20 Examples Of Beautiful Referral Email Design

Cheryl Teo
Cheryl Teo
March 14, 2022
2 min read
20 Examples Of Beautiful Referral Email Design

In this article

Referral emails are a successful strategy that ecommerce and DTC brands employ to promote their referral programs to their advocates and improve referral rates.

Sending out referral emails to your happy customers not only brings your loyal customers back to your online shop but also brings in new customers with little effort (thank you, email automation).

Once you’ve decided on the referral incentives for your existing customers, it's time to let them know about it by sending out a well-thought-out referral program email.

In this article, we'll show you how to write the best referral email to get their attention, and what other successful ecommerce and DTC businesses are doing with their referral program emails.

3 quick tips for referral email

Even with the most irresistible incentive possible, it doesn't necessarily equate to your customers taking up your offer.

Why not?

Because they might not even open your referral program email. And if they do, they might not click on the link to set up their referral discount or offer.

That's why it's super important to write a referral email that is more likely to land in the inbox, be opened, and grab the attention of your existing customer base.

"It only takes a few seconds for customers to decide whether to click on your referral email, so make it stand out. Maximize your chances of higher open rates by using an eye-catching subject head, professional-looking images that highlight your product, and use persuasive, but not aggressive copywriting." - Rachel Leung, Product Designer @ ReferralCandy

We've got a few tips to help you do exactly that.

1. Use a high converting subject line

As tempting as it is to write a super cheeky subject line as you might do with your friends, it might not be the best tactic when it comes to your email marketing strategy.

Instead, it's super important to be clear about what you are offering in the email so that your customers know whether or not they want to open it. Be clear about what the referral offer is right in the subject line (see examples below) and you will see an over 500 percent increase in your open rate.

Want another tip?

Consider adding an emoji to your subject line. Though only 2 percent of businesses do so, it can increase your open rate tenfold.

2. Show the incentive

Referral incentives are one of the most important components of asking for referrals. Most people want to know what’s in it for them by referring your brand and product to their close friends and family. 

The keyword here is “WORTH”. 

The referral incentive should be clear and simple while showing your subscribers that it is worth being an advocate for your brand. By prominently displaying it in your email, it helps your customers to decide if it is worth their time and effort to refer your brand and products. 

3. Get to the point

Listen, as impressive as human beings can be at times, the truth of the matter is that we are also incredibly lazy.

So make your referral bonus easy to identify right away, either with a clear call-to-action, an effective campaign slogan, a big, bold referral code, or super clear instructions.

A good email design ensures that the main message is read even if your customer is just scanning through the email. Furthermore, custom email templates play a pivotal role in attracting the customer's attention and nudging them to act.

To help you with that, we’ve collected some of our favorite referral email designs so that you can draw inspiration and start creating your own gorgeous referral emails.

20 examples of beautiful referral email designs

Front Of The Pack

Subject: Refer a friend and get $20 credit!


Why we love it:

  • The images are eye-catching and relevant
  • The color scheme follows the brand identity closely
  • “Share the savings with other dog parents”—creates a sense of community and belonging amongst customers
  • The email clearly indicates the referral incentive of $20 for each referral with two CTA buttons
  • It includes an explanation of how the referral program works
  • Email reinforces the selling points of the product—makes it easy for potential advocates to share about the brand and product


Subject: Give $5, get $5


Why we love it: 

  • “Get what you give”—a catchy headline that is also essentially what a referral program is about
  • Image used shows the sharing of Olipop’s drinks which is in line with the concept of the refer a friend program
  • Includes a clear explanation of how their referral program works along with what advocates get from being an advocate
  • Uses a simple and straightforward CTA button


Subject: Discover. Save. Feel Better Every Day.


Why we love it: 

  • The overall email is catered for customers rather than to sell a product
  • The referral program is introduced together with another loyalty strategy—cashbacks
  • “Share the love” used in the headline invokes a sense of community 
  • Referral incentive is also clearly showcased
  • Referral incentive coupled with a clear CTA button
  • Email provides extra “help” with methods to reach Prima’s customer service through email and live chat

Period Aisle



Why we love it: 

  • Period Aisle first captures the attention of customers with a Black Friday Sale—a great tactic especially if your refer a friend program is new
  • The entire email design harmonizes nicely with the brand colors and identity
  • Hero image used above the referral program shows “friends coming together while wearing Period Aisle’s products”
  • Uses the Black Friday Sale and extra discounts as a reason for customers to get started on their referral program
  • States the incentive clearly so customers know what is in it for them when they refer a “bestie”
  • Uses a clear CTA button


Subject: International Day of Friendship


Why we love it:

  • The subject line celebrates International Friendship Day—which brings the idea of a refer a friend program nicely into the email
  • The image used shows friends having fun while wearing Greats’ products
  • Email states clearly the incentive that both the referred and advocate will receive
  • Uses a simple and straightforward CTA button to invite a friend
  • Showcases their community as social proof with the hashtag #BeOneOfTheGreats



Why we love it:

  • The subject line “Try new things together” encourage customers to share the products with people around them—a good lead into the refer a friend program in the email
  • Includes animated gifs on the image to capture the attention of readers, especially since the incentive is clearly shown
  • Clear CTA right after the image
  • An easy-to-understand description of how the referral program works
  • Uses words like “crew”, “bestie”, “pal”, which helps to emphasize the community aspect of a referral program
  • Reinforces the unique selling point of their product and what differentiates them from the rest—also serves as additional talking points for advocates when they share with friends


Subject: tell a friend about Recess for $10


Why we love it:

  • The subject head is straight to the point
  • Uses vibrant colors and email design unique to Recess
  • The email mentions that a referral program is a reward for customers that enjoy Recess’ products
  • A simple explanation of how the referral program works in 3 steps followed by a clear CTA button
  • Also includes additional promotion ideas to help advocates get more from the referral program
  • The overall tone of the email is cheeky and fun which is aligned with the brand’s image


Subject: GIVE $20, GET $20


Why we love it:

  • Subject head tells readers exactly what the email is about
  • No frills, just a clickable image celebrating International Friendship Day with their referral program in extremely large font
  • Incentives are clearly stated




Why we love it:

  • The entire email revolves around “giving back” to their customers with reward programs
  • Bright yellow and pink color scheme that showcases Starface’s brand identity
  • Referral incentive is obvious and conditions are stated clearly
  • The image used shows friends using Starface products together
  • Includes a clickable image with CTA button which makes it easy for readers to join the referral program


Subject: Your $15 offer is expiring.


