3 Ways to Optimize Your Referral Funnel with A/B Testing

by Friendbuy

April 27, 2021

A lot of decisions are made during the initial setup of a referral program—the language used in the call to action, which graphics to include, the referral offer, and more. Although it is possible to nail it the first time, it is always worth testing a few variants to get the most from your referral campaigns. The power of A/B testing allows you to optimize your referral funnel so you can maximize return on investment (ROI) and grow your customer base.

Friendbuy's A/B testing feature will allow you to test different offers, creative, design, messaging, and much more to understand what customer touch points drive higher engagement and conversions for your referral program. Friendbuy has simplified the process of creating variants, measuring against specific KPIs, and implementing your champion. We have removed the barriers to A/B testing so you can refine your referral funnel like a pro.

What Is A/B Testing?

Referral programs include several elements, each of which can influence the success of your campaigns. These include CTA placement, CTA copy, graphics, referral offers, and more. A/B testing allows you to change individual elements of your campaign to see which version performs best. Each version is referred to as a variant.

In general, the best practice for A/B testing is to limit the number of changes you wish to test. For example, try either a copy change or a referral offer change, but not both at the same time. Once you identify what you wish to test, you then set up the new variant and compare it against the default variant, which is typically the current version in production. It is possible to create and test more than two elements in a single A/B test with our solution, but it may be more difficult to identify which factors contributed to the success of one variant over another. 

After creating variants and having the test run for a select period of time, you can then choose which variant is the champion based on results and determine if you wish to make the champion the default version for production. The duration of the test will depend on a few factors, such as how much traffic your site gets. For example, a high-traffic site will generate faster results, whereas a site with lower traffic will take a while to collect enough meaningful data. A/B testing helps you optimize your entire referral funnel to get the most from your referral program.

A/B Testing for the Top of the Referral Funnel

The top of the funnel is where the most people will interact with your referral program through impressions and clicks. You can optimize with A/B testing by making changes to the share button or ribbon, such as:

  • Size
  • Position on the page
  • Color
  • Call to action

For example, flower delivery company The Bouqs Company is testing the call to action on its homepage by comparing “Refer, Get 30% Off” to “Get 30% Off” to see which offer resonates most with customers. 

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When promoting your referral program through email, test factors such as:

  • Email subject lines
  • Email content
  • Call to action content
  • Location of the CTA

A/B Testing for the Middle of the Referral Funnel

At the middle of the funnel, you can use A/B testing to optimize the advocate share rate and the friend click rate. 

To optimize the share rate, choose one element at a time to test, such as:

  • Primary call to action to the sharer (referrer or advocate)
  • Widget header
  • Background hero image
  • Ways to share
  • Advocate rewards

DTC nail care company Olive & June used A/B testing to determine which sharing method was most compelling to customers. After verifying that most advocates wanted to share referral offers with friends and family via personal link, the company made the Advocate PURL more prominent in the widget.

You can also use A/B testing to optimize referral visits and increase the friend click rate by comparing variations of:

  • Friend rewards
  • Images in referral share (email, social, text)
  • Copy in referral share (email, social, text)
  • Subject line, copy, and imagery for email messages

Premium scrubs brand FIGS tested its shared email subject line with two different variants:

  • Control: {[sender}} shared FIGS with you
  • Test: Your friend thinks you'd love these scrubs - here's $20

The control variant won by a landslide with almost twice as many clicks and four times the revenue. This is a perfect example of how much of a difference a few words can make when it comes to refining your referral program.

A/B Testing for the Bottom of the Referral Funnel

At the bottom of the referral funnel, you can use A/B testing to optimize conversions by experimenting with what referred friends see, such as:

  • Friend rewards
  • Product recommendations
  • Referral codes that require the user to copy/paste versus direct access to the offer via a link that applies the discount at checkout

Friendbuy’s Simplified A/B Testing Process

You can perform A/B testing at any stage of the referral funnel in just four simple steps:

  • Select the widget or share button you wish to test—this will be your default variant.
  • Create a second variant by duplicating the selected widget or share button.
  • Decide which element you will be testing and edit the variant.
  • Assign weights to each variant—typically we recommend setting the default to 80 and the new variant to 20 for a period of time.

With Friendbuy, no developer resources are required for A/B testing. Marketers can easily complete the process in the platform, giving you total freedom to optimize your referral funnel. Any element of a widget or landing can be tested, including:

  • Heading
  • Subheading
  • Preview content
  • Hero image
  • Product graphics
  • Call to action
  • Share buttons

We’ve been laser-focused on referral marketing for a long time, and in our experience, applying these pro tips will help you get the most from A/B testing:

  • Test one element at a time. 
  • Work on big changes first and then refine details.
  • Start at the top of the funnel and work your way down.
  • Have reasons for testing—don’t just test random ideas; test things that you genuinely think will work better than what you’re currently doing.

Finesse Your Referral Funnel with Friendbuy

Whether you’re a referral marketing pro or just getting started with this channel, Friendbuy is here to help. In addition to all of the technical support you might need, our referral experts will also help you refine your strategy. We want to see you succeed, so if you feel like your referral campaigns need a little attention, just ask for our advice. For more pro tips on maximizing your referral program, download The 2021 Referral Marketing Blueprint for E-Commerce.

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