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How To Promote A Referral Program: 16 Tactics & Tips

Referral programs are a great way to grow, but having one isn’t enough. Many companies neglect to promote their programs, burying them in hard-to-find places and leading to little or no engagement. If you’re putting time ...

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how to promote a referral program

Referral programs are a great way to grow, but having one isn’t enough. Many companies neglect to promote their programs, burying them in hard-to-find places and leading to little or no engagement.

If you’re putting time and money into a new referral program, make sure to showcase it. Treat it like you would a new product feature, especially since it’s meant to benefit your customers.

In this blog, we’ll explore how to promote your referral program and share 15 effective ways. Let’s dive in without delay!

How to Promote A Referral Program: 15 Best Strategies to Boost Your Sales

Now that your business referral program is live, it’s essential to promote it. Make promoting your referral program a key aspect of your marketing referral strategy this year. Explore different ways to ask, prompt, and encourage your loyal customers and advocates to share the word about your business.

No more waiting – here are 15 things you can do right away to boost your referral program!

Make use of email marketing

Email is a great way to stay connected with your customers. It’s direct, personal, and can be tailored for any quick message – even for promoting your referral program.

Let your current clients know they can give discounts to their friends and family. In return, they also get a reward. The idea is not to make them sell for you but to offer them a chance to help a friend, which is more motivating.

To make it more effective, divide your customers based on things like age and what they buy. For example, if your product is popular with millennials, tailor your message to connect with them.

Make sure your email looks good, is easy to read, and has a clear call-to-action. Sending direct emails to your customers is a quick way to get more referrals.

Have no email ideas? You can try this template.

Subject: Exciting News: Earn Rewards with Our Referral Program!

Dear [Customer’s Name],

We hope this email finds you well and enjoying your recent purchase with us.

We’re thrilled to share some exciting news with you – we’ve launched a Referral Program, and we think you’ll love it!

Here’s how it works:

Give, Get, Repeat: Share the love with your friends and family by offering them an exclusive discount on their first purchase. As a token of our appreciation, you’ll receive a special reward each time someone purchases using your referral.

No Sales Pitches, Just Helping Friends: We’re not asking you to be a salesperson. Instead, we invite you to be a friend – someone who shares a good thing with their loved ones. It’s about making your friends’ days better and getting a little something in return.

Tailored Just for You: We know you’re unique, and so are your friends. That’s why we’ve tailored our Referral Program to match your preferences. Whether you’re into [specific product] or [another product], there’s something for everyone.

To get started, simply click on the personalized referral link below:

[Your Referral Link]

We’ve also made it easy for you to track your referrals and rewards through your account dashboard.

Thank you for being a valued part of our community. We can’t wait to see the positive impact our products can have on your friends and family!

Best Regards,

[Your Company Name] Team

Leverage existing customers

Happy customers are more likely to recommend your product or service to a friend. If someone buys from you, it means they like what you offer. Customer loyalty and retention are crucial for growth.

Two things you can do now to get your customers into your referral program:

  • Set up automated emails
  • Use retargeting

If you have an online store, you can use a marketing automation tool. Create automated emails with dynamic content based on the customer’s purchase history.

For example, show a product they looked at but didn’t buy and offer it as an incentive to join your referral program.

Don’t forget to use timing wisely, like after they make a purchase or receive their order.

Another way is to retarget them.

To do so, you can capture the email addresses of people who visited your store but didn’t buy. Apply the same principles of relevancy and timing.

For instance, if you sell organic beauty products, target those who might need to buy regularly. Encourage them to join your referral program for discounts on their next purchase.

Remember, emails and retargeting work best when they are relevant and timed right. Consider the customer’s personal experience and trigger your marketing campaign at the “WOW moment,” like when they complete a purchase or receive their order.

Share customers’ reviews to build the brand’s social proof

Why not let your happy customers do the talking? Real experiences shared through customer reviews and testimonials can be a powerful way to build your brand’s social proof.

Imagine someone is right on the edge of joining your referral program. They might check out your referral landing page or go through your referral flyer. Seeing numerous customers raving about your brand can give them that extra push to sign up.

