Every business should have a referral program. They’re a low-cost, high-reward way to scale your business quickly using your best asset: your customers.
Even if you have a standard “give-to-get” referral model, there are still plenty of ways to grab your customers’ attention with rewards and perks.
So, whether you’re on the fence about starting a referral program – or want inspiration to freshen up your existing program – we got you covered with this list of 70+ programs from a variety of business models.
Table of Contents
- Retail & E-commerce Referral Program Examples
- Subscription Service Referral Program Examples
- Food & Beverage Referral Program Examples
- Travel & Transportation Referral Program Examples
- Software Referral Program Examples
- Finance Referral Program Examples
- Bonus Examples
Retail & E-commerce Referral Program Examples
1. Madison Reed
Madison Reed is a haircare company that 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 who 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, this type of enticing language can influence the perceived value of a product and convert more people.
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: Adda 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.
3. Outdoor Voices
Outdoor Voices is an activewear retailer. When customers refer their friends, that friend will get 20% off their first purchase. Once they’ve completed their order, you get $20 toward Outdoor Voices products.
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 images 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.
4. 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: Coupons, including BOGO deals or steep discounts, have a significant pull on a customer’s perception of your brand. In a study with Valassis, researchers found that 55% of consumers cite a more positive impression of brands that offer coupons. They also found that coupons incentivize 60% of consumers to try a new product they otherwise wouldn’t buy. Consider rewarding customers with coupons or deals for free products to increase your referral program conversion rates.
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 clearly explain the differences between each tier and what your customers need to do to earn those rewards.
Casper, an online mattress company, has a traditional referral program in place. But, at times throughout the year, the company offers bonuses. In 2020, Casper offered customers a $75 Amazon gift card as part of an end-of-season referral program. Customers were given a personalized referral link they could 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 referral campaigns are available will create a sense of urgency. Your customers won’t want to miss out on a great deal, so they’ll want to keep sharing with new referrals. Plus, they’ll want to check your website periodically to see if any offers are available, increasing overall engagement with your brand.
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.
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, offering an array of period underwear. 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 successful 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,” and their referral program is integral to their fast growth. 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, consider 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.
12. 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. Both parties save $10 on their next purchase.
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.
Another footwear brand, Birdies, has seen tremendous growth since opening their doors in 2015. Their referral program incentivizes customers to give $20 to a friend and get $20 when that friend makes a purchase.
Pro tip: When in doubt about the best way to incentivize referrals, keep it simple. That’s because, at the end of the day, a give-to-get model is all you need to grow a loyal customer base.
Customers earn $10 in Groupon Bucks when a referred friend 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 or product.
Pro Tip: The CTAs on many referrals 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% off”). 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 up to 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.
17. J.Crew Factory
Clothing retailer J.Crew offers a straightforward refer-a-friend program for their Factory stores: share a link with a friend, and they’ll get $20 off their first order. If they sign up for rewards, then you’ll receive $10.
Pro tip: If you want your customers to sign up for an extra service, like a points system, consider creating a referral incentive to generate interest.
18. Hanna Andersson
Pro Tip: Match the rewards referrals each receive. This keeps the program simple but also shows that referrals are valued just as much as customers.
19. 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 in the military 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 designs are made to outlast trends. Use market research to figure out what benefits matter most to customers, and include these in your referral. Since happy customers and referrals are in the same network, chances are they have similar needs and preferences.
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.
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Subscription Service Referral Program Examples
Pet-focused subscription box service BarkBox offers two different referral rewards. These rewards vary depending on the actions your referring friends and family take:
- Give $20 and get $20 when your friend makes a purchase.
- If your friend purchases a 6- or 12-month subscription, you’ll earn a free box.
Pro tip: This kind of tiered system works well for any subscription-based brand. BarkBox makes more money from a 6- or 12- month subscription than a month-to-month customer; that’s a big reason behind why they offer two kinds of rewards.
HelloFresh is a subscription-based meal-kit delivery service that expertly uses a referral program to scale their business. An existing customer can log in to their account to access their referral code. New subscribers receive $110 off their first order and the existing customer gets a $10 credit.
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.
23. Farm Fresh To You
Farm Fresh to You 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.
