5 Referral Marketing Success Stories Targeting Millennials

Since the dawn of digital, CMOs have been chomping at the bit to recruit Millennial brand ambassadors in a sustained effort to cultivate brand affinity, build cachet, and garner rapport. In fact, establishing credibility on the backs of Millennials has become far more of an obsession than a tactical approach. Nevertheless, courting them has proven to be a chief strategy that’s paying massive dividends for marketers.

In the United States alone, 80 million Millennial shoppers spent $600 billion last year, a tab that is projected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020. The sheer volume of annual revenue fueled exclusively by Gen Y has entire industries doubling down on mega-marketing initiatives.

However, the one surefire strategy that has consistently achieved top-tier results has been referral marketing, which doesn’t actually market to Millennials at all. Instead, it markets through them.

Making it rain with referrals

Since 2010, we’ve powered hundreds of referral marketing programs targeting Millennials for many of our partner businesses worldwide. We’ve built our reputation on the extraordinary volume of referrals we generate for our clients, which convert 41% of their leads through Millennials. It’s one of the reasons why we’re one of the fastest-growing referral marketing agencies in the United States.

While more and more businesses prioritize their referral marketing strategies with us, pollinating the social media ecosystem with strong referrals from Millennials has become our calling card. The winning formula is simple: low friction yields high engagement, with a guarantee that an authentic brand experience is a non-negotiable standard.

In this article, we look at five referral marketing success stories targeting Millennials, each powered by our industry-leading enterprise advocacy platform. We understand that meeting the high expectations and delicate demands of Millennials is a daily endeavor, so we’ve highlighted key takeaways from each campaign that showcase how creative referral marketing concepts can help you score big points with Millennials and create greater intrinsic value for your brand.


Scottsdale, Arizona

Call-to-action: Get $75; give an extra $50

Amerisleep is a direct-to-consumer mattress retailer, an industry fraught with stout startup competition, but their eco-friendly manufacturing entices Millennials. Utilizing our platform, Amerisleep successfully A/B tested their referral marketing program internally before rolling out the campaign to the public via a call-to-action on its homepage. They rewarded advocates $75 for each referral, which gifted friends $50 towards the purchase of a new mattress.

We helped Amerisleep identify high-value advocates who demonstrated a strong response to the referral program and customized a unique rewards program tailored exclusively for those customers. This created a deeper connection to the brand, which drove more meaningful engagement and generated more conversions.

Results: Amerisleep’s referral program generated a click-through rate (CTR) of 150%, which means that each referral link successfully generated at least one impression.

Outlook: On the heels of high consumer demand, Amerisleep aims to scale its referral marketing to accommodate expansion to Australia and South Korea. The company continues to work to bring its referral program to committed brand ambassadors around the world.

Key Takeaway for Marketers: Testing your program pre-launch ensures that your messaging resonates and your rewards are worthy of referrals. Another crucial measure is to segment your audience accordingly so that you’re targeting the right Millennials for the job.


Seattle, Washington

Call-to-action: Get $15 for each new friend who joins

Julep is a breakthrough beauty brand that brings new products to market each year based on stellar customer feedback and social engagement. Their subscription-based model offers an affordable way for Millennials to stay up-to-date with the latest beauty products and trends. Julep’s referral marketing program rewards advocates with a $15 credit and a free beauty box whenever a new referral registers.

Once a month, Julep nudges advocates via email to personalize their beauty boxes before they ship. Once items are added, a popup display suggests they share their curated items with friends: “Your box is saved! Now spread the word and get $15 for every friend who joins.” This timely call-to-action presents a prime opportunity for advocates to take advantage of the promo.

Results: The popup referral generated 5x the number of shares than any other day during the month.

Outlook: Like Amerisleep, Julep’s referral marketing strategy mutually rewards its most loyal customers while acquiring new ones. Julep continues to court its VIP advocates with personalized incentives to help connect fresh faces to its brand.

Key Takeaway for Marketers: One of the best times to target Millennials is after a purchase. Make it as easy as possible for purchasing customers to take full advantage of a reward without having to leave the page. Timely deployment of your messaging is vital to driving referrals and customer acquisition.

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San Francisco, California

Call-to-action: Get $20; give 30-days free and 10% off

DocuSign’s cloud-based technology serves more than 85 million users and 225,000 companies worldwide, helping to manage contracts and legal documents securely and privately. It has become an indispensable service for Millennials who are operating startups and small businesses or who work in regulated industries that require the utmost trust and confidentiality.

