Roster captures all referral link clicks, total referrals and the total referral value

What Is Referral Marketing and How It Works

What is referral marketing? You might ask. Well, let’s start with a familiar saying: “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” In the business world, it’s not just about who you know, but who your customers know. This is the essence of referral marketing, one of the most powerful and effective strategies available to businesses today. After all, what could be more influential than a customer who is not just satisfied, but delighted.

Now, you might be thinking, “That’s great, but why should I care?” Although we are biased, international experts agree. For instance, Nielsen found that more than three-quarters of people are more likely to make purchases when they hear about a company or product from their friends and family. That’s right, 77%! That’s a lot of potential customers just waiting to hear about your product.

šŸ”Ā  77% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends or family.

Other studies demonstrate that customers also consider recommendations useful. Product endorsements are especially powerful when people have many options and need help selecting a brand before making purchases. Again from Nielsen, people are also four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.

šŸ” Consumers are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.

Keep in mind that knowing how to generate and ensure positive recommendations from your loyal customers is crucial. Getting people to refer your company is more complex than most people think. However, it’s worth cultivating because they can be a valuable asset for businesses, akin to a golden goose.

Given the potential economic benefits, brands must understand how to foster positive word of mouth from their existing customers.

Roster works with thousands of people who refer their friends, family, colleagues and followers to brands they love. This article will cover how the details of this type of marketing. Specifically, it will explore what referral marketing is and the different shapes and strategies.

What is referral marketing?

The concept of incentivizing individuals to spread the word about brands and products to others they know is called referral marketing. The purpose of authentic endorsements in marketing is to inspire existing consumers to share their experiences with their network to turn them into new customers.

A referral marketing strategy differs from a pure word-of-mouth marketing strategy because it is organized and tracked. Brand marketers and managers usually have links and discount codes to follow source of the sales.

Generating positive buzz from your clientele is key. It’s a complex but rewarding process, turning loyal and potential customers into advocates for your business. Given the financial benefits, understanding how to stimulate this buzz is vital. Roster works with thousands who recommend brands they love to their networks. This article will explore the art of endorsements, outlining its strategy and various forms.

what is referral marketing? Roster keeps track of referral link clicks, total referrals and total referral value

Previously, marketing relied on disseminating information to a small network of people through spoken communication. The internet and social media have made it much simpler to spread recommendations to a much larger audience.

Types of referral marketing programsĀ 

So, how do you tap into this goldmine? Today, the best brands utilize word-of-mouth marketing in a variety of innovative ways. However, all successful programs have one thing in common. They are all about turning your customers into advocates. You want to make them so happy that they can’t wait to tell their friends about you.

Marketing this way isn’t one-size-fits-all. It can take many forms, from customers to community partnerships. The key is to find what works best for your business and your customers. The best customer referral programs are those that are tailored to the needs of the customer base.

Brands doing this benefit their customers in several ways. When people share a special code or discount with their social circle, it builds their reputation and social currency. Also, they help others get a good deal on a product that someone they trust recommends. Brands can motivate people to send links that clearly connect activities and rewards. We’ll show you how the best brands use referral marketing.

The common thread is customers. Think about it. The best endorsements come from a person who is so delighted with their purchases and brand interaction that they sincerely want others to have the same experience.


Approaches involving customers are the most straightforward form of this type of marketing. Companies incentivize their current customers to refer friends, family, or colleagues to their business by offering rewards, discounts, or other benefits. Learn more about this specific marketing approach and turn customers into brand ambassadors for a loyal and engaged community.

If your customers are happy, they are much more likely to share their experiences with their network. And the opinions and recommendations they share will be positive and build trust.

Many companies fold a customer program like this under their ambassador marketing umbrella. If you have a core of devoted customers, you can benefit from this position by using the brand ambassador program template to launch quickly.

Example: Dropbox’s program offered free additional storage space to both the referrer and the referred friend for successful sign-ups.

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing involves partnering with individuals or businesses (affiliates) who promote the company’s products or services in exchange for a commission on sales generated through their recommendations.

Example: Amazon Associates Program allows website owners and bloggers to earn a commission for each sale they drive through affiliate links on their websites.


Influencer marketing almost always includes an endorsement component. Companies collaborate with influencers who promote their products or services to their followers, encouraging them to use recommendation codes and links.

Example: A beauty brand collaborates with a popular beauty influencer who shares their personalized link with followers, offering them a discount on purchases.


Brand ambassadors attract enthusiastic customers (advocates) who actively promote the company without any direct incentive. These advocates share positive experiences and recommend the brand organically.

Example: Apple’s dedicated fan base often promotes the brand through social media, forums, and word-of-mouth without any formal rewards.

Loyalty programs

Loyalty programs incorporate product endorsements into their existing customer loyalty initiatives. In addition to their usual loyalty rewards, customers receive incentives for recommending new customers.

