So you’ve set up your referral program. (Nice work!)

You can kick up your feet, pour yourself a drink and watch the referrals pour in, right?

Not quite yet.

Setting up a referral program is not enough – you still need to promote it.

Airbnb, for example, discovered that their first referral program was woefully under-promoted – even their own employees didn’t know about it.

Don’t fall into that trap yourself.

After you’ve put in so much effort to get your referral incentives right, work on your referral emails and your messaging

… it would be shame if your referral program didn’t get you the referrals you deserved because your customers and would-be advocates simply never realized you had one.

So what do you do?

Once you’ve got the basics in place, you want to promote your referral program to as many people as you can.

As you can see from the following chart – you can have the best conversion rates with the most enticing offers…

… but the success of your referral program is still ultimately going to be limited by the raw number of people who know about it.


So how do you get more people to know about your referral program?

1. Invite past customers to join your referral program

Sounds like common sense, but it’s easy to forget when you’re managing a hundred other things all at once:

Reaching out to as many people as you can is probably the single most important factor that’ll determine the success of your referral program.

The more people that know about your referral program, the more likely you are to get new referral customers and referral sales:

  • Past or existing customers are a great source for referrals since they’ve purchased from you before. If they enjoyed your products, they are more likely to recommend it to their friends.
  • Your followers on social media are definitely interested in your brand, so they might already be telling their friends about you. Still, it’s good to give them another reason to share.


2. Feature your referral program call-to-action prominently on your website.

Always feature referral program prominently


Kurgo has a strong, delightful hero image in their carousel alerting you to their referral program.

^ Kurgo has a strong, delightful hero image in their carousel alerting you to their referral program.

Remember, visitors can signup for your referral program directly and refer friends even if they haven’t bought from you before.

They might not be in the market for your product themselves, but they might know someone who would be!

3. Post about your referral program on social media


We’ve even seen some of our retailers promote their referral programs via Facebook ads!

As always, the important thing with all of this is to avoid being spammy. Focus on the benefit to your customer.

Here’s a great example from Boxed:


4. Use post-purchase popups to get your customers on-board while they’re still ‘warm’

ReferralCandy post-purchase popup widget

The best time to get somebody to take action is when they’re primed to do it: when they’re in the appropriate emotional state, and when there’s the right cue and context.

When it comes to saying or doing nice things about a brand, customers are much likelier to do it at specific trigger moments:

  1. Immediately after making a purchase
  2. Immediately after receiving the purchase, and
  3. Specific instances when the product helps them solve a problem

Of those 3 instances, the first is the one you have the most control over as a retailer. They’re still on your site, so you can hit them with a post-purchase popup asking for a referral.

The purchase acts as a Foot-in-the-Door: if they’re willing to buy it, they should be willing to refer it!

5. Send smart email reminders to your advocates


Referral opportunities, like a lot of things in life, don’t always happen in the perfect sort of timing that we’d like.

Sometimes your customers might love your products enough to want to make a referral, but not recognize any referral opportunities when they first hear about your referral program.

Referral reminder emails are a good way of keeping your referral program top-of-mind. Just make sure to…

  1. Focus on the benefit for your customer (“What’s in it for me?”), and
  2. Space them out so that it’s not spammy.

You can also add a mention about your referral program in your existing marketing emails.

Conclusion: Promoting your referral program is an important part of ensuring success

We’ve actually seen a retailer signup for ReferralCandy and then have their referral rate flatline for a couple of months…

before getting hundreds of referrals – in a single month.

What was the difference? The product, the copy and the offer all remained the same.

The difference was that they eventually got around to integrating their referral program into the rest of their marketing.

They added a link to their primary site navigation, they mentioned it prominently in their monthly marketing email, and they posted about it on their popular Instagram account.

The lesson is clear: If you’ve setup a referral program and you’re getting some referrals, turbocharge it by promoting it.

Learn more about referral marketing: