If customer engagement is low and acquisition has dropped, it’s time to start or refresh your referral program.
But how do you make your referral program different from what’s already out there? How do you entice customers?
In 2018 we created an epic list of 75 of the best referral programs out there. To help you keep up with the times, we’ve revamped this list for 2020. This time, we’re bringing you 77 referral program examples across nine different categories. Use this list to draw inspiration for your own referral program.
Let’s get started!
Table of contents
- Travel Referral Program Examples
- Health & Beauty Referral Program Examples
- Retail & Ecommerce Referral Program Examples
- Fashion Referral Program Examples
- Food & Beverage Referral Program Examples
- Software Referral Program Examples
- Finance Referral Program Examples
- Transportation Referral Program Examples
- More Examples
Travel Referral Program Examples
HotelTonight is a travel booking app that offers users last-minute, discounted hotel deals. When advocates use the app to share their referral code with friends and family, they get $25 toward their next booking. Referred friends also receive $25 toward their first booking — provided the booking is at least $135.
Pro Tip: Even though advocates can share their referral code in places like email and social media, they receive credit only when their friends download the HotelTonight app and make a minimum-purchase booking. Use this technique if your goal is to increase engagement with your mobile app.
Since their launch in 2008, property rental app Airbnb has hosted 400 million guests in accommodations across the world. And their referral program is a key factor in their success of a company. When a friend uses that link to join Airbnb, they’ll receive a credit that will automatically apply toward their first reservation. Advocates will also receive up to $30 in Airbnb credits. Advocates have two ways to earn credits:
- When a friend completes a reservation as a guest
- When a friend completes a reservation as a host
Pro Tip: Airbnb’s app can connect to a user’s contact list via Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook. This takes the guess work out of figuring out which friends aren’t already Airbnb members. Plus, Airbnb’s referral link can be shared across any platform, including email, SMS, social media, and WhatsApp. When you give advocates more than one way to share their referral code, you make it easier for them to follow through. Figure out where your users spend the most time. If they're primarily on Facebook and Twitter, allow them to instantly share the program there.
3. MARRIOTT HOTEL
The Marriott uses a point-based system to reward its customers for referrals. Members can refer up to five new customers every year, with the potential of earning points for each one. Bonus points can be redeemed for a number of rewards, including discounted flights, rental cars, gift cards, concert tickets, and travel packages.
Pro Tip: Use a points-based system instead of discounts to save money and to keep your customers coming back. Marriott, for example, gives new referred customers 2,000 bonus points after their first five stays, incentivizing them to book more trips to earn their reward. Plus, the ability to rack up points for a number of redeemable rewards drives customer loyalty.
Getaround is like the Airbnb of car-sharing. Car owners can enroll their personal vehicles with the app and make money renting them out to other Getaround users. Advocates of the app can refer the service to their friends and family, earning a $20 credit for anyone who signs up. Any referrals who end up listing their own car with the app will earn that advocate a whopping $200.
Pro Tip: Offer a social sign-in option for customers and referrals. Getaround, for example, enables users to quickly sign up or log in by connecting via their Facebook or Google account. Customers don’t have to remember another login, making the referral process more convenient and easier to complete. And the same goes for referrals. They don’t have to commit to creating a new username and password in order to start using their $20 credit, increasing the likelihood that they follow through with the offer.
5. ALASKA AIRLINES
Alaska Airlines offers discounted airfare and vacation packages. Their incentive program is designed to encourage more consumers to sign up for their Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card, where every purchase made with the card earns that customer travel points. In order to do this, they offer current cardholders 5,000 bonus miles when any referral signs up and gets approved for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card.
Pro Tip: Consider partnering with another company to offer customers a reward for something they already use. In the case of Alaska Airlines, partnering with a credit card company was a no-brainer. Many consumers are already using a credit card to pay for their day-to-day purchases. Why not earn rewards while doing it?
6. CHOICE HOTELS
Choice Hotels is an online hotel booking service. Customers and referrals can earn points toward future bookings when referrals complete a stay with a participating hotel.
Pro Tip: Choice Hotels requires that members remain active in the program to keep the referral points they accumulate. Customers can’t go longer than 18 consecutive months without using their points or successfully referring a friend. Otherwise, they lose all the points they’ve earned. This is a great incentive to keep your customers engaged with your business. They’ll want to book more trips to keep their points from going to waste.
