Do you want to set up a kickass referral program for your Shopify store, but not sure how to do it right?
Referral programs can feel like a daunting process of marketing and calculations, but it doesn’t have to be.
With ReferralCandy, you can set up a great referral marketing program for your Shopify store that drives sales via good ol’ word of mouth referrals and lets you spread the word about your business in a way that doesn’t feel icky.
After this article, you’ll understand why referral marketing programs are all the rage, what makes a successful referral program, and how you can start bringing in more of those sweet, sweet customers.
Plus, to get you started, we’ve also rounded up 22 different referral program examples from other Shopify ecommerce websites that use ReferralCandy to bring in new customers along with some notes on why these referral programs work.
What is a Referral Program?
In its most basic form, a referral program is a program that gives your current customers an incentive to recommend your brand to friends and families.
Say you offer a $10 discount to your customers for each new customer they refer who makes a purchase and the new customer also gets a $10 discount. That’s a referral program.
In general, if you’re making a good product and have happy customers, you’d hope you’ll get some word of mouth referrals from friends and family asking your customers for recommendations even if you don’t have a referral program, but here’s the thing: word of mouth marketing should be your best friend. It can help feed into all your marketing channels for your business.
When people get recommendations from people they trust, they’re automatically going to trust that brand more. Don’t just take my word for it – a study from Nielsen showed that 84% of their respondents said word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family was the most trustworthy advertising source.
And the best way to get word of mouth recommendations? A referral program.
Now that you know what a referral program is and why it’s so important, ready to jump into how to actually make a great referral program and start raking in those new customers through referral marketing? I thought so.
What Makes a Good Referral Program?
Making a good referral program is a combination of many different aspects. Specifically, each referral program is going to be a little bit different (and you want that!) because every brand’s target audience is going to be unique. What works for one audience, may not work well for another, so you really want to dig into your buyer persona and make sure your referral program matches your target market.
That being said, there are a few key elements that every good referral program will have:
- Good customer experience,
- enticing referral incentives, and
- easy-to-use referral software.
That’s what we’ll talk about now.
(If you need help setting up a referral program template for your Shopify store, here’s a referral program template guide.)
Good Customer Experience
I’m gonna be real with you: you could have a fantastic product and killer referral incentives, but if your customer experience sucks, people are not going to be running to tell everyone they know about your brand. If anything, they’ll be complaining to their friends over what a headache they had spending hours on customer service only to not get what they wanted.
However, if you have a great customer experience, those happy customers are going to be much more likely to refer their friends. The incentive just becomes the icing on the cake. Basically, a high-quality customer experience is the secret sauce to getting solid customer acquisition through your referral program and long-term customer loyalty.
What Makes Good Customer Experience?
While creating a good customer experience will improve your rewards program, know that this is big-picture stuff and can help improve your entire business – so don’t take it lightly!
The key to creating a good customer experience is to dig into each touchpoint your customer has with your business. This includes your:
- Value proposition
- Content strategy
- Product pages
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Customer service
If you can make sure you provide quick and easy value for your customers in each of these categories, you’re on the right track to creating a killer customer experience.
This isn’t by any means a comprehensive list for how to ace your customer experience though. If you want a little more direction, check out these tips for improving your ecommerce customer experience.
Enticing Referral Incentives
Next up, give your loyal customers a real reason to want to spread the word about your brand. Every successful referral program will have some sort of incentive whether that’s for the customer base or for new customers (many have both!).
You don’t just want to create a referral program that works, you want to create one that delights everyone involved. What that incentive is will likely differ depending on your customer base and the product or service that you’re pushing, but you want it to be something your customers will really want.
At the same time, you don’t want it to be something that’s so costly that the program becomes too expensive to maintain. It’s about finding that balance between satisfying your customers while still meeting your ROI.
ReferralCandy lets you pick from four different incentive options as a referral reward:
- Direct cash payouts.
- Single-use coupons.
- Multi-use coupons.
- Custom-fulfilled rewards.
Depending on your product or service, you’ll want to change up the rewards you offer. For products that customers will likely only buy once, direct cash incentives will likely be the way to go. On the other hand, if your brand advocates will likely be making repeat purchases then discount coupons or store credit are good options.
Nailing the perfect referral reward isn’t easy, so don’t feel discouraged if your first idea isn’t a home run. If you need a little extra direction, check out this guide on referral offers.
Easy-to-Use Referral Software
Finally, it’s time to take your idea for a killer referral program and make it something that’s easy for your customers to use. The last thing you want once you’ve gotten your satisfied customers just a few steps from the finish line is to have a disappointing referral program and have your loyal customers (and referred customer) lose trust in you.
That’s where a referral program software comes in. To create a program that works, a referral software like ReferralCandy is a great tool.
