20 Ultra-Unique Refer-A-Friend Program Ideas That Will Make Your Brand Stand Out From The Crowd!

May 14, 2023

Welcome to ReferralHero, the freshest arcade in the city! With rows of games all boasting big-time referral prizes, all you need is fast fingers and a stack of quarters to have the time of your marketing life. 

When I used to meet my friends down at the arcade, the biggest challenge was choosing which games we were going to play. With limited time and tokens, we didn’t want to waste our afternoon playing endless repeats of the same gameplay and concept. We always wanted something new. 

But that sentiment is only for kids, right? OF COURSE NOT! 

When you’re crafting your spectacular referral program, the last thing you want is a plan that blends into the crowd. Here are a few of my favorite unique and powerful refer-a-friend structures for your next campaign! 

1. Refer-A-Friend Contest

Few things get people excited like a contest. Between the time limit, bringing in friends, and the chance of a BIG PRIZE, this is gamification at its best! 

Set it up so that every time a customer refers a new friend, they get one entry into the contest. Bonus entries can be given depending on what the new lead ends up spending, or for other actions such as likes, follows, and shares. 

Whether it's a big trip, a dream product, or something else, a killer prize will be the key to getting people on board for this one! 

2. Give A Gift, Get A Gift

It’s been shown that offering gifts to both parties gets people way more invested in a referral program. Everyone wants to feel like a good person, and if they can get a reward for their friends, they’re excited. 

Reward the referrer for introducing their friends to your product or service, and give the friend something extra for joining. A discount, a free trial, or an exclusive product all make great gifts! 

3. Referral Code Bonuses 

Making your referrers feel special is always a stellar side effect of a good campaign, and giving them their own unique code is a great way to do that. 

Whether you offer discounts, cash, or a freebie, referrers will be more likely to get their friends on board if they know they'll get something out of it. 

The key to making this work is to make sure the code is easy to use and the bonus is worthwhile.

4. Social Media Sharing 

People spend A LOT of time on social media, and if your marketing team can tap into that power, it won’t be long until you’re EVERYWHERE. 

By its very nature, people want to share things on these sites, so you’re able to get your message out there even further. Ask your customers to share your content, promising a reward for engagement and you’ll be surprised to see how quickly your reach expands. 

5. Partner With Other Businesses 

Customers are invested in brands that build community, and a spectacular way to show that you care is to partner with other businesses.

Not only does this allow you to tap into a huge pool of customers, but you and your partner company can use your joint resources to make bigger projects that really leave an impact.

Just make sure you choose the right brand to partner with. Something that fits into the lives and interests of your user base will do the most good!

6. Personalized Invitations

Your referral program is a party, and you should invite people into it like one! With a personalized invitation announcing a special offer for referrals, customers will be over the moon to reach out to their friends directly and share why they love your product.

Plus, it’s so much more personal than a standardized email. Whether it’s a written invitation, a video, or something else, your customers will appreciate the extra effort you’ve made to make their experience with the program as exciting as their experience with your product!

7. Refer-A-Friend Emails

Speaking of emails, when done right they can be powerful tools on their own! Including a specific call-to-action with a referral link will help bring the message home.

Be sure to make the email as personal as you can, making them feel like a part of the club. Plus, with the promise of a reward for referrals, who could resist?

8. Refer-A-Friend Landing Page

Having a clear, unique image and tone for your campaign can go a long way. Be sure to set this right from the get-go with an eye-catching and easy-to-use website.

A landing page specifically for your refer-a-friend program will allow for easy sharing and tracking. Include your program rules, the rewards available, and a simple “Share Now” button to make things as simple as possible.

9. Referral Tiers 

The more you give, the more you get! A tiered system with bigger rewards for more referrals is a double win.

Not only does it incentivize customers to keep referring more and more, but it rewards your most fervent champions and builds brand loyalty.

Give them points or rewards for each referral and as they hit certain milestones, bump up the rewards. Everyone will have motivation long-term and the feeling of being a part of an elite club. 

