Customer Acquisition & Growth Referral Marketing
July 6, 2023

Unlocking the Power of Referral Marketing: Acquiring Customers and Building Brand Advocacy

Referral Marketing

The saturation of digital ads has reduced consumer trust in marketing channels and brands. Consumers have become more sceptical and are relying more on recommendations from trusted sources. This is where referral marketing is transforming customer acquisition for today's businesses.


Introduction to Referral Marketing

Referral marketing relies on trust and credibility; we are more likely to buy something if a friend recommends it. Referrals have more weight than other forms of advertising because they come from real people with real opinions and experiences, making potential customers feel more at ease and receptive to the brand's message.

Focusing on building credibility and trust with your audience will help you forge deeper relationships with them. People trust their friends and family when buying things, as shown by referral programmes' success.

What is Referral Marketing?

As companies realise the power of word-of-mouth recommendations, referral marketing has grown in popularity.

60% of marketers agree that referrals generate a high volume of leads.

Referral marketing encourages customers to actively recommend a business's products, services, or experiences. By offering incentives or rewards for referrals, you create a win-win situation that motivates customers to share their positive experiences.

Referral marketing makes customers active contributors to your marketing strategy. They become brand advocates, promoting your offerings to their own networks to generate new business. Customers feel valued and appreciated, which makes them more loyal and engaged with the company's success.

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What are the Types of Referral Marketing?

Referral marketing can be digital or word-of-mouth. Digital referrals use email, social media, and review websites to get customers to refer friends. However, word-of-mouth referrals depend on personal conversations and recommendations.


Word-of-mouth referral marketing is the informal exchange of recommendations and experiences. It relies on personal relationships and trust. 88% of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other type of advertising.


Email referral marketing involves businesses encouraging their existing customers to refer others via email. This method leverages the reach and personal networks of customers. 

Social Media 

It’s difficult to ignore the influence of social media on buyer behaviour. Social media influences the purchasing decisions of more than 74% of consumers. 

Social media referral marketing facilitates customer recommendations through social networks. Businesses encourage customers to share their experiences and refer others on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

Review Websites

Review site referral marketing encourages customers to leave positive reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google. These reviews act as powerful referrals, influencing the decisions of potential customers. 85% of consumers trust customer reviews as much as personal recommendations.

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What are the Benefits of Referral Marketing?

Referral marketing offers a multitude of benefits for brands seeking to expand their customer base and enhance brand credibility.



1. Increased Customer Trust and Credibility 

People are more likely to trust and consider a referral from a trusted friend or family member. Referrals build trust and reduce the mistrust associated with advertising.


2. High-Quality Leads and Conversions 

Leads acquired through referrals are more likely to become paying customers.

Referral-generated leads have a higher conversion rate of (30%) and lifetime value (16%)  

...than leads acquired via other marketing channels. Referrals attract the right customers because the referrer knows what the leads want.


3. Cost-Effectiveness and Improved ROI 

Referral marketing is a cost-effective alternative to traditional advertising. Get new customers for less by encouraging your current customers to refer others. It also doesn’t hurt that...

Customers acquired through referral marketing spend over 200% more than other customers


4. Enhanced Customer Loyalty and Retention 

Referral marketing also helps strengthen existing customer relationships. Happy customers who refer others tend to stay loyal and keep coming back.

For a deeper dive into the benefits of Referral Marketing


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How to Design an Effective Referral Marketing Programme

Referral programmes need careful planning. To create a smooth-running programme, you need to give careful consideration to every detail. Poor planning could sabotage the success of the programme and waste valuable time and resources.

To design a successful referral programme, you should plan for the following:

1. Identifying the Target Audience and Referral Sources

Understanding your target audience and their preferred communication channels is crucial. Find people or organisations that are likely to recommend your business, like happy customers, industry leaders, or brand partners. Build your referral strategy around their collective needs and engage them with relevant rewards for recommending your business.

2. Crafting Compelling Referral Incentives and Rewards

Offer incentives that motivate customers and referral sources to participate in the referral programme.

More than 50% of buyers will recommend others if they receive a reward, recognition, or exclusive loyalty programme membership in return.

These rewards could include discounts, exclusive offers, or even monetary incentives. The key is to ensure the incentives are valuable and relevant enough to encourage participation.

3. Creating a Seamless Referral Process and User Experience

Simplify the referral process for both the referrer and the referred customer. Provide clear instructions, user-friendly referral forms, and a streamlined experience to ensure the process is smooth and convenient.

4. Implementing Tracking and Measurement Mechanisms

Set up systems to track and measure the success of your referral marketing programme. This includes tracking referrals, conversions, and the overall ROI generated through the programme. These insights will help you refine and optimise your strategy over time.

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Strategies for Maximising Referral Marketing Success

In addition to the above steps, consider the following strategies to maximise the effectiveness of your referral marketing efforts:

1. Provide Excellent Customer Service

This is the key to referral marketing success. If your customers are satisfied, they will recommend you and tell others about their experience.

Here are some tips:

  • Address customer concerns and requests promptly and provide phone, email, text, and chat support options.

  • Exceed customer expectations by predicting their needs, providing extra help, and going above and beyond to satisfy them.

2. Offer a Superior Product Experience  

Delivering high-quality products, branding, and unboxing experiences is key to creating a memorable customer experience. This is what will generate buzz for your company.

3. Build Strong Relationships with Referral Sources 

Maintain good relationships with referral sources. Offer exclusive benefits, thank them, and share your values by constantly engaging with them. By sharing your brand values, you can create a meaningful connection with customers who share those values. 

4. Add Shareable Content 

Successful referral marketing programmes go beyond simple discounts and rewards. Blog posts, engaging videos, and helpful guides can help potential customers decide if your product or service is the right fit.

