Tiffany Joy Yamut Author
UpViral Team
November 13, 2020

7 Growth Hacks to Maximize Your Referral Program

7 Growth Hacks to Maximize Your Referral Program


A referral program is one of the fastest ways to grow your email list. Several of my UpViral customers have added hundreds of thousands of subscribers to the email lists via the power of referral programs. 👥

But in case you’re not already familiar with how referral programs work, here’s a high-level overview: 🧐

Step 1) Your prospect enters their email address into your referral program’s lead capture form and becomes a subscriber 📝

Step 2) Your new subscriber is incentivized to share your referral program with their friends in order to receive a valuable gift. 🎁

Want to create your own high converting referral campaign? It’s not as easy as just putting up a campaign and expecting people will share on their own!

In order for your referral program to succeed (and thus grow your email list 📈) you need to think about:

  • Who your ideal audience is (know who you’re targeting, and who your ideal customer is)
  • How your product eliminates your ideal customers’ pain points
  • The real reasons your audience will share your referral program (an awesome prize isn’t enough on its own)  
  • Why choosing the right incentive really matters (screw this up and you can spend a lot of money building an audience who are disinterested in your becoming customers)
  • Why giving your subscribers their own referral link drives sharing
  • What channels to ask your customer to share on (i.e. if you’re in the B2B market, it’s probably more beneficial to ask your subscribers to share your referral program on LinkedIn than on TikTok.)
  • Why testing and improving is key to massive success with your referral campaign

Watch the video now to learn 7 Growth Hacks to Maximize Your Referral Program. 👭

Did you have any big ‘ah-ha’ moments after watching the video? Let me know in the comments! 👇


Today I’m going to share seven growth hacks to maximize your referral program. My name is Wilco de Kreij from and just in case you're not sure what a referral program is - it's really effective way I have to add, to maximize word of mouth and to grow your business alongside it. So, basically in a summarized form it's a two-step process where first of all you want to collect someone's information, you want to collect a lead, you want to grab their email address so that from that point on you can then build a relationship with them. So someone would enter their name and email address and right after you would then automatically say like “Hey, awesome! Here's your unique invite link, your referral link so you can start inviting your friends.” So they would all have their unique invite link and again UpViral will take care of all of that along with ways to share it like share it on Facebook, on twitter on, LinkedIn and all these other places and then they will get an incentive, right if they actually do that. So that for example you say “Hey, if you get three friends to subscribe you will get a discount coupon to your next purchase,” for example, right and this is a really effective way. We've had thousands of customers who really blew up their business because of it.

We had people even collect up to like hundreds even 200, 000 leads in a single month just by this viral loop because people enter their email address, they go to this page then those people that go here enter email address and it just starts to go into a loop. Now that is essentially what a referral program is and today I want to talk about various ways to maximize its efficiency.

The first most important thing is to know your audience right you don't want to implement such a referral program into your business if you don't actually know who your audience is, who you're targeting, who your ideal customer is because if you don't know that what you're going to end up with is just a general list of people who are not actually going to be in business with you right. So you want to make sure that you truly understand who your ideal customer is, what motivates them, what problems do they have because that way you can then create something that will bring only that people in. Because I much rather have a thousand people who are like super targeted and like they have the exact pain point that I’m trying to solve instead of having a hundred thousand general people. I could probably go viral if I just create like a referral program like hey you get you know you get an iPad or you get a Lamborghini or whatever and that would be completely useless, worthless. Even if it would be two million people it would be completely useless to me right.

But if I would say like hey I got something that you know would… let's pick an example - it would solve a specific problem inside your Facebook ad strategy and I know they're actually targeting. They are business people who run ads on Facebook right then, wow - now it's actually relevant for me because one of my businesses ConnectIO is actually targeting Facebook advertisers like those are our customers right. So definitely important first of all - know your audience.

Secondly is also to understand why people share. Because I’ve seen some of our customers they basically think of a referral program like I’m just going to give an incentive to my audience and if I do that it's like hey if you share it with your friends here's an invite link and they will just start sharing it everywhere well that's simply not true because there are still reasons why people even share things online right and if it's not congruent with that people are not going to share. Like if I would have… I don't know, crazy example and I would have a sex shop and I would ask you like hey just share this and you get a free - whatever toy or whatever that people sell there - like you're not gonna share that on your Facebook timeline. You wouldn't do that because that is not something you'd even consider doing even if you would get a huge bribe for it like an incentive.