10. Customer Loyalty Program

Why not tackle two initiatives at once? Combining your referral campaign with a customer loyalty program will get your current customers to bring their friends and keep them both coming back again and again.

Give discounts, exclusive offers, and other rewards for customers that refer new customers, and you’ll create a cycle of success. Even if someone doesn't want to refer people, they are still rewarded for raising your brand engagement and repeat business. 

11. Advocate Marketing

In every group, there are a few people who rise to the top. Advocate marketing rewards loyal customers for their engagement, and turns their excitement around your brand into increased sales!

Make advocates feel special by offering them exclusive access to new products, early access to sales, or recognition on your website or social media page. Each time they promote your business to their networks, you know people are hearing it from someone who really cares.

12. Charitable Donations

The power of giving is strong! When you let your customers know that you’ll be donating a percentage of proceeds from referred customers to a good cause, they’ll be more likely to get involved.

It’s a win-win situation: your customers get to do good, and you get to spread the word about your business.  Charitable giving is a great way to show that your company is about more than just the bottom line.

13. VIP Treatment 

A little bit of pampering can go a long way. Creating a VIP experience for customers who refer a certain number of friends shows them you appreciate their work, and incentivizes them to keep spreading the word.

Give your VIPs access to exclusive deals and content, as well as the chance to be a part of a community of customers who are just as passionate about your business as they are.

14. Limited Time Offers

If something is around forever, you're far more likely to put off engaging with it. Urgency is a powerful tool that can easily be used to drum up interest in your referral program.

People won't want to let the chance of a reward pass them by, so make sure to set up a limited-time offer that will drive up participation in the program.

15. Gamification 

We've spoken about a few gamified ideas for your campaign, but it's a concept that can be applied to any referral program!

Create a playful competition, with points for each successful referral. People can then “climb the ranks”, earning bragging rights and rewards with each step they take.

Plus, they'll show off to their friends who are competing against them. You can even bring in collectible badges for top referrers. Fun and effective - what more could you want?

16. Shareable Social Media Graphics

When you're doom-scrolling through your feed, it's easy for everything to start melting together, especially if it's a post from a friend about some company they're repping. 

That's why some killer graphics can go a long way in getting engagement for your customers' efforts. Providing a unified, eye-catching look for all posts about your company or product will keep them fresh and memorable. 

Bright colors, a recognizable logo, and a call to action are a great place to start. 

17. Social Media Shout-Outs

With the rise of influencing as a viable business, social media attention has become a currency unto itself. 

Offering a shout-out for referrals can go a long way to increase your brand's visibility, while also giving customers a fun and easy way to share the products or services with their network. 

Don’t underestimate the power of a single post, and don’t forget to reward those who share it!

18. Free Trials

No one wants to rope their friends into something they might not like, and chances are new customers are only willing to take their friend's word so seriously. 

Offering a low barrier to entry like a free trial is a stellar way to get around this. Not only does it give customers a chance to experience your product, but you’re also giving them the opportunity to get something for free - who doesn’t love that?

19. Referral Incentives for Employees

There's one group of people who know your product even better than your customers, and you'd be missing out big time by not tapping into their expertise! 

Offering a referral bonus for employees who bring friends and family to the business is a great way to get the word out. It will not only show your staff that they are valued, but you'll also get access to a whole new network of potential customers.

20. Influencer Partnerships

Influencers are a powerful tool in the marketing world, and partnering with them is the key to their success.

Find influencers whose values align with your brand and offer them a referral program.

As long as they’re passionate about what they’re promoting, you’ll be sure to see a huge spike in referral numbers and a boost in brand visibility.

The Bottom Line

Referral programs are popular for a good reason, they’re effective and generally don’t cost as much to get started. However, if everyone is doing something, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of identical campaigns. 

I do my best to stay fresh and memorable in all that I do, and my marketing strategies are no different. With one of these unique refer-a-friend ideas (or even a combination of a few!) your team’s efforts are sure to stand out and bring people back again and again.