Leverage social media and other digital platforms to promote shareable content. Make it easy for customers to share your content by adding share buttons to your emails, landing pages, and blog posts.

5. Promote Your Programme 

Your referral programme is useless if customers don’t know it exists. Email, content, and social media marketing are great ways to promote the programme.

You should also provide programme information on a website landing page. You can also spread the word with referral marketing campaigns. Create a social media campaign or email marketing campaign to inform customers about available rewards.

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Showcasing Successful Referral Marketing Campaigns


1. Monzo 

British digital bank Monzo implemented a referral programme that helped them quickly expand their user base. Monzo's "Golden Ticket" programme gave its existing customers unique referral links they could use to recommend the service to their friends. If someone signs up and does a transaction, they and the person who referred them get £5 in their Monzo accounts.

What made Monzo's referral programme successful was its simplicity and user-friendly approach. The referral links were easy to share, and the incentive of £5 was attractive enough to motivate customers to refer others. 


2. Bloom & Wild

Bloom & Wild is a UK-based online flower delivery company known for its innovative and convenient service. They created a referral programme with a £10 discount as a reward for referring friends to try Bloom & Wild. The referred friend also receives a £10 discount on their first order.

What made Bloom & Wild's referral programme successful was the strong emphasis on heartfelt recommendations. Bloom & Wild encouraged customers to share their love for their flowers and the overall experience of receiving and sending bouquets. By tapping into the emotional connection associated with sending flowers, Bloom & Wild effectively generated referrals and built a loyal customer base.

3. Wise 

Wise, a UK-based international money transfer service, has used a referral programme to drive growth. Members can earn monetary rewards by referring Wise to friends. 

If your friend signs up and sends money for the first time, you both earn a reward. The reward can be a free transfer or a cash sum. When three referred customers make transfers exceeding £200, Wise offers a referral bonus of up to £75.

Wise's referral programme stands out for its transparency and simplicity. The programme aligns with the brand's mission of providing cost-effective and transparent money transfers. By leveraging the trust and influence of existing customers, Wise has effectively increased its customer base and expanded its market presence.

4. Gousto

Gousto is a UK-based meal kit delivery service that implemented a successful referral programme to drive customer acquisition. Through their programme, existing customers can refer friends to try Gousto's meal kits. The referred friend gets 70% off the first purchase and 25% off for 2 months, while the referrer gets £10 credit.

By encouraging existing customers to refer others, Gousto not only boosts customer acquisition but also fosters customer loyalty. The programme taps into the enthusiasm of satisfied customers, creating a strong referral network and increasing brand awareness.

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Encouraging Ongoing Engagement and Referrals Beyond Referral Marketing


Build a Community and Encourage User-Generated Content

Creating a community around your brand can increase customer engagement and encourage them to naturally refer others. Make spaces for customers to connect, share their experiences, and interact with your brand and other like-minded people. Encourage user-generated content, such as reviews, testimonials, and social media posts, which can serve as powerful referrals.

Example: Airbnb, for example, has created a thriving community of hosts and guests. They encourage users to share their experiences through reviews, photos, and personal stories. This user-generated content not only increases engagement but also serves as a valuable referral source for potential new customers.


Implement Loyalty Programmes and Leverage Exclusivity

Loyalty programmes are effective tools for incentivising ongoing engagement and referrals. Reward loyal customers with discounts, early access to new products, or exclusive perks. Customers are motivated to stay engaged and refer others to retain access to these benefits.

Example: Sephora's Beauty Insider referral programme gives members points for making purchases. You can use the points for special products, discounts, or experiences. By providing exclusive benefits to loyal customers, Sephora cultivates ongoing engagement and encourages them to refer friends and family.

Seek Customer Feedback and Act on it

Seeking customer feedback shows you value their opinions and want to improve their experiences. Ask for feedback via surveys, reviews, or social media, and use it to improve your products, services, or processes. Listen to your customers, and they'll remain loyal and bring in more business.

Example: The messaging app, Slack, has a dedicated customer feedback channel where users can suggest and vote on new features. This approach not only encourages ongoing engagement but also generates valuable insights for product improvement.

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Extracting Key Takeaways and Lessons Learned

  • Referral marketing boosts sales, brand loyalty, and customer acquisition. Personal recommendations can increase lead quality, customer trust, and cost-effectiveness.

  • To create a successful referral marketing plan, there are several key components to consider. Firstly, it is important to identify the sources of referrals.

  • Secondly, offering attractive rewards can encourage people to refer others. Additionally, making the referral process simple and straightforward can increase participation.

  • Finally, tracking the effectiveness of the plan is crucial to make the necessary adjustments and improvements.

  • To keep customers coming back and telling others, provide great experiences, create a community, and ask for feedback.

  • Building lasting relationships with customers and identifying their needs is essential for ongoing engagement and advocacy. Create a customer-centric approach that goes beyond transactions and focuses on building meaningful connections.

  • Regularly monitoring and analysing the performance of your referral marketing efforts is crucial for optimising them and identifying areas for improvement.

  • Referral marketing is a continuous process rather than a one-time campaign. It requires ongoing engagement, relationship building, and adaptation to evolving customer needs and preferences.

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Build Brand Trust and Advocacy with Referral Marketing

Referral marketing is a highly effective strategy for acquiring new customers, driving sales, and building brand advocacy. Using personal recommendations can boost customer trust, improve leads, save money, and increase loyalty. 

Create a robust referral marketing plan, leverage current customer connections, and follow best practices to get great results from referral marketing.

Start by checking out our ROI calculator, which includes forecasts for increased revenue by launching a referral programme.



ROI Calculator

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