So why do people share? Well obviously there's lots of different theories. There's different ways how you can categorize them I personally like to categorize them in four different ways. First of all, for someone else. People like to share things just to like actually entertain or help someone else out like that that's one of the reasons one of the motivations why people share things like hey I think I would help this person out like hey this I think this is actually really helpful.

Or we do it for me for myself to basically share something online that would basically increase my status to like something that's really in line with what I am like let's say I’m sharing something like a very cool camera lens like by sharing that I basically say to the world like hey I’m actually a photographer, like I I’m into photography like that is my thing, that's who I am right. So either for others for myself or we do it for We - like with we I mean like I share it for a connection between me and someone else or a group of people right so I share that with someone not just to help them out but actually to invest in the relationship right. You probably have done it yourself as well where you share something with one of your friends knowing that you know by sharing that by helping them out with that it would actually create a stronger connection.

Or we do it for them right and that means for some something bigger than themselves to share something like a really good cause that I really stand behind like a good cause that I support and I share that with the world because I believe in that cause and I want them to take over the world. I don't do it for myself, I don't do it for my friends, I don't do it for you know to increase the connection between me and my friends I do it to stand behind a cause that I really that I really believe in right. And usually it's not like any one of those things really a combination of things but it's important that it's at least one of those things right because if you just want your audience or your customers to share something which is like not in line with that, and doesn't say anything about them, it doesn't help their friends like on none of these things right then it's very hard to get them to share that right. It's very hard so it's really important that you understand why people share things online in general.

And that brings us to number three - to tell people why they should share right. So if you have an incentive you don't just say like if you share it with your friends if you refer your friends to our business you will get x,y, or z. That you will get some kind of an incentive but also why… what's the reason behind it? I’ll give you a good example one of our customers he was doing a campaign and he was doing a sweepstake using UpViral as well where people could you know invite all the friends to get a higher chance of winning, awesome!

But instead of just saying that's the only reason he told him like hey we're on this mission right we're on this mission to make our industry better like it's not just a business that that's there for commercial gain but we're actually trying to make a positive impact in the world and we need your help to spread the message right. See what that does? Like by explaining that and by actually going in depth into why that is and you shouldn't BS about that like that should be genuine and true right but by doing that you give them a reason bigger than themselves like yeah like I want to get this out in the world and then that becomes a reason and then the incentive gets them over the finish line and that's why they would actually share but like it has to be, that's really important to tell people why they should share. Tell the story about your business right because if you're just a business on itself, the business is boring. If you tell the story behind it all of a sudden people are much more aligned they'll be more likely to actually start sharing.

Now then obviously, what's very important is to have a good incentive. I already touched briefly on that like I said, like you shouldn't just give away an iPad or a Lamborghini or whatever that is. It has to be very specific to your business, it has to solve a problem that your ideal customer has as well. So it actually brings in the right kind of people but also it has to be valuable like if you're gonna say like hey if you share with your friends or you refer your friends and you're gonna get something that they don't consider as being valuable it's not worth the effort - they're not gonna share for it. My rule of thumb is that if they wouldn't be willing to pay for it they're not gonna share for it as well right.

So it needs to be something that like I really want to have it right and also it needs to be the easiest way to get it right let's say there's something that I do want to get right and I know I could just you know like you're asking me like hey share this with your friends and you will get access to this freebie cool or I just know if I Google it and I buy the same thing on Amazon for five dollars - I’m like that's probably easier like take me two seconds probably easier not worth bothering my friends right. For example I’ve seen it with some authors they're like hey if you if you do this you'll you win our book and like yeah but your book is also for sale for like seven dollars right. So what a simple thing to do is like to make it unique it's like hey you're actually gonna get a book signed by the author and like where you get a 30-minute one-on-one session to you know dive deeper into this material and now all of a sudden it's like wow there's no other way to get in touch with that author like that is a unique experience and the only way to get that is if I win this contest if it's would be a contest right.

