Referral programs have one purpose.

Motivate your existing users to make a referral.

Sounds simple right?

Actually it’s not, there’s a lot going on under the hood. Everything from reward tier structure to program placement and design will make or break your referral program.

In this post we go over three examples of referral programs from LastPass, RescueTime and OpenDrive to show you the approach you need to take when designing and improving your program.

LastPass

An industry-leading password manager. Their service saves your passwords and gives you secure access from every computer and mobile device.

source: lastpass.com
source: lastpass.com

Program Placement

LastPass is a great example of a company putting their referral program on every page inside their product. The minimal design of the program CTA doesn’t take over from the main user experience and will still increase the overall program participation rate.

source: lastpass.com
source: lastpass.com

Referral Homepage

A clean and simply designed landing page from the team at LastPass. It clearly explains why a user would make a referral, unfortunately this reward scheme is only single-sided.

In our experience a double-sided reward program increases the overall participation rates. Users are more inclined to make a referral when they aren’t the only one profiting from the sign-up.

source: lastpass.com
source: lastpass.com

Telling Your Users

Blog Post – Writing a blog post is a great way to tell your users about your referral program. This gives your users another easy way to discover the referral program.

source: lastpass.com
source: lastpass.com

Social Sharing Messaging

While LastPass does auto-fill the text in their Twitter message, their Facebook invite leaves something to be desired.

I would recommend using an image instead of plain text, this helps the share get discovered in the news feed as visual content tends to perform better.

source: lastpass.com
source: lastpass.com
source: lastpass.com
source: lastpass.com

RescueTime

An effortless time management tool that helps people understand how they spend time on their devices.

source: rescuetime.com
source: rescuetime.com

Program Placement

Hiding your program on a tab under account settings is a common mistake with referral programs. This is one area that the team behind RescueTime can improve as their referral program is not displayed on their main dashboard.

Bringing your program in front of your users will give them more opportunities to discover and ultimately refer your product.

rescue time dashboard
source: rescuetime.com

Referral Homepage

I do like the upgrade reward incentive which is a great tactic to show your current users the further benefits of your product. One area the team at RescueTime can look to improve is putting in a progress bar for users to check in on the status of their referrals in order to encourage repeat participation with the program.

source: rescuetime.com
source: rescuetime.com

Invite Messaging

While you do want to pull an image into your social invite messaging, this is an example of what not to do. You should always check if the correct image is being used for social invites. This could be a potential drop-off point for users trying to make a referral.

Rescue time facebook referral invite
source: rescuetime.com

OpenDrive

An easy-to-use cloud storage service that lets you access and edit your files from anywhere.

source: opendrive.com
source: opendrive.com

Program Placement

The only place you can find the OpenDrive referral program is under the settings tab away from the main navigation. Like I’ve mentioned before this is a common mistake when putting in a referral program. A hidden program won’t perform for your company no matter the size of the reward.

source: opendrive.com
source: opendrive.com

Referral Homepage

This is another common mistake when putting together a referral program. The team behind OpenDrive is designing the program like an affiliate program. Offering a single-sided reward structure and offering an embed button are things affiliates would be interested in.

Most users simply aren’t interested in earning a commission off of their friends and definitely aren’t looking to embed a button.

You need to understand how your users are making referrals, then design the program around that behavior.

For example if most of your users are using email to make a referral you should use that insight to change the layout of your page and suggest a user make an invite by email first.

source: opendrive.com
source: opendrive.com

TL;DR

Ultimately, referral programs should never be static. You can always find ways to improve them, whether its increasing its overall visibility or optimizing the social messaging there are opportunities to increase a referral programs’ performance.

 

brandon gains linkedinBrandon Gains is the growth marketing lead at Referral SaaSquatch – the customer referral platform for tech companies involved with SaaS, Media and E-Commerce. You can connect with him via email – brandon at referralsaasquatch.com or on twitter @brandongains