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5 Marketing Strategies to Build a Stronger Referral Program

Referral programs are a great way to grow your business. They have been crucial to the growth of major brands like Dropbox, PayPal, Airbnb, and Amazon who used rewards to skyrocket their growth. For example, after using a referral program, Dropbox was able to grow from 100,000 users to 4,000,000 in just 15 months.

Most successful referral programs share two characteristics. First, they provide an exciting offer. Without interesting rewards, customer’s simply aren’t going to take the time to refer your brand. 

Second, is to offer rewards that bring a high return on investment to your business. If your business is spending more money than the referrals bring in, you’re going to run into a problem. Fortunately, with a well-created referral program marketing strategy, your business can create a program that will bring it automated growth. 

Here are several strategies you can follow to grow your business and start seeing results from your referral program.

discount and cash-based

One of the most popular types of referral programs are ones that offer discount-based rewards. These programs incentivize referrals by offering discounts to customers who share your brand. Some programs also give a discount to the recipient, motivating them to make a purchase. One example of a successful discount-based referral program is Uber’s “Give 10 Get 10” promotion. This promotion gives both the sender and recipient of an invite code $10. This concept incentivizes both parties to use the app and has brought many new users to the platform.

Some companies have taken the discount rewards model to another level and offer cash rewards. Paypal for example, used this approach in the early-2000s to launch its growth. While its cash-reward referral initiative was running, Paypal saw 7% – 10% daily growth and broadened its user base to include over 100 million members.

good timing

Getting your referral program as many views as possible isn’t always the best strategy for getting people to sign up. If people are seeing your referral programs before they care about your business, they aren’t going to be interested in your rewards. Research shows that the moment customers care most about a brand is shortly after they’ve made their first purchase. After a first purchase, the customer has decided to be with a business over other brands and is choosing to trust them and their product. This is the best time to introduce a referral program to your customers as it is then that they are most willing to share your brand and build-up rewards.

Use a widget
to draw attention to
your referral program

A different approach to building up a referral program is to use the widget. Widgets assume that there isn’t a single best-time to introduce referral programs and that instead, customers should be made constantly aware of it. This is where the widget comes in, a small button that follows the customer throughout your website. No matter where the customer goes on your site, they will always see the widget. By having a widget that advertises your referral program, you can easily begin drawing more attention to your offers.

your referral program

People don’t like receiving robotic emails. Add personalized touches throughout your referral program to make the customer feel special. Through small touches like suggesting items that are similar to previous purchases, you can help develop a stronger relationship between you and your customers.

Turn your customers into

A popular marketing strategy that has emerged over the past few years has been the use of influencers. Businesses approach people with large followings on social media to promote their products with the hopes of increasing their visibility. What we suggest is inspired by the influencer marketing model but replaces the influencer with the average customer. While your average customer may not have the social media following of a celebrity, they can still suggest your product to a close-knit social circle. 

Research suggests we are much more willing to trust an advertisement coming from our friends than a business. Use this to your advantage and give your customers the ability to turn themselves into influencers. Offer incentives to your customers that motivate them to become salespeople. Give them codes that offer new customers discounts and bring them a small commission. Using this strategy, you’ll motivate your client-base to share your brand and products in a way that is guaranteed to bring you traffic.


A well-created referral program is a vital part of any successful company’s marketing strategy. Making customers care about your referral program can bring about quick, automated growth for your business. If you’re having trouble bringing attention to your program, try out some of these marketing strategies and tell us how it goes! 

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