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You’ve set up your referral incentives, set up your friend landing pages, and designed some beautiful referral emails.
There’s one step left, and that’s to launch your referral program to as many people as possible. You want to build up early momentum since the more people make referrals, the more sales you’ll generate, and the faster your brand will grow.
For most brands, launching a referral program means reaching out to existing customers to let them know about it. Some brands, like Riff Raff and Co, also allow non-customers to participate and earn referral rewards. The ideas below will also be helpful to motivate non-customers to start referring.
Our seven-step guide will help you launch your referral program to infinity and beyond!
Step 1: Set up your advocate join page so customers can easily sign up
Even before you think about launching your referral program, you want to ensure you have your advocate join page ready.
Your advocate join page is a landing page where customers can join your referral program. You’ll want to keep it as short and simple as possible, so customers can focus and sign up for your referral program.
A good join page only has three things on it:
- A rewards flowchart to showcase your referral rewards, and explain how customers can earn them by referring their friends.
- A call-to-action for customers to join your referral program, or log in to check their existing referral rewards.
- A link to an explainer page where you provide more details of your program.
DTC wine club Winc has the perfect example of a join page
Winc’s join page is simple and very short.
You may be wondering why you need a join page and a separate explainer page; the answer is that the two pages serve different purposes.
On your join page, you want to provide only the key details to convince your customers to join your referral program and not distract them from signing up.
For customers who want more information, you should then have a separate page to explain the nitty-gritty of your referral program. This is where an announcement blog post will come in handy.
Step 2: Write a blog article to announce your referral program
Your blog is a great place to announce your referral program, and it’s what most brands prefer to use.
You can also use a help article or a terms and conditions page, but we recommend a blog article because it’s easy to set up and more effective for marketing.
Think of the announcement blog post as an information hub for people who want to learn more about your referral program. Sending people to your blog post helps give them more context than if they just landed on the join page.
And if a customer has a question about the referral program, your customer service teammate can easily direct customers to the blog post.
Your announcement blog post should include the following details:
- The rewards for referring a friend
- Suggestions on how to refer their friends
- (if applicable) Any unique restrictions for your program
- A call-to-action or link to the join page.
Here’s a great example from retailer Eyebuydirect. The blog post is very simple - the first half tells you the referral rewards you stand to earn, and the second suggests how you might earn them.
Click to see the referral announcement blog post in full, which also features some cheeky product placement
And most importantly, the page ends with a prominent call-to-action that leads to the join page, so customers can start making referrals and earning rewards.
Here’s another example from Atmoph. They chose not to provide sharing suggestions, instead highlighting the specific conditions of their referral program: customers will need a PayPal account, and must purchase an Atmoph Window 2 to qualify for the rewards.
Everything you wanted to know about Atmoph’s referral program
Note that in both examples, the blog post features a prominent call-to-action that directs readers to the join page so they can sign up. That’s an important step not just for the blog article, but for all your marketing assets.
Step 3: Update your marketing assets with CTAs for your referral program
To make your referral program easy to find (and find out about), you’ll want to create signposts on all your marketing assets. This ensures that as you promote your referral program, your customers can easily find the join page.
Here are some suggestions of where to add a CTA:
- Checkout process
- Email newsletters
Threadbeast embeds the call-to-action for their referral program on their menu bar -- and who can resist a call to action like “Free threads”?
Threadbeast highlights their referral program their menu bar
While DMD Skin Sciences embeds its join page under the footer of its store page, to catch customers’ attention while they browse.
You can see more examples in the referrals section of our article on powerful calls to action.
Another place you can place prominent CTAs is during the checkout. During checkout, customers are most excited about their purchases and most likely to tell a friend about your brand.
Baronfig customized their order confirmation page to showcase their referral program:
Saturo used a different method, displaying this post-purchase pop-up after a customer confirms their order:
Translated, it says “Give you and your friends 10 Euros”
Another place you can add a link is at the bottom of your regular marketing newsletters, like in this example from Baronfig:
It’s an easy way for customers to hear about your referral program.
To really promote your referral program, you can add CTAs to all your marketing assets.
