Here it is folks!
Our big list of the best referral program examples out there right now.
We’ve analyzed how companies are driving profitable customer acquisition with referral programs. From Typeform, Uber, Paypal, Prezi to x, we reviewed 51 companies’ referral programs and campaigns so you can see what’s common, what’s cutting edge, and what’s a good fit for you.
Let’s dig into it, shall we?
Software Companies’ Referral Programs:
One of our favorite SaaS companies – Typeform – have established themselves as the go-to solution for beautiful mobile surveys and forms. Typeform’s refer-a-friend program offers a 10% double-sided reward targeted at their Pro customers. The Typeform Growth team partnered with Referral SaaSquatch to build out their referral program and have continued to see impressive results every month. You can read more in our case study here.
Dropbox continues to optimize their impressive referral program with a clean layout that still nods to the illustration branding the company has become known for. We all know about the viral case study that showed off the winning growth experiments of referral rewards and their beta launch video. Dropbox’s team is constantly looking for areas to increase retention and referral metrics with in-app storage rewards.
Box’s referral program has an experience asks more from the user than some of the consumer-focused referral programs we profile here. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – in B2B having detailed fields in your signup process can help your sales team qualify and prioritize their time on the opportunities with a higher likelihood of closing.
4. Google Apps
The Google Apps referral program uses a single-sided structure, offering a $15 reward for every paying user. It seems the Google Apps referral marketing team has changed the program to be more affiliate focused as they don’t offer a reward for the newly referred users. The Google Apps refer-a-friend page is well designed, but missing the punch in the headline. If you’re giving out a financial incentive, make sure it’s mentioned in the header of your landing page! There’s nothing like money to motivate.
File storage competitor SugarSync offers a tiered referral program with double-sided 500MB and 10GB rewards. The strategy here encourages customers to invite power users in order to get the best rewards.
Popular note-taking software Evernote runs a double-sided refer-a-friend program to reward users for inviting their friends. The program awards points when users successfully refer user sign-ups and premium subscriptions, which can be redeemed for increased storage space or free months.
SaaS stock trading platform EquityFeed rewards their customers with 10% double-sided discounts for referring new paid customers. EquityFeed’s referral program continues to be one of their most profitable customer acquisition channels with a strong trial to paid conversion rate. You can check out our case study with EquityFeed here.
8. Marin Software
Marin Software, an enterprise software provider, can afford to spend up to $2,000 for every successful referral. The company is positioned to offer these high-value referral rewards because their customers spend between $10K-$100K per month. Marin’s refer-a-friend program offers $500, $1500 or $2000 rewards depending on which plan referred customers sign up for.
LastPass, a leading SaaS password storage provider, has a single-sided referral program. The LastPass refer-a-friend campaign issues one month of their Premium plan for every successful referral. The LastPass referral program is promoted inside their web application with a minimal call to action (CTA) in their dashboard. We wrote more about their program here.
Hubstaff, a strong SaaS time tracking provider, partnered with Referral SaaSquatch to reward user referrals with a double-sided 10% discount. Their team is constantly experimenting with ways to promote their referral program. Hubstaff’s refer-a-friend program is promoted across their website, web app and FAQ pages. The Hubstaff team is always looking to improve the customer journey and encourage referrals when customers are thinking about the value of their product.
Shoeboxed is a popular cloud accounting software provider that recognized the value of customer referrals and wanted to scale their strategy with a structured referral program. The team at Shoeboxed partnered with Referral SaaSquatch to integrate an end-to-end solution that rewards their customers with a 10% discount for every successful referral.
The popular presentation software Prezi, runs a single-sided referral program. Their campaign is focused on driving new signups to their entry-level paid plan ‘Enjoy’. Prezi’s refer-a-friend program gives out 3 months free of Enjoy to a user when they sign up three friends for Enjoy. From what we’ve seen from our customers it’s better to reward users for every referral they make. Rewarding each referral improves the ‘program visitor to program invite’ ratio and encourages customers to stay engaged with the program.
