Referral programs have become one of the top lead generation strategies for businesses. This has led many top companies to come up with creative and successful referral program ideas and strategies that can now be shared with others looking to improve or start a referral program.

Here we will explore different types of referral program ideas. Click on the highlighted text to jump to the section that can help facilitate your referral program success or read through:

Tested referral program ideas for building a referral program – Take advantage of current referral program users experience when creating a referral program and use there referral program ideas and advice to help guide you in your own referral program development.

Referral program promotional ideas and lessons learned from promoting – Watch successful promotional videos from real companies and use their hard won wisdom to create your own referral program promotional ideas.

  • Video referral program promotional ideas – View promotional videos that have generated results for 4 different companies with an accompanying analysis on why these videos worked.
  • More referral promotional ideas – Capture a step-by-step level understanding of how to implement referral program promotional ideas and how to keep referral program promotions authentic to your brand.

Referral program ideas for building your referral program

The first step to creating a successful referral program is generating ideas for building a referral program. Many referral program ideas while good upon conception have failed because they did not take all the current and future needs of a business into account. RingCentral and Citrix have created successful referral programs that generate top revenue growth and are ready to share with you their customer referral program ideas and referral partner program ideas.

Customer referral program ideas from RingCentral

On RingCentral’s journey to referral program success they had three phases of referral program development. Their first two iterations of their referral program ideas were homegrown and manual which caused issues such as breakage, lack of visibility, and a bad user experience. The third was run off an automated referral platform that scaled their referral process.

From their experience, RingCentral created a list of operational lessons and referral program ideas:

customer referral program ideas with a list of operational lessons learned from RingCentral.
  • Scale programs using automation – Streamlining the communication to advocate and sales is very important. Overall automation is needed for scaling a referral program as a whole.
  • Focus on a purpose-built system in order to drive referral volume without breakage – With their second referral program they knew all the components they wanted but they didn’t build it cohesively together. Certain parts of the program didn’t communicate well with other parts of the program. With their current iteration they corrected this by making sure everything communicated well with each other in order to ensure that that each part of the system worked together to drive increased referrals.
  • Prioritize a system that can handle verbal referrals – Verbal referrals were something the RingCentral sales team wanted in order to create a constant flow of trackable referral leads. Look for a system that has the flexibility to enable sales to drive participation in the referral program.
  • Remember to consider CAN-SPAM, fraud prevention and tax compliance – This is where automation is key. RingCentral has both their marketing automation and CRM talking to each other and working together. Since RingCentral is in the telecommunication industry, having this functionality within their program became vital because they are regulated as a communications provider and have real-time auditors. But no matter what industry you’re in, staying complaint without taking up added resources is needed in order to keep the focus on expanding the program instead of maintaining the program.
  • Integration into sales CRM is a must – The fact that RingCentral is a B2B company means that integration with a CRM is a must for sales. The collaboration needed between sales and marketing means that the two way communication between marketing and sales software is crucial for creating a seamless referral lead flow.

Referral partner program ideas from Citrix

Citirix started their first referral partner program in 2002. In 2012 Citrix started a referral portal which brought 50% growth over 3 years.  With this dramatic growth they out grew this manual tool and needed more enhanced features to scale their referral program.

From this, Randy Fahrback, Senior Manager of GoToChannel Development at Citrix, created a list of referral partner program ideas for designing your referral partner program and identifying prim referral partners.