For more examples, check out our companion article on how to promote your referral program
Step 4: Email your current customers to prompt them into signing up
Now that your customers can easily find out about your referral program, you can send them an email to prompt them to action. Be sure to make the CTA very clear, and highlight the referral reward available to them.
When apparel retailer Dia & Co re-launched their referral program, they sent the following email. I like how they used the image of a gift card to convey the idea of store credit as a referral reward.
It helps to think of the launch of your referral program as a marketing promotion - a way to drum up sales and for customers to connect with your brand. And much like with a new product line, you’d make a blog announcement, send an email, and also post about it on social media.
Step 5: Post to social media frequently to remind your customers
Posting about your new referral program helps get the news out to your social followers. It can also nudge users who are not your customers (yet) to join your referral program.
Since social media moves quickly, you don’t want to make a single post and forget about it. One way is to create a custom image about your referral program, which you can post regularly on your socials.
Riff Raff and Co created the cute image below to share on Instagram and Facebook about their referral program. When they first launched, they posted more regularly about their referral program, but today they post the image about once every three months.
@riffraff_sleeptoys used this cute image and several others in a carousel
Here’s a sample schedule for how often to post about your referral program, assuming you post every day:
- First month: 1 post every week
- 2-6 months: 1 post every 2 months
- >6 months: 1 post every 3 months
You can also adjust these to your posting frequency. The goal is to have the referral program in the rotation for your social content calendar.
Step 6: Create custom media to promote your referral program
Many brands are sharing links on social media. To really make your referral program launch stand out, you can create custom videos or images to post on social.
For example, Anomalie filmed a video talking about their referral program that generated more than 3,000 views at launch. A video is much more engaging than a blog post and can be viewed on the social media platform directly—and makes it easier for customers to share or repost.
Anomalie created a custom video to answer questions about the launch of their referral program
Another option is to turn the launch into an event by doing a Facebook Live or Instagram Live.
You can also re-use the content to promote your referral program again in the future. As mentioned above, Riff Raff and Co share their custom image every three months on Instagram and Facebook.
Step 7: Get your employees and best customers to share it
Since referrals are inherently social, the best way to get the ball rolling with referrals is to encourage your employees and best customers to share.
Razor brand Harry’s is famous for its pre-launch referral program that generated 100,000 customer emails in a single week. To get the ball rolling, 12 team members started by sending personal emails about Harry’s to their friends and contacts, inviting them to register and start inviting friends.
A more modern example is DTC lingerie brand Lively, which built a team of 100 brand ambassadors even before launch. The ambassadors helped with product research and fitting and helped the brand’s refer-a-friend campaign gather 133,000 emails and 300,000 sessions in just 48 hours.
Lively’s brand ambassadors are still promoting their referral program even today
These seven steps will help you get your referral program off the ground, but to skyrocket your results, you can consider these bonus ideas.
Bonus step: Extra ideas to launch your referral program
Promote your referral program with social media ads.
You can use lookalike audiences to target people like your existing customers or retarget people who have browsed your website.
When Harry’s was launching their brand, the team ran Facebook ads to reach new audiences and create a bigger pool of people making referrals.
Read more about Harry’s pre-launch referral program in this Twitter thread
Offer increased rewards for the first month of launch
Offering better referral rewards is usually a tactic that brands use to promote their referral program. For example, Bethesda Gear offered double the referral rewards for just one week:
You can instead run the increased rewards during the launch of your referral program to improve participation from your customers.
Launching your referral program is only the beginning
Congratulations on setting up your new referral program. These steps will help you get your referral program off the ground so you start seeing referrals coming in.
Print out this checklist for use when you launch your referral program
The next thing you need to do is to keep up with promoting your referral program to your customers. Brands don’t just post about a new product line and never talk about it again, and the same with your referral program: it’s worth promoting it to your customers again and again, so they take advantage of the rewards.
Check out our companion article on how to promote your referral program to your customers, or see more examples from other brands here:
- 30+ examples of awesome friend landing pages that your customers will want to share
- Beautifully designed referral emails to motivate your customers to refer
- How to write copy for your referral program to make referring irresistible