YesWare is a popular sales email tool. They run a web refer-a-friend campaign to capitalize on their positive word of mouth and reward customer loyalty. YesWare gives customers 100 free tracking events for every successful referral. Their referral page even pre-fills email text to explain the main value of their product and why the referred customer should try it out.
Upserve, a popular restaurant management platform, rewards customers for their referrals by making a $200 donation to the Clean Water Fund. Upserve’s program is focused on the altruistic motivations of their customer base so they can get new restaurant referrals. The Upserve marketing team partnered with Referral SaaSquatch due to our platform flexibility around these types of charitable rewards.
Gaming Referral Programs
15. World of Warcraft
World of Warcraft, the most successful video game of all time, has an active user base with millions of players. Though the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) is more than 10 years old, it still attracts new gamers through their ‘Recruit a Friend’ program. Their program uses special in-game rewards to motivate players to make referrals. The WoW marketing team recently updated their program rewards, and launched their new recruit a friend campaign with a website landing page, an in-app recruit a friend section and a viral marketing video with over 460K views on YouTube.
Mobile E-Commerce Referral Programs
Uber continues to dominate the transportation app scene with their solid mobile experience and customer referral rewards. Constantly looking to gain an edge, Uber’s referral campaigns have recently expanded into targeted push notifications and chatbot functionality.
Lyft is the biggest Uber competitor in North America—and my personal favorite. Lyft gives customers $10 to $50 referral rewards across different cities so they can aggressively drive customer acquisition in new markets.
GetAround is another North American ride-sharing startup making a name for themselves in select cities. The single-sign-on offer to sign in to Facebook helps with the onboarding experience. They offer customers a $20 referral reward but also offer $200 to recruit drivers. GetAround could benefit from building out separate creative for their refer a driver campaign—messaging complexity could be avoided if their two campaigns were distinct.
The international travel marketplace Airbnb uses a lovely in-app referral offer design to drive steady growth across their cities. Similar to the Uber referral program, Airbnb gives out different size rewards depending on which city users live in. This is a popular approach for global brands looking to expand their customer acquisition region by region. We love this approach so much, in fact, we featured it in our UX ebook! Check it out here.
Only 30% of companies have a formalized referral program. If you’re in the 70%, you’ll want to check out our 6 strategies for growing your business with referrals in 2018
Digital Retailers’ Referral Programs:
This popular event hosting platform runs a $10 single-sided referral program. Eventbrite customers are given affiliate-style offers to sign up their friends and earn money. These types of referral programs perform don’t typically perform as well as their double-sided counterparts. The customer experience of sharing is changed when one friend profits off of the other—not many consumers are interested in making money off of their friends.
HomeSuite, a leading vacation rental marketplace, uses a double-sided refer-a-friend program structure. HomeSuite offers a $100 discount to the newly referred friends and offers a $100 gift card for the referring user. When the HomeSuite team partnered with Referral SaaSquatch, we put our API to work and integrated our program inside their Marketo landing page.
Zulily’s referral program has a modern design with bright email CTAs for popular email clients Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo. Zulily’s refer-a-friend program reward users in their local currency—which means they can experiment with program performance across their different regions.
Digital retailer Gilt gives out a $25 single-sided referral reward for customers. This is the first program to experiment with a large QR code CTA. Gilt’s website has smaller buttons users can click to share referral invites directly via email, Facebook or Twitter.
This leading bus travel marketplace uses a multichannel refer-a-friend program to reward customers for their loyalty and positive word of mouth. BusBud’s refer-a-friend program is integrated across their web and mobile apps. Their mobile app takes advantage of Referral SaaSquatch’s deep-linking feature to personalize the onboarding flow for newly referred users.
E-Commerce company ThredUp’s refer-a-friend program has a clean design and bold CTA ‘Give $10, Get $10’ to entice customers to engage with the program. The $10 double-sided reward is smaller than the rewards we’ve seen used by other digital retailers. ThredUp also uses large colorful CTAs for both email and Facebook referral invites.
Mens fashion retailer JackThreads’ refer-a-friend program uses a beautiful image with long-form copy to entice customers to engage with their program. JackThreads is experimenting with tiered rewards, they offer $10 for signups and $20 for conversions. We recommend they invest in security measures so the referral rewards are only going out to actual prospects.
