We have put together 3 of the Best Examples of SaaS Customer Referral Programs (A.K.A. Refer a Friend, Tell-a-Friend, Tell-A-Pal, Social Referrals) we could find. We wanted to show you some of the tricks used by industry insiders to build the most successful customer referral programs online today. Follow these simple rules and your referral program might just be the envy of all your friends.
Online marketing thought leaders agree that word of mouth is king when it comes to finding new customers for your web app. Friends referring friends to your product is so powerful that it is the only form of marketing that can actually stop people from doing research, and just purchase a product. However, encouraging word of mouth is no walk in the park.
People like Seth Godin say that you need an organic referral program; that is, a referral program where friends are telling friends about your product by simply using your product. That said, even companies that have a natural referral program rarely stop there. High growth companies look for ways to get even more referrals.
The most commonly used tool to super charge a word of mouth marketing campaign is a customer referral program. Unfortunately for many of us, it isn’t clear exactly what a good customer referral program looks like. Here are some examples to help with that.
Yesware helps salespeople close more deals faster. They offer Email Tracking that notifies salespeople when prospects open their messages and click their links.
The product isn’t overly sexy, isn’t consumer focused, and probably won’t come up at 99% of the water cooler conversations in the world. However, they have what we think is one of the best examples of a SaaS customer referral program that we know of. The program isn’t perfect, but like most things, getting the basics right will take you a long way.
Tell Your Users About Your Customer Referral Program
It doesn’t matter how awesome your product is, the majority of people will never recommend it unless you prompt them. Don’t take this as an insult. Your customers are just busy, distracted and taking care of their own problems.
Some people think they will be annoying, or worse, slimy, if they are always prompting their users to make a referral. However, most people love special deals and, as long as they like your product, are happy to tell their friends about it.
Yesware takes telling their users about the customer referral program very seriously. The first thing you see when you login to their dashboard is a big green banner telling you to “invite your friends.” It doesn’t stop there; they also prompt you in the navigation menu under the account tab to “invite your friends.”
It only makes sense to tell your users about your program. If you can increase the number of people who look at your customer referral program, you are only going to increase the number of referrals that are made, and ultimately increase the number of new customers you acquire.
Auto-Fill Referral Text
People are lazy. Even when it comes to getting special deals people are lazy. Your users are no different and they don’t want to have to think about exactly what to tell their friends about you.
This laziness can actually work in your favour. You can put your best copy writers on creating default referral text to suggest to your users. With the defaults filled you are likely to increase both your referral rate and your conversion rate because users will just send your text right along.
Yesware auto-fills the referral email text with a complete and thoughtful email that looks like it has been written by a friend. However, oddly enough, Yesware does not auto-fill the text for any other sharing medium such as Twitter for an unknown reason.
FreeAgent is online money management for busy freelancers.
This is another product that isn’t sexy or consumer focused, but has grown by leaps and bounds due to their customer referral program. The FreeAgent customer referral program does many things right and is by far one of the best examples of a customer referral program for SaaS.
Explain Your Customer Referral Program to Users
You have probably heard the saying, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Well, this works for customer referral programs too. Most savvy web users know someone, or at least have heard of someone, who has been scammed on the Internet. The last thing people want to do is share something they don’t understand with their friends and end up being the reason their friend’s twitter account gets hacked.
Providing help text, an overview of how the referral program works and even an instruction manual can all help to put people’s mind at ease when they are making a referral. The trust that is built by simply being open and honest at the start of the process can greatly increase the amount of referrals you see. Further, by educating your users before they make a referral, they are able to help their friends through the signing up process because they understand what to expect.
FreeAgent does a great job of explaining their referral program. They provide you with a complete pictographic walk through of how to access you account, find your referral code, and earn your discount. They are actually so open with this information, that you can even find it before you have setup your account.
Dropbox is a file hosting service that offers cloud storage, file synchronization and client software.
Once again, Dropbox is not sexy but this time it is a consumer product that has been talked about at hunders of thousands of dinner tables and water coolers around the world. Due to Dropbox’s success, it is almost impossible to write an article about SaaS customer referral programs without mentioning it. Their customer referral program is one of the best known on the market, and is the major reason that they grew to the size they are.
Make it Worth Everyone’s Time
There are great studies and interesting debates about what to offer your customers as a reward to make your referral program successful. Issues such as value of reward, type of reward and who gets the reward are all debated. However, we think it’s safe to say that whatever you pick, make sure your referral program is worth people’s time.
Give rewards that matters. This doesn’t mean you have to give out large discounts, but you do have to give out something your users actually care about. If your customers aren’t price sensitive you can actually give away swag or feature upgrades.
Also, when in doubt, reward both parties. It’s one thing to ask a user to sell your product to their friend and it’s a totally different thing to ask a user to help their friend out by sharing a discount. Most of your users will feel far better getting a deal when they know they are helping friends, not selling them.
Dropbox does a great job at making it worth everyone’s time. The amount of storage that Dropbox gives away is substantial (about enough to store a TV Show) so most people are happy to take the time to refer a friend. They also make it worth your time to refer multiple friends by letting your earn more space for each person you refer.
The Dropbox referral program is a two-sided reward. Not only do you get extra storage space but so does your friends. Once again, by making their users feel like they are helping their friends, they can greatly increase people’s willingness to share with a friend.
Interestingly, Dropbox does not offer a discount through their referral program. In fact, by offering product upgrades they increase their users dependancy on their product until they have no choice but to pay for Dropbox.
Wrapping Everything Up
Yesware, FreeAgent and Dropbox are just a few examples of some of the best SaaS customer referral programs. There are many more out there, and one will might just be yours as long as you:
- Tell Your Users About Your Program,
- Auto-Fill your referral text,
- Tell users how the program works,
- And make it worth everyone’s time.