11 Best Referral Program Examples (And Insights You Can Steal)

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You can ask people to spread the word about your business but that method can only go so far. What you need is a referral program – a structured means of getting leads for your business by building hype, creating trust, and incentivizing. To give you an idea of what a successful referral program looks like, I’ve prepared a list of the best referral program examples.

Go ahead, check them out:

11 Best Referral Program Examples + Insights

1. Evernote

Evernote is a cloud-based software that you can use to take notes, organize your files, and collaborate with your team.

To attract more users, they launched a simple referral program where you need to register to and install Evernote and refer 3 of your friends to earn 10 points each. That way, you can enjoy Evernote Premium.

When your referrals buy Premium, you earn 5 points. Points can be used for redeeming gift subscriptions, promotions, and more.

Why the referral program works: Structuring your program in a simple way reduces friction. Evernote doesn’t only do this, but they also promote loyalty by offering their own product as an incentive in exchange for the points.

2. YogaWorks

YogaWorks makes yoga accessible to everyone with their world-class yoga studios and instructors.

You need to be their student to be able to enjoy their refer-a-friend program. Your friends should join as a monthly member and not cancel that membership for 30 days so you can claim their rewards. These rewards include discounts, free classes, and additional weeks of yoga.

Why the referral program works: YogaWorks structured their rewards in such a way that they can be enjoyed by different members – monthly members, class pack members, and annual members.

3. AWeber

A leading email marketing service provider, AWeber has been used over the years by over 1 million entrepreneurs.

You know what’s unique about AWeber’s referral program? They’re offering you the chance to make money which is a 30% referral payment – not just once, but also each time your referrals make recurring payments.

The moment you arrive on their referral program page, you’re immediately greeted by a catchy headline: “Can We Pay You Every Month?”

 Why the referral program works: We can identify two factors behind AWeber’s successful referral program. First, they’ve chosen a highly motivating incentive which is cash. Second, they made use of a winning headline that elicits a YES from people. After all, who doesn’t want to get paid?

4. Thrive Causemetics

Thrive Causemetics, a direct-to-consumer makeup brand, specializes in beauty products that cruelty-free and clean products.

While they built a massive online following by leveraging influencers and writing back to customers, it’s no secret that their referral program builds greater engagement.

Here’s what the program entails:  If you refer someone who is not yet a Thrive Causemetics customer, that person can enjoy $10 off their first purchase and free shipping.

After your friend makes a purchase using your referral code, you will automatically get 1,000 points (equivalent to a $10 discount).

Thrive Causemetics also offers other ways for you to gain points. When you buy, each $1 you spend is equivalent to 1 point. If it’s your birthday, you automatically get 1,000 points.

Why the referral program works: Thrive Causemetics offered various ways to earn points. One of these ways encourages people to buy from them. But what’s also worth appreciating is that they recognize your most special day of the year (your birthday) and offer points for that.

5. The Honest Company

Founded by Jessica Alba, The Honest Company provides safe products for moms and babies.

Unlike many referral programs, theirs focuses on just three basic steps: (1) Invite Your Friends, (2) Your Friends Buy, (3) You Earn Credit. Basically, each new member you refer will result in $20 credited to your account. You can use your credits upon checking out on your next purchase.

Why the referral program works: The Honest Company keeps its referral program structure simple. The best referral program examples don’t have to be complicated.

6. Bunkie Life

Bunkie Life is a brand that sells pre-made bunkie kits that can serve as a place for your guests, your private studio, and more.

In February, they did a 26-day referral campaign that resulted in 34, 297 leads, $300,000 sales, and 2,546 new Instagram followers.

Bunkie Life got these amazing results by giving away their $6,000 bunkie.

They gave out points to participants not just for sharing their campaign, but also for completing various actions – watching their live stream, subscribing to their YouTube channel, following them on social media, and completing a survey.

