​Melinda Curle7 min readPartner postsFebruary 19, 2019

How to promote your referral program via email marketing

How to promote your referral program via email marketing

Referral marketing is one of the most effective methods of growing your small business.

Its inexpensive cost and ability to reach a large number of people make it a powerful marketing tactic for companies with smaller budgets.

Successful referral programs are built on relationships, and there is no better marketing channel to help you build relationships than email marketing. Year after year, email marketing consistently produces the highest return on investment.

Combining your email marketing with a referral program can produce fantastic results.

Email marketing is an excellent way to notify your customers that you have a referral program. This is accomplished with a three-email referral marketing campaign:

  1. First Referral Program Email: State the Benefit of the Program
  2. Second Referral Program Email: Follow-Up Reminder
  3. Third Referral Program Email: Advocacy Request

Let’s take a closer look!


First Referral Program Email: State the Benefit of the Program

The most important step for any referral marketing campaign is the initial email. This email will outline what the customer or advocate can gain from referring their friends and family. It will also explain how to get started.

This first email should make a big impression.

It should be very professional and include images of the reward that the customer can gain. If this is your first time sending out an email campaign dedicated exclusively to generate new referral sales, take some time to experiment and A/B test with different messages to optimize your results.

A professional, eye-catching image like the one from ZooSho can make your email pop. It visually lays out the benefit for the customer. People tend to enjoy images.

referral newsletter example 1

Below the main graphic, ZooSho outlines the details of the referral marketing campaign in three easy steps. The steps include fun graphics as well to visually guide the customer through the process and demonstrate how simple the steps are.

Finally, the email ends with clear instructions on generating a personal link and how to forward the link to the customer’s network so they can both earn rewards.

referral newsletter example 2

Give $10, Get $10. Simple and effective.

The initial email’s goal is to spread awareness of your referral program. You want to make sure that it pops. Take extra time to create an outstanding header to ensure people open the email. Make sure that the steps are clear and there is no confusion about the process of signing up and referring friends and family.

Once you have laid the foundation and notified your customers of the referral program, following up is simple. You will periodically send them friendly emails to remind them to earn their rewards by referring friends.


Second Referral Program Email: Follow-Up Reminder

Your second email in the referral campaign should be a reminder to send referrals. Many companies tend to skip this step and miss out on precious referrals. Do not make this mistake. 

Not everyone refers to their friends right away. Some people want to test out the product for a bit longer to ensure it meets their needs. Others can be busy when they read the first email. Their network’s needs aren’t at the top of their mind. Therefore, follow up emails can provide them with additional opportunities to refer their friends.

Remind your recipients of the value they receive from your offering and how it can benefit their friends.

Sticking to an appropriate interval for sending follow-up emails is ideal. Daily may be too frequently. Space them out every two weeks or every month.

When sending a follow-up email, draft an entirely new email. This will help your campaign seem fresh and exciting. You can do a variation on the initial email or mention the program in the text.

referral newsletter example 3

Leonisa gets excellent results from their email marketing. The benefit is right under the image with the directions to register clearly stated underneath.

Another tactic is to add a line of text gently reminding your readers of your referral program. In the example below, we see that they close the email with a text reminder of receiving 15% off for referring a friend.

referral newsletter example 4

Third Referral Program Email: Advocacy Request

Many times in business, you must ease into things. Great salespeople know that part of your lead generation process must be based on creating a relationship before making a sale. The same can be true for referrals. 

You may not get a referral with the first email. However, continuing the conversation with your customers and demonstrating value can improve the chances of getting referrals.

Once a solid relationship is established and your customers value your products, they will want to refer their friends and family.

To maximize the referral potential, offer incentives that benefit both the referrer and the person referred.

Referral advocacy is very similar to asking for a referral or two. An advocacy request email asks users to email their friends with their referral code and sharing it on social media. This will leverage your friends and their friends’ friends. It will maximize the reach.

You can make it easier for them by adding the share links in your email. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Check out the POPRAGEOUS advocacy email below:

referral newsletter example 5

If you examine this email, you’ll notice all the right elements. There are incentives for both parties, a link to easily forward and a simple way to share through Facebook and Twitter.  

The emails that you send should showcase your gratitude for referrals and highlight the value that customers receive from your products or services. This will ensure that your referral machine is well-oiled and consistently producing a steady stream of new business for you.


Promote the program in email signatures

When sending emails, you can include a signature. A good strategy is to include a link to your referral program in every email. Therefore, each time you create an email campaign, your email list is reminded of your referral program.

This tactic works well with companies that communicate frequently with their customer through email. It is not a nagging reminder to give referrals, but the recipients know where they can sign up to get involved with referring their network.

Putting a link to your referral program in your email signature is a nice, set it and forget it tactic. It will frequently remind your customers that they can earn referral bonuses.

referral newsletter example 6

Email marketing is a great way to continually remind your customers of your referral program. Many companies spend a lot of time launching their referral program but tend to forget about it after the launch. Customers need continual reminders.

It is also important to note that you’ll gain new customers that you need to inform about your referral program. Therefore, it is important to be sending out periodic reminders about your referral program.


Jump start your referral campaigns with email marketing

Referral marketing can be the sales driver that you are missing. Consider the following referral marketing statistics:

  • 65% of new business is generated through referrals
  • Referrals convert at 3-5x higher compared to other channels
  • Nothing accelerates a purchase decision faster than a word-of-mouth endorsement from a peer whose only agenda is to help
  • Referral marketing generates customers who have higher lifetime values, are more loyal, and contribute higher margins per year than other customers
  • On average, small businesses receive 60% of their business through referral campaigns

As you can see, referral marketing is an excellent method of marketing particularly for small businesses and e-commerce sites.

When you activate your referral marketing with email, you can create a powerful relationship-building campaign that will drive sales and grow your customer base.


What are your experiences with referral programs? 

Please share your insights or questions in the comments below.

​Melinda Curle

Melinda Curle is a writer for CandyBar and ReferralCandy.