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Should You Build or Buy Customer Referral Software?

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If you’re in the process of evaluating referral software vendors, someone on your team has probably asked: Why should we buy from a vendor instead of building it ourselves?

On the surface, building a customer referral program in-house seems like a simple option. You have full control over every feature, don’t need to pay a monthly fee, and all you need is a way to collect customer information, track referrals, and give out rewards.

But it’s what lies beyond these simple components that actually determines your success. What might not be obvious during planning is what separates a profitable referral program from one that fails.

The last thing you want to do is invest large amounts of money and time into a project that doesn't meet the needs of your customers or internal stakeholders, and ends up losing you money.

While freedom is unlimited when you build a referral program yourself, every single iteration no matter how small, requires a code change, and your developer’s time is used up on tasks that they didn't need to do.

To help you decide whether you should build or buy customer referral software, we’ve compiled four of the most costly misconceptions about building it yourself, plus three key benefits of working with a trusted vendor.


4 Misconceptions about Building Your Own Customer Referral Software

1 - “Referral programs are just unique links and cookies, right?”

This might be true for the simplest, low volume, e-store referral program. But as you build, launch and scale your program you’ll find many key components missing, such as:

  • User widgets & communications to keep users informed, engaged and happy.
  • Support agent tools to answer questions and resolve customer issues.
  • Analytics and reporting to inform the team on program performance.
  • Fraud protection to ensure users aren’t violating your terms and conditions.
  • Marketer tools to quickly update and launch new programs without custom development.
  • Advanced rules like delayed conversions to ensure rewards are only earned once key requirements are met
  • Continual upgrades, quality assurance and support to maintain uptime.

Building a working referral scheme is one thing, but without tools that your whole team can use to maintain and update your referral programs, you’ll end up with an overworked development team, a confused front-line team, and a frustrated marketing team who can’t make changes quickly enough.

Plus, one of the main reasons that referral programs fail is because of a poor customer experience. If you haven’t prioritized a seamless user experience across all platforms and channels, customers will find it too difficult and confusing to participate at all.


2 - “Our customer journey is simple enough to be supported by whatever we can build.”

If your customers are expected to do more than just add items to an online cart and check out as a guest, a basic link tracking solution won’t work.

SaaSquatch is designed to support complex customer journeys that separate account creation from conversion such as:

  • Subscription with free trial
  • Account creation before first purchase
  • Account creation, approval and activation
  • Multi-step sales processes with live account executives

While a DIY solution might be enough for a basic e-store, it will struggle to support complex journeys and will break, requiring more custom development if you decide to change the customer journey.

The SaaSquatch platform comes standard with advanced program configurations to let you trigger different rewards based on multiple conditions and criteria like:

  • What the user buys
  • How much the user spends
  • What kind of user is referred
  • Who initiates the referral

This lets you create the referral program that works for your business and saves you from writing and testing complicated logic yourself.


3- “It will be easier to make program changes when we can just do it ourselves.”

Making even the smallest change to your in-house referral program means fitting each task into the development queue for planning, review, execution, and testing by your own team. When competitors are making program changes in minutes through a 3rd party tool, you can’t afford to wait months for an opening in the dev queue.

By using SaaSquatch, program managers can skip the dev queue and be self-sufficient in launching brand new programs, making changes to existing ones, or simply checking the status of a single referral.

This lets your product managers and developers focus on delivering your unique value, ensuring that your time and money are being spent efficiently.


4 - “We only need one referral program right now, so we can handle it in-house.”

While you may choose to start out with one referral program, don’t make it difficult to start engaging customers in other ways down the road.

Whether you want to encourage repeat purchases, drive platform usage, or win back customers, your team will need to write custom code every time you want to expand. This becomes increasingly complicated if each new program you build exists as a standalone component.

With SaaSquatch, you have instant access to our always-expanding library of Acquisition, Loyalty, Referral and Retention Programs to drive growth at every stage of the customer lifecycle. New programs can be launched typically with no extra development required, and all program data is managed within the same portal.

If you don’t see a program you need, custom programs can be rapidly built and added to your library, freeing your team from writing new code every time you want to expand.

Functionality Comparison

Referral Program Component In-House Solution SaaSquatch Solution
Unique referral links
Cookie tracking
Rewards Hard-coded Configurable
Multi-Program & Complex Journey Support  -
Marketer-driven program management -
Program coaching & maintenance -
Complete program analytics -
Fraud protection -
Pre-built 3rd party integrations -
Complete program library -
Continuous updates  -
Industry-acclaimed security protocols  -
Extensible APIs, and more -

Download our free Build or Buy cheat sheet to share with your team!

Let SaaSquatch power your referral program

Why work with SaaSquatch?

Reduce Your Time to Market

With SaaSquatch, you can focus on designing the perfect program and customer experience when you don’t need to start from ground zero. We help you go live in as little as 2 weeks, while the average launch time is just under 2 months.

You can’t afford to spend over 6 months building it yourself when the competition is only getting stronger.

Use Our Knowledge and Expertise

We’ve launched referral and loyalty programs for hundreds of companies around the world, so let us help you avoid the painful mistakes. The SaaSquatch team is here to advise and coach on every aspect of your program so you get the best results as soon as possible.

Plus, our platform is continually updated to follow best practices, privacy regulations and industry trends.

Focus on What You’re Good At

You’ve got a unique product and a smart team of product managers, developers and designers who are busy on projects that you can’t buy from a vendor. Let your team focus on your value proposition and competitive advantages, and let us take care of your referral and loyalty programs.

There’s no reason to spend resources building every referral component you need when it already exists to support you.

At SaaSquatch, we help you succeed long-term.

Working with a vendor like SaaSquatch is the most effective way to build a referral program -- you set yourself up for continued success as your business shifts and grows. Our platform is built on years of expertise to help you rise above and beyond the most common pain points that cause DIY referral programs to fail.

Leave the building to us, and start growing faster when you use SaaSquatch.

Click below to download our free Build VS Buy cheat sheet to share with your team!

Ready to start growing with SaaSquatch?