Building a Winning Refer-a-Friend Program to Acquire More Customers: 3 Ideas You Can Steal Right Now!

by Friendbuy

February 23, 2021

One of the best ways to gain new customers is to implement a refer-a-friend program. The basic concept is that your happy customers share your brand with their friends, and everybody benefits. The advocate gets rewarded for referring, their friend gets an incentive to make a purchase, and you get more sales and more customers.

When creating a refer-a-friend program, you can be as creative as you like with your offer and reward structure and promotion of the program. Some of the fundamental referral programs use coupons, store credit, and third-party gift cards for their offer strategy. This is a great place to start—and many brands achieve notable success doing only this—but you can take your referral program to the next level with approaches such as sweepstakes and social gifting as creative ways to offer promotions and rewards. When it comes to promoting your program, start with applying our recommended best practices for placement to build awareness. From this foundation you can integrate unique approaches such as SMS notifications, and box inserts to grab attention and encourage sharing.  

Of course, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel with your referral strategy. Check out what these successful brands did to grow sales to get inspiration for your own referral program.

MUD\WTR Went Mobile

Coffee alternative MUD\WTR perked up its sales with a refer-a-friend program that uses SMS push notifications to encourage customers to share. We live in a mobile world, and this brand wanted to meet customers where they are—on their phones. In fact, there are strong reasons for including an SMS strategy in your referral program:

  • Sixty-eight percent of people say that text messaging is the activity they use their phones for most.
  • Eighty-two percent of people open every text message they receive.
  • Seventy percent of consumers believe SMS marketing is great for capturing their attention.
  • More than half of consumers would like to receive SMS promotions.

Another important fact about SMS marketing is that customers are required to opt in, which means they are taking one more step along your marketing funnel. 

MUD\WTR’s referral program capitalizes on these modern preferences. When making a purchase, customers have the option to provide their mobile number to receive texts from the MUD\WTR team. In addition to promotions and notifications about deliveries, customers also receive text messages reminding them about the “Give $10/Get $10” referral incentive. They also make it easy to share by providing a personalized url so all the advocate has to do is copy, paste, and text it to their friends.

MUD\WTR Referral Program

MUD\WTR also implemented all of our best practices and continues to promote its program to build awareness. You can see our recommendations in action:

  • The call to action is clear and concise, prominently displaying the advocate reward
  • The referral widget includes the option to sign up for emails.
  • An account page widget prompts customers to make an impulse referral. 
  • The referral widget is in their app, fully integrating referral marketing into the brand. 

This combination of basic best practices and outside-of-the-box thinking is what keeps MUD\WTR customers coming back for more and sharing their passion with friends. 

Feals Shared the Feels

CBD company Feals has implemented a multi-pronged refer-a-friend program to increase brand awareness and get more people to try its products. The Feals evergreen referral program offers  “give $20/get $20”. The advocate gets an immediate credit on their next delivery and the friend gets a $20 discount when they sign up. One reason Feals chose to offer an account credit is because of the convenience it provides to customers who use its subscription business model.

Because the product is one that sells well after people have tried it, Feals is also currently doing a social gifting campaign that allows all of its customers to gift a free flight to one friend. Customers are shown a post-purchase overlay with an offer to share a free flight, and the promotion is also located in the account page so customers can see it any time they log in. Existing customers get the joy of sharing an actual product with the friend of their choice, and the friend who receives it is more likely to convert because they have had the opportunity to try it for themselves. 

When existing and potential customers get products in the mail, they also see information about the referral program on the packaging, increasing awareness offline. Feals also builds refer-a-friend program awareness through email marketing with dedicated emails, post-transaction emails, and timed emails through the customer lifecycle. For example, every customer gets an anniversary email with a clear call to action that reminds them of their anniversary and prompts them to share rewards with friends. 

One of the keys to success for Feals is approaching customers from multiple angles—email campaigns, different types of referral offers, milestone recognitions, physical mail, and so on. With its referral program thoroughly integrated into the brand, Feals encourages its customers to share with friends from their first interaction.

Feals Referral Program

Hunt A Killer Went in for the Kill

Murder mystery box company Hunt A Killer encourages customers to share their unique detective experience—without divulging too many clues, of course—with its evergreen referral program. Advocates get a $15 Amazon gift card when friends make their first purchase, and friends get 30 percent off their subscription.  

To encourage advocates to refer multiple friends, Hunt A Killer launched a sweepstakes campaign. For every referral, the advocate gets an entry into the sweepstakes to get a full 12-month subscription for free. Sweepstakes campaigns generally increase virality for brands because they promote repeat sharing by giving participants an entry for every share.

Hunt A Killer stacked this sweepstakes on top of its evergreen campaign, so advocates still get the instant gratification of receiving a $15 Amazon gift card when their friend subscribes, and friends still get 30 percent off—everyone's a winner.

Hunt a Killer Referral Program

Building a Winning Refer-a-Friend Program to Acquire More Customers: 3 Ideas You Can Steal Right Now!

Grow Your Brand with Friendbuy

As these brands have shown, combining referral program best practices with some creative ideas can help take your company to the next level of sales. 

The best part is that the Friendbuy team is here to help you every step of the way. We don’t just sell you a referral platform; we provide both technical and campaign support. From refining the graphics in your referral widget to helping you create the perfect call to action, our team is happy to offer our expertise.

To learn more about how to integrate a referral strategy into your brand, read our free resource, Referral Marketing: The Essential Guide.

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