Clever Examples of Referral Marketing

Last Updated: April 27, 2024

Clever Examples of Referral Marketing

Referrals are slowly becoming a prominent tool in every marketer’s toolbox. After all, turning your loyal customers into indirect brand promoters using various strategies will significantly boost the company’s customer growth and sales. This usually involves referral or word-of-mouth advertising to promote products or services through suitable strategies that make up a viral referral campaign. Not only can a company grow its sales and revenue, but they may strengthen their customer base for future investments as well. You may also see marketing plan examples & samples.

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What Makes Referral Marketing So Powerful?

Referral marketing has always been known to be a potent form of marketing, but why?

It’s not unusual for people to question why referral marketing should even be practiced when there are many other kinds of print and online marketing strategies that have already been implemented.

But the answer to this question is pretty simple: people tend to buy products based on another person’s opinion. This influential factor greatly affects one’s buying decision when it comes to purchasing products or services, especially in the category of eCommerce. As end consumers ourselves, we just want to make sure we get our money’s worth with every transaction. And, if these goods are exceptional enough for others to know about, it wouldn’t hurt to openly share this thought with loved ones. You may also like how to create an executive summary of a marketing plan.

For us to understand the significance of referral marketing in this fast-paced market, let’s look into these primary reasons:

1. Precision Targeting

Targeting the right audience plays a critical role in marketing. Without such, you’ll end up wasting a significant amount of time and resources on failed promotional ventures. This is why many companies strive to develop efficient referral and word-of-mouth marketing strategies due to how people seem to know a lot about their social audiences more than a business ever will. By properly identifying your demographic, you can easily tailor your strategies to the likes of your target customers. This then makes it easier to spread brand awareness effectively compared to other marketing channels. You may also check out what is brand marketing?

2. Trust and Reliability

Trust goes a long way, especially in the world of business. If we don’t trust someone, we refuse to believe anything they have to say. Think of the last time a salesperson tried to make a commission out of you by selling a particular product. The lack of trust is a natural feeling, considering how a salesperson could simply be telling you everything you want to hear in an attempt to persuade you. You might be interested in types of marketing styles.

But with referral marketing, the sales pitch could come from somebody you know like a colleague, friend, relative, or maybe even your favorite blogger. Trust isn’t an issue in this circumstance since the sales pitch is given from somebody we rely on. If anything, a person’s opinion is considered to be more valuable than a generic advertisement seen across various commercial and social media platforms.

3. Reach and Stimulation

The thing is, the introduction of various social networks to the marketing universe has widened the average consumer reach. Anything that a person says online can either make or break their reputation.

One good example for this is celebrity marketing. Many companies partner with celebrities and other social media influences to advertise their products and services on the individual’s social pages. Capitalizing on these so-called ‘influences’ to generate better sales has become a popular marketing stunt in the modern times. A simple Facebook post, Twitter tweet or Instagram Story can allow a person to reach a hundred other consumers in mere minutes — or even seconds for entities with a massive social following. That kind of reach is a vital reason why referral marketing must be optimized accordingly by brands that want to expand their market reach.

Examples of Referral Marketing Campaigns that Work

Now that we know why referral marketing is important in running an eCommerce business, it’s time for you to start developing a marketing plan for such.

But before this, let us look into some of the most incredible examples of referral marketing that will help guide your business in the long run. While saying these examples are the best may seem arguable, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that these examples have excelled expectations in the most exceptional way possible.

1. Airbnb

Imagine a two-way incentive program that grants you a twenty-five dollar credit for a completed trip by a recipient that both the recipient and you, as a referrer, can receive from using the Airbnb app. Not only is it an enticing way to draw in prospects, but this referral marketing campaign has also helped the company earn its status as a referral marketing genius. You may also see successful marketing campaign examples.

Airbnb has even taken a targeted approach by using an in-app referral offer design that drives steady growth across various cities. Here, users can enjoy rewards of different sizes depending on the city they are in. This smart approach allows brands to expand their reach from region to region. You may also like define marketing plan and its purpose.

2. Evernote

The refer-a-friend program of popular note-taking software Evernote is one marketing strategy that’s hard to miss. Using refers in exchange of points, which can then be converted into special rewards, has helped the service generate more than a hundred million users from around the world, where about thirteen million of which were referred by users.