Amazon takes its reviews seriously. By doing so, many folks will trust them and join their affiliate program.

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Promote your referral program to social media

Go where your audience hangs out online—LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. With people spending around 145 minutes daily on social media channel, it’s a valuable channel.

It’s free, and the short lifespan of posts allows frequent updates. Post with engaging visuals, a brief pitch on participation, and a link to your explainer page or blog.

To amp it up, offer users a chance to win a prize by sharing the post with friends, creating extra buzz around the launch.

When promoting on Instagram, for example, don’t forget to attach a hashtag #referafriend to reach more people, as Roundbo did.

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Make your program easy to share

Making your referral program easy to share is crucial for effortless promotion. Start by tossing out a complicated referral code and switch to user-friendly referral links. These links act like social currency – easy to copy and paste, boosting the chances of your customers spreading the word.

Now, let’s talk visuals. Craft attention-grabbing images or graphics that practically shout, “Share me!” Throw these visuals into your referral program emails, social media posts, or on your website. A picture speaks volumes, and in this scenario, it’s worth a thousand referrals.

Get that social media game strong. When users hit your referral link, make sure they can share it directly on their social profiles. Social media is today’s word-of-mouth, and simplifying the sharing referral process with just a click enhances your program’s shareability.

Here’s a neat trick – you should add ready-to-go messages or captions with the referral link. People love easy, and having a message ready to roll makes it a breeze for them to spread the news.

Create a referral landing page

A referral landing page or an explainer page boosts awareness and ensures customers grasp how your referral program functions and how they can participate.

You can create this page on your website to outline your program’s structure, detailing how users earn and redeem referral rewards. It is a go-to guide for those eager to start and can be linked in emails, social posts, and more.

Answer these questions on your page:

  • What rewards are available?
  • How do you make a referral?
  • Who can make a referral?
  • How many referrals can you make?
  • Are there any exceptions?
  • How do you get started?

A public explainer page is wise, even if your referral program is customer-exclusive. It lets anyone learn about your program and share it with potential customers.

Uber has a clear referral landing page. This Uber landing page stands out with:

  • Easy navigation: Simple menu for quick access.
  • User-focused content: Guides drivers on referrals with clear steps.
  • Visuals and icons: Use of visuals for clarity.
  • Step-by-step instructions: Visual cues for easy understanding.
  • App integration: Highlights sending invites from the app.
  • FAQs: Addresses common questions for transparency.
  • Prominent CTAs: “Learn more” and “Send invites” stand out.
  • Localized info: Tailored details for different cities.
  • Visual appeal: Clean layout, modern design.

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Add your referral program to your website

Another way is to boost referrals by promoting your program on your website or app. This ensures customers are prompted during their interaction with your brand.

Some store owners worry about putting too many deals on their websites, but honestly, most shoppers are used to it.

You can put a Call-to-Action (CTA) for your referral program in loads of different spots. Need some ideas? Check these out:

  • Announcement bar
  • Top menu bar
  • Footer link
  • On-page referral widget
  • Customer account menu
  • Marketing newsletters
  • Post-purchase popup
  • Product packaging

This ensures it’s the first thing customers see when they visit your website.

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Threadbeast put their referral program on their navigation menu.

Make it easy to find and understand. Opt for referral links instead of codes for simplicity. Links are more shareable, providing each promoter with a personalized landing page.

Don’t forget to leverage social proof by highlighting the count of referrals and earned rewards. It adds credibility and encourages participation.

With UpPromote, you can build a customer referral widget to invite your visitors or customers to join. Another way is to convert them into promoters after they purchase your products with a Pop-purchase popup.

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Design your email signature with a referral message

You can also boost your referral program by adding a little extra referral promotion to every email your team sends. Create email signatures featuring a brief message and a link to your referral program.

Engage various teams, including sales, customer success, and marketing, to enhance awareness.

This tactic is particularly impactful for support staff, creating opportunities to promote your program and stand out even in threads with prospects and professional connections.

Having an email signature marketing in place provides recipients with a seamless way to access your program without requiring ongoing maintenance.

Cooperate with ambassadors/influencers

If you’re already running a referral program, think about reaching out to micro-influencers to broaden your referral base.