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.

May 14, 2023

Welcome to ReferralHero, the freshest arcade in the city! With rows of games all boasting big-time referral prizes, all you need is fast fingers and a stack of quarters to have the time of your marketing life. 

When I used to meet my friends down at the arcade, the biggest challenge was choosing which games we were going to play. With limited time and tokens, we didn’t want to waste our afternoon playing endless repeats of the same gameplay and concept. We always wanted something new. 

But that sentiment is only for kids, right? OF COURSE NOT! 

When you’re crafting your spectacular referral program, the last thing you want is a plan that blends into the crowd. Here are a few of my favorite unique and powerful refer-a-friend structures for your next campaign! 

1. Refer-A-Friend Contest

Few things get people excited like a contest. Between the time limit, bringing in friends, and the chance of a BIG PRIZE, this is gamification at its best! 

Set it up so that every time a customer refers a new friend, they get one entry into the contest. Bonus entries can be given depending on what the new lead ends up spending, or for other actions such as likes, follows, and shares. 

Whether it's a big trip, a dream product, or something else, a killer prize will be the key to getting people on board for this one! 

2. Give A Gift, Get A Gift

It’s been shown that offering gifts to both parties gets people way more invested in a referral program. Everyone wants to feel like a good person, and if they can get a reward for their friends, they’re excited. 

Reward the referrer for introducing their friends to your product or service, and give the friend something extra for joining. A discount, a free trial, or an exclusive product all make great gifts! 

3. Referral Code Bonuses 

Making your referrers feel special is always a stellar side effect of a good campaign, and giving them their own unique code is a great way to do that. 

Whether you offer discounts, cash, or a freebie, referrers will be more likely to get their friends on board if they know they'll get something out of it. 

The key to making this work is to make sure the code is easy to use and the bonus is worthwhile.

4. Social Media Sharing 

People spend A LOT of time on social media, and if your marketing team can tap into that power, it won’t be long until you’re EVERYWHERE. 

By its very nature, people want to share things on these sites, so you’re able to get your message out there even further. Ask your customers to share your content, promising a reward for engagement and you’ll be surprised to see how quickly your reach expands. 

5. Partner With Other Businesses 

Customers are invested in brands that build community, and a spectacular way to show that you care is to partner with other businesses.

Not only does this allow you to tap into a huge pool of customers, but you and your partner company can use your joint resources to make bigger projects that really leave an impact.

Just make sure you choose the right brand to partner with. Something that fits into the lives and interests of your user base will do the most good!

6. Personalized Invitations

Your referral program is a party, and you should invite people into it like one! With a personalized invitation announcing a special offer for referrals, customers will be over the moon to reach out to their friends directly and share why they love your product.

Plus, it’s so much more personal than a standardized email. Whether it’s a written invitation, a video, or something else, your customers will appreciate the extra effort you’ve made to make their experience with the program as exciting as their experience with your product!

7. Refer-A-Friend Emails

Speaking of emails, when done right they can be powerful tools on their own! Including a specific call-to-action with a referral link will help bring the message home.

Be sure to make the email as personal as you can, making them feel like a part of the club. Plus, with the promise of a reward for referrals, who could resist?

8. Refer-A-Friend Landing Page

Having a clear, unique image and tone for your campaign can go a long way. Be sure to set this right from the get-go with an eye-catching and easy-to-use website.

A landing page specifically for your refer-a-friend program will allow for easy sharing and tracking. Include your program rules, the rewards available, and a simple “Share Now” button to make things as simple as possible.

9. Referral Tiers 

The more you give, the more you get! A tiered system with bigger rewards for more referrals is a double win.

Not only does it incentivize customers to keep referring more and more, but it rewards your most fervent champions and builds brand loyalty.

Give them points or rewards for each referral and as they hit certain milestones, bump up the rewards. Everyone will have motivation long-term and the feeling of being a part of an elite club. 

