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How to Improve the Performance of Your Referral Program

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how to improve the performance of your referral program

Many referral programs simply don’t get results for their companies. The problem many of them face is that they aren’t treated like other more established digital marketing channels.

Common mistakes can be a combination of minimal promotion and unnecessary friction points.

Now this isn’t to say this information is widely available to you. It’s our job to bring you up to speed on the best practices and techniques you can use to encourage referral program participation.

Program Awareness and Participation

Blog Post – A great way to drive awareness to your program is to write an article going over the main aspects of the program. Rewards the user can earn, why it’s important to your company to give back to their loyal users. You can also actively promote the post on your owned marketing channels like email lists and social accounts.

lastpass referral post announcement

In-product placement – A crucial element of successful referral programs is how prominently they are placed within your product. A common mistake is placing the program behind a settings tab away from the users’ main interaction with the product.

In our experience we’ve seen that referral programs that have priority placement within the main areas of a product increase the overall awareness and participation with the program without sacrificing the users’ experience.

lastpass dashboard referral display banner

Main navigation – Placing the program in the main navigation of your product can be met with some friction from your product team. You’ll have to back up the decision and prove that they wouldn’t be sacrificing the users’ overall experience when placing the program prominently in the main navigation areas of the product.

Display banner CTA – Another great option for increasing program visibility is creating a display banner call-to-action in the main features of your product. A creative mix of design and copywriting can pique the users’ interest in exploring the referral program and can improve participation with the referral program.

Transactional Email

Invoice reminders and receipts – Loss aversion is a consumer behavior principle that we can use to increase the performance of your referral program. 

The idea is that if you place a referral program call to action within an unpleasant message like invoice reminders/receipts you can take advantage of a users’ willingness to reduce the size of their payment by any means necessary.

Creating a reaction like this will make users much more likely to be interested in your referral program than at other times in their interaction with your product.

modcloth transactional email

Customer Interactions

Support Tickets – A clear opportunity for creating referral program participation is when your support team solves a problem for a user. This is a ‘happy moment’ that your team has already been using to get the user to provide useful feedback on the product, answer surveys, etc.

Asking a user for a referral at the right time will increase the likelihood they have the inner motivation to follow through and make the invite.

customer support referral program
Image courtesy of jesadaphorn/

Customer Development Interviews – This is another place that you can instruct your team to naturally create awareness of the referral program. Especially around the net promoter survey questions like “how likely are you to refer this product to your friends and family” In these types of interactions a user wouldn’t be opposed to engaging with your program as they just declared their interest in making a referral.

Program Conversion

Auto-Filling Text and Images – A key conversion point in your referral program is auto-filling text and images for your users. This is an unnecessary friction point that can easily be solved by your marketing team writing some compelling copy and your designer creating a nice referral invite image.

The text and image need to clearly show the reward a user is going to get for signing up as well as the value proposition of your service.

lastpass referral invite twitter


Ultimately you need to treat your referral program like you would your other optimization efforts in your marketing campaigns. Your team needs to constantly be looking to increase the programs’ visibility.

As well as finding moments where a user is much more likely to be happy and make a referral so you can boost the performance and engagement for your program.

image courtesy of bplanet/ jesadaphorn/