Health & Beauty Referral Program Examples
Soylent is a meal-replacement product that contains a mix of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. The company’s “Refer-A-Friend” program offers customers points for each referral that spends $24 or more on their first subscription order. Those points can be redeemed for discounts toward future purchases. Referrals who participate also get $10 off their first subscription order of $24 or more.
Pro Tip: Connect your referral program to a cause related to your mission. Soylent, for example, donates a dollar to the World Food Program USA for each new subscription purchased through their referral program. Eighty-seven percent of customers will buy products from companies that advocate for causes they — the customers — care about. If customers know their money is going toward a good cause, they’ll be more likely to follow through with a referral.
Quip is a dental hygiene service that provides customers with electric toothbrushes. They also offer customers refill packs (brush heads, batteries, toothpaste, and floss), as a subscription-based service. Customers and referred friends each get a $5 credit for every successful purchase made through the program. Customers get an additional $5 when they invite their dentists to join the Quip network.
Pro Tip: Match your reward value to the cost of your product. Quip, for example, offers $5 product refills (toothbrush heads, floss, etc.) to customers on a monthly basis. That way, your customer is essentially earning a free product delivery with every friend they refer.
FabFitFun is a subscription-based service that delivers self-care boxes to its customers four times a year. Customers get a $15 credit when a referred friend signs up for FabFitFun’s service. The referred friend is rewarded with $10 off their first box.
Pro Tip: Include an option for referrals to get automatic reminders. For example, allow your customers to select a checkbox that says, “Send my friend a reminder in 3 days.” This increases the chances of the referral following through on the offer.
Birchbox is a monthly subscription box that provides users with skin and hair care products. They offer a referral program where customers earn 100 Birchbox Points (equivalent to $10) once a friend subscribes to the service. The referral gets $9 off their first box when they purchase a 3-month, 6-month, or yearly subscription.
Pro Tip: Add a gamification element to your referral program. Birchbox shows advocates how many points they've earned to date, along with the dollar value.
11. MADISON REED
Madison Reed is a hair care company that sells and delivers color treatment products, hair accessories, styling tools, and more. With the company’s “invite a friend” program, customers get a $15 credit for every referral that signs up, and referrals get a $15 discount off their first purchase.
Pro Tip: Use language that grabs attention and suggests exclusivity. Madison Reed, for example, uses phrases like “Share the secret of hair color with your friends and family” to create a sense of intrigue. For referrals, it can influence the perceived value of a product and convert more people.
This company is an online retailer that sells skin care, fragrance, and beauty products. Advocates get a $10 store credit when a referred customer clicks on a personalized referral link, creates a new account, and places an order. The caveat is that all three steps must be completed in the same website session for the discount to apply. For referrals, their reward is 10% off their first purchase from Glossier’s website.
Pro Tip: Add a time limit to your rewards. Glossier’s referred customers must complete a purchase within 90 days of receiving their reward or the deal expires. This creates a sense of urgency and encourages the user to make their purchase quickly.
With locations across Oregon and Washington, BurnCycle offers indoor cycling classes. Customers can purchase individual classes or a membership on the company’s website. When advocates refer their friends to BurnCycle, those friends can buy their first spinning class for just $10. Once a customer gets five friends to complete a spin class, the customer is rewarded with 15% off their next month’s membership fee or class package.
Pro Tip: Give your customers a goal to work toward; they’ll engage with the referral program more often if they have to refer a certain number of friends before receiving their reward. That means increased brand awareness for your company and more potential for new customers.
Retail & Ecommerce Referral Program Examples
14. OUTDOOR VOICES
Outdoor Voices is an activewear retailer. Customers get a $20 credit for every referral who signs up, and referrals get a 20% discount on their first purchase.
Pro Tip: Incorporate social psychology. Social behaviors are goal-oriented—people want to feel included and connected with their peers. Outdoor Voices plays to these social behaviors by promoting their referral program with language like “Doing things is more fun with friends,” alongside imagery of people running and laughing together. This elicits an emotional response from both your customers and their referrals, increasing the likelihood they’ll follow through with the program.
15. GIRLFRIEND COLLECTIVE
Girlfriend Collective is an activewear brand that sells clothes made from recycled materials. Any advocate who successfully refers a friend (i.e., a purchase is made), gets a free pair of leggings. Referrals receive $10 off their purchase of $95 or more.
Pro Tip: Customers perceive free products as having a higher value than discounted products, regardless of the price. In one study conducted by the Carlson School of Management, researchers selling hand lotion sold 73% more when it was offered in a bonus pack than when it was offered for the equivalent discounted price. Consider rewarding customers with free products instead of coupons or discounts to increase your referral program conversion rates.
