4 Email Marketing Tactics to Boost Customer Referrals

The goal of any business is customer loyalty.

You want your customers to choose you before entertaining any other options.

And so, when you have successfully gained that coveted customer loyalty, the next logical step is to capture the attention of their closest friends.

You may be thinking, ‘But I can’t afford to be throwing discounts around like confetti,’ and we totally get that. Give this a thought for a second. According to a study released by Wharton University, the lifetime value of a referred customer is 25% more than that of other customers. Meaning; whatever you give in good faith is going to come back to you 25-percent-fold.

Okay, we made that word up, but you get the idea.

In this article, we’ll show you some of the best ways to boost referrals using email. These tips and tricks are some of the best email money moves you can make and, of course, we will give you some ideas to incorporate them into your own emails effectively!

1. Give Two-Sided Rewards

Rather than choosing who to reward for a referral, you can reward both parties! Two-way rewards programs give discounts or freebies to the referrer and the referee, allowing you to feel Oprah level Christmas vibes on a regular ole Monday.

Two-sided rewards are most likely to work when you have a strong brand that you know customers will be proud to share with their friends. And, since they love your brand so much, they’ll jump on the opportunity to indulge in a discount for themselves.

Your discount doesn’t have to be huge, but the offering should be tempting.

Take this example from TicTail where they incorporated a cute gif right at the top, enticing even the most discerning buyer to click through for their special discount. I mean, you have to agree, everything really is better with friends!

If you want to learn more about incorporate amazing gifs into your referral emails, hop over to our article on upgrading your emails with gifs.

Loving the gif idea?

Think about a fun theme related to your business that will make your email recipients smile all the way to the ‘Refer a Friend’ button.

Check out these ideas for two-sided campaign ideas sure to convert:

  • Give $20, Get $20.
  • Free Shipping for You + Your Bestie!
  • Enter your friends’ email to send them a $50 credit + SURPRISE BONUS for you!

Keep in mind that your referral offering doesn’t need to stop here.

Consider offering further upgrades or perks when their friends upgrade to one of your higher-tiered services, or when they spend a specific dollar amount. This extra nudge will remind your customer that there are great perks to referring their friends to you; keeping the momentum on the referrals wheel.

2. Introduce a Formal Referral Program

First thing’s first – formal doesn’t have to mean blah and boring. By ‘formal’ we mean a program that is well laid-out and launched with the purpose of standing the test of time. A formal referral program will likely remain a staple – a reliable driver of referral business for you – for a long time down the road.

Formal referral programs are not meant to be used as one-off emails. So, when you use a formal referral program, you will want to outline the terms, have these terms available on your website, and also in that sad little small print that nobody reads.

Let’s explore some ways that you can introduce a formal (but fun!) referral program.

Just like Treehouse asks their customers to share the love, you can ask the same of your loyal customers. Treehouse kicks it up a notch by adding in that your account is FREE when five of your friends sign up. Nice!

This type of rewards system is often referred to as ‘stackable.’

Here are some ways that you could offer stackable rewards:

  • Refer 10 friends for lifetime free shipping.
  • Refer 8 friends, and you get access to our software for free!
  • Earn 10% cash back from every customer subscription you initiate.

Postable does a great job keeping their stackable rewards system plain and simple by offering $5 credit for every referral.

This approach to earning rewards is fun and ensures that the recipient won’t stop with just one referral, but will continue to refer based on the promise of future reward.

To learn more about how to create and track referral links, so that your recipients can start banking your rewards, check out our robust email marketing features that allow you to track, analyze, manage and…reward! All with flawless execution.

3. Create Affiliate Links + Social Sharing Rewards

Affiliate links aren’t just for Instagram models and social media influencers! The moment you begin to view every one of your loyal customers as a potential influencer of your brand, you open the floodgates to new referral opportunities.

By offering rewards for acts of customer advocacy, you are boosting your brand reach significantly.

Try asking your customers to:

  • Share a link for a discount code.
  • Enter their friends’ email to send them a coupon code.
  • Share a post on social media in exchange for free shipping on their next order.

You could also offer a running tally of points per referral, just like Square Cash who sends $1 to you and $1 to your friend every time your referral link is shared. This approach is an easy way for your valued customers to gain rewards for bringing more people into the circle of trust.

Consider using social sharing links for pre-launch offers as well! Some ideas for pre-launch offers include:

  • Share this email to gain priority access to our next special event.
  • Post this personalized link to Facebook for pre-launch access!
  • Get 3 friends to use your discount code to win pre-sale tickets.

The best part of offering your customers custom affiliate links is that you are solidifying their brand loyalty. And, this doesn’t have to be a complicated process!

4. Offer Steep Discounts for X # of Referrals

If you’re ready to take referral marketing to the next level, steep discounts and rewards may be for you. You know the old business adage, it takes money to make money? Big rewards, big reward.

You can see from Postmates’ email that they didn’t begin with such big rewards.

If you are new to the referral game, try starting with smaller initiatives and then kicking it up a notch when you know your biz can handle this type of program.

If it’s less costly for you to give away product, try an approach like Harry’s where they promise free product to the friends of their loyal customers, in exchange for a name an email.

This method is great for list building where gaining a new contact through advertising may actually cost more than giving away your manufactured or digital product.

Referrals Don’t Have to be About the Benjamins

Remember, the rewards that you offer don’t need to be monetary either. Take a look at Dropbox who provides a free bump in storage space to anyone who makes a successful referral.

This initiative helped Dropbox to increase its membership rates by a whopping 60%!

If you are a spa-based business, you could offer a free face treatment in exchange for 10 referrals. If you are an online clothing company, offer to feature your biggest customer advocate in your next Instagram post. The options are endless!

And thankfully, Sendlane makes this process as simple as possible. How simple?

With Sendlane’s new ReferralHero integration, you can launch sweepstakes and coupon-driven emails, ambassador programs, pre-launch campaigns, and a plethora of other referral programs in a snap.

Through a signup form on your website, our new ReferralHero integration allows your customers to instantly benefit from a promotion, generate a sharable referral link, or sign up for your rewards program.

ReferralHero allows for automated personalized emails that will be sent out when customers reach certain referral milestones (great for those stacked rewards we were talking about)! You can also send out auto-emails notifying your customers of their discount or other exciting freebies you’re offering.

Wrapping Up Referrals

However you choose to launch your shiny new referral program, whether it be through one-time coupon codes, stackable rewards programs, affiliate links, or creating a formal referral program, we have your back with our simple-to-use email marketing tools.

Give us a try today to begin hooking those valuable referrals!

Caitlin Hutchinson

Caitlin Hutchinson

Social Media & Community Manager at Sendlane
A native of San Diego, California, Caitlin has a passion for developing creative and engaging marketing content. She is primarily responsible for overseeing the development, execution and delivery of digital content across all of Sendlane’s channels as well as maintaining an online presence of Sendlane's team culture. She has enjoyed being a part of a powerhouse team where she has had the opportunity to wear a variety of hats and take her knowledge and creativity to the next level. When not focusing on increasing Sendlane's online presence you'll find Caitlin playing music on her guitar or piano and spending time with her Husband and their rescue dog, Piper.
Caitlin Hutchinson
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