Roku have found refer-a-friend to be one of their best channels for customer acquisition after turning it on in 2011.
Roku was one of the first companies to bring online movies to people's living rooms. They sell remote-controlled devices that can stream online media content - such as Netflix movies and Pandora radio - to TV sets.
They started investing in refer-a-friend when they realised that they had passionate advocates in their user base and didn't have the budgets to match their competitors' spend on above-the-line advertising.
They set up a refer-a-friend campaign to send an email 45 days after discovery (hopefully when the customers were at their most delighted), offered a free month on netflix, and gave their customers a link to share.
Shortly after launching this was resulting in 15,000 shares a month and 1,500 additional customers per month each spending roughly $100. And best of all, their CPA for this channel was $12, far better than their other channels.
In our view this is exactly how incentivised referral should work. It displaces broader marketing spend by making the most of any good company's greatest assets: it's happy customer base. And the best thing about doing this is that you save money by giving money back to your customers rather than spending it on media. This is refer-a-friend at it's best.