52 examples of great referral programs

A Grand Tour of 52 Refer a Friend programmes

   

Here at Mention Me HQ we consider ourselves connoisseurs of refer a friend. We’ve signed over 160 businesses globally to use our referral marketing platform and we’re proud to offer two industry leading features: the ability to AB test everything - even rewards - concurrently (harder than it sounds!) and the ability to encourage word of mouth and then track it back through online channels.

So, we spend a lot of time reviewing and optimising refer-a-friend programmes and there are some programmes that we admire from afar, holding them up as examples of best practice; while others are the ones that we’re proud to have brought into the world ourselves.

It’s always a topic of curiosity when we speak to marketing teams about referral:  “I wonder what so-and-so does?”  Well wonder no more!  Here’s our take on some of the referral programmes to watch out for...


Famous Refer a Friend Programmes

If you ask your average UK resident there are some brands who are synonymous with referral marketing.  Uber is normally the first to come to mind thanks to their amazing word of mouth growth over the past decade.  Airbnb and Dropbox are two other nascent internet brands who have made good use of the technique.  Like Uber, both have notably given away their own products or product credit as the reward.

Nationwide and Sky are two other heritage UK brands who have put big advertising campaigns behind their referral programmes.  These examples have tended to be used to gain market share in fairly saturated markets and the hallmarks of this strategy are higher value rewards and often the use of 3rd party incentives (e.g. a prepaid cash card or cash back).


Dropbox

Dropbox Referral Program

 

Uber

Uber refer a friend scheme

 

Airbnb

Airbnb referral programme

 

Nationwide

Nationwide referral programme

 

Sky

Sky Introduce a Friend programme

 

Referrals in the Fashion Market 

Here at Mention Me we’ve helped many fashion brands take their first steps into referral marketing.  The fashion sector has many of the elements needed to make it the ultimate playing field for refer-a-friend:  

  • The products are highly visual and tied to social status
  • People love talking about fashion and often complement each other on it
  • It’s led by ever changing trends
  • It is one of the largest purchase categories for UK consumers

 

Mainstream Ladies Fashion

The mainstream ladies fashion market extends from high street to up-and-coming online fast fashion brands like Missguided.  One of the main characteristics of referral programmes in this space is that while they don’t necessarily give away high value incentives they do still try very hard to capture the attention of fashion shoppers - in the two examples below: Lipsy and Missguided this is done with creative copy writing that talks to shoppers in their own language.

 

Missguided

Missguided Referral Programme

Missguided refer a friend scheme

 

Lipsy

Lipsy refer-a-friend programme

 

Ladies Lingerie

You might think that some types of fashion would be too private to share but this is definitely not the case with ladies lingerie! This subset of the ladies fashion sector is actually pretty commonly shared and there are some nice examples of referral programmes.  Both Boux Avenue refer-a-friend and Heist Studios refer-a-friend have decided to use reciprocal 20% off offers.  Sharing is often done in the spirit of helping out a friend who is an unusual size or who is looking for a specific product.

 

Heist Studios

Heist Studios refer a friend program

 

Boux Avenue

Boux Avenue Referral Scheme

 

Luxury Ladies Fashion

Luxury fashion, in our experience, is one of the most shareable sectors selling online today.   The psychology of referral draws heavily on the idea of social standing.  Sharing an expensive and trendy fashion item with a friend does so much to increase social standing - it's a natural fit.

Because of the higher value of goods, brands in this space tend to offer lower introductory rewards, and some like the Belstaff example below offer free products or free delivery rather than discounts in order to maintain the very high standards of their brand.

We’ve included an example of the translated refer a friend programme for Farfetch to make an important point - referral is not just for home markets.  Luxury fashion brands get very high traction from their referral programmes in China, Korea and Japan.  At Mention Me we’ve translated our customer journey into all the major asian languages and we’re happy to offer insights into running referral in these markets.

 

Farfetch

Our Farfetch Referral case study give some great insight into how referrals works in the luxury fashion sector.

Farfetch referral programme

Farfetch Referral Scheme for Chinese customers

 

Matches Fashion

Matches Fashion Refer a Friend Programme

 

Belstaff

Belstaff Customer Referral Scheme

 

Referrals for Men’s Fashion

Men’s fashion shares many characteristics with women’s fashion - but with slightly less intensity.  Men are slightly less likely to share than women in general and also less inclined to talk about fashion.  However there are some brands who make very good use of refer-a-friend to drive their growth.  The Finisterre and the Enclothed refer-a-friend examples below are two great case studies - challenger brands with high emphasis on delighting customers who are using referral marketing to fuel customer discovery.

The last example in this section comes from the french Menlook website and shows how the referral experience can cross borders.


Finisterre

Finisterre Refer-a-Friend program

 

Enclothed

One of our recent mens fashion launches was for the Enclothed refer-a-friend scheme.  