Pro Tip: Offer referrals a tiered reward amount, to encourage them to keep hyping your brand. The more referrals they bring in, the more potential savings they can gain.
BoxyCharm is a subscription-based beauty box that offers 5 full-sized skincare and makeup products a month. The company offers a referral program for existing customers to share a unique link with friends. For every new person that signs up, you’ll get 500 points (called “charms”). Those charms can be redeemed for beauty products.
Pro Tip: Give customers a special place to redeem their rewards. BoxyCharm has a special shopping area on their website where points can be redeemed. This creates a feeling of exclusivity since the area isn’t open to all customers.
Birchbox is a monthly subscription box that provides users with skin and haircare products. Right now, the company is offering a special bonus referral reward. You and a friend will each receive 50 extra Birchbox points for each referral.
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.
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.
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.
Food & Beverage 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 10,000 points for each referral that signs up. Points can be redeemed for a number of rewards, including $5 vouchers and store credit toward subscription services.
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. Seventy percent of consumers want to know that brands are vocal about environmental and social issues. If customers know their money is going toward a good cause, they’ll be more likely to follow through with a referral.
29. Stop & Shop
Stop & Shop is an online grocery store. Customers can share referral links with friends via Facebook, Twitter, Messenger, Pinterest, or email. Referrals who sign up get $25, and customers who successfully refer their friends will receive $25 to use toward their next purchase.
Pro Tip: Stop & Shop is unique because they help referrals easily share their referral code across many different channels. Consider offering simple ways for customers to share their links. It will make your referral program more appealing to customers and encourage them to participate.
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.
31. Blue Bottle Coffee
Selling coffee, brewing equipment, mugs, and more, Blue Bottle Coffee got their 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 $30 in wine, 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 your engagement rate.
33. The Farmer’s Dog
The Farmer’s Dog is a rapidly growing dog food company that focuses on simple, healthy, and easy-to-prepare meals for your furry friend. Their referral program asks you to invite friends and family with your unique link. If they make a purchase, you’ll both get a promotion credit toward your next purchase.
Pro tip: The Farmer’s Dog purposefully keeps the terms of their referral program vague on their website. This helps them easily pivot their reward type (gift cards, store credit, discounts, coupons, or more) based on the company’s goals as they evolve.
Grocery delivery service Instacart asks you to invite friends and family to use the app. They’ll receive $10 in credit toward their first order, and you’ll get $10 in credit when their first delivery is complete. This offer is good for up to $1,000 in credit.
Pro tip: Rather than cold, hard cash, Instacart makes use of credits that are good for their own products and services. This is a great way to incentivize customers to keep using Instacart over competitors since they have a discount waiting for them.
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Travel & Transportation 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.
Landing is a rental company that offers fully furnished, flexible lease apartments for people who love to travel. They offer a referral program for members to invite a friend to join. Once they complete a booking at a Landing apartment, you’ll each receive a $250 credit toward your rental.
Pro tip: If your company offers a product or service with a high price point, consider rewarding referrals with a credit rather than a percentage discount. In this example, Landing’s offer to reward $250 in credit is way more effective than offering to reduce rent by 25%, thanks in part to the “Rule of 100.” This rule states that consumers are drawn more to percentage discounts when the item is under $100. For anything over $100, consumers prefer numerical discounts.
Outdoorsy is a vacation rental company similar to Airbnb but with an adventurous side, letting you rent RVs, cabins, tent sites, and other camping shelters. With their referral program, invite your friends to create an account. If they use your referral link, they get $50 off their first trip, and you get $75 off your next trip.
Right now, Outdoorsy also has a bonus offer: if your friend lists an RV on the company’s website, you’ll get $100.
Pro tip: Create a one-off marketing campaign to generate referrals for new services. In order to build excitement around their new RV listing feature, Outdoorsy offered a limited-time reward.
38. Marriott Hotel
Marriott uses a point-based system to reward 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 accounts. 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.
40. 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 15,000 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?
41. Choice Hotels
Pro Tip: Choice Hotels employs a “use it or lose it” rule with their referral program. If you don’t redeem your points within 18-months, you lose everything you’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.
