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#ParrotInspires: How Email Marketing Supports Your Referral Program

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Email is the most cost-effective way to keep in touch with your customers and prospects. But it’s not just about sending out a marketing email every now and then—it’s about creating an engagement plan that works for you and your business. Check out our clever approaches to boosting sales on your referral program with email services.

#0 First things first

The first step for any great affiliate or partner strategy starts by using emails as the medium of communication between partners and affiliates/referrers alike, while also incentivizing them both along the way too! This style of “closed loop” communications makes it easier to track performance, and therefore more efficient to manage.

Your referral program should be the “hub” for all communications, as it’s a great place to keep in touch with your partners and affiliates about what they can do together. Think of emails as one way you may want to let them know how their referrals are doing!

The most effective campaigns have email sequences that bring customers through the entire process: from reaching out for information on making a purchase decision up until after they’ve purchased something or participated in an event. The sequence typically starts by introducing who you’re inviting to participate – then provides incentives like discounts or free gifts (which vary depending on your industry). If this is successful, there will be subsequent phases where you might provide additional perks.

#1 Create a sequence of referral emails

Email #0: Introduce your referral program and make the offer

Your first email should consist of some introduction to your referral program and showing its value. Ideally, you should offer a discount or some type of reward to those who sign up.

Hi _______,

How are you? I hope all is well! With summer here (yay!), there’s never a bad time to chat about how we can grow our business together through referrals – one of my favorite topics 🙂 Can you introduce me to someone in your network who might be interested in what we do? We have some great deals right now that would also help them save on their next purchase with us. All they need to do is mention this email and get 20% off any product or service when they become new customers. And if they sign up by September 30th, we’ll give them an additional $100 towards anything from our store!

So, introduce me to someone you know who might want more information about our products or services (or buy something from us) and we’ll hook them up with a great deal. I can’t wait to hear from you – let’s connect soon.



Want a quicker version? Here it goes.

Hi _______,

Congratulations on reaching one of your goals at work/school! It sounds like that took some time and effort—I’m really proud for you! In return for all this hard work, what would be a better reward than $100 off any product in our store? Just mention my name when signing up by September 30th* so we can give you the $100.

Happy shopping,


*Terms and conditions apply.

Email #1

Follow up with customers who have not yet taken advantage of this great opportunity to share their love for you!

Your next email would be your thank-you for signing up and the introduction to your referral program. This is where you educate them on how it works – what are they going to get in return? A good incentive could be an exclusive coupon codes available only for their referrals. You’ll want this message short so that people can easily pass it on through social media or by word of mouth but long enough for them to see its value.

Email #2

Send a reminder email or two near the end date of your promotion, especially if it is about to expire soon. Good idea? Maybe not so much—people will be less likely to respond when they are already on autopilot…

In your third email, send out rewards! People love getting things fast and if you’re lucky with a large number of new customers referred over time, then they may not need any more incentives beyond receiving their reward (along with the person they referred to).

Email #3

Send a thank you email to your new customers, share something about yourself and show appreciation for their support. This is also where you can include links to other blog posts, products or services that would be of interest to them.

You guessed it—another chance in this last email for an exclusive coupon code! And if anyone has not yet taken advantage of getting 20% off any purchase when referring to someone else? Your offer should still stand after a particular date, too!

This content will only work well as long form content because there are so many steps involved in running an effective referral campaign.

#2 Leverage your email signature to promote the program

If you are getting a lot of emails from your company, be sure to include the referral program in your signature. This will make it easier for people to refer and share their content with others. It’s simple marketing!

If you add links to your referral program in your email signature, you can gain more interest and potential options for collaboration.

#3 Make your referrals feel like a priority

Send info about your referral program to your brand ambassadors.

The more people you can get to advocate for your brand, the better.

Reach out to them with offers and updates about the referral program. You want those supporters of yours to feel like they’re a priority so that they’ll continue giving word-of-mouth referrals.

Your business is competing against every other company in a customer’s inbox daily. So it’s important to make sure this info stands out from all their other emails (think: newsletters, promotions, blog posts). For example? Make it personal by showing some personality! Send an email thanking them for the referral or asking what product worked best for them when referring others!

It doesn’t matter if you forward each recommendation request on as soon as possible – one at a time – or if you batch them together, as long as they’re answered.

#4 Double-check the timing

Timing is everything when it comes to sending your emails. You need to pick the right time and date, otherwise, the open rate of your emails can be terribly low.

However, the best answer to this “When to Send Email” question is: it depends – on your subscribers, your industry, and many other factors.

For example if you are a retail store that sells products for pets such as dog food or grooming tools then “midnight Friday” might be an appropriate hour because pet owners purchase more over the weekend than any other day during the week (according to Experian Consumer Insights from 2017). But if you sell something like jewelry that isn’t often purchased online at midnight on Fridays (or even in the middle of the day for that matter) then you might want to plan your email campaign so it sends at a different time.

If you are in an industry where customers don’t typically buy products online from midnight on Friday, and instead wait until Sunday night when they get home from their weekend activities, then send out your emails during this time frame because people will be more likely to open them. And if many of your clients work nine-to-five jobs, avoid sending any campaigns later than noon on Fridays or early Saturday mornings. These two times are prime moments for catching up with friends and family over coffee after being stuck inside all week rather than checking their inboxes (let alone opening one).

#5 Pick the right email subject line

The most common email titles are short ones. Do you fear that you may not include everything you want to say? Preheader is the place to put it.

Creating short emails is not easy every time, but it’s worth experimenting to see how they perform. Remember that mobile devices can only display a limited number of characters if you contain more than 25-70 characters. Five out of every ten email recipients view their messages on a smartphone.

The end result is that you have an engaged customer base who are empowered because they know what’s going on in their company. Your reward: Loyal customers bring new customers!

Over to you

One of the most effective ways to grow your referral program is through email marketing. Emails help keep customers engaged in the referral process and remind them about opportunities for earning rewards with every new customer who joins their team.

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