This program follows referral best practices with a double-sided reward of $10. Wayfair’s marketing team designed a beautiful page with clear copy to engage customers with a financial reward for inviting their friends.
The main CTA requires users to upload their friend’s email addresses. This creates unnecessary friction and could be negatively impacting referral rates and conversions. Implementing single-sign-on buttons to popular email and messaging apps would help the customer make a referral more easily and quickly.
Tile is a leader in the bluetooth wearables market. They partnered with Referral SaaSquatch to run a multichannel refer-a-friend program. Their refer-a-friend program is integrated across their web and mobile experiences. They use a single-sided referral rewards structure where customers earn points towards a free Tile for every friend they refer.
Digital retailer Indochino runs a multichannel refer-a-friend program with a double-sided reward of $100 and $50. Integrated across their digital customer touch points including website, email and mobile, Indochino’s refer-a-friend program uses beautiful branded photos to show off the value of their products and a direct email a friend CTA.
30. Frank & Oak
Digital retailer Frank & Oak – also in the menswear space – experiments with referral marketing campaigns and runs a double-sided credit reward of $25. The main CTA is to invite friends via email, copy and pasting the unique link, or via Facebook. Their refer-a-friend program uses the simple 1-2-3 method to explain how the program works and how customers get their rewards.
GrubHub, one of the leaders in online food delivery, uses a refer-a-friend campaign to reward their customer’s loyalty. GrubHub customers can earn $12 for every friend that signs up. The refer-a-friend interstitial uses on-brand language in the heading and email message to engage their customer base.
This beautiful stock photography marketplace is gaining traction with their community-driven approach. On average, 15,000 people sign up for Snapwire every single month. The community has grown to 285,000 photographers in 180 countries. It was a natural marketing initiative to build out a refer-a-friend campaign to reward the positive word of mouth already happening in their social channels. We worked with the Snapwire marketing team to design a double-sided $20 credit referral program that integrates into their web shopping experience.
Chipolo is also in the bluetooth wearables industry and they use a mobile referral program to encourage their app users to make friend invites. The Chipolo refer-a-friend program offers a double-sided reward. Referees get a 20% discount, while the referring customer gets points which they can use towards a free Chipolo.
PillPack is a leading pharmacy subscription provider and their team runs a similar refer-a-friend campaign to Upserve. Their referral reward is a $100 charitable donation to RxArt which appeals to the altruistic side of their customer base. The PillPack marketing team chose a charity with a similar medicine and health focus—RxArt is a children’s hospital initiative to redecorate hospital wings as visually pleasing environments.
Julep, a leading beauty subscription box company, runs a referral campaign that rewards customers with a $15 credit. Their refer-a-friend pop-up matches the look and feel of the Julep brand and uses playful copy to make the campaign seem like a natural conversation between friends. The primary CTA is an email with a pre-filled text that helps the customer explain the value of Julep’s beauty subscription box to their friend.
Telecom and Media Referral Programs:
36. Hulu Plus
Hulu, a strong competitor in the content streaming industry, uses a refer-a-friend program to drive Hulu Plus sign-ups. Their refer-a-friend program reward is a free two-week trial to Hulu Plus. Implementing an email invite CTA would improve their referral rate and conversions.
Everyone’s favorite streaming content company, Netflix, ran a refer-a-friend campaign way back when they were transitioning from their DVD rental service into online video streaming. They shut down the Netflix refer-a-friend program in 2011, but we heard the program was well-received by their customers and was a key part of their North America growth engine.
Dish, a leading North American provider of satellite television, has a different refer-a-friend program structure than we’ve seen used. It’s a main website CTA that wants prospective customers to find their friends with Dish subscriptions and get their referral code. Interesting approach!
DirecTV uses the same refer-a-friend program structure as Dish’s ‘get referred by a friend’ campaign. They offer a higher reward of $100 to their prospective customers, but still require the high friction process of getting a friend’s DirecTV account code.
