Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

How To Promote Your Referral Program – 8 Strategies To Getting More Advocates

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 a 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?

(NOTE: Want to set up a referral program? Try ReferralCandy free for 30 days here.)

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.

Promote your referral program

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

  1. Invite past customers to join your referral program
  2. Feature your referral program call-to-action prominently on your website
  3. Post about your referral program on social media
  4. Use post-purchase popups to get your customers on-board while they’re still ‘warm’
  5. Send smart email reminders to your advocates
  6. Show your referral program to all your visitors using a referral widget
  7. Teach your customers how to share your referral program
  8. Invite influencers to join your referral program

1. Invite past customers to join your referral program

Invite past customers to join your referral programReaching out to as many people as you can is probably the single most important factor that will determine the success of your referral program.

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

But where can you get a pool of ready and willing participants for your new referral program?

Guess what? You already know the answer.

Your past customers.

Your 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.

You can inform your past customers of your referral program by sending them an invitation email.

With ReferralCandy, this process is pretty easy. If you’re using Mailchimp, simply hit “Invite instantly from Mailchimp”.

Mailchimp

This will bring you to your Mailchimp log-in page:

Mailchimp Login

Once you log in, you’ll be brought to this page where ReferralCandy has identified all your email lists:

Email Customers

Hit “Invite list” on the email lists you want to invite, and you’re done! ReferralCandy will now send invite emails to your selected lists, and invite them to join your referral program.

Pro-Tip: Invite as many people as possible to join your referral program, that’s a great guarantee of success.

If you’re not using Mailchimp, don’t worry. We got you covered.

Go to your email marketing system (e.g Klaviyo, AWeber, etc.) and download your email lists in a CSV file. Then, head back to ReferralCandy, and click “Upload a CSV”:

You’ll be brought to this page where you can upload your CSV file:

Invite Customers

Make sure your CSV file is properly formatted and cleaned up (e.g Column 1 should be first_name, Column 2 should be last_name, etc.). Once that is done, drag and drop your CSV file into ReferralCandy!

Then, ReferralCandy will send invite emails to your customers and get them to join your referral program.

Easy-peasy.

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

Feature your referral program call-to-action

It’s a common myth that referral programs are only for people who have purchased from your store.

Nuh uh. Nope.

Referral programs are for everyoneEven people who have never bought from you before.

After all, they might not be in the market themselves, but they might know someone who would be!

That’s why you should feature your referral program prominently on your website. You could do it like Kurgo, and use a hero image (shown above-the-fold) to promote it:

Kurgo Refer-A-Friend

Or you could do it like Amuze, and feature it prominently in the header:

Amuze Referral Program

You could take a leaf out of Threadbeast’s playbook, and add a link to your navigation bar:

ThreadBeast Referral Program

Or you could copy Thrive Causemetics and place it subtly in your footer:

Thrive Causemetics Referral Program

The trick to doing this well is to add an embedded page from ReferralCandy. Look at the example from Thrive. Once you click the “Refer+Save” link on the footer, you’ll be brought to an embedded sharing page created using ReferralCandy:

Link In Footer

This way, customers can immediately join your referral program right after clicking. Cool, huh?

Pro-Tip: One ingenious thing I want to point out about Thrive’s embedded page is this:

Link In Footer-Highlight

By adding a simple “Opt-in for Offers + Beauty Tips” checkbox, Thrive also ensures that these people enter their email lists for further remarketing. Smart.

3. Post about your referral program on social media

Post about your referral program on social media

Where else do you own audiences besides your email list?

That’s right – social media.

As an ecommerce store, you probably already know social media is a great marketing strategy. And thus, you probably have already amassed a large audience either on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Use it!

Use those channels to let your followers know you have a new referral program – and invite them to join.

Here’s a great example from Boxed:

Boxed Social Media

Focus on the benefit to your audience. You don’t have to be spammy.

If you don’t promote your own referral program, who will?

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

Use post-purchase popups

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 a 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:

  • Immediately after making a purchase
  • Immediately after receiving the purchase, and
  • 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, and they just bought! They’re hot-and-bothered, and ready to do anything you ask them to.

Hit them with a post-purchase popup asking for a referral.

