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You’ve no doubt interacted with a referral program or two while using your phone, but it can get overwhelming trying to find out what makes them successful.
I know the struggle, but I’ve been able to pinpoint what makes some app referral programs soar while others are rewarded with a quick delete.
I want to share that knowledge with you, so if you want to make your app downloads skyrocket, then saddle up!
What is A Referral Program
Referral marketing is one of the most powerful tools available to a company.
Put simply, it is when you reward customers for telling friends and family about your app.
If you’re looking to boost customer loyalty and sales, this is a stellar place to start!
And what’s better - it doesn’t need to be complicated.
The best referral programs make it simple and exciting for users to spread the word about your app.
Incentives could include:
- A discount on an in-app purchase
- An exclusive access pass for additional features
- A free trial of a premium version of the app
- A gift for referring a certain number of friends
- Points towards a reward program, such as loyalty points or store credit.
So long as the reward is enticing and the process is easy, you can easily grow your business like wildfire.
Why Do Apps Need Referral Programs
All app designers want the same thing - a vacation!
However, in lieu of that, we’ll gladly accept customer engagement and buzz about our apps.
Referral marketing is a fast track to that kind of customer reaction.
A staggering 92% of people are willing to trust a recommendation made by a friend.
This means that if you find a way to incentivize those recommendations, you could have a 90% increase in people using your app!
This effect quickly snowballs, meaning you’ll have more and more downloads as time goes on.
People will even be more likely to stay on your app for longer because they are actively helping to build the community they’re a part of.
No wonder referral programs are so common!
But what can make yours stick out enough to really make those conversions?
How to Create A Powerful In-App Referral Program
You’ve put a lot of time and effort into making your app. You should be just as intentional about making your referral program.
Step One: Decide on An Incentive
Different apps will lend themselves to different types of incentives.
You know your target market, and you know what will motivate them to hit send on that referral message.
In-game rewards, access to pro features, or membership in an exclusive club will all have different effects on your audience.
Make sure you choose something that has a high ROI. The best referral programs bring in way more money than they take.
Step Two: Find The Right Timing
We’ve all exited out of annoying pop-ups asking us to share an app with our friends.
Usually, the common denominator between these failed attempts is that they occurred before we knew anything about the app, or whether it was worth passing along.
That’s why waiting to ask is always better.
Make sure your audience is fully engaged with the app before you solicit a referral.
This means becoming a part of their daily routine. Ideally, they will already be thinking about who else would love your app before you plant the idea.
Another great option is including info about your referral program in your onboarding.
People can’t use something they don’t know about.
As you teach them the ins and outs of using your app, make sure they also learn about how to share it.
Step Three: Promote Your Program
The more people see something, the more likely they are to remember it.
Make sure you’re using every avenue available to you to get your referral program in front of people.
Some places to start include:
- Sending push notifications
- Have banners and pages on your website
- Share about it on social media
- Offer custom messages to make sharing your game as easy as one click
- Prompt people in the app
- Send out emails about the program
- Create mobile ads
Whatever you decide, make sure you aren’t overwhelming your audience. If they’re annoyed, they won’t encourage their friends to join.
Step Four: Keep Track of Your Progress
You can’t know what’s working if you aren’t keeping track.
Gathering and analyzing data can quickly become a challenge, and app development requires a lot of attention.
That’s why having a tool like ReferralHero is so vital.
It can keep track of each referral and see how successful each facet of your program is.
With ReferralHero’s help, you can easily see what needs more attention.
Step Five: Remind People About Referrals
Even with great rewards and incentives, some people will need to build trust with your brand before they start handing out referrals.
However, it’s totally possible that once they love your app enough to tell people about it, they’ve entirely forgotten about your program.
Make sure you follow up with people to keep the offer at the front of their minds.
But don’t get annoying! As soon as users consider your reminders to be spam, you’ve lost them.
To get started, you can choose one or two of the following methods:
- Draft an email that reminds users of the rewards they can get for telling a friend.
- Send a push notification each time a friend joins the app.
- Use FOMO (fear of missing out) by telling them the program is ending soon.
- Build a community around the app so that people can remind each other, and have more of an incentive to invite friends in.
These will remind users of your program without coming off as pushy.
Step Six: Pull Referred Users In From The Jump
You’ve successfully gotten a referral! Yaay! But the work isn’t over yet.
New users who a friend has recommended are often treated like any other user.
However, they’re far more valuable.
They will come in with a certain level of buy-in from the start and may be even more likely to refer another friend.
This is especially true if using the app becomes something they can share with their friends.
There are a few ways to capitalize on this fact.
Start with a personalized onboarding experience. Let the new user know how to interact with the person who referred them, and ensure they understand all the features you offer.
Once they’re fully into your app, consider having opportunities for them to interact with their friends.
Maybe they can share their progress on social media, or challenge a friend to a contest.
Getting app reviews and ratings is another great way to get it in front of people.
Make use of an engaged user by encouraging them to leave a good review.
Examples of Mobile Referral Programs
When designing your referral program, it can be super helpful to look at what has worked in the past.
This way, you can learn from their successes and create the most powerful campaign around.
Ring is a security equipment provider that developed the Neighbors app to give people safety alerts in real-time within their community.
If a person refers a friend, they both get a discount on products from Ring.
Why It Works
Because the app is more powerful the more people in your community are on it, there is a huge incentive to bring other people along.
There’s an easy buy-in, and referrals can be quickly encouraged during onboarding.
TaskRabbit operates as a marketplace for freelancers. There’s a thriving community of people who are close together to help complete daily tasks.
They offer a two-sided referral bonus, meaning that if the person you refer finishes a task, you both get $10.
Why It Works
Users can see a link to the referral program throughout the app, keeping it at the top of their mind.
TaskRabbit will also compose a text message for the referrer, making sharing the link super simple.
You’ve probably received one or two messages from friends encouraging you to pick up Candy Crush.
They’ve developed a strategy that costs virtually nothing, yet incentivizes tons of referrals.
Why It Works
Every time a player runs out of lives, they are presented with three options. Pay real money, stop playing, or send a referral to a friend.
Mixed with its addictive gameplay, Candy Crush manages to get players to send referrals to half of their contact list with a simple tap.
The Bottom Line
Your app is spectacular - you know it, your users know it, and with a little bit of work on a referral program, all their friends will know it too.
Taking the time to design and implement the perfect program for your niche, and working with tools like ReferralHero to keep everything on track, will quickly boost you to the top of the charts.
So what are you waiting for? The sooner you start, the sooner your users will get clicking!
Ready to 10x your software platform, mobile app, or web3 company with our automated growth engine?
In just 14 days, we help you build the same waitlist, contest, or referral program used to launch and scale Airbnb, Uber, PayPal, and 1000s of other businesses. Start your ReferralHero free trial today.