Refer a friend email examples

Essentially, the more viral, or shareable, your product and brand are, the better potential for growth.

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Who doesn’t love something free? Especially from an awesome brand. Refer-a-friend programs are a win-win for both brands and consumers. Companies bring in new customers and valued shoppers get to give their friends a free gift or get a free gift themselves.

A strong refer-a-friend strategy leads to a higher growth trajectory. Essentially, the more viral, or shareable, your product and brand are, the better potential for growth. Seems like a no-brainer, right?

There’s no better way to execute this type of strategy than leveraging the power of email. It is, after all, one of the easiest ways to connect with your customers. See below for some great examples, strategic ideas and considerations when implementing referral campaigns.

Refer a friend strategic recommendations

First things first: what type of refer-a-friend program is right for your brand? If you’re a fashion retailer, makeup company, or food subscription service, you likely have an opportunity to deploy your own refer-a-friend strategy without too much overhead cost.

Offer rewards, like discounts or incentives

Rewards and incentives can be a bit risky, as launching a large campaign can have a negative impact on your margins if unsuccessful. Loyal customers plus net-new business have the ability to change your brand and may be the worth risk, just remember to start small! Take a look at examples from RocksBox, Carnivore Club, and quip.

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Sending your friends a free gift, no strings attached!

Take a look at this example from Purple Carrot. It is an example of a great strategy for growing your customer base. If there’s no incentive to the existing customer, however, there’s likely going to be a lower conversion rate—sure the altruistic ideal in all of us thinks we simply want to “gift” our friends, but our favorite radio station is still WIIFM (what’s in it for me)!

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Reward social sharing

Okay, so this isn’t purely email—but we love what Ipsy is doing nonetheless. An example could be customers sharing your brand on Facebook and Instagram to get 15% off their next purchase or get a subscription box earlier than everyone else. This is a great way to get more reach because you’re utilizing the social element to really expand your voice across customers’ social graph. Keep in mind this technique makes it harder to track success—after all, it’s not the same 1:1 channel as email 😉

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Refer-a-friend strategies aren’t for everyone! If you have low margins, it may be harder to deploy this type of strategy (for example, services like Spotify that have high costs). It’s difficult to use this strategy for kids and pet subscriptions, too, since it’s not necessarily referring a friend as the customer isn’t the end user of the product.

Refer a friend implementation details

You’re probably looking at these examples and thinking, yeah that’s great, but how can I implement a practical refer-a-friend strategy? Take a look at our 5 tips below to ensure you’re setup for success.

Start small!

Send the refer-a-friend campaign to a small percentage of your mailing list. Once you’ve got an idea of the conversion rate, determine your budget. You can then put together a larger send based on the conversion rate of the first send (given the audience is comprised of the same filters). You’ll want to keep a close eye on conversion and compare the efforts to your other marketing efforts.

A/B test subject lines

When you’re testing your strategy with the initial email campaign, think about A/B testing the subject line. If you haven’t yet, throw in an emoji or two to one of them. Be careful about your wording though; some subject lines can trigger SPAM filtering including words like FREE, 50% off, Offer, Winner, etc.

Start off targeting your most loyal customers.

They’re likely already your biggest advocates! If you have the data available, target those who’ve made more than one purchase in the past 6 months (for subscription services, at least 2 monthly subscription boxes). Alternatively, if you collect product reviews, you can setup an automated campaign to deploy when a positive review is submitted.

Setup campaign tracking to track success.

Whether that’s providing a special unique code that the customer forwards to a friend or a url with utm parameters, make sure you’re able to track conversions. Wanna get geeky? Take it a step further by calculating another growth metric, the viral coefficient. Here’s how to calculate yours: the number of people referred * conversion rate = viral coefficient!

Think about the customers experience

It’s critical to make it as easy as possible for customers to share with their friends. If a majority of your customers are opening emails on their phone, think about making your CTA to send a text and create a preformatted text message they can send to their friends in two clicks (see tutorial here).

Lastly, if you do plan on reaching out to those who were referred instead of them signing up themselves, be careful! You’ll want to ensure that they have context on why you’re emailing them and an opportunity to unsubscribe from further outreach, especially if they’re in the EU (as you’ll need to abide by the GDPR). To put it more bluntly: these referrals aren’t technically part of your main database, so pay particular mind to keep these names cordoned off from your standard marketing—that is until they convert into leads or, better yet, customers!