Once you've launched your referral program, it is not enough to sit back and wait for referrals to come in. Getting the message out to your users and constantly reminding them that you have a referral program is critical to the success of your campaign.

At GrowSurf, this is one of the most common questions that we get from customers.

How do we spread the word for our refer-a-friend program?

To address this, we've compiled a checklist of best practices and recommendations to help you find success with word-of-mouth marketing.

Whether you're promoting to your current users or attracting new advocates, at every touchpoint in your customer's journey you should be reminding participants what they stand to gain for making referrals, as well as making it super easy for them to access their unique referral link to start sharing.

Though some details in this post are relevant to using GrowSurf to run your referral program, these tips apply to any business that wants to promote their referral program to success.

Table of Contents:

  1. Make sure that your rewards are incentivizing and obtainable
  2. Kickstart your referral program by emailing your existing customers
  3. Share on all your social channels
  4. Have a dedicated referral landing page
  5. Make your referral program prominent on your website with dedicated links
  6. Promote your referral program in every email that your business sends
  7. Give it time

1. Make sure that your rewards are incentivizing and obtainable

The foremost important factor in promoting your referral program is making sure that you have the best reward(s) that you can offer. This is because promotion boils down to reminding your customers of what rewards they can win.

Take note of what successful referral programs look like, and keep your rewards compelling and within reach.

A big mistake that we see for many businesses are when they make their rewards not incentivizing enough or far too out of reach.

Make rewards incentivizing

For example, giving referrers a $100 gift card is an excellent way to get your participants excited to share [depending on your customer type]. However, if this is merely a single-sided reward, understand that this is only incentivizing for one party and there is little to no motivation for the other side to sign up. You may want to consider implementing a double-sided reward to benefit both parties.

Make rewards obtainable

If you require someone to make 10 referrals, but all you are giving out is a free t-shirt, consider how tough that is for your customers [let alone the average person] to make 10 referrals for your specific product/service. With that type of referral goal threshold, it will be an uphill battle even if you have an amazing business with customers that truly love you.

2. Kickstart your referral program by emailing your existing customers

There are two ways to go about this.

Route #1: You can import your existing customers to automatically add them as participants in your referral program. During the import process, you can choose to email them if you have welcome emails enabled. This way, your current customers will have their unique referral links in the emails they received so they can immediately start sharing to their friends/family and colleagues.

Tripfuser's "Refer to Win" email

Route #2: Have a dedicated referrer landing page where you can send any customer or potential advocate so they can sign up and grab their unique referral link to share. (See point #4 below for examples of referrer landing pages). You can then send an email blast to your customers promoting your campaign.

3. Share on all your social channels

When you launch your referral program, make sure to blast out the announcement everywhere that your audience interacts with you to let them know that you have a referral program available.

Reach your customers wherever they are

You should also schedule social media posts to remind your followers of your referral program, as one tweet in a sea of noise can easily be drowned out. Tools like OneUp, Buffer, and HootSuite can allow you to easily recycle your posts.

4. Have a dedicated referral landing page

Create a dedicated referral landing page where your users can learn the specifics of your referral program, including how it works and what the rewards are. This should also be a page where your participants can return to grab their unique referral link and view their stats and progress towards rewards.

You can use the GrowSurf embedded form for seamless and easy integration. Below are examples of customers who have created an on-brand referral landing page and embedded the GrowSurf form:

SurveyMonkey - referrals page
AlphaFoods - referrals page

If you have a web app, and you know when your users are logged-in, you can automatically show them their unique referral link by setting the embedded form's data-grsf-email attribute with the user's email address.

Put dedicated links to your referral program in your website. Here are some places where it may make sense to add them:

  • Header link
  • Footer link
  • Inline buttons (e.g, if you have a dashboard, place it inline with the other tabs)
Example SaaS dashboard: Nav link, inline button under 'Dashboard' title

You have a few options of where to take the user when they click the dedicated link(s):

Route #1: If you have a dedicated referral landing page set up (see point #4 above), you can make the dedicated links direct your users to that webpage.

Route #2: For an out-of-the-box solution, you can use the GrowSurf embedded button (you can customize the styles using inline data attributes). When your users click on the embedded button, this will open the GrowSurf window, where they can see their unique referral link, referrals made, and rewards progress.

Route #3: You can use your campaign's dedicated grow.surf landing page (more details here).

6. Promote your referral program in every email that your business sends

Promotional emails: Whether you have a monthly email newsletter, welcome email series, or are sending a seasonal email blast, make sure to update your email templates to include the participant's unique referral link at the footer of the email and remind them what reward(s) they can win.

With GrowSurf's direct HubSpot integration, you can easily embed the participant's unique Share URL

Transactional emails: Transactional emails are typically sent out from your system to notify your users when certain events occur. Some examples are order confirmation emails and receipt emails. View the following two screenshots below to see how Google Fi provokes their customers to make referrals in their transactional emails.

Google Fi includes a link at the footer of their billing receipt emails
Clicking on the 'Treat your friends' link in the Google Fi email footer will take you to their dedicated referral page

GrowSurf emails: GrowSurf sends emails out to participants automatically when certain referral events happen (e.g, added as a new participant, unlocking a reward), you should be including the participant's unique referral link in the header or footer in all of your emails.

Charlie Finance uses GrowSurf New Participant emails to provoke easy sharing 

GrowSurf's Zapier and Webhook integrations allow you to easily sync a participant's data (including their unique share link) to your marketing tools so that you can easily include them when sending out emails.

7. Give it time

If you've just launched your referral program, make sure to allow for some time in order to see results.

Consider the type of customers and business you have

Make sure to factor in the situations and scenarios in which referrals are made. Not all referrals will be instant. Understand that sometimes referrals may take some time depending on the "who", "what", and "how". (e.g, who are the types of people that will be referred, how many times a month do your customers interact with their potential referrals, and in what scenarios is it appropriate for your participants to suggest your product/service to referrals).

Consider the sample size of participants

It is important to take into account the sample size of the group. Let's say, for example, that you are a B2B business with 50 participants in your campaign. This small sample size should be considered when factoring in the amount of referrals your customers can make at any given time for your specific product/service (e.g, how many friends or colleagues would they know that they could recommend?). Keep your referral program running, and when the moment is right, there will be the right advocates who want to and are able to share your business.

Find the sweet spot to unlock your business' word-of-mouth potential

Don't be discouraged if your referral program doesn't go "viral" (although, you may find some valuable tips on how to go viral from the king of referrals here). Long-term sustainable growth is the goal. You may find that this requires tweaking your referral program little by little to get there.

With GrowSurf, you can log into your account and instantly see real-time analytics and visibility of the effectiveness of your referral program.

Impressions + referrals look healthy in this campaign. Participants are also sharing the most via SMS.

For example, if you see that in the past 30 days your campaign has 0 impressions and 0 shares, this may indicate that your referral program is not being promoted enough and/or your users' unique share links are not easily accessible. It may also indicate that your reward is not incentivizing enough to make your customers care to share.

Last thoughts

Ultimately, promoting your refer-a-friend program can be the difference between success and failure, as Airbnb found out from their first-ever referral program.

Did you think this article was helpful? Feel like we're missing anything? Let us know  your thoughts by leaving a comment below.