Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

Employee Referral Program Examples: Hubspot

The referral program we’re featuring today doesn’t feature a product or service, and doesn’t involve customers. HubSpot uses referrals not for marketing its product, but for recruiting employees.

On their ‘Refer a Dev‘ webpage, HubSpot describes how much they love and need awesome software developers. If you refer such a developer to them, and HubSpot ends up hiring her, you’ll be rewarded with a check of $10,000.

Yes, ten thousand dollars! In fact, HubSpot actually raised the offer to an epic $30,000 in May 2013.

(The last day for recommendations was 31 December, 2013, so please don’t scramble to find a developer friend now!)

Here are some of the things we liked about their referral program:

1. Referrals need should not be reserved only for marketing purposes.

To date, whenever we think of referrals, we imagine them being used in referral marketing or strategies. All our previous episodes of bad-ass Referral Programs so far have also only highlighted referrals being used for products / services. But this need not be the case.

By breaking the trend and applying referrals to their recruitment campaigns, HubSpot has shown us that word-of-mouth can be applied to many other aspects of your business.

If you break ‘word-of-mouth’ and ‘referral’ down to their basic concepts, it’s about telling or sharing something with other people, with the intent that they’ll benefit from it.

Don’t limit yourself by thinking of referrals as being applicable only in marketing; think of creative ways you can apply word-of-mouth!

2. The context of ‘Refer a Dev’ mirrors intuitive human behavior.

If your friend is looking for an accounts manager, and you think your cousin, Suzie, who just graduated with a degree in accounts, would be perfect for the job, what do you do?

You’d probably tell your friend that you might have someone to recommend, then tell Suzie about the job offer, and encourage her to contact your friend for an interview.

That is how natural word-of-mouth works, and you should always strive to design your referral strategy in that manner. (It’s important to mirror natural behavior, as people will likely not engage in behaviors that do not seem ‘natural’.)

Here, HubSpot has designed their referral program to mirror a real-life human word-of-mouth interaction. All you need to do is to tell your developer friend that HubSpot is looking for developers, and that you’ll be referring them. Hubspot then contacts them and proceeds with a meeting or interview. Every part of the process is identical to what you’d do in real life, and so it becomes a very natural process that people might be comfortable doing.

Be creative in your application of referrals.

  • Don’t restrict word-of-mouth to your marketing strategies. With the basic concept of sharing in mind, you can apply word-of-mouth to many aspects of your business!
  • Always, always make sure your referral process mimics real-life human behaviors. People may get easily turned off when they have to take extra unnecessary steps, or when the steps are not what they’d normally do in real-life.

Here’s an overview of HubSpot’s Refer a Dev referral program:

Overview of Referral Program

NameHubSpot
Product / service typeN.A. (referral program used in recruitment)
Referral methodContact form on HubSpot’s webpage
Referral RewardWhen HubSpot hires referred developer and is happy after 4 months of work:

– $10,000

Referred Friend OfferNil (presumed happiness from working in HubSpot)

HubSpot’s Refer a Dev might be over for now, but their superb inbound marketing services will always be around. Check them here, or click on their blog here.

Also, stay tuned for more Bad-ass Referral Programs!

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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