Enclothed Referral Programme

 

Menlook

Menlook Customer Referral Scheme

 

Refer a friend for Accessories, Footwear, Jewellery

This is a large product category spanning everything from footwear to handbags.  We’ve featured a few examples from Mention Me below.  The dynamics of each subcategory are quite distinct.  For glasses, which have a long purchase cycle, it is optimal to offer a third party voucher as the reward because most purchasers don’t plan on buying new glasses again for over 18 months.

Radley and The Jewellery Channel have both positioned their referral offers as the opportunity to give a treat to a friend.  We call this a generous offer because it prioritises giving something nice to friend rather than getting a reward for oneself.

 

Glasses Direct

Glasses Direct were Mention Me’s first client and three years on their referral programme drives 30% of new customers acquired online.  Read about their successful referral programme.

Glasses Direct Referral Reward Scheme

 

Radley

You can see the Radley referral programme in action in our video

Radley refer-a-friend program

 

Mahabis

Mahabis refer a friend scheme

 

The Jewellery Channel

TJC Referral Program

 

Software referral programmes 

Software referral programmes are often a different breed than those for e-commerce retail websites.  In many examples we found, the referral programme has been built in-house rather than by an outsourced provider.  This has obvious benefits for businesses rich with engineering talent but can often be a blocker for other companies where engineering backlogs can extend to months and sometimes even years.  

There are benefits to outsourcing referral programme development. For software companies these are:

  • The ability to launch something quickly
  • Benefit from constant improvements to the outsourced platform
  • Limiting investment of engineering time in non-core business capabilities
  • Giving functionality and access to additional expert account support that you would not otherwise have with an in-house programme

Canva and Trello both have sharing and team collaboration built deeply into their products so the process of inviting people to join you is very slick (as you might expect).  They all follow the Dropbox best practise and offer free product extensions as the incentive.

 

Lastpass

Lastpass referral programme

Canva

Canva Ambassador Program

 

Trello

Trello referral platform

 

Financial Services Referral Programmes

This category is a mixed bag and you can read our blog from back in 2016 for more detail on referral in the financial sector. Some of the newer Fintech business offer very slick customer experiences, like in the Transferwise and Profile Financial example below.  Incumbent brands like Amex and Nationwide however tend to suffer from under investment in the visual design of their offerings.

This sector was once famous for offering ‘free money’ for referrals but the reward types have proliferated in recent years and now it is common to see third party vouchers (like M&S or Amazon), loyalty points and credit on account.  It’s common, however to see higher value incentives reflecting the higher lifetime value of these customers.

Transferwise

Transferwise Refer a Friend Scheme

 

Amex

Amex Customer Referral Program

 

Profile Financial

Profile Financial Introduce a Friend

 

Ovo

You can read more about our partnership with OVO in our case study.

Ovo Energy Referral Programme

 

Relish

Relish Recommend a Friend Scheme

 

First Utility

First Utility Referral Scheme

Refer-a-friend in the Kids sector

What a great sector for referral!  We regularly see some of the highest rates of sharing on the children’s brands which we work with.  Could it be because nothing gives parents more pleasure than showing off about their kids?  Or maybe it’s because parents strongly value the recommendations they get from other parents?  Or could it be because we love to treat our children?  We’re not sure - but we know this sector performs really well for refer-a-friend.

Mention Me’s patent pending name sharing functionality is the perfect fit for this sector (many kids brands see 40% of their referrals coming from it).  Share by name means that a recommender can say “Go to Kano and just enter by name into the checkout to claim your introductory reward.”  The name replaces a link, email or social media interaction and means referral can be truly omni-channel.

 

Kano

Kano Recommend a Friend Scheme

In the Night Garden Live

Recommend In the Night Garden Live

 

Great Little Trading Company

Great Little Trading Company Referral Offer

 

Polarn O. Pyret

Polarn O Pyret Recommend a Friend Scheme

 

Kite Clothing

Kite Clothing Referral Scheme

 

Referral Marketing for Beauty & Wellbeing

Beauty and wellbeing, much like fashion, is a sector that gets a lot of talk time with consumers so it is a great fit with referral.  This is one area where using samples or miniatures as the incentive for sharing can work really well, as in the example from the Benefit refer-a-friend programme below.


Benefit

Benefit Cosmetics Referral Scheme

 

Holland & Barrett

Recommend Holland & Barrett

 

Body Shop

Body Shop Referral Programme

 

Ever

Ever Recommend a Friend Scheme

 

Homeware referral programmes

Here at Mention Me, we are very proud of some of the programmes we’ve launched in the past year:  Laura Ashley, Habitat, Eve Mattresses and Emma Bridgewater all have referral schemes run on the Mention Me platform.