Sure, you might be able to set one up yourself, but that gets tedious and time-consuming especially when you add up maintenance and debugging. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. With referral software, you can set up a referral program quickly and easily in a way that makes it easy for your customers to refer a friend and get a reward.
Here are a few key parts of your referral marketing program software that can make or break the user experience for both your advocates and your referred customers (plus, how a good referral software can make your user experience super easy too):
- Easy setup for you to establish the referral rewards and conditions for advocates and referred customers.
- Landing page or pop-up explaining the referral offer. You want to be extra clear on the whole process for your customer right from the beginning so that means right on this first page you’ll want to tell them what their reward will be and what reward their friends will get.
- Referral email for your customers to forward to their friends. ReferralCandy has an easy email template for your referral emails that you can customize to your brand’s personal style with the email template editor. (Pro Tip: Still a little unsure about crafting that mouth-watering good copy for your referral email? Don’t sweat. Check out our guide on how to write great emails asking for referrals.)
- A welcoming and converting friend landing page. This is the page that referred friends will get to when they click through the referral link on the email – it’s where you let them know they’ve just gotten that sweet discount for your product or service. If your referral email is like “BAM!” but your friend landing page is just “blah” you’re not getting the most out of your customer referral program. ReferralCandy has a template set out for you, but we recommend adding some personal flair to it like these examples of stellar friend landing pages.
- Integration to your ecommerce website. All of this is great, but if your customers can’t find the referral program or the referred customer doesn’t make it to your main site, your customer referral program isn’t going to help you much. BUT, good news! With Shopify, ReferralCandy’s got you covered with a super simple one-click integration. (Pro Tip: If you still want some help with the Shopify integration, we have a post that walks you through it.)
22 Examples of Shopify Referral Programs That Work
Now that you know all the foundations for creating a killer referral program with your Shopify ecommerce site, it’s time to get those creative juices flowing so you can make one of your very own for your business. The best way to do that? Look at other businesses’ creative genius and how they are delighting their customers both new and old.
So, for your referral research and messaging inspiration, we’ve rounded up 22 different examples of how successful Shopify stores have set up their own referral programs using ReferralCandy.
We’ve divided up our examples by category so whatever product or service your business offers, we’ve found an example that can help you out.
Rothy’s sells women’s everyday ballet and pointed toe flats. Rothy’s referral program is a great example of a straightforward, yet eye-catching referral program page. They show a picture of their shoes, and clearly state what their advocates will get if they refer a friend and what those friends will get ($20). Plus, the brand adds a note about the reward conditions at the bottom so customers know what to expect.
Amuze is an exclusive, members-only shopping site where members can get incredible discounts on authentic designer labels. [Website is currently under construction] This brand’s referral marketing strategy gets at a universal want – to have your friends love you. It also makes the rewards clear in the subtitle that both the advocate and friends will get $25 off.
UNTUCKit is a casual men’s apparel company that sells regular and slim-fit button-downs, sweaters, tees and polos. This brand utilizes one of the most common marketing strategies: making the reward (25% off) the biggest text on the page. With just a quick scan, the customer knows they could get 25% off.
(Pro tip: Like many other brands, UNTUCKit specifies that the reward is only for the new customer’s first purchase, which may seem like an obvious distinction, but it’s still important to make sure your customers know the deal.)
Beauty & Grooming
4. Thrive Causemetics
Thrive Causemetics is a purpose-driven cosmetic ecommerce store – for every product you purchase at Thrive, they donate one to empower a woman who is suffering from cancer or domestic violence. This referral program landing page is a great example of a brand adding its own personal touch to its communication by reminding its customers that they donate to help women thrive. Sure, the $10 for each party is great, but they still get to the heart of their business values by helping.
Banish sells acne removal products. Banish doesn’t put the money first – they emphasize something their customers value even more: confidence. Leaning on that bigger desire is a great way to add more incentive than just the rewards. It helps to remind their advocates that what they really get from Banish’s product is that confidence and that they should share that with their friends.
6. Superior Skin
Superior Skin sells dermatologist-recommended skincare products. This brand specifies using a referral link instead of referral emails. This can be a useful tool especially if your advocates are more on social media than email.
Electronics & Gadgets
QuadLock is a mounting system that allows you safely secure your smartphone to your bike while cycling, arm while running, and car while driving. Admittedly, we’ve already seen the header of “Get rewarded and make your friends love you!” but this is an example of direct cash reward explaining that the advocates get 5% from their friend’s purchase. In the end, QuadLock is essentially taking off 15% of their profit for the new customer.
