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Getting ongoing engagement from your program members is a critical aspect of running an effective referral program. The single most important thing you can do is try to stay relevant to your members. You don’t need to annoy them, but sending a gentle nudge (or reminder) may be exactly what they need to get back into gear.

So you have already invited people, and deciding on how to ask for referrals is probably the hardest part. After the ask, your engagement was high at the beginning, but now things seem to have slowed down. You thought that once a member referred one friend they would automatically continue to refer more and more people. Well, even the most active members get distracted and caught up in other things.  Chances are a member may have simply forgotten about your program or maybe they are unaware that they can continually share the program with their friends. It’s your job to keep them engaged.

The question then becomes “how do we encourage and remind members about our referral program so that they continue to stay engaged.”  Luckily, there are quite a few things you can do (and they’re quite easy too). In fact, these practices are awesome for program promotion as well. Remember, when you promote your program, it helps keep it in the forefront of someone’s mind and has a better chance of having continual engagement.

1. Reminder emails about engagement

Sending reminder emails is a simple way to boost engagement. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be too forward or pushy with this. A simple email stating “Don’t forget to give your friend a great discount and earn a reward” can be persuasive enough. Plus, you can add a link to the referral program and an image to draw interest. Don’t be afraid to send an email strictly regarding your referral program. People tend to forget, and sending them an email about the program and its benefits can help re-engage members.

If you don’t want to flat out say it, you can dedicate a small section of your email to the referral program. For example, if you send newsletters, add the referral program to a small section of the email. If you want to make sure your program is seen every day, do a brief mention in your email signature, or in the footer. This way, anyone who receives an email will be able to see the link to the program, thus reminding them that the program still exists.

Referral Program Engagement

Providing your customers with a quick link to the referral program can help boost engagement. Plus, they’ll know exactly how to find it when it in the future once they’re ready to refer someone.

2. Show Customer Success

Showing your customers some success stories can be a great way to re-engage and encourage them. Don’t be afraid to brag about your customers who have been rewarded by referring a friend. Sometimes, members just need to see that people are actually earning rewards to help persuade them to be more active.

Maybe you have a monthly newsletter that you send out, you can add a referral program spotlight. You don’t have to say a specific person’s name. But you can mention things like, how many referrals were sent, how many referrals turned into customers and you can also mention the number of rewards that have been given out. People are motivated by other people’s success, especially if they can see actual results.
By highlighting how successful people have been, you can persuade others to be more proactive. You don’t have to use this tactic with just email. Highlight your referral program success on your social media channels or website.  

Some honorable mentions

  • Highlight what members were rewarded. (Jack earned $50 this week from referring his friends)
  • Announce successful referrals. (10 of our new referrals made their 1st purchase)
  • Mention the referral count. (We had an impressive 12 new referrals this week)
  • Praise the top referrer. (Amy referred a whopping 10 referrals this month)
  • Tally member sign-ups. (We are beyond excited to mention that 16 customers signed up for our referral program this week/month/today.

Showing a tiny bit of success can help boost morale. Note: You may want to ask a person before using their name in an honorable mention, We’re sure they’d love to be praised, though!

3. Send Best Practices For Sharing

Maybe your customers want to share, but they just haven’t figured out how. They may have signed up for the program, but they are not sure what to do next. It doesn’t matter how simple your program is, providing your customers with some instructions, FAQs, or a list of “sharing best practices” can help boost engagement. By providing the ins and outs, you can prime your customers to be sharing machines. All great things need a little guidance, right?

Consider These:  

  1. How –  So, how do you share tips? Well, it’s simple, use what you already have. Think about the ways you already communicate with your customers. Do you talk through email, social media, or chat apps? If so, sharing documents and infographics is easy. You can create a simple bullet point message, or try your hand at a fun infographic.
  2. When – Deciding when to share isn’t really that tricky.
    1. Try starting them off on the right foot, as soon as someone signs up, send them some sharing tips.
    2. Wait a week or so and send them some tips for sharing. Chances are they will probably share as soon as they sign up, but then they may forget about. So jar their memory by sending them tips for sharing.
    3. If you notice a complete halt. Chances are the person forgot about the program. We get it, life happens. By providing them with some sharing tips, you may encourage them to jump back on the saddle.
    4. On a regular basis, consider different intervals for when you want to send out additional tips.
    5. If you have a blog – write an article about your referral program, Include tips for how members can share!

Note: You don’t have to do every single one of these. For example. If you send sharing tips right after they sign up, you probably don’t have to send them a week later. Wait a couple weeks, so that you don’t seem too pushy.

 Referral Program Engagement Tips

Here are some ideas to give to your customers.