Example: Starbucks Rewards offers bonus points or free drinks to loyal customers who refer new members to the Starbucks loyalty program.

Community programsĀ 

There are a plethora of community groups that love and appreciate help from businesses. Customers can refer others, participate in discussions, and share their experiences to earn rewards. Consider partnering with a non-profit organization and supporting its causes and events. You can provide promotional or financial assistance. Non-profit groups are always looking for donations and items to use for fundraising.

Example: Another strategy is to commit a portion of revenues to a community partner or charity. One such company is Cotopaxi. Its mission and purpose are to produce “Bold products. Big events. Better ways to help others. GEAR FOR GOOD.”

doing good is part of what is referral marketing

Cotopaxi contributes 1% of its revenue toward alleviating poverty and promoting community improvement. Their 42 grant programs in six countries support groups making significant contributions to improving the human condition.

How to reward customers for referrals

Rewarding is s a pivotal aspect of a successful referral marketing program. To create a compelling incentive for customers to refer others, businesses should consider implementing a range of enticing rewards. Here are some key strategies to effectively reward customers and everyone in your community.

Personalized incentives
Tailor rewards to individual preferences and interests. Offering a selection of rewards allows customers to choose what resonates most with them, increasing their motivation to participate.

Tiered rewards
Employ a milestone program or tiered approach where the value of the reward increases as performance improves. This encourages customers to make multiple recommendations, striving to attain higher levels of rewards.

Exclusive benefits
Provide exclusive benefits or early access to new products, services, or features to customers who successfully refer others. This creates a sense of exclusivity and recognition, strengthening the bond between the customer and the brand.

Discounts and credits
Offer discounts on future purchases or account credits as a reward. This not only incentivizes current customers to refer but also entices new prospects to try out the products or services at a discounted rate.

referral marketing incentives and rwards

Loyalty points
Incorporate a loyalty points system where customers earn points for each person they refer. Set up product fulfillment to redeem for various rewards or special offers.

Social recognition
Acknowledge and appreciate customers publicly, whether through social media shout-outs, personalized thank-you notes, or featuring them in a customer spotlight section on the website.

Partnerships and collaborations
Consider partnering with other businesses to offer joint rewards or exclusive deals, providing customers with added value and unique opportunities.

Limited-time offers
Implement time-limited promotions where customers receive extra rewards or exclusive perks within a specific timeframe. This sense of urgency encourages immediate action.

Organize social media contests with exciting prizes for top performers. This fosters a sense of community and healthy competition among customers, driving higher engagement.

By thoughtfully selecting and implementing these strategies, businesses can create an appealing and rewarding program that not only boosts customer acquisition but also cultivates a loyal and engaged customer base. The key lies in understanding how to reward, their target audience, aligning incentives with their preferences, and continuously evaluating and refining the rewards to ensure the program’s long-term success.

How does referral marketing works

It operates on the principle of leveraging existing customers to acquire new ones. It starts with encouraging satisfied customers to refer friends, family, or acquaintances to a business’s products or services. When these people make a purchase or sign up, the person who redirected them receives a reward, such as discounts, credits, or other incentives.

The process is often facilitated through personalized links or codes that are easy to share. As customers spread the word, they act as brand advocates, promoting the business within their social circles, online communities, and beyond.

The power lies in the ability to tap into the trust and credibility that people place in recommendations from those they know and trust. Word-of-mouth recommendations can generate high-quality leads, as they are more likely to convert and become loyal patrons themselves.

By nurturing strong relationships with existing customers and providing attractive rewards, businesses can create a self-sustaining cycle of growth. As new customers are acquired through source, they, too, become potential advocates. The cycle continues, further expanding the reach and impact of how referral marketing works.

The best referral programs 2023

The best referral campaigns are those that are able to incentivize customers to refer, while simultaneously offering value to new prospects. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, and Dropbox have achieved remarkable success by implementing referral marketing best practices. Each of these brands was able to develop a personalized approach that not only motivated existing customers to refer, but also provided appealing offers to attract new customers. By studying and understanding the dynamics of these best referral marketing programs, other businesses can glean valuable insights into how to structure their own programs.

Final thoughts

This authentic marketing works well and can greatly affect how much money a business makes. It encompasses various techniques to leverage the power of word-of-mouth and recommendations from satisfied customers, affiliates, influencers, partners, and advocates to drive new customer acquisition and business growth. By including it in word-of-mouth marketing, it brings in good leads that brand supporters have already vetted.

Remember, you need to strive for excellence at every level of the company. To get customer recommendations, focus on providing solutions to consumers and their problems. Also, you must make sure a large chunk of your customers are happy and satisfied. Now that you know what referral marketing is, you’re ready to get started!


  • linkdin
  • facebook
  • twitter