Laura Ashley serves the referral overlay after each order is completed.  Should the customer dismiss the offer initially without sharing, it collapses down to a small reminder promo in the bottom corner of the webpage - a useful tactic for staying on customers’ radar whilst preserving the integrity of the user experience.

Habitat, like Laura Ashley only needs to offer a small value incentive (10% in this example) because the relative order values are quite high.

Emma Bridgewater is a little different.  Their brand fits very well with the generous psychology we mentioned a little earlier and so their messaging is around giving a gift to a friend and the incentive for a first order is to receive a free mug.

Eve Mattresses is a beautiful example.  We love their designs both on mobile and on desktop!

 

Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley Introduce a Friend Programme

 

Habitat

Habitat Referral Program

 

Emma Bridgewater

Read how the Emma Bridgewater Marketing Team used referral to give something back to their loyal customers in our case study.

Referral Marketing Scheme for Emma Bridgewater

 

Eve

Eve mobile referral message....

Eve Matrress Online Referral Scheme

 

Referral Programmes for Gifts and Flowers

We’ve chosen a selection of Mention Me clients to illustrate referrals in the gifts and flowers sector, along with Photobox which we cannot claim credit for.

In our experience this is another sector that is easy and popular to share. Helping a friend find the solution to a tricky present for someone who is hard to buy for is a powerful sharing dynamic.  When your product is as photogenic as flowers or the lovely stationery offered by Papier then it makes sense to have beautiful graphic design at the heart of your customer journey.

The Photobox referral programme offers some great rewards and a nifty little dashboard where you can track who you have referred but unfortunately it’s let down by some underwhelming graphic design.  It is important to remember that customers view their recommendation as an extension of them - so anything that leads them to believe that their referral will fall flat can end up being a barrier to sharing.  In this case, more aspirational design could help conversion.

 

Bloom & Wild

Bloom & Wild have really made great use of their happy customers to grow the business with referral.  Read more in their referral marketing case study or watch a video of Aron, their founder, talking about how working with Mention Me has helped the business to grow.

Bloom & Wild Referral Scheme

 

Trouva

We’ve recently published a case study about how referral marketing works at Trouva.

Trouva refer-a-friend offer

 

eFlorist

eFloriist Referral Programme

 

Papier

Papier Referral Scheme Offer

 

Photobox

Photobox refer-a-friend scheme

 

Food & Drink Refer-a-Friend programmes 

These examples are all pulled from brands offering subscription boxes.  This sector has seen explosive growth in the past few years and is rapidly growing and maturing.  We expect it to stay a hot area of ecommerce for the foreseeable future.

Referral programmes in this space tend to offer a free one off box or money off a box or subscription to encourage both sharing and trial.

For the brands managed by Mention Me we see an above average share rate - the old stereotype is true: people do like to talk about food!  But crucially as a sector which is innovating rapidly the food delivery market also gets a big boost from people’s natural desire to share things which are new and novel.   

 

Market Porter

Referral scheme Market Porter

 

Simply Cook

Simply Cook refer-a-friend offer

 

Hello Fresh

Hello Fresh recommend a friend scheme

 

Laithwaites

Laithwaites referral programme

 

Refer-a-friend for Sport Businesses

Wiggle is very much the brand to watch in this sector and we must admit that we can’t claim their refer-a-friend programme as one of our own.  The Mention Me’ers love this brand though - partly because we’re a team of wannabe runners, cyclists and triathletes - but also because of their clever referral programme.  Wiggle offers the referrer a discount equal to 10% of their friend's order value - a neat way to get customers to encourage friends to buy higher value purchases through the site.

Morvelo, Tribe and Ribble are all powered by Mention Me and all have slightly different characteristics.

Tribe, a sports nutrition subscription service has a lot in common with the food and drink box delivery examples we listed above.  Morvelo is a specialist cycling clothing retailer and so shares some commonality with the fashion brands we covered at the start of this piece.  Ribble is a bike equipment specialist and their programme is configured with two segments:  one for high value bike purchasers and the other for lower value components and gear.  The difference between the two segments is the level of reward offered and minimum spend required.

The Mention Me platform comes with built in segmentation capabilities - if you are interested let us know and we’d be happy to demonstrate them.

 

Wiggle

Wiggle Refer a Friend Marketing

 

Morvelo

Morvelo referral programme

 

Tribe

Tribe Referral Marketing

 

Ribble

Ribble introduce a friend offer

 

And that’s it!  Hope you enjoyed our grand tour of refer-a-friend programmes. It’s been epic but it really just touches the surface of all there is to know about how referral works in different sectors.

Our team specialises in setting up and optimising referral programmes using our unique AB testing platform to drive learnings and improvements over time. If you’d like to learn more about Mention Me let us know.  We’d be happy to give you a tour of the platform or you’re welcome to discover more about how the Mention Me Referral Platform works in our video.

 

 

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