DocuSign averages about 85,000 new users daily, funneled through a labyrinth of complicated, high-maintenance acquisition channels. But for a company growing at such a torrid pace, implementing a more simplified framework that streamlines the user experience and workflow-for both administrators and end users-has become imperative.

We helped create an “out-of-the-box” solution that leveraged existing user data to better automate and track the progress of referrals, enabling campaign managers to analyze share metrics and customer feedback all under one roof directly from the dashboard.

Results: DocuSign’s freshly overhauled referral marketing program enabled them to effortlessly convert new trial users through existing customers, saving time and money while achieving better ROI compared to more costly and convoluted channels.

Outlook: DocuSign’s well-documented (pun intended) data-driven approach to referral marketing calls for frequent testing to optimize the program’s performance. Its partnership with Extole ensures continued growth in the U.S. and abroad, converting high-level leads into long-term, loyal ambassadors who consistently refer new clients and colleagues.

Key Takeaway for Marketers: If your business is experiencing rapid growth, managing multiple marketing channels can become unwieldy-fast. Your best bet is to focus on converting existing customers before attempting to scale through new leads. This way you’re able to get the most out of your highest performing advocates and fully optimize your current strategy while keeping costs down.

American Giant

San Francisco, California

Call-to-action: Get $15; give 15% off

Making America great starts with great American-made products. American Giant, like many U.S. apparel companies, faces stiff competition from overseas. It relies heavily on its brand transparency with Millennials, to whom sustainability and Fair Trade are hot-button topics. Its vow to revitalize manufacturing across the country exhumes an already passionate consumer base who believes strongly in its mission.

In order to sustain an honest price point while making good on its promise, American Giant developed a social-centric strategy focused on data-driven engagement. It analyzed consumer purchase patterns from top to bottom, drawing on deeper insights into specific product preferences that had helped forge a strong brand allegiance over the years. Gauging this new data, American Giant discovered that Facebook and Facebook Messenger users, along with email subscribers, were a natural fit for the $15/15% referral split (that rhymed).

Results: Email referrals had a 21% conversion rate with customers sharing the referral an average of 3x.

Outlook: American Giant’s referral widget lives in the menu bar atop its homepage where it remains top-of-mind for consumers, keeping participation high. We continue to help American Giant honor its commitment to ignite manufacturing across America, ensuring that “Made in the USA” remains the lifeblood of its DNA (that rhymed, again!).

Key Takeaway for Marketers: To email or direct message, that is the question.Gaining key insights into how your top advocates will respond to your offers is critical to knowing where and how to approach them. Do a deep data dive to better understand where your advocates tend to share their referrals, as it will ultimately determine your conversion rates and overall acquisition results.

Intuit QuickBooks

Mountain View, California

Call-to-action: Get $100; give 50% off

Businesses rely on QuickBooks for its full-scope financial management system, acclaimed for its robust suite of essential accounting tools and premium tax-prep software. Its revered reputation in the industry seduces Millennials seeking an end-to-end solution to professional bookkeeping.

QuickBooks initially set out to better demonstrate the value of brand advocacy to existing high-level NPS responders, targeting them with in-app refer-a-friend promotions. This immediately prompted a spike in referrals. QuickBooks then quickly, nonetheless, turned to its referral marketing strategy to launch a timely two-week burst campaign that doubled rewards from $50 to $100 for top NPS responders. In unison with its outbound marketing strategy, the in-app referrals amplified awareness and generated engagement with remarkable conversion rates.

Results: The burst tripled sales revenues compared to the previous campaign with a 600% increase in the number of advocates. Referrals from in-app placements converted the highest, while email referrals encouraged the most sharing.

Outlook: QuickBooks continues to reap the benefits from advantageous burst campaigns. It runs periodic bursts throughout the year to percolate engagement and drive advocacy, especially during tax season and ahead of fiscal filing deadlines.

Key Takeaway for Marketers: Leveraging multiple data points to target premium advocates is a smart way to boost acquisition opportunities. This will better position you to execute timely promos-like QuickBooks’ burst campaign-to discount specific products or services for a limited time only. This can have a huge impact on sales and help rejuvenate engagement.

Embrace the opportunity Millennials offer

Charming Millennials can be a cumbersome feat. That’s why having a reliable referral marketing buddy like ours on your team can be a game changer when it comes to amplifying brand awareness through high-value Millennial advocates.

Did you enjoy this article? Share it with five colleagues and receive $5 off our 2018 Referral Marketing Guide. See what we did there? 😉

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