SMS examples and strategy

Referral Text Message Examples

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  • Leesa
    Leesa Sleep: Better sleep, rewarded (and an extended sale, too). Refer a friend + earn points! Shop our extended Presidents Day Sale and learn more about Leesa Rewards. [link/831eb3fc-8c46-4346-b963-84]

    12:00 AM, Thu 3 March 2022

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Referral Text Message Examples

We have good news and bad news. First, here’s the bad news: According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, distrust is now society’s default emotion when it comes to encountering something new.

Now, the good news: According to Nielsen, 92 percent of consumers around the world said they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising.

Referral marketing, otherwise known as word of mouth for those of us “in the biz,” leverages trust from people we know. That means, as consumers, this referrer has a sense for what you may and may not like. It’s the trust and confidence that makes referral marketing so powerful. In fact, that same Nielsen study found that consumers were 77 percent more likely to buy a product if their friends recommended it.

Traditionally, we saw referral marketing happen in real time. When someone noticed your well-groomed lawn, you told them who did it and handed off their card. If someone complimented your outfit, you showed them it had pockets, shared the price, and the place you got it. Although these exchanges still happen this way, alternative forms of communication are on the rise. For instance, refer-a-friend emails have long been part of the business toolbox (check out our favorite email referral examples) but the convenience of text messaging has made an impressive entrance into the referral marketing scene. In fact, with people spending over 3.75 hours on their phone each day in the United States, it’s the perfect way to get in front of your target market.

Let’s learn more about how ecommerce businesses can leverage SMS messages to launch their referral-based business into the next tax bracket.

What Are Referral Text Messages?

In a marketing context, a referral text message is an SMS message that encourages subscribers to recommend your service or product to a friend, colleague, family member, or acquaintance.

In the larger marketing funnel, these messages enter into the buyer’s journey either as a way to make more people aware of your offering, or as a way to potentially push them to the next stage of the buying cycle.

This message should be clear, concise, editable, and personable. In fact, let’s look at the anatomy of a a referral from the final receiver’s end. In this example, let’s use the fictional store Montoya’s Uneek Boutique. Montoya’s is located in a small downtown of a popular tourist destination. There are many clothing stores nearby, but none with Montoya’s unique flair. They also have an online store that they manage through the same POS.

Although this is a retail example, a few simple tweaks can make these examples great for an online shopping destination, or even an in-person service.

The Anatomy of a Referral Text Message

The anatomy of an effective referral text message includes the following elements:

A personalized introduction A value proposition A call to action
Hi [first name], Refer a friend to Montoya’s Uneek Boutique and you’ll both get $20 off your next purchase of one-of-a-kind threads. Shop + get free shipping using the code SMSREFER.

As you can see, referral text messages should include three main parts:

  • A personalized introduction: This might seem like it’s overkill, but LinkedIn-owned Slideshare reports that 80 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that provides a tailored experience. Using a first name has long been a way to increase open rates for email and that continues to be an effective tactic for SMS marketing as well. Keep it simple with a “Hi [first name],”
  • A value proposition: For those who don’t speak marketing, this is what makes your service different than your competitors. If you sell funky clothing, your value proposition may look read like, “Visit Montoya’s Uneek Boutique to get one-of-a-kind threads.” You can see that it mentions the name of the company, and explains what makes them different from their competitors.
  • A call to action: This is a must-have for any piece of business communication. People don’t naturally know what you want from them. Ensure that you’re directing them to visit your website, take advantage of your offer, or see a specific product. In Montoya’s situation, we might share a discount like, “Shop our online store ( and receive free shipping using the code SMSREFER.”

Despite this looking like a simple formula, it can go very, very, right or very, very, wrong. Let’s take a look at a few examples that can help keep your business on the right track when it comes to referral marketing text messages.

10 Referral Text Message Examples

SMS is currently being used to help bring people back to abandoned carts, to let people know when their favorite item is back in stock, to celebrate birthdays, draw attention to sales, authorize opt-ins for marketing messages, and so much more. Each of these SMS marketing examples has their own set of best practices, and referral text messages are no different.