Why the referral program worked: People who dream of having a bunkie can get it for free by participating in Bunkie Life’s referral. Bunkie Life also assigned points for actions that helped them accomplish the goals of their growing business such as building a huge following.

7. Ztylus Innovation

Ztylus has created a wide range of smartphone cases that allow you to take stunning photos using different lenses.

But not just that – Ztylus has also one of the best referral programs. As you can see, they’ve included engaging graphics and a clear explanation of their referral steps.

All you need to do is set-up an account, share your coupon code, and earn a commission. The more friends you refer and the more they buy, the bigger your commission.

Why the referral program works: Cash incentives never fail to attract conversions. However, it is up to you to decide whether to credit that towards an individual’s first purchase or grant the full amount to that person.

8. Healthy Paws

Healthy Paws dedicates itself to providing the best possible medical care for dogs and cats. Their insurance covers everything from emergency care to alternative care.

They’ve designed a referral program where each successful referral will help provide homeless dogs and cats a forever home.

Why the referral program works: The idea of being able to support a good cause, which is helping homeless animals, is a strong motivator for spreading the word about Healthy Paws. People want to feel good about themselves, and contributing to a cause they are passionate about does the trick. What’s also great is that the referral steps are simple.

9. Harry’s

Harry’s is a New York-based men’s shaving brand that started in 2013. Now, you might have already heard of Harry’s successful referral program where they collected 100,000 emails in just one week.

Their referral program consisted of a 2-page microsite.

People had to enter their email address on the first page. That first page sparked curiosity about Harry’s launch and those who gave out their contact information would be the first to know.

On the second page, people were given a shareable link that they can use to promote Harry’s. Getting more friends to sign-up through the link would increase a person’s chances of earning Harry’s product for free.

Why the referral program worked: Harry’s effectively created anticipation for their soon-to-launch brand. Their prize was also highly relevant.

10. MeUndies

MeUndies aims to make customers feel good with their super soft undies. In their referral program, they offer people a chance to help their friends get 20% off their undies. In exchange, they get $20 worth of store credits.

This is their referral campaign page (above the fold):

Here’s the section below the fold:

Why the referral program works: There are a couple of reasons why this is one of the best referral program examples. First is the clarity of their message. Their copy is simple and straightforward. Second, they displayed an actual image of their product which supported the copy. Third, they required people to enter only one piece of information – their email address.

11. TOMS

TOMS is not just an ordinary shoe company; every purchase you make will provide shoes, safe water, and other forms of help to those in need.

In fact, if you read the story of TOMS, you will find out that Blake Mycoskie, the founder, created TOMS to help communities around the world.

Why the referral program works: Making real-life humanitarian problems the basis of your brand and giving people an opportunity to solve these problems are strong motivators for sharing your message.

Key Takeaways

We hope you learned from our list of the best referral program examples. As you might have noticed, while these referral programs differ in their rules, they share common insights:

Make the campaign shareable – Provide a unique referral link that people can copy and paste to share with their friends. Include social sharing buttons as well.

Use visuals to your advantageVisual elements for landing pages matter. Use them to complement your copy, feature your incentive, and explain the steps of your referral program.

Make the prize worth their while –  Whether it’s monetary or non-monetary, you need to be certain that your audience wants it. Otherwise, there won’t be a good reason to share your program.

Keep it super simple – Don’t overcomplicate the structure of your referral program. The best referral programs have easy steps. Simplicity encourages action.

Use cause marketing – Spread awareness of a good cause in your referral program. Make it clear that by participating in your referral program, people will be able to give back to the community and support a cause they are passionate about.

Before You Go…

Referral campaigns are great for your business. The examples we shared are enough to get you started with your own referral program. What do you say?

Regardless of how long you want that campaign to last, you need a reliable tool for setting it up. We introduce UpViral – a referral system that lets you create campaigns, contests and sweepstakes, and product launches in minutes… so you can spread the word about your business and collect engaged leads.

Check it out today.