotation with other posts in the social calendar.
An upgrade from baby pictures with long text posts
While Baronfig includes a link to the referral program in the footer of their marketing emails :
Step 6: Increase referral incentives for a limited period
One simple tactic to get more referrals is to improve your referral rewards. It combines greater rewards with urgency.
For Halloween 2019, Bethesda Gear ran a one-off campaign that offered double the referral rewards (points) for one weekend:
The official store for merch from Bethesda games
Love Yourself increased their referral rewards for one month, by offering 40% off the first purchase instead of 30%. Just with that limited-time promotion, the brand generated an extra £20,000 and increased the number of customers making referrals by 14%.
Step 7: Encourage your top referrers to promote it
Our internal research found that 5% of all referrers are super-referrers. These super-referrers are few but are responsible for generating more than half of all referrals.
An easy way to promote your referral program is to reach out to these super-referrers and encourage them to make more referrals.
Lively appoints some customers as #livingLively reps, like Jordan here:
Each rep has a special page showcasing their social profiles, favorite product, as well as a short video where they share why they love Lively. Most importantly, each page also showcases their referral link, encouraging new customers to make use of it.
Similarly, jewelry brand Rogue and Wolf reached out to some customers to encourage them to share their referral links on their blogs.
A glamour shot from blogger Ophelia Autumn
It’s not just limited to blogs, either; MiaoMiao’s customers were creative in publishing YouTube reviews and recommendations of the brand, featuring their referral links.
Miao Miao was able to identify their super-referrers with the help of ReferralCandy’s dashboards and appointed them as Global Ambassadors. Here’s what the top referrer board looks like on ReferralCandy:
Check out other powerful features in ReferralCandy
Global ambassadors received free products and higher referral rewards and were also showcased on MiaoMiao’s social media pages. The program helped generate tens of thousands of dollars in just two months.
Get more word-of-mouth by promoting your referral program
Much like other marketing promotions or sales, you want to let your customers know about it so they can take advantage of it. That means you have to promote your referral program, just like any other marketing tactic.
Our checklist of ideas for promoting your referral program
Merchants have shared that their customers are happy to hear about their referral program. For them, it’s a sign that the merchants care about their existing customers, and want to reward them for loyalty to the brand.
We hope these ideas make promoting your referral program a no-brainer for your customers. Did we miss any ideas? Let us know!
P.S. If you enjoyed reading this, subscribe to our newsletter where we share our latest articles and helpful resources.
Here are a couple more articles that we think you might find useful to optimize your referral program:
- How to Build a Referral Program That Works in 2022 (With 80+ Examples)
- How 30 Shopify Brands are Winning in Their Industry Using Referral Programs
- How to Choose the Right Referral Incentives For Your Referral Program (With 20+ Examples!)
- 35 Catchy Referral Slogans To Promote Your Referral Program
- The Ultimate Referral Widget Guide to Improve Referrals