Backcountry is a retailer that sells outdoor clothing and gear. Their referral program gives advocates and their referrals $10 toward their next purchase.
Pro Tip: Use the share message as an opportunity to restate what you offer and the value customers get when they choose your product or service. Backcountry uses their sharing page and default message to highlight their one-to-one personal shopping experience with Expert Gearheads.
Amerisleep sells natural memory-foam mattresses online. Customers get a $75 prepaid Visa gift card when referrals order a mattress through a personalized share link. Plus, there’s no limit to how many people a customer can refer. The more links you share, the higher the potential payout.
Pro Tip: Amerisleep gives customers a way to view their “referral stats.” This makes a referral program feel more like a game to the customer. The ability to quantify your rewards for being an advocate creates a sense of achievement. It motivates customers to refer more friends so that they can see that payout getting higher and higher. Consider offering your customers a dashboard where they can track their referral progress.
Moo is an online print and design company. They offer an array of products such as business cards, stationery, flyers, and postcards. Moo’s referral program offers two ways to earn rewards. When customers refer a friend, they have the potential to win a $20 gift card. Refer a business (minimum of 10 employees), and that reward goes up to $150. Individual referrals who sign up get 25% off their first order, and businesses who sign up get a dedicated account manager, discount, and more.
Pro Tip: Offer tiered rewards where customers can earn more, depending on how many people they refer. By presenting more than one option, you’re increasing the customer’s perceived value of a reward based on how it compares to other tiers. Just make sure to create visuals that clearly explain the differences between each tier and what your customers need to do to earn those rewards.
For a limited time only, this online mattress company is offering its customers a $75 Amazon gift card as part of an end-of-season referral program. Customers create a personalized referral link they can send to their friends and family. If a friend or family member buys their first Casper mattress with that link, the customer wins the gift card. And, the referred customer gets 20% off their order.
Pro Tip: Switch up your referral offers from time to time to keep your customers guessing. Consider upping the monetary value of your rewards for holidays or special events. Or you could offer a completely new reward. Either way, limiting the amount of time these special offers are available will create a sense of urgency. Your customers won’t want to miss out on a great deal, so they’ll refer more friends. Plus, they’ll want to check your website periodically to see if any offers are available, increasing overall engagement with your brand.
Blinds.com sells custom window treatments. When advocates give $20 to a referred friend, the advocate gets $20 in return. It’s a great introductory offer for new customers considering using the service.
Pro Tip: Include a summary of what products you offer in the referral email itself. Anyone unfamiliar with your brand will know what to expect when clicking through to your site, increasing the likelihood of them doing so. After all, someone who receives a referral email from Blinds.com might not realize that the company also sells valances and cornices. Make sure your referrals know what they can get.
Boden is a clothing retailer with a primary focus on online sales. Advocates get a $15 coupon when they refer a friend. Their referrals get 20% off of their first purchase.
Pro Tip: Share lifestyle imagery to improve the appeal of your products, and add a personal touch to your messaging. Boden adds some flair to their “How it works” messaging by adding “but beware: matching outfits are now a possibility.” Customers can connect with that language on a personal level. It makes them want to share.
An online luggage retailer, eBags gives its customers $10 in reward points for every referral who makes a purchase. Referrals get 65% off when they shop.
Pro Tip: Follow eBags’ example and keep your referral messaging short and to the point. The clearer the offer is to advocates and referrals, the easier it is to follow through and take advantage of.
Just as the name suggests, MeUndies is an online underwear retailer. Customers get a $20 credit per successful referral, and referrals get 20% off their first purchase.
Pro Tip: Add some humor to the prepopulated message box, like MeUndies does in the photo above. Humor strengthens your referral program because it adds a personal touch to your messaging. Plus, humor helps create a connection between your brand and your potential customer. And the more connected a consumer feels to your brand, the more likely they are to buy.
Thinx is also an online underwear retailer, but with a focus on women’s health. The company offers $10 to customers and referrals who participate in their refer-a-friend program.
Pro Tip: Use your messaging to highlight how your product solves an unmet need. Thinx, for example, refers to its referral program as “the period revolution.” Consumers are drawn to innovative products. That’s because purchasing those products makes them feel like they’re part of a bigger initiative.
