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The first thing to know is that with every referral program there are two sides.
- Getting Referrers (people who share your brand with their friends)
- Converting Referrals (convincing the friends to do what you want)
This article is split up into two big sections based on the above and then broken down into smaller sections so you can understand the flow of building a successful referral program.
This article will:
- Show you how to build a referral program that works (with real examples)
- Give you templates you can copy into your referral program (located throughout each step)
- Help you 2 x your business with a referral program
So let's dig in...
Referral Program Template for Getting Referrers
The sections that follow will provide you with real examples and templates to copy that turn your current website visitors or customers into brand ambassadors or referrers. It might be obvious but the more people you have actively participating in your referral program will in return drive new referrals. Therefore, let's start at the beginning with getting referrers.
1. Signup Landing Page Template
Setting up a special and unique referral program landing page is very important as it is often the first time a visitor learns about your referral program. It’s an essential part of the user journey with a single goal. The goal of this landing page is to convert visitors to join your referral program and become referrers or brand ambassadors. Visitors can be anyone depending on the placement (more on that below) including organic traffic or current customers. Below are seven essential elements of a successful signup landing page:
- Landing Page Placement
This might come as a surprise but the placement of your landing page needs just as much thought as the page itself. The landing page will serve as a place to host the referral program and provide participants with important information about it. First, consider who do you want to access this page? Second, will the program be available for anyone to join on your website or located within your product behind a login wall? Regardless of who the program is for, make sure the landing page is not hidden deep within the website where visitors don’t know about it or find it hard to find. The landing page or entry point into your referral program needs to be blatantly obvious to the visitor.
- Referral Program Headline
Write an attention-grabbing headline that is simple and to the point. This is the first thing visitors will see about your referral program and it should communicate clearly what the program is about and what they will get for referring their friends.
- Step-by-step Illustration
If possible use visuals to illustrate the steps needed to take in order to join, the actions required to participate, and the rewards that will be distributed.
- Highlight the Rewards
Communicate clearly what benefits or rewards visitors will get for participating. Is it a one-sided or two-sided program? The key to crafting rewards is to focus on what your customers are interested in so that they feel motivated to share and invite their friends. Ask yourself “Is this a program I would participate in and a reward I personally want?”
- Frictionless Signup Form
Minimize the signup steps to make sure the program is easy to join. If you are using a signup form, include as few steps or boxes on the form as possible. If you are placing the program behind your website or product login wall, you can automatically register people when they view the page or on a button click (more on this below).
- Call to Action
A good call to action is clear but specific and creates an urgency that drives the user to join your program.
- Referral Program FAQ/T&C
If your referral program is slightly more complicated or involves multiple layers. A FAQ or Terms & Conditions section is a good place for you to answer commonly asked questions from people who might be looking for more details.
Copy These Signup Landing Page Templates:
Example 1: Google
- It has a simple and attention-grabbing headline “Earn rewards by referring Google Workspace”.
- A step-by-step illustration of how the program works - join, refer and earn, followed by the reward structure.
- There are 5 CTAs throughout the page and the signup process is very simple - you just need to fill out a form with the following required fields: country, first name, last name, email, occupation, etc.
- It also includes a Referral FAQ section at the bottom.
Example 2: PayPal
- Clear headline “Share the joy of shopping with PayPal, and earn up to $100”.
- A motion illustration that brings some life to the page and a step-by-step process on how to participate and the rewards that can be won.
- Strong repeated CTA “Invite your friends”
- When you click the CTA button you are automatically signed into your PayPal account and shown how to share.
- Terms and Conditions are included at the bottom of the page.
2. Sharing Page Template
You can think of the sharing page as a home base for your referral program. Referrers will reference this page after they signed up to get important details about the program. That said, as you’re reading this section you might notice the signup and share page seem similar. This is because many businesses automatically enroll their visitors when they visit the referral program page, skipping over the signup landing page. Therefore, both pages will have some overlapping elements but we will highlight a few important elements specific to the sharing page:
Display a personalized referral message to nudge them to share their unique referral link.
- Sharing Options
Make sure that there are multiple ways for referrers to invite and share with friends. One person may not have a select social media account or prefer to share via another. Having several options increases the chances that they’ll share your brand with friends and family, and you might be surprised how people will choose to share.
- Sharing Social Messages
You must pre-write natural-sounding sharing messages for the referrers. Not only do you want to guide the messaging this will also make it much easier for them to share. Feel free to keep this message short and allow referrers to write part of the message.
Don’t forget to tailor the referral message for each social media platform because each platform has different requirements and audiences. For example, someone sharing on Twitter might want to craft a different message if they chose to also share on Linkedin. (Some of these messages will allow for additional personalization depending on the sharing method but we will review these sharing messages in the section on “converting referrals”.)
