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Referral Widgets to Know About in 2024

Thoughtfully designed and strategically placed referral widgets are a brand’s secret weapon for tapping into an audience known only to existing customers. The implications are immense. You can grow your customer base and boost brand awareness ...

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referral widgets

Thoughtfully designed and strategically placed referral widgets are a brand’s secret weapon for tapping into an audience known only to existing customers.

The implications are immense. You can grow your customer base and boost brand awareness with these windows to referral programs. And that translates to more robust revenue-generating opportunities.

But what are these widgets? Do businesses need them? Are there best practices to observe when creating a high-performing widget? How about types? Please continue reading because we’ll answer these questions and more.

What is a Referral Widget and Why Do You Need It?

Widgets are tiny applications or interfaces that empower users to access a function or service. Hence, widgets for referral marketing are website elements that enable customers or visitors to sign up with the company’s referral program.

These tiny programs contain an HTML code, allowing you to embed the referral program into your e-commerce or official website. It’s convenient, enabling customers to share the referral program panel with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.

Do you need it?

Of course! All businesses want to expand their customer base. And one of the most effective ways to do that is by leveraging existing customers’ social networks. They can encourage their friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and social contacts to avail of your services or buy items.

These untapped audiences can help your company grow.

And you know what? These new customers have social circles, too. They can become second-tier referrers if you deliver an exceptional customer journey or experience. The cycle continues. It creates a ripple effect like traditional word-of-mouth marketing.

Best Practices for Creating a Referral Widget

Newbie business owners or entrepreneurs new to referral widgets would want to optimize a widget’s placement and guarantee maximum results. So, what best practices should you employ for your invite-a-friend widget?

Make it visible.

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First on the block is widget visibility. It must be accessible and attention-grabbing. You will want visitors (existing customers) to click on the widget and join your refer-a-friend program.

Analyze your website or landing page. Where do you think the widget should go to entice customers to activate it? Some might include the clickable link on the menu ribbon at the landing page’s top section. You could highlight it to draw attention.

Another trick would be to create a floating referral link. This interface remains visible regardless of how and where the website visitor navigates the page. Once clicked, the widget opens the referral program.

Other businesses create a clickable hero image. This website element features an attention-grabbing image with an equally captivating message. You can place the hero image below your website’s header.

You can also consider other referral widget types, which we will examine later.

It’s enough to know for now that your referral widget MUST be visible and accessible to customers to increase the chances of them joining your referral program.

Trigger the referral widget at the right time.

Asking for referrals is like asking a friend a favor. Correctly done, a referral campaign can help you grow your business by connecting with an untapped audience. These “unknown” audiences are your existing customers’ social contacts. Hence, timing is everything.

It’s like this. You don’t ask a friend a favor if he’s in a bad mood. You’ll want to wait until your friend is in a more pleasant mood, preferably happy.

It’s the same with a referral program widget. You will want to trigger it only at the most opportune moment.

So, when is that?

You can present the referral widget only when the customer buys a product. The widget could be a pop-up that flashes on the screen once the customer finalizes the purchase (after checkout). Alternatively, the widget could redirect the customer to your invite-a-friend landing page.

Some businesses design the widget to activate when customers log into their accounts on your e-commerce site. Brands offering discounts or credit points for referrals often place a referral button on the home page. This tactic encourages returning customers to refer their social contacts to your business before buying succeeding products.

The idea is to activate a referral widget only when customers are more likely to engage.

Offer attractive double-side rewards. 

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This referral widget best practice offers a win-win scenario for both referrer (existing customer) and referral (potential new customer).

You can offer a referral reward to your customers who join your referral program. It can include free products, discounts, cash incentives, and store credits. You also reward your customers’ referrals or social contacts who buy your products or sign up for your services.

For example, you could tell your customers they can enjoy a 50% discount on their next purchase for every friend they refer to your business. At the same time, their friends can enjoy a 20% discount. Both referrers and referrals receive an incentive. Hence, double-side rewards.

Of course, the incentives don’t always have to be monetary. You can also highlight intrinsic benefits for every verified customer referral. After all, many folks are happy knowing they helped a friend.

Create a clear and actionable CTA.

A call-to-action entices a website user to perform a brand-predetermined action. It describes what the user must do. In referral marketing, a CTA urges customers to click the referral widget.