Acton is the company behind the world’s first smart, electric skateboard. This is a great example of a great incentive offer for direct cash. It’s unlikely each person is going to be buying more than one of these pricey electric skateboards (each costing $400), so getting store credit can feel kind of useless, but 80 bucks? That’s like 160 cups of fancy Starbucks coffee!
SkyRoam is a gadget that gives you unlimited WiFi wherever you go. As more of a service than a product, SkyRoam’s referral program is a great example of how to offer high-quality incentives on service subscription plans. Plus, free WiFi? That’s a winning headline! Just keep in mind – if you’re going to offer a big incentive, be ready to follow through. 50% discount is a big offer that can easily take a good chunk out of referral profits.
Kuna is a smart home security system that prevents break-ins by providing DIY smart outdoor lighting. Simple and straightforward for the win with this style. Scroll down through the referral page and you get more details, but they get right to the point telling you what you and your friends and family get from their referral program.
F&B and Supplements
YouFoodz delivers fresh food to your doors. YouFoodz offers a good example of how to add a bit more text to your offer. The text is easy to read and adds a bit of extra personality with ALL CAPS and some hashtag fun (but not overdoing it). It’s also a good example of rewarding loyal customers with actual free products (the free meal).
TruBrain sells supplements that help your brain perform better. Another good subscription method discount. Even though 50% off is a big discount, since the customers likely buy more often, the business is banking on the understanding that the customer’s value is more than just a single purchase.
Thr1ve does healthy meal delivery. In this business’s copy, they make sure to bold the words that they really want to stick out. So “score $30 off your next order”? That’s gonna stick out. Plus, they remind the current customers of the good stuff they’re getting from the business – delicious, real food.
Home and Pets
DockATot sells multi-functional lounging, playing, chilling, resting and snuggling docks for babies and tots 0 – 36 months old. While their wording isn’t exactly original, the baby product referral program is an excellent example of good publicity using word of mouth in social media and a product their customers love.
(Pro Tip: Once you’ve launched your referral program, we recommend continuing to review the program’s success and test different strategies to see what works best. DockATot took the time to review the success of their referral program after launching which is what convinced them to switch from percentage discounts to direct dollar incentives.)
Leesa sells mattresses. Leesa has done really well with customer acquisition through their referral program by allowing customers to refer friends and family on social media with a referral link. The setup is quick, direct, and easy by simply saying customers can get $75 cash.
Related: Learn more about how to promote your referral program here: How To Promote Your Referral Program (Without Sounding Desperate)
NeuYear sells calendars and journals. With this brand’s strategy, their advocates get 10% of their referrals’ purchase in cash for incentive.
Education and Toys
17. Critical Pass
Critical Pass sells bar exam flashcards that help would-be lawyers pass their bar exams. Critical Pass’s referral program accounts for 10.42% of its revenue and 10.05% of orders. They took the time to really think about what their customers would value and came to the cash incentive to help their student customers earn a little extra cash too.
(Pro Tip: ReferralCandy’s analytics dashboard can help you quantify how many people are making referrals and which brand advocates have brought in the most business.)
18. Daily Greatness
Daily Greatness sells lifestyle journals, courses, and content for health, fitness, and personal growth. A great design, straightforward and motivating wording, plus a cash incentive.
19. Riff Raff & Co.
Riff Raff & Co. sells cute and washable comforters with built-in sleep tunes, white noise and lullabies. Riff Raff & Co.’s referral incentive is a little bit different from the standard percent discounts or cash payments – they got creative (and it’s worked!). Instead of advocates getting discounts or cash, they get a free sleep toy after five successful referrals. Now, the company is a million-dollar business with more than 50,000 happy parents (and babies).
Riff Raff’s referral program generated six-figure sales: with 1 in 4 customers coming through referrals. Read the Riff Raff Referral Case Study here!
Sparx sells a skate sharpening product that allows every hockey player to maintain their own skates at peak performance. Another example of giving advocates free stuff rather than discounts or cash. Sparx lets their customers get a referral code to share or refer a friend.
EJuices sells e-cigarettes and vapes. If you want to push a specific bundle or sale, then customer referral programs that target that product is a great way to do it!
(Pro Tip: Using a referral program software that’s easy to use can help cut down your own training time if you end up bringing on any new employees down the line.)
Related: Check out our interview with the founder of eJuices, Billy Wilson!
Verbero sells hockey-related gears and products. Some referral programs offer more discount for the referrer and some to the referred customers. This one is an example of referral marketing strategy that offers the referrer more reward.
Looking to set up a referral program for your own Shopify store?
Of course, you are! We’ve put together a guide to help you get set up yourself, in a matter of minutes: How To Setup A Referral Program For Your Shopify Store.
Check out other ways to grow your Shopify store traffic and sales with our Ultimate Shopify Marketing Resource.
The next step?
Take over the world! Referral program marketing!