Telecom giant AT&T runs a refer-a-friend program with a minimalist design and bright symbols to highlight the value of their 5 core offerings. Bolding the part people really care about ($575 a year!) grabs the customer’s attention. AT&T could improve the program by reducing the amount of friction in the sign-up flow. Applying for a referral program creates an unnecessary step for customers already interested in making a referral.
T-Mobile targets younger demographics with their loud colors, hip branding and playful copy. The T-Mobile refer-a-friend program plays within that theme, employing a branded landing page highlighting all the fun associated with their brand. Though T-Mobile referral page doesn’t highlight the referral reward, it certainly captures your attention.
Sprint, another nationwide telecom giant, runs a referral program that uses a double-sided reward (a $50 American Express reward card) for every successful referral. The Sprint refer-a-friend program uses a modern theme with bold CTAs that emphasize the cash-cash-money. It’s too bad that customers must register in order to make a referral – program engagement is higher when this requirement is not in place.
Rogers, one of Canada’s largest telecom providers, runs a single-sided customer referral program. The Rogers refer-a-friend program rewards customers with a $25 credit for every successful referral. Rogers uses a templated design with content blocks to describe the core areas of the referral program.
44. Virgin Mobile
Virgin Mobile approaches their referral program using bold colors and playful copy to deliver the details. The Virgin refer-a-friend program offers a double-sided $25 reward for successful referrals. Virgin Mobile’s referral page highlights the referral reward and main value proposition of their company with lines like ‘Unlimited Plans’ ‘Packed With More Data’ and ‘Limitless Music’ (although they made a typo on that last one – Teachable Moment: always proofread your deals before they go live!).
Financial Services Referral Programs:
The PayPal refer-a-friend program was one of the growth engines for the early-stage company. It’s one of the more notable examples of customer referral programs and was originally pitched by their co-founder Elon Musk as a viral marketing campaign. A double-sided $10 reward for new users and active promotion through their customer touchpoints were major contributors behind the campaign’s success.
Modern banking institution Tangerine offers a double-sided refer-a-friend program for their customers to sign up new accounts. The Tangerine refer-a-friend program offers $50 for both customers and newly referred customers for taking part in their program. The referral page is well-designed and has a bold CTA that appeals to the financial motivation of their buyer persona.
47. American Express
American Express runs a streamlined referral program for card members, encouraging them to invite their friends to try different card offerings. The American Express refer-a-friend program has different rewards available for customers depending on the type of card. The American Express referral page highlights the steps needed to earn referrals with a clean 1-2-3 step graphic.
48. Chase Bank
Chase Bank runs a double-sided referral program that rewards customers with $50 for each successful referral. The Chase Bank refer-a-friend program uses different channels to tell their customers about their referral rewards and promote sharing. The above email uses the recommended 1-2-3 graphic to simply explain the offer and large green CTAs to promote referral invites.
Questrade, a leading stock trading platform, uses a double-sided referral program to encourage customers to invite their friends and start trading with their platform. The Questrade refer-a-friend program uses a tiered reward program with $25 for the first two, and a $50 bonus for the third successful referral. Third time’s the charm, right?
Robinhood, also in the stock trading software industry, uses a refer-a-friend program to help customers gain early access to their platform. This type of referral reward structure uses the power of scarcity and instant gratification to increase sign-ups. This referral waiting list tactic can catapult the growth of your pre-launch brand (as we’ve seen with the Harry’s refer a friend case study). A word of caution for incentivizing non-paid actions: you’ll need to build in some fraud protection as users may try to game your system.
Wealthfront, an automated stock trading platform, uses a personalized referral program to reward customers for their loyalty. The Wealthfront refer-a-friend program offers a double-sided reward that waives the management fees on a $5,000 investment. The newly referred customer gets a whopping $15,000 managed for free. Nice deal! For easy sharing, the Wealthfront referral page pre-fills a personalized note explaining their product’s value and referral reward.
So…did you read the whole thing?
Really?! Kudos, that’s stamina!
You’re now 51 times more informed on the best referral marketing examples we could find. Got some to add to our list? Get in touch! We’d love to know more.