Micro-influencers are folks on social media with 1000 to 5000 followers. Find those talking about your stuff online and team up for a partnership that fits their audience. But, check their background first; you want good vibes.

Look for micro-influencers who dig your product. If they join your referral thing, watch how they boost sales. If they rock it, think long-term partnership. This widens your referral game with folks who really vibe with your brand.

Now, for your top promoters (ambassadors), shoot them an email. Make it feel special and say thanks for their awesome work. Toss in some banners for their websites to shout out your referral program. Easy, right?

Run paid ads

Of course, getting discovered organically is great, but those who claim that paid advertising doesn’t offer a good return on investment might need to rethink their ad strategy.

Imagine this: You throw up an ad, and boom, you’re on the first page of search engines, getting instant traffic. If you carefully craft your message and target the right folks, they’ll likely land on your page.

And what’s better than paying for one user and getting two or three? It’s called Viral Co-efficiency, and it’s the secret sauce to lowering your Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) through paid ads.

Google AdWords

We won’t dive deep into mastering Google AdWords here. Just remember to be meticulous with your long-tail keyword research and keep your message crystal clear.

For example: “Get involved and snag a 15% discount!”

Ensure your ad’s message aligns with the content on the landing page. This boosts your chances of higher conversion rates because people get what they expected when they click the Google Ad.

Facebook Ads

Facebook, being a data giant, offers incredible targeting for paid campaigns.

A nifty trick is to plug in the email addresses of your current customers into Facebook and create a lookalike audience. Now your ad is served to people who share similar interests with your customers, tapping into their buying habits.

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Quick tip: Create a jaw-dropping creative – something that catches the eye during endless feed scrolling. Keep your message crystal clear, toss in some cool emojis for extra attention, and if you’re doing a video ad, add subtitles since most folks might watch on mute.

Use referral program software

Launching a referral program can transform your marketing, and you don’t need a developer. No-code referral software allows you to create program elements without coding, saving time and money.

With solutions, you get features like landing pages, user tracking, referral link generation, and email notifications without building from scratch. It’s a quick setup, enabling campaigns in days instead of months.

Costs are reduced compared to hiring developers for every aspect. Think of it as leasing – acquiring all elements hassle-free. Access to built-in tracking and analytics is crucial, and no-code solutions often offer these, sparing you from configuring tools from scratch.

With accurate analytics, you can measure program success efficiently.

Moreover, you gain promotional tools like widgets, pop-ups, and email marketing automation. Automation facilitates direct engagement with your target audience, asking for referrals. Explore features in referral software to optimize your program effectively.

UpPromote’s Customer Referral feature empowers your customers to effortlessly promote your products without joining an affiliate program.

With easy setup, customizable rewards, noticeable website widgets, and in-depth reports, it enhances brand awareness, increases sales, and cultivates customer loyalty.

Launch a referral contest/event

Running a contest for your referral program can be a fun way to engage your customers.

You set up the rules, let them know what they can win, and then they get to share your business with their friends for a chance to score cool prizes.

The key is to keep it simple, so everyone can join in. Spread the word on social media and make it visually appealing.

People love a good contest, and when they see the rewards, they’ll be more eager to spread the word.

Plus, announcing winners along the way keeps the excitement alive.

Attach your program to your blog posts

If you put effort into crafting valuable content for online searches, it’s logical to integrate your referral program into your blog posts, particularly the ones with the highest traffic.

As you attract new blog readers interested in your niche, seize the opportunity to encourage them to refer friends.

Additionally, this serves as a viable platform to promote your business referral program to existing clients.

You can also share the exciting news about your new program by writing a detailed blog post. Engage your subscribers with quotes from your team, the program’s backstory, instructional screenshots, GIFs, reward examples, and more.

Don’t forget to reach out to your blog subscribers via email, providing a link to the blog post. This not only informs them but also gets them involved in the program’s details.

Leverage all of your marketing channels

When thinking about your marketing efforts, imagine them as part of a bigger picture, like an ecosystem where everything works together. Even if one channel doesn’t directly bring results, consider it as a way to boost another.