Referral CTAs must be short. A classic example is “Invite a Friend.” Online shoppers are more familiar with “Buy Now” or “Try Free.” These are simple directives that tell website visitors what they must do next.

We recommend analyzing your CTA copy and decide what you want referrers or existing customers to do. Be specific and clear in your action words, although most referral programs use “invite” and “refer.” Create urgency to encourage customers to act quickly.

Next, include an incentive phrase. You will want to make the referral program irresistible.

For instance, you could write “Invite a Friend Now; Get 50% Off” instead of using only “Refer a Friend.” Your customers will find the former impossible to resist. So, think about the incentives for referral.

Make the CTA stand out. It should grab attention. You could use bold or contrasting colors to draw the eye to the CTA button.

Offer several sharing options.

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Customers will be more inclined to become your brand ambassadors if they can share referral links across platforms and channels. They can copy and paste these unique referrer codes on any channel they choose. It will make sharing with colleagues, acquaintances, friends, and social contacts easier.

Many businesses create referral widgets that link to social media platforms, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok. Others encourage referrers to share links via email and SMS.

Besides multiple sharing options, you can create easy-to-share referral widgets. You don’t want to inconvenience your customer by requiring too many steps for referring a friend.

For instance, if the referrer wants to use email, the referral widget must only contain the referrer’s name & email address, the friend’s contact details, and a personalized message. That’s it. Customers only need to share.

You can make your customer’s referral activities lighter by automatically populating data fields with readily available information. For instance, customers logging into their accounts should automatically send the information to the referral email. They only need to input their friends’ data.

Use A/B testing to optimize your widget.

A referral widget must be a magnet for the eyes. Unfortunately, you won’t know what works and doesn’t until you run some tests. That’s why A/B testing your widgets and referral landing pages is crucial.

You could test its placement on your website, including the widget’s visual attributes. Are the colors too distracting that customers prefer navigating to a different page? Is the incentive messaging unclear?

A/B testing different referral widget copies and designs will help you determine which widget will bring the most results.

So, how do you test your widgets?

First, determine the widget variable you want to A/B test. For example, you could test the referrer incentives, referral offers, CTAs, widget headers, ways to share, email content, subject lines, widget colors, widget positions, and button sizes.

Next, create a name for the test for record purposes and define the test’s purpose and variants. Assign values to the control and experimental variables.

Update the widgets and other referral campaign elements. Review your A/B test draft before running the program.

Ideally, you will want to test one referral widget element at a time. Doing so allows you to validate and optimize the results.

Common Types of Referral Widget

Knowing the best practices for creating lead-generating widgets will help you expand your business by tapping into audiences from your customers’ social circle. There’s one question left. Of the many types of referral widgets, which should you pick? Let’s learn more.

Embedded referral widget

A successful referral program always has a landing page for customers to access and read more before signing up. We must point out that the bullet doesn’t tell potential brand ambassadors or advocates everything about the program. It only entices them with incentives.

Embedded widgets are the most popular (read: most common) referral widget type. It allows businesses to create stunning landing pages for their referral programs without cluttering the home or product page.

Here’s an example of an embedded referral widget from Fiverr. It starts with the “Invite a Friend” link on the website’s home page. Clicking on it opens to this landing page, promising advocates $100 in Fiverr credits per valid referral and a 10% discount for their friends.

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Creating an embedded referral widget is easy with a software service. Start with your landing page. Use A/B test results to guide your landing page elements creation. Add a stunning image to entice customers and make the referral program as easy to join as possible.

Many referral program service providers offer an easy-to-use interface, including a collection of referral templates.

Open an account with a referral program service, choose a template, and edit the referral widget to suit your referral program. Click on “embed” and configure other widget settings. Lastly, generate a widget snippet to paste onto your newly created landing page.

User account referral widget

As the name suggests, a user account referral widget is only available to a website visitor who signs up with an account on your website. Casual website surfers won’t see the referral program on your home page.

This referral widget type is perfect for subscription businesses, although other e-commerce models can also create customer accounts. For example, Amazon has an Amazon Prime membership.

Brands report a higher referral engagement when customers manage their account subscriptions. They say ease of access promotes impulsive referrals by customers. Unsurprisingly, businesses using this referral widget type increase their referral-related revenues by 36%.