So make it a good incentive make sure it's aligned with what the kind of people that you want to have into your business. Make sure it's actually valuable and it's also the easiest way to get it - would be through actually sharing.

Number five which is really important is to use the invite links right so in other words you don't want to say like hey share this with your friends and you'll get access because sharing on itself is worthless like if someone shares it on Facebook they can just delete their message right after or even if they keep their message there it might not actually you know get their friends to actually engage. By giving everyone their own unique invite link and saying like hey only if your friends actually enter their name and email address only then you will get that freebie and what that does is that now people are actively going to try to get their friends to sign up. I remember when Dropbox first did that, Dropbox gave everyone their unique invite link and I remember some of my friends reached out to me again I was into photography back in the day and some friends send me a message not just like hey sign up these matches they actually make sure that the message is actually in Dutch which is my main language right I’m from the Netherlands. So that's the first thing. But also they said something in line of like hey you should sign up for this because I think it'd be good great to back up your photos right. So they made sure they did all the effort to make sure that I would actually sign up to Dropbox right and they didn't have to do it but they did because they got that unique info link and it was in their best interest for me to actually sign up. So that's my point you want to make sure that everyone has their own unique invite link because that makes sure your audience is going to go out of their way try to convince their friends to actually sign up so you don't have to do the hard work, makes a massive difference.

And number six is that if you have if you are letting people share your message is to also have the relevant channels on the page right. So you would basically say like hey here's your incentive here's your unique invite link but you're not just going to ask people to copy paste that link you're going to have some buttons available you can easily do this with UpViral as well, some buttons available ready to just click- like click on Facebook click on LinkedIn right and the buttons that you want to have there should be the ones where your audience is at right.

So for example if you're in B2B, you want to make sure LinkedIn is there right. If you're not in B2B like just B2C, maybe LinkedIn, don't bother right. If it's something that is like something that everyone is interested in right, Facebook and all that is awesome right. Sometimes you're in a more like a business industry that, like most their friends are not going to be interested, just a handful right. So in that case, what I’ve seen massive results with is to have things like Facebook messenger and Whatsapp because sometimes this is not something that people just want to share on their timeline on Facebook or on Twitter, but they do have friends that would be like perfect for that right. So like “Hey, send it to your friends through Facebook messenger. Boom! Like to those 5 people send it to Whatsapp. Like those 4 people that I know right. But that way it's super relevant like it's less of a mass approach but it's like a sniper rifle and you just get into the network and their friends that are actually most relevant for your business.

And number 7 is to test and improve right. Like nothing happens in one go. Like you want to make sure you create a referral program and then you start testing. For example, using UpViral is actually really easy. You can easily split test; you can just create multiple pages. It will automatically test hey, which page actually gets the best conversions? Which page gets more people to actually refer your business to all their friends right? So that's really important to set something up. Go lean, create it, measure, see what works, what doesn't work. Then you start iterating and that's actually how our best clients have got massive results by continuously learning and then improving it over time and that's where some of our customers they went from like 500 leads the first time and then maybe a thousand next time then a couple thousand next time and like it's after a year or so they were like over a hundred thousand leads within no time, in every new campaign because they knew exactly what's been working. So really, really, really important.

So that's basically my seven-step-list I wanted to share with all of you, know your audience up front, know what their pain points are; understand why people share in general because you want to embed that into your referral program. Tell people why they should share not just ‘what’ - for the incentive but also like what's the ‘why’ behind your business.  Offer a really good incentive that is valuable and that attracts the right kind of people and it's also like unique in a way that it's the easiest way to actually get access to that for them is to share that with your friends. Make sure you give out unique invite links. Again, UpViral takes care of all that. There's no tech work or anything like that, check out for that; make sure to have the relevant channels available where your audience is like Facebook messenger, Whatsapp.

If you have a very specific audience, if it's wider, maybe like Facebook and Twitter it's like very B2B, LinkedIn for sure and then test and improve. And that is basically how you run an effective referral strategy and if you need more help with that, if you'd like to implement this into your business check out We'd love to help you out with this and I will hopefully see you in the next episode.

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