Brooklinen lovingly refers to their products as “The Internet’s Favorite Sheets.” They offer various rewards to customers who complete specific actions, such as following the company on Instagram or leaving a product review. The most attractive incentive, however, is their “Refer-A-Friend” offer. Customers and referrals each get $25 off their next purchase of $100 or more when they participate.
Pro Tip: In addition to creating a pop-up dedicated only to your referral offer, considering including it on a landing page that lists all your rewards programs. This gives your customers lots of options to save and lets them see how they can earn more money for future products.
26. SHOES FOR CREWS
Shoes for Crews sells shoes to workforces that require slip-resistant footwear. Their referral program lets advocates share Shoes for Crews with family and friends so that their referrals save $10 on their first purchase of $50 or more.
Pro Tip: Emphasize the benefit to the referred friend. This shows the customer that you care about the happiness of their friends and family. It humanizes the referral program and makes it feel less like a generic request for new business.
Shyp is a shipping and fulfillment service company. They provide services to individuals with Ecommerce stores and SMBs with online and brick-and-mortar stores. When advocates share their referral code using Shyp's app, they get credit toward their next shipment.
Pro Tip: Personalize share messages to show who the invitation came from instead of sending referred friends to a generic landing page. Personalized messages are more meaningful and are likely to get attention.
Advocates earn $10 in Groupon Bucks when a referral signs up with Groupon and buys something. This credit can be used toward any future Groupon purchase.
Pro Tip: Offer referral rewards in the form of a credit to your site. This is a great way to keep customers coming back without having to give away actual cash.
Minted sells cards, design pieces, and personal art created by independent designers. They offer lots of designs and customization to help ensure that customers get the end product they want. Their referral program offers friends and customers $25 off orders of $100 or more.
Pro Tip: When explaining your referral program to customers, try breaking it down into steps, like Minted does in the photo above. This prevents readers from getting overwhelmed by too much information, and makes the referral process easier to understand.
Fashion Referral Program Examples
Timberland, a shoe retailer, offers advocates 20% when their friends purchase. Friends also get 20% off of their purchase.
Pro Tip: Clarify how to use the referral credit and which products apply. This approach is handy if there’s a large product selection and brands want to avoid customers getting “analysis paralysis” and leaving without making a purchase.
31. VERA BRADLEY
Vera Bradley sells a range of different products but specializes in bags, luggage, backpacks, and travel accessories. Both customers and referrals who participate in their “Refer-A-Friend” program get 20% off their next purchase.
Pro Tip: Use your referral program to market products to customers (instead of focusing on the referral itself). For example, Vera Bradley positions referrals as a way for customers to save even more on products they love—sharing Vera Bradley with friends is a bonus. This makes your customers feel less like a vehicle for getting new business, and more like a valued customer.
32. REBECCA MINKOFF
Rebecca Minkoff sells luxury handbags, accessories, footwear, and apparel. Their “Refer-A-Friend” program offers customers and referrals $20 each for participating in the program.
Pro Tip: Make a flat reward system stand out by simplifying the follow-through process. Rebecca Minkoff doesn’t ask customers to upload referral emails right away or add a custom message. The program just asks for the customer’s email to get started. The less complicated the process seems up front, the more willing your customers will be to participate.
Hunter specializes in boots, coats, and accessories. Referrals get 15% off their first order, and the customers who made the referrals get $15 off their next order.
Pro Tip: The CTAs on many referral invites simply say “enter” or “send.” Use a CTA that reiterates what customers need to do. Position the button message as what customers will get (e.g., “Get your $15 credit”) or what they will give (e.g., “Give 15%”). A good CTA should relate to your message and motivate people to participate.
Fabletics offers a wide range of women’s fitness wear as a subscription-based service. Their referral program is a chance for advocates to share the benefits they get with their subscription (including 50% off regular pricing). For every friend a customer refers, they’ll receive a $10 credit.
Pro Tip: Make the referral page about more than just referring people. Fabletics includes an activewear quiz, a quote from the cofounder, a price comparison chart, and product images. The page is designed to increase CTR by being engaging and answering as many customers questions as possible.
Based out of Japan, Uniqlo is a clothing designer, manufacturer, and retailer. Customers and referrals get $10 off their purchases when they participate in the refer-a-friend program.
Pro Tip: Include an option for customers to join your email list. You’ll be able to follow up with them and send referral updates to keep them engaged and keep the referral program top of mind.
36. HANNA ANDERSSON
Hanna Andersson is a retailer that specializes in children's apparel. Advocates save 20% on a future purchase when they refer friends and family. Referrals also get 20% off of their first purchase.
