Referral Marketing Ideas to Try in 2023

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Referral marketing can be a powerful strategy to grow your business by leveraging the networks and trust of your existing customers. As you think about building your customer referral program, here are some ideas to try in 2023. In the end, it is all about engaging your relationships in fun and meaningful ways to attract more referrals.

Customer Rewards Program 

Implement a tiered rewards program where customers earn points or discounts for referring friends, and the rewards increase as they refer more people. These points can be converted to value in creative ways. For example, you could convert them to gift cards such as popular Amazon gift cards, or as an entry into a compelling raffle of some type. 

Exclusive Invites

Offer exclusive access or early invitations to new products, services, or events to customers who refer a certain number of friends. Humans want more of things we perceive are difficult to get such as “exclusive” invites. You could form a VIP club for example. Entry into the VIP club could simply be to become an advocate by introducing at least X new clients to your firm. Then create semi-annual or quarterly exclusive events and offerings for that group only. 

Influencer Referrals 

Partner with influencers or micro-influencers in your niche and offer them incentives to promote your referral program to their followers. This is a growingly productive strategy given the explosive growth of online influencers. The key here is to match your influencers with your target audience, and desire rewards that may be most relevant to them. 

Social Media Sharing

Make it easy for customers to share their referral links on social media platforms, and consider running periodic contests or giveaways to encourage more sharing. Seek out referral programs and software that provide referral links, tracking, and conversion metrics as part of a fully automated and integrated program. Then make sure your referral links are integrated in all forms of outreach. 

Partner Referral Program

Establish partnerships with other businesses that complement yours and create a joint referral program, where you both refer customers to each other. This is a fundamental component of modern networking. Leverage LinkedIn Navigator and other LinkedIn-compatible referral software to design low-cost campaigns to reach targeted firms in your network. Your messaging should be all about adding value and referring business to them. The best partners will do the same over time. 

Personalized Referral Codes

Assign personalized referral codes to customers, making it easier for them to share and track their referrals. The key here is to make it easy for your clients to refer. Today, people generally refer through email or text. This can take 15-20 minutes per referral to do it right. You need to get it down to less than 2 minutes by using a system to make it easy including codes and links.

Referral Contests

Host referral contests with attractive prizes for top referrers or those who reach a certain number of referrals within a specific timeframe. This can be spontaneous when you need a business boost or on a planned cadence so people look forward to it. Your clients want to refer. In fact, 91% of consumers would prefer if asked. Having contests can often create the catalyst to start the process. 

Thank-You Gifts

Surprise customers with a thank-you gift for successfully referring a friend, reinforcing their positive experience with your brand. Developing a client gifting and loyalty program can really make a difference over time to help you become more referable. To better understand how referable you may be, take our 2 minute referral intelligence quiz. 

Referral Emails and Texts

Send targeted and personalized referral emails and texts to customers who haven’t referred anyone yet, reminding them of the benefits of doing so. Make sure you systematize your outreach to make sure you are consistently engaging with and nurturing your key relationships. You never know when they may be thinking of someone to refer to you. Make sure you use an email platform where your emails and texts will be delivered, opened, and clicked on. Our system has a 99% delivery rate, 40%+ open rates, and high click rates- much higher than average programs. It is also mission-critical that your content is personal, authentic, and effective to get the conversion you deserve. 


Add gamified elements to your referral program, such as progress bars, badges, or levels, to make the experience more enjoyable and engaging. This can be done on a dedicated landing page or by using gamification software. The key here is to increase engagement and the “fun” factor. There is a growing body of AI applications that can help here. 

Partner with Charities

Consider donating a portion of your profits to a charity for each successful referral, providing an extra incentive for customers to participate. For many, this can be a more powerful reward since we all want to “make a difference”. You can offer to donate to the charity of choice of each customer or simplify it by picking one that has universal appeal to your customer base. 

Referral Webinars or Events

Host webinars or special events for your customers and encourage them to invite their friends, showcasing your products or services. The “bring a friend” event concept has been successfully deployed in the financial services industry for decades. The key is to make each event feel special and exclusive in any way you can. You can manage costs to generate more ROI by co-sharing expenses with strategic partners. 

Reactivate Dormant Customers

Reach out to dormant or inactive customers and offer them special incentives for coming back and referring new customers. All businesses have advocates who may not necessarily be active clients at a point in time. Identify who they are, find ways to re-engage them, and offer incentives wherever possible. 

Remember to track and measure the success of your referral marketing efforts. Analyze the data regularly and refine your strategies based on the feedback and results you receive to ensure ongoing success. If you find yourself overwhelmed or just want to bounce some ideas off a referral specialist, hit us up here to schedule some time.

ReferMe IQ™ is passionate about helping organizations build high-growth referral-based businesses with their ”state of the art” automated referral platform. Peter S. Velardi is an accomplished senior executive and entrepreneur who has impacted thousands of individuals and organizations to build a fast-growing referral-based business.

If you’d like to learn more about any of the topics discussed, please click here.

Post author: Peter S. Velardi

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