10. Customer Loyalty Program

Why not tackle two initiatives at once? Combining your referral campaign with a customer loyalty program will get your current customers to bring their friends and keep them both coming back again and again.

Give discounts, exclusive offers, and other rewards for customers that refer new customers, and you’ll create a cycle of success. Even if someone doesn't want to refer people, they are still rewarded for raising your brand engagement and repeat business. 

11. Advocate Marketing

In every group, there are a few people who rise to the top. Advocate marketing rewards loyal customers for their engagement, and turns their excitement around your brand into increased sales!

Make advocates feel special by offering them exclusive access to new products, early access to sales, or recognition on your website or social media page. Each time they promote your business to their networks, you know people are hearing it from someone who really cares.

12. Charitable Donations

The power of giving is strong! When you let your customers know that you’ll be donating a percentage of proceeds from referred customers to a good cause, they’ll be more likely to get involved.

It’s a win-win situation: your customers get to do good, and you get to spread the word about your business.  Charitable giving is a great way to show that your company is about more than just the bottom line.

13. VIP Treatment 

A little bit of pampering can go a long way. Creating a VIP experience for customers who refer a certain number of friends shows them you appreciate their work, and incentivizes them to keep spreading the word.

Give your VIPs access to exclusive deals and content, as well as the chance to be a part of a community of customers who are just as passionate about your business as they are.

14. Limited Time Offers

If something is around forever, you're far more likely to put off engaging with it. Urgency is a powerful tool that can easily be used to drum up interest in your referral program.

People won't want to let the chance of a reward pass them by, so make sure to set up a limited-time offer that will drive up participation in the program.

15. Gamification 

We've spoken about a few gamified ideas for your campaign, but it's a concept that can be applied to any referral program!

Create a playful competition, with points for each successful referral. People can then “climb the ranks”, earning bragging rights and rewards with each step they take.

Plus, they'll show off to their friends who are competing against them. You can even bring in collectible badges for top referrers. Fun and effective - what more could you want?

16. Shareable Social Media Graphics

When you're doom-scrolling through your feed, it's easy for everything to start melting together, especially if it's a post from a friend about some company they're repping. 

That's why some killer graphics can go a long way in getting engagement for your customers' efforts. Providing a unified, eye-catching look for all posts about your company or product will keep them fresh and memorable. 

Bright colors, a recognizable logo, and a call to action are a great place to start. 

17. Social Media Shout-Outs

With the rise of influencing as a viable business, social media attention has become a currency unto itself. 

Offering a shout-out for referrals can go a long way to increase your brand's visibility, while also giving customers a fun and easy way to share the products or services with their network. 

Don’t underestimate the power of a single post, and don’t forget to reward those who share it!

18. Free Trials

No one wants to rope their friends into something they might not like, and chances are new customers are only willing to take their friend's word so seriously. 

Offering a low barrier to entry like a free trial is a stellar way to get around this. Not only does it give customers a chance to experience your product, but you’re also giving them the opportunity to get something for free - who doesn’t love that?

19. Referral Incentives for Employees

There's one group of people who know your product even better than your customers, and you'd be missing out big time by not tapping into their expertise! 

Offering a referral bonus for employees who bring friends and family to the business is a great way to get the word out. It will not only show your staff that they are valued, but you'll also get access to a whole new network of potential customers.

20. Influencer Partnerships

Influencers are a powerful tool in the marketing world, and partnering with them is the key to their success.

Find influencers whose values align with your brand and offer them a referral program.

As long as they’re passionate about what they’re promoting, you’ll be sure to see a huge spike in referral numbers and a boost in brand visibility.

The Bottom Line

Referral programs are popular for a good reason, they’re effective and generally don’t cost as much to get started. However, if everyone is doing something, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of identical campaigns. 

I do my best to stay fresh and memorable in all that I do, and my marketing strategies are no different. With one of these unique refer-a-friend ideas (or even a combination of a few!) your team’s efforts are sure to stand out and bring people back again and again.

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.

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