True to the spirit of MailCharts, we want you to have an easy way to get started. To help whet your whistle, check out the below examples of texts you can borrow as well as ideas for how to make them worth your customers’ while…

Reward your customers’ loyalty

In this example, Leesa keeps it simple: “Refer a friend + earn points”. Not only is a well-defined reward points system a great way to reward customers for their loyalty, you can leverage it as a tool to widen your customer base by tying it to your referral program.

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Leesa Sleep: Better sleep, rewarded (and an extended sale, too). Refer a friend + earn points! Shop our extended Presidents Day Sale and learn more about Leesa Rewards. [link/831eb3fc-8c46-4346-b963-84]

12:00 AM, Thu 3 March 2022

Promote your loyalty and referral programs

Much like the example above, Aquatalia has also linked their loyalty and referral programs. In this case, they’ve added a sense of urgency by urging their customers to refer upon becoming a member.

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Aquatalia: Loyalty members receive 3000 points plus an extra 1500 BONUS POINTS when you refer a friend today. Refer now or sign up to become a member: [link/73518b42-5216-5df] Text STOP to opt-out

12:00 AM, Mon 7 July 2022

Add a time limit

Aura Bora ups the ante not only by adding a time limit (“TODAY ONLY”) but by making it easy for customers to win free merchandise simply by incentivizing customers to refer more people. So, while they still earn points when they refer a friend, the true prize is unlocked when they refer at least three.

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Aura Bora
Aura Bora: TODAY ONLY, earn double points when you refer a friend! 1 friend = 400 points Which means... 3 friends = 1200 points = FREE CASE!!! Start by creating an account: [link/e3e5f765-4642-51a] Text STOP to opt-out

12:00 AM, Fri 8 August 2022

Give your customers the credit they deserve

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Cocofloss: Want a free $10 credit to Cocofloss (aka, free floss)? Refer a friend and you'll both get $10 to spend! Happy friends and happier smiles. 😁 [link/de91c298-ea80-5813-b7bc-1d7514] Text back if you have any questions!

12:00 AM, Mon 10 October 2022

Give a little to get a little

If you’d rather give your customers credit to put towards their purchase than reward them through a points system, Cocofloss and Lively are both a good example of a tried and true offer: give credit and get credit back upon a referral’s first purchase. This is a common tactic used amongst subscription companies especially as it incentivizes prospects to start the onboarding process to take advantage of store credit.

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LIVELY: GIVE $10, GET $10! Hook up your BFF with $10 & score $10 when they make their first purchase ;) Refer a Friend: [link/af4587bb-f5e8-5f0a-882d-a3c] .

12:00 AM, Fri 7 July 2022

Don’t make them choose

That said, a loyalty program and credit upon referral do not have to be mutually exclusive, as shown in this example by Klean Kanteen.

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Klean Kanteen
Join our Klean loyalty program for points and rewards every time you shop. Plus refer-a-friend to get $10 and give $10! EARN REWARDS: [link/9008b66b-7511-5]

12:00 AM, Thu 5 May 2022

Make celebrating fun for your customers

Holidays offer up a great opportunity to get your customers in a celebratory (and shopping) mood. Here, Andie makes Galentine’s Day fun by offering customers credit for both themselves and a referral of their choice making the answer to, “how should I celebrate?” an easy one.

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Andie Swim: Hey, bestie! Our BFF Sale is ON. Enjoy 20% off sitewide while this offer lasts. Shop now: [link/1b3851f1-e543-5394-9fe8-e1] .

12:00 AM, Wed 10 October 2022

Add some urgency

Who says a three-day “sale-e-bration” doesn’t count as a holiday? Slumberkin creates urgency and incentive by offering savings and a referral credit during a short window of time. The key here is to illustrate just how much a customer is getting, provided they take advantage of these deals right away.

