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Maximizing Impact: How to Promote Your Referral Program

Nov 7, 2023 | 8 minute read

Maximizing Impact: How to Promote Your Referral Program

Megan Wenzl

Content Marketing Manager

Referral programs have become popular for their impressive ROI and cost-effective approach. Unlike other marketing channels that may require hefty investments, referral programs capitalize on the trust and satisfaction of your existing customers to bring in new ones. But having a referral program is only half of the battle. The other half lies in marketing it effectively to ensure it reaches its full potential.

Tony Hou, Founder and CEO of Moustache Republic, says, “To market your referral program effectively, it’s essential to move beyond merely implementing a referral tool.

“Brands must invest in identifying and targeting their most passionate and influential customers, while also using the referral tools effectively. By using tailored incentives and rewards that resonate with customer interests and align with brand values, this targeted approach, combined with efficient tool utilization, can greatly amplify the impact of your referral program, driving higher-quality leads and fostering brand advocacy.”

Let’s take a look at the strategies you can use to enhance your efforts to promote your referral program and ensure you maximize ROI.

Announce Your Program to Your Existing Customers 

Building a great referral program is essential, but equally important is letting your loyal customers know about it. Here’s a strategy to make sure your announcement has the maximum impact:

The Power of Recent Engagement

When introducing your referral program, prioritize customers who have recently made a purchase. A recent interaction, especially within the last year, makes their experience with your brand fresh, increasing the chances of them actively participating in the referral process.

Segmentation for Precision

Tailoring your announcements can greatly enhance their effectiveness. Consider segmenting your audience based on their engagement history:

  • Recent Buyers: Purchased in the last 3 to 6 months.
  • Repeat Buyers: Customers with multiple purchases.
  • Long-term Customers: Haven’t purchased recently but remain engaged.

Personalize the Approach

A personalized message that acknowledges customers’  specific interaction history can make a huge difference. It not only makes them feel valued but also highlights that you’re paying attention, further incentivizing them to refer. 

Use All Communication Channels

When considering what channels to use to send your announcement, use all of them. Email will have the wider reach, but you can also send your announcement through SMS with a short note. 

By implementing a strategic approach to announcing your referral program, you’re setting the stage for its success. Engage with your existing customers thoughtfully, and watch your referral program flourish.

As Miranda Luebkeman, Co-Founder of CTZN, says, “Our clients have seen a 25% conversion rate for every Okendo referral sent by implementing the following practices: Promote the program to your most-engaged shoppers (anyone who has purchased at least 2x in the last 365 days) in a dedicated email or SMS blast and try to use personalization if you can. It’s best to lead with the heart & soul of the brand by injecting authenticity with some light storytelling (while thanking them for their support, of course).

“Then, take this email and loop it into a post purchase flow for repeat customers so it becomes an evergreen asset in your marketing automation mix!” 

Let Customers Know About Your Referral Program at the Right Time 

Nailing the timing can make all the difference when promoting your referral program. If you approach your customers at the right moment, they’re more likely to respond positively. Here’s how you can optimize your timing:

Seize Moments of Peak Engagement and Satisfaction like Post-Review

Just after a customer leaves a glowing review is a golden window of opportunity. Engage with customers who’ve given you 4 and 5-star reviews immediately after their feedback. Their recent positive interaction makes them ideal candidates to refer a friend or family member. 

Asking a customer to refer a friend post-review

Utilize Integrated Marketing Tools

Tools like Attentive or Klaviyo can be seamlessly integrated with Okendo to automate referral requests. By segmenting customers based on their reviews and survey responses, you can tailor your outreach to those most likely to be receptive.

Tap into the Power of Positive Feedback

  • Stellar Reviewers: Targeting customers who’ve rated your products or services with 4 or 5 stars ensures that you’re reaching out to those who have experienced the best you have to offer.
  • NPS Promoters: Net Promoter Scores (NPS) of 9 or 10 indicate customers who are not just satisfied but are enthusiastic about your brand. They’re primed to spread positive word-of-mouth.
  • CSAT/CES High Scorers: A Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) or Customer Effort Score (CES) of 4 or 5 reveals positive experiences that make them more likely to refer friends and family.


Automate with Okendo

Every time you get new review or survey result in Okendo, a referral request campaign can be triggered to send out to these happiest customers. This ensures you’re always capturing referrals at optimal moments.

By harnessing the power of timing, you can amplify the success of your referral program, transforming satisfied customers into Superfans, or highly engaged brand advocates.