Let’s explore a few additional channels to bring more users to your referral program:


  • Organize and categorize your email lists based on what your subscribers are interested in.
  • Craft personalized content for each group to make your newsletters more engaging.
  • Keep your message in line with the content you want to highlight.

Social Media:

  • Instead of bombarding your audience with direct referral program promotions, focus on creating engaging content.
  • Run a fun referral campaign, like giveaways on social media platforms such as Facebook, to capture people’s attention and emails.
  • Guide participants to a special landing page, ensuring their interest and contact details are captured.
  • Use different channels to guide participants from these campaigns to your referral program.

Content Marketing:

  • Rather than pushing your referral program directly through your content, consider collaborating with influencers who resonate with your audience.
  • Pay influencers to share your referral program with their followers.
  • Utilize website widgets triggered by content entry, displaying a tailored message to encourage participation in the referral program.

By treating your marketing channels as interconnected parts of a story, you can enhance the effectiveness of your referral program and create a smoother experience for users as they navigate various touchpoints.

Promote the program through physical and digital assets

In addition to online channels like social media and your website, leverage your physical assets. You can generate QR codes for easy scanning, allowing people to join your customer referral program, and display them in your physical locations.

The most opportune moment to request business referrals is when your brand is prominent in their thoughts.

Therefore, ensure you promote your referral program in every physical location you have. Don’t forget to consider all your advertising sources, both online and offline, and identify opportunities to showcase your referral program.

Host an exclusive pre-release

Imagine your referral program launch as a regular marketing kickoff. An excellent way to create buzz before the official launch is with an exclusive pre-release.

You should select a handful of your top supporters and ambassadors and ask them to be the first to try out your new referral program.

This not only sparks enthusiasm and strengthens connections with participants but also acts as a trial period before your referral program is open to everyone.

Constantly test your program outputs

In this post, I’ve stressed the importance of having a clear message and tapping into emotional triggers for effective copywriting.

It’s crucial to convey the benefits of your referral program in a way that people easily understand.

For instance, experiment with different ways of presenting discounts, such as using percentages or actual money values, and see what resonates best with your audience.

When it comes to emotional triggers, focus on using words that spark immediate emotional responses. Words like “You,” “Free,” “Because,” “Instantly,” and “New” can have a powerful impact.

However, remember that specific words’ effectiveness can vary among audiences. Regular testing is essential to determine which words and messaging styles connect most effectively with your target audience.

Continually test and adapt your messaging based on audience responses to ensure your referral program’s communication resonates with and motivates your audience.

Mistakes To Avoid In Referral Program Promotion

Promoting a referral program is smart, but making common mistakes clear is equally crucial. Let’s dive into some pitfalls to sidestep for effective referral program promotion.

Hidden Referral Program

Hiding your referral program is a big mistake.

If customers can’t find it easily on your website or app, they won’t participate. Make it visible – a prominent link or widget can do wonders.

Complex Program Structure

Don’t create a referral program that requires an advanced degree to decipher.

Simplicity is key. If it’s convoluted, potential referrers may bail before even getting started. Keep it straightforward to encourage participation.

Lack of Clear Communication

Communication is the backbone of any successful referral program. 

If your customers don’t understand the program, they won’t refer. Use plain language in emails, on your website, and in any promotional material. Clearly explain how it works, the rewards, and how to refer.

Ignoring Existing Customers

Neglecting your current customers is a missed opportunity.

They already love your brand; tap into that loyalty. Inform them about the referral program through various channels – emails, social media, and even your website.

Generic Promotion

A one-size-fits-all approach seldom works. Tailor your promotional messages to different segments of your audience.

Consider demographics, purchase history, or engagement levels. Personalization adds a human touch, making the message more compelling.

Overlooking Social Media

If your referral program is absent from social media, you’re leaving money on the table. Leverage your social channels to spread the word. Craft engaging posts, use eye-catching visuals, and include a clear call-to-action.

Neglecting Mobile Users

Don’t forget about mobile users in this smartphone era. Ensure your referral program is mobile-friendly. A user-friendly mobile experience can greatly increase participation.