Pro Tip: Match the rewards advocates and referrals receive. This keeps the program simple but also shows that referrals are valued just as much as customers.
37. AMERICAN GIANT
Known for having the “best hoodies in the world,” American Giant is a casual clothing and activewear retailer with a focus on high-quality products. Customers who successfully refer friends earn $20, while referrals get a 15% discount off their first order.
Pro Tip: Use the prepopulated message box to highlight product benefits. American Giant, for example, highlights the timelessness of their products and how the simple design of their products is made to outlast trends. Use market research to figure out what benefits matter most to customers, and include these in your referral. Since customers and referrals are in the same network, chances are they have similar needs and preferences.
Everlane is an online retailer of men and women’s clothing. Customers get $25 for every referral who makes a purchase on the site.
Pro Tip: Add a personalized referral link to your website footer. No matter where customers navigate to on your site, they’ll always be reminded of the money they can earn by referring a friend.
39. LIME LUSH BOUTIQUE
Lime Lush is an online clothing boutique for women. Referrals get 20% off their first order, and the customers who referred them get $20 off their next order.
Pro Tip: Use your referral program to grow your email list. Ask for your customer’s email before asking for their friend’s contact info. You can then create email campaigns designed to encourage customers to refer friends on an ongoing basis. This is a proactive way to encourage referrals.
Food & Beverage Referral Program Examples
HelloFresh is a subscription-based meal-kit delivery service. When a friend signs up for HelloFresh with a customer’s referral code, the friend gets $40 off their first box, and the customer receives a $20 credit to their account.
Pro Tip: Few programs give customers the option to share a referral code via social channels and provide a shareable link. Give customers options to make it easier for them to invite friends via the channels they use most.
Peapod is an online grocery store. Customers can share referral links with friends via Facebook, Twitter, Messenger, Pinterest, or email. Referrals who sign up will get $50 ($25 off their first and second orders), and 60 days free delivery or pickup. Customers who successfully refer their friends will receive $25 to use toward their next purchase.
Pro Tip: Peapod is unique, in that referrals can save money on their first and second purchases. Plus, they have access to free delivery. Consider offering additional perks to make your referral program appeal more to new customers and encourage them to participate.
42. FARM FRESH TO YOU
This company is an organic fruit and vegetable delivery service. Customers get a unique “Refer-A-Friend” code to use when referring Farm Fresh To You to their friends. Customers receive a $25 credit when their friend joins using their promotional code. Referrals who sign up save $15 on their first delivery of fruits and veggies.
Pro Tip: Farm Fresh To You improves the appeal of their referral program by including testimonials from real customers. This helps customers visualize the benefits of the program and encourages them to participate.
Seated is a restaurant reservation app. Their referral program gives customers and referred friends credits that can be used toward future reservations.
Pro Tip: When five referrals successfully book a reservation, the customer who referred them unlocks what’s called “Seated Partner” status. With this status, customers earn bonus rewards every time their referred friends dine out. This is a great way to gamify your referral program. Keep it interesting by showing your customers how many more referrals they need to unlock rewards.
This online snack retailer rewards customers with $10 for every friend they refer. Referred customers get 50% off their first order.
Pro Tip: Offer referrals a massive discount to encourage them to buy more. If the discount applies to only their first purchase, they’ll want to maximize their spend.
45. BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE
Selling coffee, brewing equipment, mugs, and more, Blue Bottle Coffee got its start in Oakland, California. Since then, they’ve grown to serve customers across the United States, Japan, and Korea. Customers and friends who participate in the company’s referral program each get a $20 credit toward future purchases.
Pro Tip: Consider using personalized shareable codes so they’re easy for customers to remember and share anywhere. Blue Bottle Coffee includes their name and a randomly generated code at the end. Exchange the random code for the customer’s name to make the code more memorable and easier to share.
Winc is an online wine club that delivers bottles to customers on a subscription basis. Customers are given personal invite links they use to refer friends to the service. When a referral signs up for a Winc membership, they get $22, and the referrer gets two free bottles of wine.
Pro Tip: Choose a discount value for referrals that translates into a free product. If you have the budget, consider doubling the deal, like Winc does. This makes your referral program appear even more attractive and improves engagement rate.
Software Referral Program Examples
Vonage is a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service provider. Customers get a $50 gift card for every referral who signs up for Vonage’s service.
Pro Tip: Vonage offers its referral reward in the form of a gift redeemable at over 50 retailers. The more options your customers have when it comes to how they spend their rewards, the more appealing the program will seem.