Referral partner program design ideas

  • Start simple and figure out who is going to run the program. A lot of time it is sales. However, in your organization it depends on where it makes sense to apply that shift in responsibility.
  • Make your referral compensation similar to the reseller margins and pay on renewals. That way you take away the argument that they need to resell every year in order to make money. Partner are trying to monetize their customer base and referral commission performance base keeps them in the game and build re-occurring revenue.
  • To get an idea of how to champion this within your company try looking at partner compensation as a sales expense and you can compare this to the traditional marketing costs of acquiring customers. The costs per-sale proves it’s lower cost than traditional marketing
Built-pointed list of referral partner program design ideas.
A bulleted list of ideas to identify prime referral partners

Ideas to identify prime referral partners

  • Start looking at who is talking to your target buyer.
  • Try exploring what other systems they are buying and who the people are that are influencing that buying decision.
  • Research what type of consultants or third party vendors are working with your target buyers. For example, GoToWebinar (Citrix product) integrates with a large amount of marketing automation software while a lot of traditional resellers sell to IT companies or the networking companies but GoToWebinar buyers are often a marketing company or HR company so those traditional reseller partners aren’t talking to CITRIX target buyer. But when these companies are buying marketing automation they often purchase products that go along with their marketing automation system. By CITRIX finding people implementing marketing automation, CRM, and email they can offer them another stream of revenue by making them a referral partner.
  • For small businesses or startups referral partners could be accountants, outside marketers or anyone else helping to ramp up your business.

Referral program promotional ideas

You can create a great referral program and have the best referral software, but if you don’t promote it no one will ever participate.  These promotion can be spread out over a variety of different channels and in multiple formats but the best referral program promotional ideas that have been made into reality accomplish 4 goals.

1. Recruits Advocates.

2. Encourages repeat referrals.

3. Can be repeated throughout the life of your referral program.

4. Dramatically increases your referral program engagement and revenue growth.

Referral program promotional video ideas

This playlist is made up of six video with different types of referral program promotional ideas represented.

  1. TSYS – TSYS uses their video to increase awareness and as a clear and concise way to explain how to use their referral program. This visually pleasing video quickly explains the benefits and demonstrates who and how to refer in an easily understandable format.
  2. ADP – This ADP customer referral program video focuses on why other customers refer ADP. They use an emotional appeal by including customers referral testimonials to explain how customers have helped their peers and friends through the referral of ADP. Once that is emphasized the video stresses the benefits of the referral program to customer advocates and the reward they received upon a successful referral. The testimonial part of the video goes on to have customers express the wonderful experience they have received by working with ADP. This video accomplished four goals: creates a sense of trust and legitimacy within the referral program, communicates what referring customers receive from the point of view of someone who has received it, how to refer and speaks to ADP’s overall customer service. experience
  3. ADP – The second ADP video is a much simpler concept. It’s main focus in on rewards within the program.  The use of testimonials that site multiple successful rewards and the emphasis on the number of customers who have received the highest reward make multiple successful referrals feel more achievable. This in turn helps generate multiple referrals from a single advocate.
  4. DIRECTV 1 & 2 – DIRECTV uses comedy to catch the attention of their viewer and once they have pulled them in they quickly explain how easy it is to refer and the reward you will receive. This has been an extremely successful approach based of it’s lightheartedness and clear instructions that make their program come across as an easy and simple way to get rewarded for a natural interaction with a friend.
  5. Procore – Procore has a simple direct video that emphasizes the reward and all you can get from it while still making it playful and staying true to their brand.

Video promotion takeaways

  • Try incorporating humor if it fit into your brand guidelines but don’t force it.
  • Testimonials are powerful tools to incorporate into your referral program promotional ideas.
  • Emphasizing the reward and how easy it is to obtain is a must especially if you’re just starting with referrals and don’t have many advocates yet.
  • Only create referral program promotional ideas that align with your brand in order to stay recognizable and make your referral program feel like an extension of the brand not a separate entity.

More referral program promotional ideas

Even after you have come up with powerful promotional ideas, the details of your strategy can still be fuzzy. By breaking down your promotional strategy into step-by-step approach you can create a clear plan for taking your referral program promotional ideas to the next level. Checkout a step-by-step guide to referral program promotion to get started.

When coming up with ideas on how to promote your referral program remember the purpose behind these promotions – asking for referrals. That’s why keeping your referral program promotions authentic is important to making sure your referral program comes across as a seamless extension of your brand.

Get referral program promotional ideas and examples on how to make your referral promotions authentic.