Unattractive Incentives

If your incentives are lackluster, your customers won’t be motivated to refer. Offer rewards that are genuinely appealing. Whether it’s discounts, freebies, or exclusive access, make it enticing enough to prompt action.

Ignoring Feedback

Refusal to listen to customer feedback can lead to a stagnant referral program. Monitor feedback, adapt to customer suggestions, and keep evolving. An inclusive approach makes your customers feel heard and valued.

Complex Redemption Process

Don’t let a cumbersome redemption process mar the excitement. Make sure the process to redeem rewards is straightforward and quick. The easier it is, the more likely customers will participate.

Forgetting to Say Thank You

Expressing gratitude is often overlooked. When a customer refers someone, acknowledge it. A simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way in nurturing a positive relationship.

Inconsistent Promotion

Consistency is key in marketing. A one-time promotion won’t cut it. Regularly remind your customers about the referral program through newsletters, social media, or even in your product packaging.

Unappealing Visuals

Visual appeal matters. If your promotional materials look bland or unprofessional, it reflects poorly on your brand. Invest in creating eye-catching visuals that resonate with your audience.

Not Testing and Optimizing

Refusing to test and optimize your promotional referral marketing strategies is a missed opportunity for improvement. A/B testing different messages, visuals, or channels helps identify what works best for your audience.

Underestimating the Power of Customer Stories

Real stories from satisfied customers are potent tools. Share testimonials and success stories from those who have benefited from your referral program. Authenticity builds trust and encourages others to participate.

Promoting your referral program isn’t just about telling people it exists. It’s more about connecting with your customers in a way that feels right for them. Keep it simple, create a positive and inclusive vibe, and see your referral program succeed.

Examples of successful referral programs 


PayPal stands out as a trailblazer in referral programs, setting the stage for others. Renowned for facilitating money transfers among friends, PayPal incentivizes users to bring in their acquaintances.

The ongoing program offers a $10 reward for both the referrer and the newly-referred customer upon successful sign-up.

Key Takeaways

PayPal’s referral marketing program excels in simplicity, user-friendly instructions, and mobile compatibility. The cash reward aligns seamlessly with PayPal’s core function of facilitating money transfers among friends.


Robinhood Markets, known for revolutionizing stock and ETF trades with its commission-free mobile app, has garnered attention with plans for commission-free cryptocurrency trading.

Boasting over 1.2 million daily customers and supporting cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, Robinhood, now a public company post-IPO has over 31 million customers.

The referral program is a key element in its customer acquisition strategy, offering cost-effective advantages over traditional marketing methods.

Key Takeaways

At Robinhood, simplicity is key in their referral program. When you refer a friend who signs up, both of you receive a randomly chosen stock. The stock’s value can range from $5 to $200, adding an element of excitement to the referral reward. Keep in mind that the stock’s value may fluctuate over time.

The New York Times

The New York Times, a renowned newspaper, has a referral program for its existing subscribers, encouraging them to spread their love for the Times.

The Sponsor a Student Subscription program allows subscribers to share a special $1 per week subscription rate with friends and family via email for the first year.

For each referral, five public school students receive a complimentary subscription. Those who sign up through the referral link also enjoy a discounted subscription cost of $1 per week.

Key Takeaways

  • The sharing process prioritizes security, ensuring no sharing of accounts or personal information.
  • Subscribers can easily verify their eligibility to share subscriptions through their account settings.


The referral program significantly cuts customer acquisition costs and enhances customer loyalty. However, its effectiveness hinges on visibility. Concealing the program is a glaring mistake, underscoring the importance of strategic promotion.

This article details optimal methods for promoting well-designed referral program. Employing popups, sending emails, running social media ads, and integrating visual elements stand out as particularly effective strategies.

How many of these ideas have you applied to your referral program? Have they positively impacted your conversion rate? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Ellie Tran, a seasoned SEO content writer with three years of experience in the eCommerce world. Being a part of the UpPromote team, Ellie wants to assist Shopify merchants in achieving success through useful content & actionable insights. Ellie's commitment to learning never stops; she's always eager to gain more knowledge about SEO and content marketing to create valuable content for users. When she's not working on content, Ellie enjoys baking and exploring new places.