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How to Promote Your Referral Program

Having a referral program is one of the best decisions that you can do for your ecommerce website. Not only can it instantly attract traffic to your website, but it can also boost your online store’s sales.

What is a Referral Program

A referral program is a system where you reward your visitors for referring people to your website. A referral can be a membership sign-up, a subscriber or a buyer. What you’ll get will depend on what you have specified for the program. If you have created the reward for new sign-ups, then you should indicate that and reward your referrers accordingly. But if you want buyers as referrals, you only reward your referrers once their friend purchases from you.

Now, referral program is not limited to one type. Just as it can depend on the type of referral that you need, you can also vary the reward. For instance, you may just want to reward the referrer and not the friend. In other instances, you can just reward the friend and not the referrer. If you are feeling extra generous, you can just reward both.

As you can see, referral programs can vary. But the trouble doesn’t end in choosing the right type of referral program, you also need to know how to promote it. Else, you’ll hardly feel its benefits.

Today, you’ll learn about the different strategies that you can use to promote your referral program.

Strategy #1: Let Your Followers Know That Your Program Exists

A referral program’s success highly depends on your followers. Without them, you will not have an army of people ready to recommend your product or service. So if you have just launched your referral program, it may be best to have a team of followers by your side to do the promotions for you.

There are two ways to do this.

1 - Promote Your Program on Social Media

If you have been running your business for quite some time now, you should already have some followers on social media. Now social media users are constantly on the lookout for something new. So if you have a deal that is beneficial for them, they will likely take the bait.

You can do this by simply posting your referral program in your social media page. This will instantly reach your followers.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can always advertise on the social media network. In Facebook for instance, you can launch an ad. You can then customize the target of these ads based on the user interest. With this, you’ll be promoting your program to more than just your followers, you will reach potential followers as well. 

2 - Email Your List

Another way to do reach out to your existing followers is through your email list. If you have done your job of collecting your prospects’ emails, you should have a good amount of people in your list. This list is just waiting for you to announce your program.

To do this, simply craft an email in your autoresponder. If you can convert it into HTML, that’s better. This is because users tend to respond more to HTML emails. With this, you can now promote your referral program to your existing subscribers.

Strategy #2: Add a Contest

What better way to promote your referral program than through a contest. Instead of simply rewarding anyone who is promoting your program, you can also reward who promotes the most. This will trigger the competitive instinct in your followers which can result to more customers in your online store.

Create a Social Media Contest

Now, the idea of a contest may seem fascinating. But it is not a contest until you implement it. You can do this by hosting a social media contest. With this, you can just post the program in your social media page and reward people based on their referrals, likes and shares. It is a good way to not only promote your referral program but also increase the reach of your social media profile.

Create a Giveaway

Yes. Having a referral program can cost you money. Perhaps, you are thinking that having a giveaway is just way too much. Not only do you have to provide rewards for your program, you also need a prize for your giveaway.

But consider this. PayPal has hosted a referral program that lost them money for a few years. They did this in order to get more people into the website. And the result is amazing. They are now the top payment processor online.

Now, you can think in terms of limits or in terms of what you can achieve. With a giveaway in your website, you’ll triple of the chances of getting more customers in your website. The best part is that it is easy to do. Just post the giveaway and indicate the end date and the prize and you are are ready to go.

Host a Collaborative Contest

The great thing about contests is that it is not limited to your own website. If times are tough and you really don’t have the money to host your own giveaway, you can always ask for help. How? Through sponsorship.

Here’s how you do it. You approach people who are not direct competitors but are interested in your target market. Then, you show them all of your existing followers. Then, you propose that you’ll give them a free promotion in your giveaway in exchange for sponsorship. If your website has a considerable number of followers, this can work really well.

STRATEGY #3: Promote Your Program in Deals Websites or Pages

Another place where you can promote your program is in deals websites or pages. These pages contain followers that are waiting for the next deal that they’ll join. You can tap this as you promote your referral program.

Add it to Deals Pages on Facebook

The first place to search for deals is Facebook. It contains tons of groups or pages that are created just for deals. All you need to do is join these groups and post in them. This will instantly expose your offer to thousands of deal seekers.

Add it to Deals Forums

Another place to look for deals is forums. A good example for this is It is a forum that is created for deals. You can register here and post your giveaway or referral program. Please note that you may need to participate in the forum before you can promote your own deal.