Here’s how to set it up with ReferralCandy. On your ReferralCandy dashboard, hit Edit Referral Program, then Widgets:

RC App Widget

Once you hit “Widgets”, you should see an option to create a post-purchase popup:

Post-purchase Popup

Clicking the down arrow on “Add Code Snippet” will show you the step-by-step on how to add a post-purchase popup on your store:

How to add a post-purchase popup on your store

It’s super easy! Here’s an example of a good post-purchase popup from Rothy’s:

Post-purchase popup from Rothy’s

5. Send smart email reminders to your advocates

Send smart email reminders to your advocates

Like a lot of things in life, referral opportunities don’t always happen with perfect timing.

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 it.

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

  • Focus on the benefit for your customer (“What’s in it for me?”)
  • Space them out so it’s not spammy

Here’s how to implement it. In your ReferralCandy dashboard, click “Edit Referral Program”, then “Settings”:

Referral Program Settings

Once you’re there, you should be able to see an option on how often you want to send reminder emails:

Send Reminder Emails

You can choose between 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 or 12 weeks interval! We recommend sending one every 2 weeks, but the choice is yours.

To edit the content on the reminder email, go back to your ReferralCandy dashboard and click “Emails & Pages” under “Edit Referral Program”:

Reminder Email Content

Select “Simple Theme” and click “Edit”:

Simple Theme

Then, go to Content > Reminder Email > Edit, and change your copy!

Edit Your Copy

6. Show your referral program to all your visitors using a referral widget

How do you let your potential customers know about your referral program… but in an unobtrusive manner?

Easy – use a referral widget.

A referral widget is a small widget that sits on your store page, which allows your customers to instantly sign up as an advocate.

Here’s an example from Real Food Ready:

Real Food Ready-Referral Widget

This referral widget is “sticky”, meaning it follows the visitors as he/she scrolls down your page. The biggest benefit is that a site visitor can convert at any time, whenever they’re ready.

Here’s how to add it to your site. Go to your ReferralCandy dashboard, and then go to Edit Referral Program > Widgets:

RC App Widget

Scroll down, and you should see the option to add a Referral Widget to your store:

Referral Widget Script

7. Teach your customers how to share your referral program

One of the biggest mistakes retailers make is assuming that customers know how to share their referral link when they sign up for a referral program.

While sharing is straightforward, one cannot assume that everyone is “tech-savvy” enough to know how. Also, more often than not, customers are too “lazy”, and will procrastinate on sharing.

How do you solve this problem then? How do you get your customers sharing?

Teach them how.

Show them step-by-step on how they should be doing this.

A good example is Pavlok. Pavlok has a long blog post that teaches their customers effective sharing tactics, so they can get more out of their referral program.

Pavlok-How to Share

They include templates for sharing through emails, Twitter and Facebook so that their advocates don’t have to rack their brains to come up with “brilliant copy” to wow their friends.

Another example is Threadbeast. Threadbeast has a detailed step-by-step guide where they teach their customers how to share their referral link on Instagram:

ThreadBeast-How to Share

Just a little effort, and you’ll help guide your best customers on how to share.

8. Invite influencers to join your referral program

Influencers are people who have amassed a huge audience on social media, and thus can have massive impact on your referral program if they tell their audience about you.

To create this kind of impact for yourself, invite influencers to join your referral program.

Here’s a good example of how Threadbeast does it. Threadbeast partnered with MMG, a YouTuber with about 600,000 subscribers on YouTube:

MMG YouTube

MMG did a video reviewing one of Threadbeast’s monthly boxes:

Where he also included a link to Threadbeast’s referral program:

MMG Referral Program

Earbolts did the same thing as well. They partnered with Arlin Moore, a YouTuber with 100,000 subscribers, and did a video together:

And included their referral link:

Referral Link

YouTube isn’t the only place you can do this. You can also partner with Instagram influencers, like what Contact Lens Singapore did. Contact Lens Singapore partnered with an influencer, Melissa, and she added their referral link to her Instagram bio:

Instagram Bio Referral Link

And that’s how you can get more referrals in your referral program!

Read More: How Influencer Marketing Can Accelerate Your Referral Programs

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

We’ve actually seen a retailer signup for ReferralCandy, have their referral rate flatline for a couple of months… then jump to hundreds in a single month.

What was the difference?

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, mentioned it prominently in their monthly marketing email, and posted about it on their popular Instagram account.

The lessons 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:

Si Quan Ong

Si Quan is ReferralCandy's Content Marketing Manager. He is also the co-founder of BreakDance Decoded, an online breakdance training company. He loves standup comedy, and has a dream to visit at least 100 countries in his lifetime.

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