- Referral Status
Often times this page will act as a place for referrers to check how many referrals they have, who has converted, what rewards they have unlocked, or their overall ranking. There are also many gamified options you can utilize when building your referral program which can be displayed on this page.
Copy These Sharing Page Templates:
Example 1: Airbnb
- The Airbnb referral program is credited with driving much of the company’s early growth and it incorporates most of the elements that we’ve covered.
- They decided to host their landing page behind the Airbnb login wall. There is no signup friction at all because the participants “signed up” when they logged into their Airbnb account. If you logged in on the website, Android app, or iOS app, you could access the program.
- It has a strong headline “Go anywhere, stay for less. Earn up to $100 for everyone you invite.”.
- The incentives are clearly defined and we see a strong call to action to share with friends in various ways.
- Terms and Conditions are available for people to view.
Example 2: TurboTax
- Turbotax’s sharing page makes it super easy for referrers to share their link with a pre-filled message which can be edited by the referrer if they would like to add additional details to the email.
- Turbotax also reduces the steps it takes to share. To share via email, the referrer simply needs to enter the friend’s email address, then hit ‘Send Email’.
- For other social media platforms, clicking the button automatically opens up the pre-written share message.
Example 3: DoorDash
- Doordash users are mostly on mobile. They opted to only show a share button for Email and Text likely because they see better conversion rates with those methods.
- Users are also able to share their unique referral link with an auto-populated pre-written message on any other method they choose.
- The sharing page gives a clear explanation of the rewards.
- Users are able to check their referrals conveniently by clicking the button ‘Check referral status’.
3. Social Media Invite Template
You must be promoting your referral program on social media. On average, people spend 147 minutes, or two hours and twenty-seven minutes, on social media each day. But integrating social media into your referral program is not a one-time job. Today’s most successful businesses use social media to continuously promote and remind current and prospective customers about their referral programs. Here are three tips to help kickstart your referral program's social media presence:
- Promote Your Program Regularly
Social media is a crowded place, so if you want to gain traction with your audience, regular activity is key to reminding your audience about your referral program. Promote your program regularly and stay on top of engagement with your audience.
- Promote Your Program in Your Bio
Your social media bio is prime real estate and the place where people usually check before they decide to follow. Adding a link to your referral program in the bio can act as a lead magnet back to your website. In addition, a person visiting through this link is also probably more likely to share on social media and tell their friends.
- Spotlight Top Referrers
As you start generating top referrers, turn their achievements into content posts. Not only will this motivate others, but it will also show other people you are distributing rewards on an active basis. Let your participants be an extension of your brand.
Now let's transition into reviewing actual social media posts that promote your referral program. Below are five essential elements of a social media post:
Write an engaging headline that is simple and to the point. This is the first thing visitors will see and should ideally restate your referral program landing page header or a slight variation of it. It should communicate clearly what the program is about and why they should take the time to check it out.
- Program Overview
Provide clear instructions on how to participate. Avoid being too wordy or detailing the whole program on the post. Remember your goal is to get people to go to your signup landing page, get more info, and join there.
- Highlight the Rewards
Highlighting the benefits of joining your referral program allows participants to visualize themselves winning the rewards and increase the likelihood of them taking action.
- Use Imagery
Images, video clips and other visual content have been proven to be most effective in engaging users on social media. Posting creative images or videos can drive additional interest in your referral program.
- Optimize for Mobile
You might know this, but on average, people spend 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phones each day. While Americans spent an average of 4.1 hours a day on mobile devices last year. Optimizing for mobile will ensure the best user experience.
Copy These Social Media Invite Templates
Example 1: Sam’s Club
- The copy is clear and to the point explaining exactly what action people need to do (share) and what rewards they can expect in return (eGift card).
- The image they use visually reinforces the written copy.
- They convey the instructions for referring in just one sentence “Refer a friend to join Sam’s Club online through SamsClub.com/referafriend”.
Example 2: Wise
- On top of their regular referral program, Wise occasionally runs other limited-time rewards. This is a great way to keep the referral program top of mind with “new content” and encourage more sharing with stackable rewards.
- People feel an urgency to participate because the stackable reward is available for a limited time only.
Example 3: Swagbucks
- Great use of imagery. When viewing this post for the first time, your eyes are drawn to the image with the headline “Refer and Earn”.
- Once the viewer is interested, they start to read the first sentence which highlights the rewards “300 SB Bonus + 10% Lifetime Earnings”
- The audience immediately understands how to participate and how they will be rewarded.