Add it to Coupon Websites

Next, you can also approach coupon websites. An example is Groupon. Groupon often posts coupons for different companies in their website. Usually, they don’t charge a company just to post them. Instead, they take a percentage of the sale when it is bought. You can also include your discounts here and promote your referral program.

STRATEGY #4: Promote the Program to Your Existing Customers

Your customers will not use your referral program unless they know it. Instead of merely focusing on your followers, you can also focus on your customers. In fact, focusing on your customers is better. Why? Well, your customers have already bought from you so the action friction between the person and your brand is smaller. Since you already got them to act and buy from you, asking them to promote your store to their friends will not be that big of a deal.

NOTE: For this to work, you need to provide amazing customer experience. You need to be there for your customers when they need you and your products and services should exceed their expectations. You cannot expect them to promote your store if these requirements are not met. They would be hesitant to promote your store to their family and friends if they did not like your product, service or the way you treat them.

There are different strategies to do this. Here are some examples.

Create a Flyer for Your Physical Store

Some ecommerce website owners also owns a physical store. This is a great avenue for program promotion. Instead of limiting your promotion reach to your online store, why not create a flyer that you can easily attach to all of your offline sales. Simply print a simple flyer with your referral program and attach it to the paper bag of your customer. It’s that easy.

Add a Note to Your Program When Someone Buys from You

And if you are feeling like going another mile, you can do more than just attaching a flyer to your customer’s bag. You can even write them a short note. You can do this in two ways. First, you can write a note about your program. You can tell them that if they liked your product, they can refer their friends and family to your shop. Second, you can just write on the back of the flyer. Again, make it personal and tell them that you appreciate them. From here, you can ask them to refer you to their family and friends.

Send Them a Personal Mail or Email about Your Referral Program

Online, there is another way to promote your referral program that is more interesting than an announcement email. You can do it through a personal mail or email.

If you keep track of your customer’s mailing address, you can create a custom mail just for them showcasing all the new deals in your site along with your referral program.

But if that is not possible, you can just email a monthly or weekly newsletter to your list. Again, include all of the deals as you promote your referral program.

Your existing customers can be the key to your success. There are times where you don’t need to focus too much on promotion and reaching new customers. Sometimes, promoting to your existing customers may be enough.

STRATEGY #5: Promote the Program to Potential Customers

If your online store is new, you’ll have no choice but to promote the program to future customers. You may not have a list or a significant amount of followers on social media to do some promotion. If this is you, don’t worry. I got you covered. Here are some things that you can do to promote your referral program to your existing customers. 

Add a Signup Option to Your Homepage

You may have seen this in the front page of most ecommerce websites. They usually ask you to register to their website before you can purchase anything. Why do they do this? They do it not only to get your personal information. They do it so that they can easily promote anything to you.

But for referral programs, promotion is not limited to email. Sometimes, it can be done right from the beginning. For some websites, the referral program is plastered in the middle of the homepage. This informs potential buyers that there is an existing referral program that they can use to get a discount or some extra cash before they buy any product from the website.

Promote your Referral Program in the Shopping Cart

Another interesting location for your referral program promotion is your shopping cart. Usually, the shopping cart contains the items that your customers has added and it automatically computes the total and the shipping fee. However, you can put a pop-up in here showing your referral program. This way, they can refer some people and get a discount before they proceed with the purchase.

Promote your Referral Program in the Checkout Section

If you don’t happen to catch your customers in their shopping cart, you have another chance. You can also promote your referral program in the checkout section. The checkout section is where your customer is ready to click buy. Everything is computed already. If you flash them the referral program in this moment, you can get them to act on it so that they can get a discount.


These are just some ways to promote your referral program. Tell me. What did you like the most and what did you like the least? Tell me all about it below. 

6 Response to "How to Promote Your Referral Program"

  1. Comment From Timothy Lane

    These are great tips for promoting. The hardest part is getting those top affiliates.

  2. Comment From Oscar Simpson

    I almost forget to let my Facebook, Twitter and Linked in followers know that I have a referral program. This really makes a difference. The more exposure the better.

  3. Comment From Gill Oswald

    Since my site is new I didn’t think it made any sense to promote to potential customers, however it really cant hurt and it exposes more people.

  4. Comment From Bethany Lewis

    Emailing your list several times is a great way to drum up exposure as well. Sometimes you have to stay in front of people multiple times.

  5. Comment From Laura Branson

    In addition to promoting at checkout, you can also promote in your order confirmation emails.

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