Promote Your Referral Program in the Right Places 

One of the key components of a successful referral program is making sure it’s visible to your customers in strategic locations. Here’s how you can optimize the placement and promotion of your referral program:

Integrate Referral Prompts in Review Capture Forms

Embed the referral prompt directly into your review capture forms. When customers leave feedback, they’re already engaged, making it a prime moment to introduce them to your referral program.

Consider adding a link to your referral landing page either in the header or footer of your website. A header link ensures high visibility, while a footer link offers a more subtle approach. For instance, Grace and Lace strategically places their referral link in the footer, allowing customers to discover it organically during their browsing journey. 

Leverage Mobile Apps

If you operate through a mobile app like Tapcart, harness push notifications to alert your most engaged customers about your referral program.

Integrate Referrals into Email Campaigns

Whether it’s post-purchase or part of a marketing campaign, always consider incorporating an evergreen referral content block or link in your emails. For instance, if you’re highlighting a product in an email campaign, include a referral section to urge the recipient to join the program. Alternatively, adding a referral link in the footer of your emails can serve as a consistent reminder across all campaigns.

Reward Your Top Referrers

Recognize and reward your most successful referrers. Offer them exclusive discounts separate from regular referral bonuses. Elevating them to a VIP loyalty tier can further motivate them, allowing them to earn more loyalty points and maintain their top referrer status.


By meticulously positioning and promoting your referral program, you ensure that both potential and existing customers have every opportunity to engage, leading to a flourishing referral ecosystem.

Set Up Referral Incentives that Work 

Successful referral programs hinge on compelling rewards that entice both the referrer and the recipient. Here’s how to design incentives that resonate and drive participation:

Promoting your referral program with the incentive to provide 20% for both the referrer and new customer

Offer Tangible Rewards

The best referral incentives are those that offer clear, tangible benefits. Whether it’s a percentage off their next purchase or a flat discount, ensure that the value proposition is compelling.

Strike a Balance

Consider offering a 20% discount to both the referrer and the recipient on their subsequent order. Alternatively, a $20 discount on their next purchase can be an attractive proposition, making it worthwhile for both parties to engage. 

As Ben Reeves, Senior Client Success Manager, Australia, at Overdose Digital, says, “Don’t skimp on the reward. Remember, the cost of a generous reward is often less than what you’d spend acquiring a customer through other marketing channels. A winning referral program will increase sales while building customer loyalty by following these steps. Make your offer worthwhile so it’s a no-brainer for your customers to share it with their friends and family. And, don’t forget, to track the results to improve the offers!”

Set a Reasonable Redemption Period

While you want to create a sense of urgency around the incentive, it’s crucial to provide ample time for redemption. A 30-day window typically strikes the right balance, giving both the referrer and the recipient enough time to make a purchase while keeping the excitement alive.

When structured thoughtfully, referral incentives can act as powerful motivators, spurring customers to become proactive brand advocates, leading to organic growth and stronger customer relationships.

Establish Referral Program Goals 

A well-defined referral program isn’t just about enticing rewards or effective promotion—it requires strategic goal-setting. Here’s why and how:

The Power of Clarity

Establishing distinct objectives for your referral program ensures that all efforts are directed towards a unified outcome. This clarity not only streamlines your marketing activities but also aids in evaluating the program’s ROI.

Diverse Goal-Setting

While acquiring new customers might be the primary objective, consider setting varied goals. This could range from a specific number of new customer acquisitions to achieving a targeted referral sales percentage.

Stay Agile and Adjust

The market dynamics and customer behaviors are continually evolving. While it’s essential to have set benchmarks, it’s equally crucial to remain flexible and adjust your goals based on real-world results and feedback.

Harness Analytics Tools

With advanced platforms like Okendo, you’re not left in the dark about your program’s performance. Utilize its robust analytics to monitor progress. By comparing actual results with set benchmarks, you can understand areas of success and aspects that need more attention or a different approach.

By setting, tracking, and periodically reassessing your goals, you can ensure that your referral program remains a dynamic and potent tool in your marketing arsenal.

Monitor Metrics for Continuous Improvement 

The journey doesn’t end with setting up a referral program and marketing it; monitoring its performance is crucial for continuous improvement. Metrics like referral sales percentage, the number of new customers acquired, and the overall revenue generated from referrals are pivotal. Okendo offers a robust analytics platform to track these metrics, providing insightful data for tweaking your referral marketing strategies for better performance.

The symbiotic relationship between satisfied customers and successful referral programs cannot be overstated. 

With the right marketing strategies and a powerful tool like Okendo at your disposal, leveraging your Superfans for brand advocacy becomes a structured and rewarding endeavor. The result is a thriving referral program that not only augments your customer base but also fosters a community of loyal customers who value and promote your brand.

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