Example 4: SoFi
- The image grabs your attention with the text “The Giveaway” generating interest.
- While the copy looks simple, it is very well written. “Share #SoFiMoney with your friends. They’ll get $50 and you’ll get $50 - plus you’ll get a chance to win $50k.”
- The post highlights the benefits of joining their referral program which allows the audience to visualize themselves winning the immediate $50 for each referral PLUS the distant $50K sweepstake grand prize.
- “No purchase necessary to enter” eliminates any objections people might have to participate.
4. Referral Program Email Template
There are many touch points where you can introduce your referral program on your website and social media however, email should not be forgotten. While some marketing communication channels come and go, email marketing continues to be a backbone for many businesses and provides some unique advantages. Emails should be used to announce your referral program and manage ongoing communication with your customers. Here are seven key elements that should be included in email communication:
- Multiple Touch Points
Depending on your business, there are several options for introducing and reminding your contacts about your referral program by email. If you’re an e-commerce business, send an email directly after purchase. If you’re growing a newsletter, including it within every email is the way to go. The important thing to remember is you must consistently remind participants about the program.
- Infuse Your Brand Voice
These emails do more than just announce or communicate your referral program with your contacts. Don’t forget to use your brand voice and set the tone for the relationship with your brand ambassadors.
- Referral Program Headline
Write an engaging headline that is simple and to the point. This is the first thing readers will see and should ideally restate your referral program landing page header or a slight variation. If this is a dedicated referral program email the headline will also likely be your subject line.
- Unique Referral Link
The email contact should be provided with their unique referral link directly within the email. If you’re asking them to sign up instead, a special opt-in button can be inserted into the email that automatically signs them up when they click it.
- Reward Section
The reward(s) should be highlighted each time the program is mentioned within an email. If the reward is straightforward, this can often be achieved directly within the headline. However, if your program has multiple rewards, a section should be added as a constant reminder of what the participant can get.
Just like it is good practice to personalize your email to the individual, you should also personalize the referral program content to the participant. Adding data such as the number of referrals, points earned, or what rewards they have unlocked can all be personalized to the contact within the email body.
- Referral Program Page
Make sure to link to the referral program page where the person can get any additional information that might not be provided within the email. It is important to provide easy access to information on how to share, rewards earned, and monitoring referrals. Remember what motivated them to participate in the referral program in the first place.
Copy These Referral Program Email Templates
The first email you send will likely be launching the referral program. The goal of this email is to send it to your entire list and invite them to sign up or immediately start sharing.
Example 1: Hustle
- Sam does a great job of incorporating the brand voice throughout the email.
- Rewards are clearly listed for the participant to get excited.
- The unique referral link is directly displayed within the email for easy sharing.
Example 2: Planted
- The headline is clear and immediately catches the reader’s attention
- Rewards are mentioned within the email and are easy to understand
- The unique referral link is provided for easy sharing and a button to “Track My Referrals” allows the participant to get more information.
Post Signup/Purchase Email
This email is usually sent right after signup or purchase at which point, the customer is excited about their experience and will be more likely to share your brand with a friend.
Example 1: Google Workspace Referral Program
- There's a nice recap of the rewards and the required steps to earn them.
- A brief 101 video provides another medium for people to learn about the program.
- The personal unique referral link is conveniently included in the email for easy sharing.
The reminder email is often a section within another email being sent, however, it could be sent on its own. This email or section acts as a way to continuously remind the participant about the referral program.
Example 1: The Hustle
- Attention-grabbing headline which clearly defines the referral section at the bottom of the newsletter.
- GIF image highlights each milestone reward that can be achieved with the corresponding number of referrals required.
- Includes both the unique referral link and personal referral count.
Example 2: Milk Road
- Includes personal referral count and additional referrals required before unlocking the reward.
- "Click to Share” button takes readers to the dedicated referral program sharing page.
- Unique referral link displayed for easy sharing.
Most companies already have an email flow to re-engage old customers. Add an email and invite them to join and participate in your referral program. Limited-time offers also work well here as it allows you to send new content and more generally promote the program at the same time.
Example 1: The Hustle
- The Hustle already has an ongoing referral program (shown in the previous example). Here they are overlapping it with a limited-time giveaway to re-engage participants and spark new interest.
- Clear section header “GIVEAWAY” and subheader “Win An Eight Sleep Pod Pro” to give the reader an immediate understanding of the referral program section.
- The steps to participate are clearly outlined.
- The unique referral link is included for easy sharing.
Motivation emails act as a way to encourage people to keep referring. People who have referred one friend are more likely to refer again vs someone who has zero referrals. Or perhaps the participant is one or two referrals away from unlocking a reward and you’d want to send a motivation email.