Why we love it:

  • The subject line plays on the time factor with power words like “expiring”, to get customers to take action
  • The headline also includes “Ends Tonight” which urges readers to join the referral program before their credits expire
  • Includes multiple CTAs throughout the email
  • Breaks down how the refer a friend program works into three steps

Bright Littles

Subject: Sharing is caring! Refer a friend + get 20% off your next Bright Littles order!


Why we love it:

  • The subject head introduces the referral program straight up together with the referral incentive
  • “Sharing is caring” is a strong headline that captures attention
  • Has a cute hero image that shows two kids holding onto the signature product of Bright Littles—gives off a sense of 
  • Body copy is simple and explains clearly what the referral program is about and how parents can receive 20% off their next purchase
  • Clear CTA button for them to get started


Subject: This just in: The 2021 Green Impact Report


Why we love it:

  • Cleancult does an amazing job in the community aspect by pulling together the milestones that every customer of theirs has helped them to achieve with a “Green Impact Report”
  • Uses the report to get the attention of readers, then introduce the referral program
  • “Spread the word, save big” emphasizes not just the referral incentive but also the impact that advocates have on the environment just by telling their friends and family
  • Referral incentives are also well showcased
  • Clear CTA button to get started with sharing


Subject: Get $25 for each friend you refer


Why we love it:

  • The subject head tells readers exactly what to expect in the email
  • The header image showcases clearly what the referral incentive is
  • Body copy describes what the referral program is about 
  • Includes a step-by-step explanation with nice graphics on how to be an advocate and how to get the most out of the program 
  • Clear and simple CTA to start referring

Vinyl, Me Please

Subject head: Contest Alert! Win Our 50 Hip-Hop ROTMs


Why we love it:

  • Vinyl, Me Please turned their referral program into a contest to generate more word-of-mouth
  • Includes eye-catching graphics and gifs of their vinyls
  • Incentivizes advocates with more than just store credits but also a chance to win more vinyls
  • Has a clear explanation of how the referral program works together with the contest in their body copy
  • Straightforward CTA buttons to encourage action 

Princess Polly

Subject head: GIVE $25, GET $25


Why we love it:

  • Short and sweet subject head leading to the referral program
  • Places an expiration date to the referral program—creates a bit of an exclusive factor
  • Has a clickable image to the referral program
  • Referral incentive clearly stated and in large font
  • Includes other promotions (Black Friday sales) in the same email which could entice advocates to share with their friends and family


Subject head: Make the sustainable switch with the whole squad


Why we love it:

  • Taps on the win-win situation in the subject head where advocates can change to a sustainable lifestyle together with their friends
  • Uses a pun on their own brand in the headline—”friends who Thinx together, stay together”
  • Leverages International Day of Friendship to introduce their refer a friend program
  • Teamed up with another brand through a co-marketing collaboration to win products from both brands—customers have to refer a friend

Plant People

Subject: Refer a Friend, Get $10 🌱


Why we love it:

  • They used emojis in their subject head that’s relevant to their brand
  • Plant People named their referral program “The Buddy System”
  • Copy is easy to understand and referral incentive is clearly stated
  • The hero image is also very relevant with friends holding up Plant People’s products and smiling
  • Included easy-to-remember selling points of the brand at the bottom to make it easier for advocates to share about them


Subject head: Your Friends Will Thank You


Why we love it:

  • The subject head is quirky and catches the attention
  • Incentives clearly stated from the start
  • Includes multiple CTAs throughout the email to get readers to take action
  • Clear and succinct explanation of how the refer a friend program works
  • The hero image is a relevant product image
  • Includes three easy to remember keywords about the product so that advocates can easily share about them—washable, changeable, liveable


Subject head: Your Friends Will Want In On This...


Why we love it:

  • The subject head catches the attention of readers
  • Simple design without loud graphics or pictures
  • Has a prominent headline that includes the referral incentive
  • Body copy clearly explains the step-by-step process of referring a friend
  • The entire banner is clickable and leads to the referral page


Subject head: Give $10, Get $20


Why we love it:

  • The subject line is straight to the point with the referral incentive “Give $10, Get $20”
  • The image used in the banner shows two different people holding a Sheertex product—taps on the community and sharing aspect
  • CTA button has good contrast—stands out in the entire email
  • Body copy is simply but explains the referral process well enough

Find what works best for your brand

Crafting a successful referral email can be difficult, so take as much time as you need in creating the best possible design and copy that will compel your customers to share with their friends and family.

Take inspiration from these 20 different email designs and make one that is truly your own. For more examples, you can check out Really Good Emails or Milled.

Cheryl Teo
Cheryl Teo

Cheryl is a full-time Content Marketer at ReferralCandy by day and a "Learnaholic" (aka always learning something new) by night. She loves learning new languges, storytelling, and creating experiences that are functional and visually compelling. She's also always lurking on Twitter so drop by and say hi!

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