Gusto offers cloud-based payroll, benefits, and HR management software to U.S. businesses. Their incentive program offers accountants a way to grow their business. Based on a four-tier system, every client that an accountant refers to Gusto will earn that accountant rewards. The more clients who sign up for Gusto, the higher the rewards.
Pro Tip: Position your referral program as a partnership. Gusto does this well by positioning its referral program as a way to help accountants grow their business and get more clients. Don’t just ask your customers to be advocates for your brand — be advocates for them as well. This will make participating in the program feel more like a reward than an ask.
For their program, Evernote offers advocates 10 points for each of the first three friends they refer. Advocates also get five points every time a referral buys the Evernote Premium package. For their part, referrals get one month of Evernote Premium free.
Pro Tip: Make sure you have detailed referral terms available for advocates and referrals to access. Make it clear how the program works so there are no surprises.
Airtable is a project management and organizational tool built to help SMB teams stay organized. Their referral program gives advocates a $10 credit every time they refer someone new to the platform. When a referrer builds up enough referral credits, they can use those credits to upgrade their account to a more premium plan.
Pro Tip: When it comes to products like project management, more capabilities mean more efficient workflows. Allow customers to build up their referral credits to purchase higher-value rewards. This will motivate them to refer more users.
51. INTUIT QUICKBOOKS
QuickBooks has a new and improved referral program. Advocates get a $100 Visa Prepaid Card for each person who subscribes. That’s 33% higher than the standard referral reward! Plus, the referred customer gets a 50% discount.
Pro Tip: Put emphasis on the fact that advocates are helping their friends and family improve their user experience by partnering with you. QuickBooks, for example, encourages customers to help their friends “focus on their passion.” This makes the referral program feel more personal, which increases the rate of follow-through.
Dropbox is an online data storage platform. Customers with a basic Dropbox account get 500MB of storage added to their account for every referral they make, up to 16GB total. For Dropbox Plus and Professional customers, the reward per referral goes up to 1GB each (with a 32GB max).
Pro Tip: Include a referral status bar in your program so customers can see how much they’ve earned to date. You’ll give them a goal to aim for so they keep sharing
Trello is a project management and organization tool used by businesses and individuals alike. For every referred friend who purchases Trello, the referring customer gets one month of Trello’s Gold package for free. Customers can earn up to 12 months free, a total value of $45.
Pro Tip: Trello’s referral program is brilliant because not only does it attract new customers, but it also promotes upsells. Offer customers access to one of your upgraded service plans. Once they’ve experienced the features that come with a higher-tier plan, they won’t want to go back to their basic package.
DocSend helps customers safely store, share, and edit documents. Everything is stored in one place, making it easier for professionals to stay organized. Their referral offer gives advocates and referrals $15 to spend toward any plan for every friend who activates a new account.
Pro Tip: Give users the option to share their referral link directly to the platforms where your audience is likely to spend most of their time. For example, DocSend customers can share their referral link on LinkedIn, where businesses in need of DocSend’s services will see the offer. Think about which mediums your target audience is most likely to use, and include quick-share buttons to those platforms on your referral page.
Windscribe is a desktop application and browser extension that blocks ads online and safeguards user information. Advocates earn free data (1GB) per month for each referral who confirms their email with Windscribe. Even more impressive is the plan-match referral reward. If a referred friend buys a subscription to Windscribe’s Pro plan, the referring customer will get the equivalent service for free. That means if a friend buys a year of Pro, the customer will get a year of Pro for free.
Pro Tip: Clearly explain what the referred friend has to do for the customer to get the reward. Windscribe does a great job of spelling it out on their landing page. If your friend does X, you get Y. Keep it simple so your customers know how to promote the service and what to expect in return.
An online platform that helps businesses manage payroll, employee benefits, and HR responsibilities. Justworks doesn’t mess around when it comes to referrals. For every company that signs up through a referral link, the referring customer earns $100 per employee. So if a customer refers a company with 100 employees, the customer will get $10,000 in rewards for a successful sign-up.
Pro Tip: To show companies how quickly rewards can grow, share examples. Justworks makes it clear that the larger the company a user refers, the more money the user can earn. After all, a $10,000 reward opportunity is pretty hard to pass up.
Lattice is employee management software. Users and their referrals each get a $200 Amazon gift card for participating in their referral program.
