Dear Rachel,

What are some of the best referral program examples you’ve come across? I need some ideas for building my own referral program.

-Seeking Solutions

Dear Seeking,

I’ve seen a lot of good looking referral program examples in my day.

I’ve also seen some hot messes.

Bad referral programs are like bad dates: their intentions are unclear, they’re no fun and you’re not sure if they’re going to call you back (jerks).

The best referral programs have a few important things in common:

  • They’re easy to use
  • They’re enjoyable
  • They’re rewarding

The referral submission process is simple and clear. It may even be built into the product, or found on the customer login page. The point is, these programs aren’t playing hard to get.

They’re also fun. Maybe it’s the way invite is positioned, or maybe there’s a tiered system of rewards for referring a more friends that drives me to submit more names. Either way, the program is enjoyable to participate in.

If there are mutually beneficial rewards for both me and the person I refer, that’s even better. A dual-sided incentive (where we both receive something) will help make me look like a rockstar for introducing my friend to a new product—instead of just someone looking to earn herself a discount. (Nobody likes a cheap date!)

The best programs won’t ever leave me hanging, and always close the feedback loop on the status of my referral.

Now, I don’t like to name drop, but some of my favourite referral program examples are Dropbox, Hulu and Airbnb.

Remember: treat your referral program like you would dating. If it isn’t fun, easy and rewarding, it isn’t worth your time. If you want to learn more about the art of referral matchmaking visit my resource page.

ask rachel: the referral relationship coach






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