How To Promote Your Referral Program To Boost Online Sales

Referral programs have proven to work. The secret is in the details- people tend to trust what they hear from friends, relatives, and people in their social circle. They don’t have the same amount of faith in all those ads that brands run – no matter how good they are. Take, for instance, you’re looking for an herbal shampoo but aren’t sure about which brand to go for. In this case, you’re more likely to trust a recommendation from your sister than all those ads that you see on Instagram. So how do you use this tendency of consumers to encourage more word of mouth and boost online sales? Keep reading to find out how you can promote a referral program to achieve that result.

Stats show that people are four times more likely to purchase when referred by a friend. Moreover, for businesses, the Lifetime Value of a single referred customer is 25% higher than that of other customers! Now here’s a bummer. Even though 83% of consumers would be happy to recommend their favorite products, only 29% actually do!

The digital age has enabled people to share everything, from breakfast photos to elaborate product reviews with their network on social media. Usually, unintentionally, this habit of sharing makes them brand advocates. But what makes them share these experiences? How can eCommerce marketers nudge existing customers to indulge in word-of-mouth promotion for the brand?

For a referral program to be successful, you need to also market it and bring it to the attention of your shoppers. In this post, we’re sharing a few tried and tested ways to promote your Shopify store’s referral program to boost online sales.

1. Create A Separate Landing Page

Other than trust, referral marketing also leverages the power of reward. Offer cash-backs, discounts, freebies, or gift vouchers to your current customers for referring a friend or two for making their first purchase from your website. Wait and watch the quick increase in your store’s footfall and your sales (minus the humongous ad expenditure).

However, to clearly gauge this increase in traffic and conversions to referral marketing, it is wise to create a separate landing page for the campaign. On this page, you can lay down the rules of how the referring customer, as well as the referred customer, will be awarded.

Make sure that this landing page is clearly accessible to people visiting your Shopify store. Maximize your referral campaign by using promotional banners, and popups and dedicating a few social media posts to drive traffic to this page.

If we take an example from the store, Amuze. The landing page uses a crisp copy to tell the shopper what they get for referring more customers. But at the same time, it also offers a clear call to action as a nudge to share more easily!

2. Send Out Web Push Notifications

You’ve been using web push notifications for cart recovery, promoting ongoing deals, and even recommending products to your existing shoppers. But why restrict your web push campaigns to these when you can do so much more?

Yes, you can use this channel to also promote your referral program and build customer loyalty. Let your existing shoppers and subscribers know how they can unlock a special discount when promoting your brand. With compelling messaging, remember to create urgency around the referral program – you don’t want your shoppers to not take action immediately.

3. Set Up An Email Marketing Campaign

Email isn’t dead. It’s still one of the most popular and trusted forms of communication. In fact, even millennials prefer email over any other form of communication when corresponding with a brand. So, if you are running a referral marketing program, don’t skip the good old email to get the word out.

Promote the referral program in your weekly newsletters or even customer engagement email campaigns. Highlight specific referral offers and rewards within your email copy, and make sure you’re adding a clear call-to-action that makes participation easy. To make things easily trackable, link them to your referral program’s landing page so that they understand the offer entirely – leave no room for disappointment!

4. Share It On Social Media

Social media is part and parcel of everyone’s life. Around 30% of internet users browse Facebook more than once a day. 22% of Instagram users log in every day, and there are around a billion people using Instagram every month! That’s a lot of your shoppers, right?

Promote your campaign on your social media pages regularly. This will ensure that your followers get the message and become aware of the referral campaign that you are running. Make sure you’re using a catchy graphic and copy in the post to make it stand out from all the other posts you have been making about your products.

The more engaging your post, the higher the interactions with it.

5. Reach Out On The Facebook Messenger

facebook messenger to promote referral program
Image Source: Brett Jordan

More than a billion people use Facebook Messenger each month. In fact, Facebook Messenger is witnessing quite an extraordinary growth, adding users at a rate of 666,666 per day. No reason why marketers should leave out this excellent platform for promoting their referral program, right?

When running messenger promotions, make sure that the referral link is easy to share. Another important point to remember is to personalize the share message that your customers can use for sharing the link with their social circle/social media friends.

Alternatively, you can promote smarter with automation. Automation can be a game-changer, allowing you to boost online sales through your referral program’s promotion. Smart apps like and FlashChat enable you to set up automated messenger campaigns. Based on a shopper’s interaction with your brand and their last purchase, you can use your next reach out to nudge them to participate in the referral program.

Add a little personality to your messages and see how a bot conversation gets you more sales.

6. Give A Little Paid Push On Social Media

Paying and promoting your referral campaign using social media ads can get you the desired visibility. Consequently, your existing follower base, as well as customers, might click on this ad eager to win rewards from referrals.

Boost your social media post that talks about your referral marketing campaign. But, before that, make sure your copy is crisp and catchy and that your ad will stand out on their feed!

To maximize your results, fine-tune your ad copy to match the consumer’s psychology. For example, offer a 20% discount on a shopper’s first purchase and an additional 5% for bringing in referrals. It’s a win-win for the new shoppers who are just exploring your brand.

Similarly, you can set up a custom campaign for your existing customers. You can reach out to them with an ad that tells them about how they get access to an exclusive discount when they refer a new customer. This will also help you reduce customer churn rates and build brand loyalty!

7. Grab Attention Using A Popup

Popups are one of the most effective conversion optimization tools when it comes to grabbing attention. Instead of just promoting your ongoing deals, you can also use the space to promote your referral program. But timing matters when using popups – you don’t want to bombard your shoppers and you definitely don’t want to intrude on their shopping experience.

But, segmenting your audience is crucial when setting up your popup. A returning shopper is more likely to convert on a popup promoting a referral program than a new shopper. This is simply because an existing customer knows about your brand, has experienced your products, and obviously, is in a better place to recommend them to their circle.

Remember to highlight your main message on the popup.

8. Leverage Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing works just like celebrity endorsements. When your favorite actor recommends a certain hair shampoo, you trust him. Similarly, in the age of social media, if a person with a huge fan base vouches for a certain brand, they will be trusted with the recommendation. Admit it, you’ve been inspired by some influencers to pick up products too!

When 70% of teens trust influencers far more than celebrities, why not use the opportunity to also promote your referral campaign too? Your customers would see how these influencers are part of the referral program and want to join in!

9. Send In A Quick Text Message

While you might dismiss SMS as an outdated channel of promotion, you’ll be surprised to know that SMS has a whopping 98% open rate! Text messages have a 209% higher response rate than other traditional marketing and promotion channels.

So, use SMS to reach out to your existing customer base, sharing a little about your referral program. Quickly walk them through how they can participate and what they win by referring their friends to the store. The crisper the message, the better the response.

You can also automate your SMS campaigns to promote your referral program regularly using apps like SMSBump. This way you can be sure that your referral campaign continues to get attention in an ongoing manner, instead of a one-off scenario.

Conclusion: It’s Time To Boost Online Sales With Referrals!

The crux of referrals is that people trust people and that you need to rope in those existing customers who can really advocate your brand. However, referral marketing doesn’t work on its own. It needs to be fed into the right channel mix.

Your messaging strategy, the kind of offers and incentives you’d like to use as bait, the tiny little details like the images that go along your social media copy – everything decides the fate of your referral marketing campaign, and the above are just a few ways of doing so!

What you need to do next is try out each of the channels above, measure their success, and optimize your strategy accordingly. After all, the only way to continue growing your store is to understand your customer’s changing psychology.

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