The Most Successful Referral Program Examples

by Bistriti Poddar |

A referral program is a well planned, strategic way of involving loyal customers into brand advocacy, by rewarding every customer through incentives like discounts, subscriptions who makes a referral. Also known as the “Word Of Mouth” marketing, successful referral program help building a positive brand image and help promote trust-based marketing. A study shows 9 out of 10 customers trust recommendations from close friends and family, guaranteeing referral programs to be more successful than traditional marketing methods.

Customer referral programs influence and engage their biggest assets (existing customers) to recommend the brand with the help of easy- to-use sharing tools. With the availability of vast alternatives in the current market environment, study reveals almost 92% of customers trust referrals and 95% read online reviews before making any purchase. In this article, we would be discussing some of the most iconic successful referral program examples.

Importance of referral programs

  1. Most referral systems allow customers to directly share their experiences on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Studies show almost 55% of customers share their shopping experiences on Facebook, while 71% of them make purchases based on social media referrals.
  2. You can remind your customers to share more referrals by sending them friendly reminders, newsletters, and exciting freebies!
  3. Introducing a system that automatically tracks efforts of loyal brand advocates makes referral programs less complicated and easy to execute while 83% of customers agree to send referrals but only 29% certainly do so.
  4. Enhanced rate of customer retention shows 25%-95% chances of increase in profits as engaging new customers is costlier than retaining old ones. Also, customers who make referrals are more likely to be obliged and loyal toward the brand. Statistics show that 83% of customers who had a positive experience with a brand are more likely to refer it to others.

Here are some top referral program examples: 

Google–  Since Google decided to recruit only the best, they heavily invested into referral program strategies to come up with a new marketing approach. The approach was rewarding, when initially the referrals increased by more than one-third. As stated earlier, Google’s first initiative was to double up the bonus of employees for every referral they made. For example, an employee of Google getting a bonus of $2000, would have his bonus doubled, after making a referral, which is $4000. Later, Google moved its marketing approach from nudging employees to encouraging them into making more referrals by reminding them about special openings and potential candidates for it.

Uber– The Uber referral program is one of the most well known successful referral program examples. Uber provided people with one of the most necessary things needed in daily life- A hassle free public transport without the rush and the crowd! Uber’s free downloadable app allows riders to be in charge of their commute. Having different referral programs for drivers and riders, the service is worth sharing and makes using the app unbelievably easy. Starting its service back in 2009, spreading over 65 countries and over 10,000 cities and towns, Uber is one of the most top ranking ridesharing services with excellent marketing strategies. The referral program for customers is pretty easy, where the referred person has to sign up to get a free first ride, while the person who refers earns rewards. Being extremely mobile friendly and enticing at the same time, Uber encourages customers to be loyal to the service. It had the most success by creating a separate referral program for drivers where by sharing the personal code, the referred person becomes the new driver. Exactly like the rider referral program, the Uber driver referral program also grants dual incentive to drivers, where new drivers get bonuses once they start working for the service.

Dropbox- MIT students Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi started Dropbox back in 2007, and now it has one of the most talked about referral programs. The need to utilize and amplify the word of mouth, made the Dropbox team introduce a new referral program, much similar to that of PayPal’s. Their successful referral program reached a height when rewarded 250 MB each for both referrer and the referee. The feedback was satisfactory as the team saw numerous invites pouring in via emails and social media requests. With every 2 weeks of frequent analyzing, data was drawn for experiments and by the beginning of 2010, more than 2.8 million invites were sent, identifying an average growth of 3900%. Every aspect of Dropbox referral program contributes to viral growth, frequent data analysis and constant experimentation being the most important.

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