Pro Tip: A great way to improve the quality of leads coming through your referral program is to ask for more detailed information. For example, ask your customers to enter a friend’s first and last name and their company’s name instead of requiring only an email address. This will make it easier to qualify leads and personalize outreach.
FunctionFox is a project management app. Customers earn $150 in cash for every referred friend who becomes a customer. The referral will also earn a free month of the service.
Pro Tip: If your budget allows, remove the cap for how much users can earn from referrals. Power users who are motivated to share will ensure that you have a steady stream of new leads.
Canva is an online platform customers can use to create digital designs for flyers, presentations, business cards, and more. Customers can buy premium images for their designs with Canva credits. When a referred friend creates their first design in the platform, both friend and customer receive free Canva credits (max 20 credits).
Pro Tip: Allow users to redeem referral credits for premium features. Canva customers can create high-quality designs without worrying about paying for an image they need. This improves the overall user experience and keeps the customer coming back for future projects.
Finance Referral Program Examples
Robinhood is an online investment app. For every new friend customers invite to join Robinhood, both customer and referral earn free stock (up to $500 a calendar year).
Pro Tip: For investment companies like Robinhood, it’s good practice to disclose any financial information customers should know when investing in stocks. Robinhood, for example, clearly explains how customers should report the income they receive from free stock when filing their taxes. Laying out this type of information will help referrals new to investing feel more comfortable with becoming a customer.
61. AMERICAN EXPRESS
Credit card companies are known for their customers’ high lifetime value. Once a customer signs on with a company, chances are they aren't going anywhere for a long time. This is why referral programs offer a tremendous opportunity for these businesses. If they can attract enough new customers, companies like American Express can enjoy long-term retention. The American Express referral program can earn customers 15,000 Membership Rewards points (up to 55,000 per calendar year) for referrals who sign up, while referrals get at least 10,000 points, depending on which card they sign up for.
Pro Tip: Points are a great incentive for advocates because they can be accumulated over time and used for big purchases. Consider partnering with retail companies to show customers what they can purchase with points earned (e.g., major appliances).
Chase customers can earn between 5,000 and 10,000 points (equivalent to $50 and $100, respectively) when they refer friends and family. The caveat is, not all Chase cards are eligible for the “Refer-A-Friend” promotions. Users must first enter their information to see if they qualify.
Pro Tip: Give customers the option to do their own product research before completing the referral. Include a link to FAQs and product pages. Customers are able to see which benefits apply to them so they buy into the idea of participating in the program.
Coinbase is a bitcoin exchange company. Advocates can earn $10 worth of bitcoin for every friend they refer.
Pro Tip: Base your reward on your product or service. Instead of rewarding cash, give advocates a chance to earn more of what they already value. In Coinbase’s case, that’s more bitcoin.
Both referrals and advocates can earn statement credits with Discover’s referral program. The amount of credits you can earn depends on which Discover card you use and which offer your friend applies for. Discover lays it all out here.
Pro Tip: If you offer different rewards for different cardholders, make sure your customers know what to expect. Discover does a great job of explaining the different rewards customers can earn based on what card they use. We recommend following Discover’s example and laying out this information on the same referral program landing page.
Expensify is a software program for managing receipts and expenses. The company offers a referral program called ExpensifyApproved, where customers can earn tiered discounts based on how many users they bring to Expensify. The highest tier, Platinum, earns referring customers a 30% discount on Expensify services.
Pro Tip: If your budget allows, offer a special reward for top referring customers. Expensify, for example, held an invite-only retreat for customers who brought in the most business. Think about your customer base and what they might consider a high-value reward. This could be a private networking event with industry leaders or free admission to a well-known conference.
Swagbucks is a points-based rewards-programs operator that offers customers gift cards and cash for completing activities online. Customers can earn points by shopping online, answering surveys, and watching videos. The Swagbucks referral program awards customers 10% of whatever their referred friends earn. So if your friend earns 700 points for completing a survey online, the referring customer gets 70 points for free.
Pro Tip: Consider offering referral rewards on an ongoing basis. Swagbucks, for example, rewards its customers for the lifetime of their referred friend’s account. This is an incentive for customers to encourage their friends to continue using the app. Customers become louder advocates, and your retention rate goes up.
Acorns is a financial investment service that specializes in microinvesting and robo-investing. When customers refer friends to Acorns using a custom referral link, both parties receive a $5 bonus. Bonuses are rewarded only when a friend’s account is approved and they make a successful investment.
Pro Tip: Offer referrals a reward that gets them started with your app. With a $5 credit already added to their account, referred customers only need to choose their investment to get started. It’s a way to get new customers engaged with your brand quickly and with minimal effort.