Example 1: Reebok
- This email was immediately triggered directly after sharing the unique referral link with another friend.
- The email acts as a way to thank the participant for sharing and prompt them to continue sharing.
- The “Refer More Friends” button takes the referrer to the referral program landing page with additional options to refer.
Example 2: The Hustle
- A standalone email is sent to motivate the participant to keep referring.
- Rewards are restated as a reminder.
- Personalized content mentions how close the participant is to unlock the next reward level “Ambassador”.
- Unique referral link is included within the email for continued easy sharing.
Referral Program Template for Converting Referrals
In the previous section we talked about getting people to join your referral program, become referrers and start sharing. Now let's transition into understanding the other side of your referral program: soliciting and converting inbound referrals (or all the “friends” being referred to you). The whole purpose of a referral program is to increase not only brand exposure but also the number of new signups and/or customers. Therefore, you need to think equally as much about the experience of the “friend” as soon as they have been invited to check out your brand and decide to take action.
1. Personalized Social Message Templates
Earlier in the article we highlighted social posts that could be used to share generally across social media. However, some of the social sharing options you might elect to use on the sharing page will allow for personalization, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, or SMS because they are direct messages. The messages that are directly sent to friends via social media or text are a crucial part of converting referrals into signups or customers. It is important to pre-write those messages in a natural way so that it is effortless for the referrer to share this message and their referral link with a friend. Below are four essential elements for pre-writing the “Personalized Social Messages”:
- Write Naturally
Pre-write these messages in a natural-sounding, organic way. Pretend like you are sending a message to a friend. How would you introduce a new business you just found out about? It is important that you don’t write too much otherwise it can easily come across as not genuine. Of course, the referrer will change the message if they feel uncomfortable sending it, however you want to avoid this altogether. Remember, less is more.
If possible pre-populate the message including the referrer’s name or prompt the referrer to add in their own message. The purpose of this message is not only to make it very easy for the referrer to share their referral link with a friend but also to make the friend more inclined to click through and take action.
- Highlight the Incentive
If this is a double-sided referral program and there is an incentive for the referral, it must be mentioned in the message. If there is no incentive, potentially time-bound the referral to follow through with your call to action.
- Add a Strong Call to Action
Include a single, clear CTA that should prompt the referral to click the referral link. The link in this message will cookie them, meaning even if they do not signup now and instead come back at a later time, the referral will still count.
Copy These Social Media Templates
Example 1: J.Crew Factory
- J.Crew Factory offers double-sided rewards and highlights the incentive to the referral in the subject “Whoa, your friend Lamar sent you $20…”
- The subject line is genuine and pre-populated with the referrer's name “Lamar” making the email very personal.
- The referrer is able to personalize the note to the referral which is more effective in trust-building and makes the referred friend more inclined to click and take action.
Example 2: Headspace
- As Headspace is mostly used on a mobile app, having the ability to share via SMS is crucial to reaching a bigger user base. Always assess which platforms the majority of your users are on.
- Headspace does a good job of not pre-writing too much. Only include the most important piece of info you would like to share with the referrals. Leave the rest of the limited space to the referrer to personalize the message by adding their own words.
- Always include the unique referral link in the pre-written message so that the referral will have an easy way to click the link and access your website.
2. Referral Invite Email Template
You can give referrers the option to email their friend directly or input their friend's email address allowing you to send an invitation. Either way, this email must be pre-written by you so that all the referrer has to do is add an email address and hit send. Below are four essential elements for pre-writing the “Invite Friend Email”:
You should use as much personalization as possible. Adding names or other provided personal data will increase your conversion rate dramatically. Use MERGE TAGS within emails to automatically display relevant data.
- Catchy Subject Line
Use a personalized and compelling subject line. The email subject line needs to grab the referral’s attention and drive them to open the email.
Write an engaging headline that is simple and to the point. This is the first thing readers will see and should ideally restate your subject line or a slight variation.
- Body Section
Include the steps required and any incentives for taking action. You want this person to know in a few short sentences what is required of them and what they can expect in return.
- Add a Strong Call to Action
Include a single, clear CTA that should prompt the referral to take the next step. The CTA button should be made larger in proportion to the surrounding text which is often in a contrasting color to draw the eye of the referral. Getting the friend to click this CTA is very important, the link attached to this button will cookie them meaning even if they do not signup now and come back at a later time, the referral will still count.
Copy These Referral Invite Email Templates
Example 1: Etsy
- The email invite is personalized by naming the referrer (“Lamar”) who submitted the referral’s information.
- The headline is direct, the friend knows exactly what the email is about.
