How to Create an Ecommerce Referral Program That Converts

This post originally appeared on the ReferralCandy blog.

Referral programs are awesome at helping you reach the friends of your customers…

… but they can also be rather complicated if you’re not familiar with them.

There are quite a few  moving parts.

In this post, let’s lay run through all of the parts that make up the whole that is your referral program.

Components of a referral program:

  • Referral Link
  • Referral Email
    • Reminder Email
    • Reward Emails
  • Referral program signup page
    • Referral portal access page
    • Friend Landing Page

1. The Referral Link – the link advocates share with their friends

how to build a referral program that converts ReferralCandy link

Referral links are the lifeblood of your referral program. The core. The heart. The raison d’être.

A referral program is all about getting advocates to share referral links with their friends.

The referral link is unique to the advocate – so when somebody makes a purchase after following a referral link, you’ll be able to know who referred them.

2. The Referral Email – how your advocates get their Referral Link

how to build a referral program that converts ReferralCandy email

If the Referral Link is the payload, the referral email is the missile that delivers it.

Check out 6 examples of beautiful referral emails.

2a. Reminder Email – Remind your advocates periodically so they won’t forget about you.

how to build a referral program that converts ReferralCandy reminder email

After customers have received their purchases, they have no reason to think about you.

At this time, a great way keep your brand top-of-mind is to send your customers periodic referral emails.

Include their referral link and social sharing buttons so they can just click and share within the referral emails themselves.

Pro tip: You want to remind them, not spam them – so sending them referral emails daily is definitely not a good idea.

2b. Reward Emails – How you let your advocates know that they’ve been rewarded

how to build a referral program that converts ReferralCandy success email

There are actually 3 kinds of reward emails:

  • Successful – Congratulations, you’ve made a successful referral! Here’s your reward.
  • Pending – A friend has made a purchase using your referral link!
  • Ineligible – Sorry, but a purchase by a friend you referred has been returned/cancelled and no longer counts towards a reward

3. Referral program portal /signup page – State your rewards clearly so your advocates know what they stand to gain.

how to build a referral program that converts ReferralCandy GREATS

Here’s where your customers can read more about your referral program, and sign up to become an advocate for your brand.

Tell your advocates how they can be rewarded, so as to encourage them to sign up and start referring their friends.

To minimize confusion, state clearly if they’ll be receiving discounts, credits or cold-hard cash!

Once they signup, they’ll receive a Referral Email that has a Referral Link.

3b. Referral Portal Access Page

how to build a referral program that converts ReferralCandy GREATS 1

This is where your advocates end up after signing up on your referral program signup page.

They can copy their referral link, or they can use the widgets on the page to share via Facebook, Twitter or Email.

This is what it looks like if they hit “Share via email”:

how to build a referral program that converts ReferralCandy Greats email

4. Friend Landing Page – this is where friends of your advocates end up after clicking the Referral Link:

GREATS friend landing page

You want to make this page as enticing as possible so that friends of your Advocates feel compelled to check out your store!

Learn How to Convert More Without Spending More on Ads or Marketing

Implementing a referral program is one way to convert more with your existing traffic and your existing website. And there are more things you can do other than implement a referral program.

Check out this FREE training from Blue Stout CEO, Allen, and David Fallarme from ReferralCandy. They get into the nitty gritty of converting more with your existing assets. Click below to watch it now!


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