Transportation Referral Program Examples
68. CITI BIKE
Annual members who use this bike-sharing system can get a free month for each successful referral. Citi Bike's terms explain that advocates can earn rewards for up to 24 referrals, which translates into two free years of service. This is a great incentive!
Pro Tip: Spell out the long-term benefits advocates stand to gain from participating in the program. The more they stand to gain over time, the more likely they'll be to participate.
Uber's referral program played a huge role in its growth. The company makes it easy for advocates to share by enabling the referral program on their mobile app. Advocates get discounts off future rides when they successfully refer a friend.
Pro Tip: Build an option for customers to use your service’s mobile app to share referrals. Today’s consumers spend a lot of time on their phones. They’ll be more likely to participate in your referral program if it’s easy and convenient to do so.
Lyft is a ridesharing program. Customers are given a monetary reward for referring friends to the Lyft platform. Customers can choose to receive their reward in the form of cash, Lyft credit, or a combination of the two.
Pro Tip: Customers are more willing to share when they have options for sharing referrals. With Lyft, customers can send invitations by entering a friend’s contact information directly in the app. They also have the option to send custom referral codes to friends via SMS, email, or social media.
Tesla designs electric cars and other clean-energy products. Customers earn 1,000 miles of free Supercharging for every referral that purchases a Tesla car. Each referral also gives customers a quarterly chance to win a Model Y or Roadster. Plus, customers and referrals get $250 when the referral activates a solar panel or Solar Roof system.
Pro Tip: If you have a small product line, offer separate rewards for each one. This approach lets you cater to all of your customer segments by offering a reward specific to their needs.
72. RAD POWER BIKES
This is a Seattle-based ebike company. Customers who complete a purchase with the company are given unique referral links that they can share with friends. Whenever someone places an order using that link, they get $50 off their purchase, and the referring customer receives a $50 Amazon gift card.
Pro Tip: Give your customers the option to spend their rewards elsewhere. For companies who specialize in one type of product, your customers may already own everything they need. Offering a gift card to a retailer of their choice is a better way to incentivize this type of customer because it offers them new value.
Verizon’s Fios’ Refer-a-Friend program is a tiered system that offers customers $100 in a prepaid Mastercard gift card when they refer a friend online.
Pro Tip: Referral programs are a great way to promote new products. Verizon is using their program to encourage users to purchase their 100% fiber-optic network. Just make sure your invite email clearly states what the product is so referrals know what they can get.
Vistaprint is a print company that helps small businesses create customized cards, marketing materials, clothing, and more. Referrals have proved to be a great way for them to grow in their market. Advocates get $10 when they refer a friend and their referral makes an order.
Pro Tip: Just as Vistaprint does, play around with the styling of your copy. In the photo above, the $10 offer stands out from the rest of the referral details because it’s bolded in red.
75. NEW YORK TIMES
Current subscribers to the New York Times can send emails to friends and family, inviting them to join for $1 a week. For every friend who buys a subscription with a referral link, five public school students will receive a free subscription via the Sponsor a Student Subscription Program.
Pro Tip: Include a charitable element to your referral program. Customers will be more likely to participate in a program that serves a greater good.
76. SLING TV
Sling TV is a streaming service that lets users find and watch shows that match their unique preferences. When advocates refer a friend, they both receive $5 off their subscription for the next three months.
Pro Tip: For service providers, spreading your referral reward over several months encourages customer retention. That’s because the more a customer gets used to a service, the more likely they are to stick with it to avoid change.
PrettyLitter sells a special brand of kitty littler that helps owners detect health issues in their cats. The product turns colors based on the anomalies it detects. Their referral program offers both customer and referral $15 dollars off when they participate.
Pro Tip: Include an option in your referral window that allows customers to subscribe to your newsletter. This is a great way to get customers on your email list without requiring additional steps.
Make your referral program work for you
There are endless options when it comes to designing a referral program. You can offer tiered rewards, customer-only rewards, limited-time incentives, and more.
Talk to your customers to find out what motivates them. What type of reward is attractive enough to turn them into an advocate for your brand? What’s the most convenient method for them to share invite links? The key to a successful rewards program is creating one that’s both easy and convenient for your customers to use.
When you’re ready to get started, hop on over to our product page to learn how Extole can help you effortlessly implement a beautiful and on-brand program. We’ll provide the reporting metrics you need to make sure your program is meeting its goals.