An advantage of this widget type is it doesn’t require a separate landing page, although some brands would still create one. You could include an invitation box for customers or a referral widget on the customer’s subscription renewal page.

A customer renewing a subscription plan indicates they are happy. Hence, placing the referral widget in this section leverages the customer’s upbeat mood.

Post-purchase popup widget

Timing is crucial when promoting a referral program. You don’t want customers to feel obligated right at the beginning. That’s why many businesses pop the idea after the customer buys. This tactic leverages the customer’s excitement for purchasing a high-quality product.

That’s the idea behind the post-purchase popup widget. You capitalize on a customer’s positive mood by offering a chance to earn rewards or incentives. At the same time, they will share their positive experiences with friends, knowing their social circles will also benefit.

Although you can create a post-purchase popup widget for your customer referral program, a more convenient approach is to use an affiliate solution offering such services. A reliable partner for such a purpose is UpPromote.

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This platform offers different solutions for Shopify sites, allowing them to develop and manage their referral, affiliate, and influencer marketing programs hassle-free.

So, how can UpPromote help you create a post-purchase popup widget?

First, you’ll sign up with UpPromote and navigate to the “Growth” menu under “General Settings

> Clicking the “Affiliate Recruitment” tab opens several options. You’ll want to activate the “Refer-a-Friend” link

>  Select the “Post-purchase popup” button and click “General.” Lastly, toggle the switch to Active.

You’re ready to select a promotion method (i.e., link or coupon). You can also decide how the widget will pop up. Is it only once (only for the first-time orders) or recurring (every time the customer buys)?

Other settings you can modify include background closing, widget design, and email notification.

UpPromote is a handy service for e-commerce shops that want to transform every lead into a loyal customer.

Floating button widget 

As the name implies, a floating button widget “hovers” or stays on top of other web page elements. You can do anything with the website, but the referral widget won’t budge. It’s like an overlay on all pages of your website.

Here’s an example of a floating button referral widget on Spanx. Notice the tiny black tab with a white “Get $20” print on the side of the webpage.

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This widget stays in its position regardless of your scrolling and navigation activities. You could click on New, Best Sellers, Clothing, and other items on the Menu ribbon. The widget won’t budge. You could scroll down the page, and the widget stays put.

The beauty of this referral widget type is its ever-present nature. Customers can navigate the web pages without a popup interrupting the experience. They can click on the widget anytime, transferring them to a landing page or a popup window for joining the referral program.

Website banner widget

Most businesses place their website banner widgets on the home page’s topmost section. The location ensures visibility, although the font and style can determine whether it’s sufficient to attract attention.

Some businesses place the widget at the right side of the built-in search bar, while others position it under the menu ribbon.

Here’s an example of a website banner widget from BH Cosmetics.

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Notice the ribbon under the main menu. The fourth item says, “Refer a friend & get $10 credit.” The message and incentive couldn’t be clearer.

As mentioned, this referral widget type can be anywhere on the main navigation page’s topmost section. Some brands might use a hero image to make the widget more attractive. This strategy features an enticing CTA and links to the referral program.


  • How do I keep track of referrals?

You can use Google Analytics and focus on referral reports. Some brands use a referral marketing software, while others create an Excel or Google spreadsheet for tracking referrals. You can check referral codes, cookies, and referral forms to gain insights into your referral performance.

  • How do you create a referral system?

Pick a referral template and determine your referral program’s goals. Analyze how new customers (referrals) come to your business and picture the ideal customer. The latter allows you to spell out what referrers should look for in referrals. Consider multiple referral sources and partner with a referral program host. Develop incentives and referral resources before launching the program. Track your referral program and institute ways to constantly improve.

  • How do I create a unique referral link?

The most convenient way to create unique referral links is through a referral program software. You can synchronize your referral program to your customer relationship management (CRM) database or upload a user list to the referral program software. Alternatively, you can ask customers to register with the program, and the software generates the link automatically.


Creating a simple yet enticing referral widget is necessary for empowering customers to access your mutually beneficial referral program. They will reap the rewards for referring friends and social contacts to your company, and you will benefit from the untapped audience’s potential for revenue growth.

Although the best practices we outlined can help you create results-oriented widgets, using referral program software can make the task less stressful. You can focus on determining the incentives and formulating a winning referral message.

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.