42. Citi Bike
Annual members who use Citi Bike‘s 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 their growth. The company incentives new people to join Uber as a driver through rewards. Current drivers can refer a friend to join. Once their friend has completed a certain number of trips, both will receive rewards.
Pro Tip: If you offer a crowd-sourced service, consider creating a referral program to incentivize new people to join.
Lyft is a ridesharing program. Customers are given credits toward rides for referring friends to the Lyft platform.
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. Share a referral link to friends and family. You can earn $500 for Tesla’s Solar Roof and $300 for Tesla’s Solar Panels. Your referrals will also receive the same discount.
Pro Tip: Not only does Tesla’s referral program give a high incentive to save a ton of money on solar energy products, but it also shows how much positive impact referrals can have on the environment. Referral rewards that contribute to social good are increasingly popular with consumers: Forty-six percentof consumers consider a brand’s “social responsibility efforts” when they buy a product.
46. Rad Power Bikes
Rad Power Bikes 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 gift card.
Pro Tip: Give your customers the option to spend their rewards elsewhere. For companies that 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.
Software Referral Program Examples
Vonage is a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service provider. For a limited time, customers earn between $200 and $10,000 through a gift card for referring friends to sign up for Vonage’s service (yes, you read those numbers correctly).
Pro Tip: Vonage offers their referral rewards in tiers, so the more you refer, the more you can earn. The more rewards your customers can earn, 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 their 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.
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.
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 and crteatres a free account. 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.
Justworks is 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 to, the more money the user can earn. After all, a $10,000 reward opportunity is pretty hard to pass up.
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.
Finance Referral Program Examples
56. 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.
Robinhood is an online investment app. For every new friend a customer invites to join Robinhood, both the customer and the 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.
58. American Express
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 referrals 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 $50 per referral (up to $500) when they refer friends and family to open a checking account. Your friend will receive a reward once they’ve qualified for an account.
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 using a referral program landing page.
Expensify is a software program for managing receipts and expenses. The company offers a different approach to a referral program, where customers can refer engineers to work for the company. If you know a person who would be a great fit for the company, and they are hired and stay for three-plus months, you could earn a $10,000 referral bonus.
Pro Tip: If your budget allows, offer a special reward for customers who help you hire top talent.
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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 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 micro-investing 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.
For any friends or family who haven’t yet adopted a payment platform, PayPal uses their referral program to share a unique code. For every $5 your referral spends, PayPal will send you and that friend $10, up to $50.
Pro tip: PayPal’s referral offer only lets you share with up to five friends. This helps manage the size of your program. If you’re concerned about keeping your program at a manageable scale, capping the rewards is one way to do it.
66. Pokémon Go
App-based game Pokémon Go invites you to share the game with friends using your unique Trainer Code. For every friend who uses your code, you and that friend will receive in-game rewards, like Pokémon encounters, Rare Candy, and incubators.
Pro tip: If you have an app, consider creating virtual rewards. You can save money by giving customers access to in-app gifts rather than cash rewards or physical goods.
T-Mobile is one of the largest mobile phone distributors in the world, with a strong referral program to boot. For every friend you refer, you get $50, with a cap of $500 a year.
Pro tip: If you have a tight budget, consider adding a cap to your referral reward. It’s an easy way to build a budget for your marketing strategy – you know exactly how much you will spend on referrals for the year.
VistaPrint is a print company that helps small businesses create customized cards, marketing materials, clothing, and more. Referrals have proven to be a great way for them to grow in their market. Customers get $20 when their referrals complete an order of $40 or more.
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 bold and in red.
69. The 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 in your referral program. Customers will be more likely to participate in a program that serves a greater good.
70. 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 $20 off their first month.
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 customer referral program offers both the customer and the referral a free bag of litter when they participate.
Pro Tip: If you’re able, create a limited-time campaign to give away free product. This lets new sales leads gauge the value of your product right away.
The Best Referral Programs Are Managed with a Growth Marketing Tool
The easiest way to manage a referral marketing program is with a growth marketing tool, like Extole.
Once you set up a tool, it can automate a lot of the day-to-day responsibilities, like tracking referrals and managing payouts. Best of all, it’ll free up your time to focus on growing your business.