- The body includes an incentive of listing 40 products for free for accepting the invitation through this email.
- The CTA button is big and bold, the referral knows exactly what to click.
Example 2: Morning Brew
- The email subject line and the first sentence are personalized, using the referrer’s email address (sometimes when the first/last name is not available the email address will take its place). This informs the referral which friend of theirs is thinking of and sharing with them.
- Morning Brew’s email is simple without any distracting visuals, yet the logo and company name is cleverly placed to draw your attention to it which helps increase recognition and brand awareness.
- The call to action button “SUBSCRIBE” is almost the same size as the logo which makes it clear exactly what the next step is.
- Clicking the subscribe button, automatically subscribes the referral to the newsletter.
3. Welcome Message Template
This is a welcome message that is custom to the inbound referral (or friend) and displayed as they visit your website. This welcome message would be optional if you choose to use a referral landing page instead (covered in the next section). You have a few options for displaying the welcome message::
Inbound referrals will be coming in with a unique referral link, therefore you could trigger a pop-up to display a custom welcome message based on the URL. The popup could welcome the friend and include any special message or call to action.
Displaying a banner would work the same way as the popup, however, this welcome banner might show for the entire duration the referral browses your website. The message could remind the referral about the incentive for completing the desired signup or purchase action.
- Applied coupon code
Similarly, a coupon code could be automatically applied as someone visits your website from a unique referral link. Automatically applying a coupon code to the cart or checkout will help to reduce friction and seamlessly encourage purchases.
4. Referral Landing Page Template
While a welcome message is an option, the benefits of a dedicated landing page for the inbound referred friends can not be overrated. Below are eight essential elements of a referral landing page:
- Determine the Goal
The goal of your landing page will be mainly based on the type of referral program you are building. Do you have a double-sided reward and need to give an incentive to this person? If you are only offering a one-sided reward, this could be your website homepage. If you have a revolving contest, it could be the same page as your “Pre-Signup Landing Page” discussed at the beginning of this article. If you are offering a double-sided reward, you might want to create a dedicated page directing the friend on how to claim their reward.
- Use Look and Feel Best Practices
Minimalism can be effective when it comes to landing page design. Try to include plenty of white space as it can encourage people to focus on the critical parts of your page without feeling overwhelmed by a lot of input. Symmetry is another important aspect of minimalist design, it’s pleasing to the eye and can help guide people where you want them to go.
- Strong Headline
Supercharge your headline to trigger psychological or emotional responses from the referred friends by using power words. Be direct so they know exactly what you want them to do and if there is an incentive how they can claim it.
If possible try to add personalization to this page by including details about either party. The more relatable content you can customize on this page the better your opt-in rate will be.
- Call to Action
Your call to action should mimic the goal of your page. Do you want people to sign up or fill out a form? Keep user experience in mind because people who are frustrated and confused by your page will likely leave. Don’t ask for more information than you need and keep the call to action above the fold.
- Emotional Visuals
Use visuals that convey a feeling. Visuals on your referral landing page should be something that helps the referred friend relate to your brand and/or the original referring person.
- Design for the Right Device
This should come as a no-brainer but many campaigns see a significant number of people browsing on their smartphones. Be sure to design a mobile-responding landing page that adapts to these devices
- Leverage Social Proof
No matter how good you think your offering is, including the voices of satisfied customers can add an air of authenticity to your program. This could come in the form of a referral program leaderboard, testimonials, or reviews.
Copy These Referral Landing Page Templates
Example 1: Airbnb
- Airbnb utilized a deep linking technology that allowed them to track the referral through the mobile app downloading process.
- Once the referral downloaded the app they were shown a headline with the incentive of $25 in travel credit for signing up.
- Excellent use of personalization with the original referring person's name and profile image displayed on the page.
Example 2: Coinbase
- Coinbase built a specific landing page for inbound referred traffic.
- While there is no personalization for the specific referral, “You’re Invited to Try Coinbase” is a relatable message that will resonate with the friend.
- The $10 in free Bitcoin acts as an incentive for the referral to sign up and start trading.
- They use a simple design with plenty of white space which doesn’t distract from the critical aspects of the page or the CTA.
Example 3: Youtube
- The referral landing page is simple and concise.
- An emotional visual provides a desirable experience of getting close and watching TV with friends.
- The headline “Your friend gave you extra cash off YouTube TV” is relatable to the referral and acts as an incentive to sign up and subscribe.
- The CTA button is above the fold.
As you can see building a successful referral program has many facets, but we hope you have made it this far and have enjoyed this article. If you want to build a referral program that will 2 x your business, check out ReferralHero and let us handle many of these aspects for you.