Use referrals to build an email list

Business Benefits

Gain new high-quality subscribers and grow your email list faster.

Choose which types of email referral programs you want to use, including non-incentivized or incentivized.

Non-incentivized: Involves asking your subscribers to share your emails with a friend, but neither of them get something tangible out of it. Examples include putting a Share with a friend link in the footer of an email that forwards the message to a friend, or sending a specific email that asks the subscriber to invite a friend to subscribe.

Incentivized: Involves offering your subscriber, and possibly the referred person, a reward for getting someone to subscribe. Although the potential for success is much greater because the subscribers get a benefit, it takes more manpower and resources to run, especially more complex systems like Morning Brew’s multi-tiered reward system experience.

Determine what structure and copy you will need by laying out the step-by-step process for each referral program.

Map out all the touchpoints for the subscriber and the referred person. For example, an incentive program could look like:

  1. Call to action in an email footer.
  2. Landing page with more information and the referral form.
  3. Thank you email for referring their friend.
  4. Another email with a link to their reward if their friend signs up.
  5. The referred participant would also get an invitation email.
  6. Thank you email if they sign up.

This example would require 4 different email templates, a landing page, and at least two calls to action, as well as email automation from services like Mailchimp.

Decide where to place calls to action, including the footer of newsletter or promotional emails, on forwarded emails, or in separate emails.

Review your mapped out referral plan, and consider where a share or subscribe call to action is useful. For example, Paved adds a CTA to the top of a forwarded newsletter that invites that referred person to subscribe.

Place the share this email with a friend CTA consistently in the footer of newsletters and most promotional content. Avoid putting the share CTA on emails the subscriber wouldn’t forward, like transactional, personal, or welcome emails.

Run A/B tests to experiment with where to place CTAs in email copy to help you determine the most effective placement.

Choose an incentive or multiple incentives based on customer interests if you are using an incentive program.

Pick an incentive that aligns with your brand identity, your customer’s interests, and the amount of referrals they completed. Some ideas:

  • A discount.
  • Free ebook.
  • Merchandise.
  • Entry into a giveaway.
  • Early access to deals or registration.

Write your copy by reviewing the success of previous messaging to your customers and target audience.

Review your successful email campaigns to see what messaging resonated. The messaging should get to the point, but also reveal brand personality. For example, in a newsletter welcome letter from The Hustle, the message comes from the CEO, has humor, and introduces their brand voice.

Your copy should make it easy for your subscribers to refer their friends. The Skimm makes it easier on their referrers by creating a separate landing page with a pre-filled message that the subscriber can send to their friend.

Track and measure the effectiveness of your referral system by comparing subscription length, click-through rates, and conversion rates to past metrics.

View your email metrics through your email service provider. Alternatively, use referral program software, like Referral Rock, Ambassador, and ReferralCandy, to track referral links and metrics.

Last edited by @hesh_fekry 2023-11-14T15:35:27Z