Asking for referrals is one of the fundamental tactics of marketing and a great way to get word of mouth publicity. Email marketers have leveraged referral email marketing owing to the fact that people consider their mailboxes more private compared to social media. The clients acquired through referral emails have a 30%higher conversion rate with a 16% higher lifetime value. Roughly half of the world uses emails, so asking for a referral in exchange of gifts makes sense, right? Today, I will discuss five tips for executing referral email marketing campaigns. Read on to know the hacks used by top companies’ email developers and apply them for your business.

#1 Identify Your Most Engaged Subscribers – Brand Advocates

Firstly, you should identify the subscribers with the highest engagement rates as well as the highest lifetime value. This segment is most likely to be your brand advocates who love hearing from you, and they would be happy to refer your products to their friends and family. These customers are your brand advocates, and they are also likely to connect with your brand on an emotional level, and it won’t take too much to convince them. On the other hand, messaging a relatively disengaged subscriber would have far fewer chances of them sending your emails to their contacts. In the below example, Airbnb has messaged a user with an impressive travel history and appealed to share their ‘taste’ with their friends:

Airbnb Experiences

#2 Instil FOMO In Your Referral Email Copy

A good referral email always builds upon FOMO. The promotional offers are indeed the driving factors behind sharing such messages, but you also need to ensure that these offers are time-bound. If your reader leaves the message after deciding to share it, chances of them returning would be rare as an average person receives 121emails on a daily basis- your message might get buried. Using FOMO is a great way to motivate your subscribers to share the promoted products right away. You can add an expiry date or simply use power words. Gasbuddy aced this hack beautifully in this valentines day email:


#3 Give Your Subscribers A Strong Reason To Refer Your Brands To Their Friends And Family

Now comes the most important part of running a referral campaign: The benefits for the referrer. One of the misconceptions about running referral email campaigns is that giving attractive benefits will do the job for you. However, this may feel too persuasive or even greedy to your subscribers. You can dodge this situation by giving them a strong reason to refer to your brand apart from the monetary gains. This way, they will feel that the purpose behind referring is greater than the reward, and it saves them from feeling the guilt. For instance, aligning them with your brand’s positive impact on people’s lives can become a great reason for someone to recommend you. Saje did exactly the same thing, and their entire copy gives a genuine, positive touch to the promotional offer.

Saje Natural Wellness

#4 Use CTA Buttons Smartly

Another small yet important detail of building email marketing templates for referral campaigns is using the right CTA buttons. Your call-to-action button needs to be optimized for conversion and match with the reader intent. You should also include power words in your CTA button copy to make click-through as natural as possible. In most cases, marketers prefer using the following CTA text types:


  • Get My 40% Off
  • Refer My Friend
  • Invite My Friend
  • Invite Friends Now
  • Get $20 Cash Back
  • Shop Now
  • Share Code


You can also use FOMO in the CTA text but make sure that you keep it self sustaining. This helps improve conversions. Here’s an example from ibotta where they explained the offer and placed a straightforward CTA- Get $50!


#5 Mention The Ins And Outs Of The Referral Program Explicitly

Before hitting the send button, make sure your referral email explicitly mentions the terms and conditions. Many times, marketers send such offers without putting down the ins and outs, leaving a lot of room for the subscribers to imagine. This can be dangerous for your brand as your mail might come out as ‘misleading.’ Always educate your readers about what’s the process, required steps, what’s included and what isn’t. This will save you from inviting angry subscribers and losing your most ‘engaged’ loyalists. Have a look at this example from Coinbase where they have put down the details appropriately:


Putting It Together

Toward the end, I would share my secret sauce to referral email marketing: Be trustworthy, don’t sound pushy, offer value other than financial compensation, and help your subscriber. If you manage to pull off these tips correctly, you will surely boost your conversion rates and utilize your mailing list to its full potential. I hope this blog helps you with your future referral marketing efforts.






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