Apart from earning points by submitting contact information of a friend or family member, upgrades made by the person they referred will also grant the given user extra credits. This encourages users to take advantage of the referral program while it’s still available. In this marketing strategy, it’s a win-win situation for both the business and the consumer. You may also check out marketing strategies for small businesses.

3. Tesla

If we’re talking about extreme referral marketing, then electric car company Tesla definitely takes home the crown for this one. From earning a thousand dollars for a referral to being invited to an exclusive party in the brand’s name, the VIP treatment given to selected customers is not something that money can buy in this case. Not only can it make customers feel valued, but it also allows the company to enter new markets in a cost-efficient manner. You might be interested in marketing flow chart examples & samples.

Though Tesla’s referral marketing strategies haven’t always brought success for the company at the very beginning of their quest, it still serves as a lesson that proves the importance of testing when creating a good marketing campaign.

4. Uber

Push notifications and SMS marketing have helped Uber craft its referral marketing campaigns in many ways.

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The ridesharing app is known for its fast and convenient services that more than a million users benefit from every day. In the app’s referral marketing program, users are given the opportunity to avail of exclusive discounts and privileges just by using a code that will let them share the services of the app to friends. You may also see marketing questionnaire examples & samples.

5. Google Apps

Unlike other referral programs on the list, Google Apps utilizes a one-sided structure where a paying user is eligible for a $15 reward for every referral, and not to the newly referred user. While the folks at Google may have missed the point in their site’s headline, using the money to motivate action is still a powerful strategy to entice customers. You may also like marketing goals examples.

6. Dropbox

There’s nothing like an online storage space to hold all our files whenever we need it to. So given the high demand for such, Dropbox has launched a referral program that offers users a free 500MB space that both the advocate and the referred can benefit from. You may also check out marketing email examples & samples.

Dropbox soon experienced a sixty percent increase in signups thanks to this clever marketing stunt alone. Besides this campaign, Dropbox continues to look for new areas to explore in order to increase user retention and referral metrics.

7. PayPal


Before social media dominated the digital marketing scene, Paypal had already started a variety of referral campaigns using IMs, blogs, and emails as a medium for communication. The company simply paid people to invite their friends to use the software’s services. This enabled the online payment operations company to gain a stronger customer base with millions of members. Though the campaign was unheard of at first, it still managed to entice tons of users to jump in on the bandwagon over time.

8. Prezi

Similar to Google Apps, the popular presentation software Prezi operates a single-sided referral program that centers on driving new signups to their paid plan. Users who take part in this program are given a 3-month free trial of the software’s entry-level plan ‘Enjoy’ once they sign up three of their friends for the plan. This keeps users engaged to the program, and increases customer retention as well. You might be interested in marketing research questionnaire examples & samples.

9. HomeSuite

Now, who wouldn’t want a $100 discount from a vacation rental marketplace site? The $100 gift card may be enjoyed by both the newly referred friend and the referring user. All you need to do is fill out a form and use your referral code to start sharing. This simple and easy-to-do process encourages users to respond immediately to the company’s call to action. You may also see relationship marketing examples that make an impact.

10. Netflix

Way before Netflix became the online video streaming application that it is today, the company ran a DVD rental service which had a refer-a-friend offer that allowed users to enjoy the app for a whole month free of charge. To redeem the offer, an email must be forwarded to one’s friends or family members before the offer expires. You may also like what is internet marketing?

Though the company had already shut down the said program in 2011, it was said to have been well-received by their target customers and played a key role in their North American growth engine.

11. Wayfair

To make sure they captured the attention of each and every one of their customers, Wayfair’s marketing team designed a compelling page which aimed to drive customer invites to friends in exchange for a financial reward. The call to action simply required users to submit their friend’s email addresses. The company even created a user-friendly landing page to speed up the referral process for customers. With a swift click of a button, the user can immediately participate in the program. You may also check out benefits of marketing segmentation.

Referral marketing has been around for quite some time now, but it wasn’t until recent years that this has been integrated into a company’s current promotional gimmicks. It is a powerful component that is of great value to businesses of any field. Implementing basic techniques may aid in facilitating the referral process for the benefit of gaining more sales and revenue as well. For companies that thrive on different growth hacks, utilizing services and strategies that optimize referral marketing poses a unique way for you to highlight your brand’s offered goods and services to customers. So if you’re looking to launch your own marketing schemes, make sure to keep these referral campaigns in mind. You may also be interested in video marketing examples.

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