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Slumberkins: It's a 3 Day Sale-e-bration! A gift of gratitude for our SlumberFam: save 25% on retired kins, snugglers, and minis through 2/17. Shop Now: [link/620cbd00-beb9-4724-aedd-2ee8] PLUS, save an additional $10 on your order when you refer a friend. Refer now: [link/c6f5d3a8-a9cd-4e8d-97b8-b284]

12:00 AM, Tue 2 February 2022

Go above and beyond your customers’ reward expectations

Soylent takes a similar “hit ‘em with both barrels” approach with their offer. In exchange for referring a friend, a customer gets as much as they give: 20,000 points (a $20 value), a $20 coupon for their friend, and 20 meals donated to charity. What customer wouldn’t feel good about giving and receiving all of that? Add a time limit (offer only valid for one month) and this is a very enticing deal indeed.

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Soylent: Our June referral program will make you feel all good inside... By referring a friend to Soylent, you Give a $20 coupon to your friend Get 20,000 points! ($20 Value) Donate 20 Meals Yes - you get all of that just for referring a friend! This deal is only valid this month! Start here --> [link/c4885981-aed9-5af] Text STOP to opt-out

12:00 AM, Tue 6 June 2022

Offer non-store incentives

On the other hand, Interior Define forgoes focusing on driving credit (which would be used to buy their products) and offers a hefty Visa gift card instead. While it may seem counterintuitive to say, “here’s some money, spend it wherever/however you want,” in this economic climate, this may just be the way to secure return customers.

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Interior Define
Interior Define: Want a $75 Visa gift card? Refer a friend to Interior Define and get rewarded! Start referring friends: [link/c2a27955-f9e1-4fa8-bdfa-7482ca57357]

12:00 AM, Thu 3 March 2022

Referral Text Message Strategies and Tips

Whether you grab one of the examples above or write it from scratch, there’s always room to learn more about effective SMS referral messages. That’s why we’ve put together a few tried and true tips to help you get it right the first time.

  1. Make it clear who it’s from: No one wants spammy text messages. Without a clear reason for the message, you’re likely to get blocked. Make sure that you find a place in your text to mention the company name!
  2. Make sure it mention’s the recipient’s name: As we mentioned earlier, personalization matters. Someone’s name at the beginning of a text is bound to capture attention. This is another way to avoid seeming spammy with your referral texts.
  3. Write in the customer’s voice: Write the text as if it was coming from a friend, as such: “Hey [first name], We’re having an awesome sale. If you refer a friend, you’ll both get a 10% off coupon for your next purchase! Use the code SMSREFER at checkout.”
  4. Test, test, test: Just like in email messages the way people consume SMS content varies by industry, geography, demographic, interests, and countless other ways people categorize themselves. Get a clear understanding of what is working and what isn’t by following A/B testing protocols that will help you capture your audience most effectively.
  5. Find out what your competitors are doing: What works for your competitors might also work for you! Save yourself time and energy on your first drafts by accessing competitive intelligence and getting targeted inspiration for your next campaign.
  6. Leverage templates: You don’t have to start from scratch with every text. Effective text referral examples are abound (especially to MailCharts customers), when you know where to look. Busy business owners don’t have time to reinvent the wheel. Start smart.
  7. Use referral campaign results to inform other campaigns – collect data about time of day click-throughs happen, length of time to conversion, times of year, and types of offers work best on your referral messages. Then test what works on other types of SMS campaigns like holiday sales, promotions, and brand announcements.
  8. Make sure to have an unsubscribe: If the recipient would like to stop receiving messages, make it clear that it’s easy to stop receiving messages from you.
  9. Keep it simple:  SMS, as a communication tool, is designed to be brief. If you get too wordy, recipients might tune out. Or, your messages might end up broken out between multiple messages. Get their attention, tell them why you’re reaching out, and close the deal. Bing, bang, boom.

Following these tips should help you launch your SMS referral campaign with ease.

Final Thoughts

Making it easy for people to share exciting specials, good service, and unique offerings via text is a goldmine waiting to be uncovered. Referrals are the warmest, most lucrative leads a business can get. If you can leverage this effective marketing channel using effective tools, you’ll watch your bottom line grow.

If you’re curious about how MailCharts can help, create a free account and browse our SMS campaigns to get started.