#ParrotInspires: 5 referral programs you need to know

Referral marketing works. After all, 78% of B2B advertisers say that this form of marketing provides good-quality leads. So it’s worth the effort, even if there may sometimes be bumps along the road. Many new referral marketing enthusiasts believe that all you need to do is offer an appropriate incentive and everything will work out. That may well be so, but unfortunately, in most cases, it’s not enough.

So what should you do when such a seemingly easy marketing strategy isn’t going your way. Take a look at those who are ruling in this regard – it’s best to learn from the masters. But beware, it’s worth keeping in mind that all customers are different depending on the sector or type of products/services you provide. Thus, not all activities may be perfect for your business. It might be worthwhile analyzing the activities of the big players on the market, yet perhaps not worth copying everything one-to-one.

But let’s start from the beginning, why is referral marketing worth considering?

Why is referral marketing such a game-changer?

The main reason is simple. It doesn’t require much input but it provides great benefits. Compared to other channels, referral marketing leads convert up to 30% better and have a 16% higher lifetime value. So if you are searching for a long term solution that will improve your business performance, you should take a closer look at referrals. Besides, referral marketing is quick to implement and very easy to track. Thanks to links or codes that you can give your clients to share, you can follow all statistics and check what works best for your target audience. You can also play around with the rewards. Some may work well but others less so, hence this is also important knowledge to have when running such programs.

So let’s take a closer look at some of those who are masters of referral programs. 

#1 Dropbox

Dropbox is one of those programs that first comes to mind when someone says “referral marketing”. No wonder, since they are killing it. Dropbox is a file storage and transfer service. It has been offering a referral program for a long time, in which the reward is an additional 500 MB storage for both the referrer and the new client. For Plus and Professional users, that amount is 1 GB. 

What has Dropbox gained thanks to the referral program? It increased their number of new user registrations by as much as 60%. And it wasn’t just a one-off increase; it has been a continuing trend. As a result, Dropbox’s marketing costs could basically be reduced to zero. Instead, they offer clients additional storage space for their files. And as we know, you can never have too much of that. As a result, this offer is subsidized by the company, but keep in mind that the customer does not really gain extra space for free as it appears. They bring a new customer who may invest even in the most expensive versions, you never know. So, as you can see, the company is gaining a lot. It has been running this program for a decade, so it definitely pays off for them.

What can you learn from this case? A reward doesn’t always have to be a discount. You can offer your products, part of your service, or even a subscription (e.g. a week of paid subscription for free). It’s important that both parties feel that they benefit from this interaction and that the choice of offer hits the mark.

#2 Uber

Uber is an application that allows users to reach their destinations quickly and safely. From the moment of setting up, each client has their own personalized code that they can share with friends. Each time such a code is used, both parties receive a free or discounted Uber ride.

Uber was in some ways revolutionary for its time. It was perceived as a kind of upgraded taxi that you didn’t have to catch at the roadside, but would be waiting for you outside to take you to your destination. The advantage of Uber over taxis was not only the application, but also the price in most cities. In order to gain popularity and stand out in the minds of customers, it had to offer something extra. And that’s what Uber’s referral program turned out to be. Who wouldn’t like to take advantage of a free ride? They not only gained new customers, but also managed to complete the business model in just a few months.

What the example of Uber shows is that referrals are not only a way to attract new customers, but also for the business to stand out. Currently, Uber is available in 85 countries and serves 5 billion rides worldwide each month. It could be said that some part of this success (possibly quite a lot) is due to their referral program.

#3 Airbnb

Airbnb is definitely one of the largest portals that every vacationer looking for a place to sleep should visit. It was created by people for people, which means that private property owners make their apartments available to personal travellers who want to spend some time in another location. If a place turns out to be worth recommending, why not suggest it to friends who will be going on vacation? Airbnb has recognized this logic. After all, travel and accommodation are important issues that many of us consult with our friends or family about. 

At the outset, Airbnb simply offered a referral reward without any particular rules. However, after some time they noticed that the recommendations were quite profitable. That’s why an entire program architecture was created, and is now used by millions of its registrants. Therefore, a referral email campaign was created via which users could send invitations to their existing contacts.

Currently, each member of the platform can collect Travel Credits. How? New clients register with a referral link, make a successful booking, and stay. Of course, provided that the referrer is not the host of the place where the booking is made. The maximum Travel Credit is $5,000 per user. Such a program pays off for the platform, because more bookings are made with referral links than without.

What does the example of Airbnb teach? First recommendations should be appreciated. Even if you don’t have a program, clients may still recommend you. Second, the program has to evolve over time. Airbnb started with an email campaign, but now each customer can share a referral link. It’s important to test the implemented solutions to be sure that they work without any problems.

#4 Amazon Prime

Amazon is a giant on the eCommerce market. And for all the possibilities it provides, it doesn’t offer very big rewards. Nevertheless, even such a solution brings benefits. How does the Amazon Prime program work? Prime membership is the natural choice for many Amazon members, which was the retailer’s intention. Any Amazon Prime member can invite their friends to create an account, as long as they don’t already have one or belong to Amazon Student. 

How is the whole procedure completed? The new customer has to click on their referral link, create an account, and then make a purchase within 90 days of doing so. In order for the referrers to receive referral credits, the order can’t be cancelled. Referral credits are automatically assigned to the account and can then be used to pay for orders.

Amazon proves that a referral program is also an ideal solution for eCommerce. If you build a brand for yourself and gain loyal customers, they will recommend you further and you will gain recognition. Who knows, maybe you will be as successful as Amazon one day?

#5 Google

Referral marketing is so popular even Google is investing in it. You’re probably wondering how it works. After all, you wouldn’t invite your friend to use a browser that everyone has access to. The referral program applies to Google Apps for Work, i.e. for business customers. After joining, each customer receives a personalized link that they can share to receive $15  for every account that is created using it, and Google will transfer this money immediately to the referrer.

Google shows that business clients also like to share their opinions and recommendations, and Google uses these habits to expand its audience. Although you may wonder whether a giant like Google needs to build loyalty among customers, as you can see it’s worth taking care of such aspects regardless of the company’s size.

What should you learn from the market leaders?

What are the lessons for the future? We’ll add one: before you start thinking about your program’s details, find the right software that will provide you with a fast and error-free development process. EarlyParrot has got it all

Installation takes 15 minutes, and the platform itself integrates with most providers, such as Shopify, WordPress, and Joomla. The creation of a program is also very intuitive. EarlyParrot guides you step by step and shows you aspects that still need to be completed. It’s a very good tool for both beginners and advanced marketers. If you’re interested in more of its benefits then read about them here

You can also learn a lot from the examples above. First, referral marketing program is a good idea for both online stores and service providers. Regardless of whether you operate in the B2B or B2C market, such a program will work for every type of customer. Second, creating a referral campaign isn’t the end – it’s just the beginning. It has to adapt in order to be a success, otherwise, customers will stop finding the rewards valuable. Remember that competition is growing all the time, so you need to stand out to attract customers and to keep them engaged. 

The last lesson you should learn from this text is that referral marketing allows you not only to expand your customer base, but also to develop your business and push it forward. Perhaps, just like Dropbox, you will save a lot of money on marketing to spend on achieving other strategic goals that you’ve set for yourself. Of course, referrals are all about clients, but remember they are the promise of growth. The more you look after them, the brighter the future will be for you.

Are you encouraged to start your own referral campaign? We have prepared some tips on how to start one. Feel free to be inspired!