  1. Share By Email – Let them know that the referral program offers easy sharing buttons. Mention that the email message is already pre-filled, so sharing is very easy. All they have to do is insert an email address and click send.
  2. Share By Social Media – Explain that they can get a ton of referrals if they share the program on their social media sites. Again mention how easy it is to click a button to share. Let them know that they can also add their personal link to their social media bios. It’s an easy way for their friends to see the link without the program member having to constantly share posts.  Note: If the link is added to a bio, let them know that they should still occasionally share a post with their link, as the post will give a little more insight into the program, and it’s more visually appealing.
  3. Physically Share Your Referral Link or Code – Tell members where they can find their personal link. Let them know that they can share this with friends however they want, via text, pen & paper, etc. You will be able to manually add the referral and link them to the program member (This works well if you do sales via phone or in-store). Mention that this is a great way of sharing with friends and family members who are not as tech-savvy.

It’s okay to share the same message and tips with your customers multiple times. You don’t want to do it too often, as it may come off aggressive. But if you occasionally send your customers some referral program tips and updates, it will encourage continual sharing.

4. Update your messaging

Updating your social media and email messaging can be a great way to get people to keep sharing. This keeps your referral program fresh and relevant by providing your members with new content to share so that they don’t feel like they are spamming their friends and network. Make sure you let your members know when you change the messaging so that they’ll know to re-engage.

Update your referral messaging every time there is a change to the program. For example, if you had a November program that had a title specific to Thanksgiving you don’t want your customers sharing that in the middle of February. Plus, if customers see something that doesn’t make sense, they will probably not post it. You also want to make sure incentives and rules are updated so that your customers are always sharing the most relevant information.
This also gives you another opportunity to reach out to customers. Let them know of the new program name and of any of the changes you have recently made to the program. The more you keep your customers in the loop, the higher their engagement will be.

5. Use a Different Reward Strategy

Keep your members on their toes. Set up a tiered reward system that has bigger and better rewards. Make these tiers a stretch, that way the member really has to work for them. People are competitive by nature, so creating a program to be more challenging can help keep your members interested.  Keep in mind, if it’s too far of a stretch the member might get discouraged. Find a balance between being a challenge and being too easy. You want the reward to be achievable.

If you want to remain true to your reward structure, try changing the reward every once in awhile. Perhaps your reward is a coupon, change it to be a gift card at some point. You can switch between different rewards to see what drives more referrals. Perhaps you change the reward every quarter or every month. “Updating” the program can give your members an extra boost to refer friends.
Be sure to communicate with your members throughout this process, so they know what they’re striving for and are more motivated.

Referral Engagement Ideas

6. Give an Early Win

People want to know your referral program is legit and that you’re going to reward them. By giving a higher reward for the first referral then making the following referrals smaller, you provide that extra incentive to engage and get started with your referral program.  Once a member has tasted a victory and knows your referral program is legitimate, they will be more eager to continue referring their friends and network.

Alternatively, you can start with a smaller reward, and then have members work their way up to larger ones. For example, maybe a member will earn $25 for their first 5 referrals. Then, they could earn $50 for every referral after that.
By creating dimensions in the reward structure, you can evoke more engagement. Giving members something to work towards can help create an illusion of competition and gamification.

7. Run “Special Promotions”

Changing the name of the promotion may be just what your program needs. It’s easy to go blind to the things we see constantly. By simply changing the title of the promotion you will be able to catch your customer’s eye. You don’t have to go crazy with the title, but change it according to seasons, events, holidays or even company anniversaries. In February it can be named “Spread the Love Campaign”, and during December you can change it to “Share Some Cheer”. It’s a simple way to boost engagement from your members. This is even more effective when you change the reward as well to better match the promotion.

8. Ask Them For Suggestions

A simple way to make members feel engaged is to ask them for suggestions. By allowing members to give their input, you make them feel like they are part of the team. Even better, they’ll be excited to share your program, as they feel partly responsible for its success. Run a poll on your social media, or send out a quick email and ask what they like, dislike, what they would change about the program. You may get some great responses and your program engagement could skyrocket. Plus, this will help you further craft your referral program to fit perfectly with your customer’s needs and wishes.


Ongoing Referral Program Engagement

As you can see there are a ton of ways to help build-in extra referral engagement. Keep in mind that promoting your program is also another big factor when it comes to increasing engagement. If you promote your program, members will constantly be reminded of the program, which will help prompt them to participate.

Build your relationships with your customers and they will be happy to help where they can – including staying active in the referral program. Want more ideas for your referral program? Don’t worry, we have you covered.


Posted by Megan Mosley

Megan Mosley is a writer for Referral Rock. You can find her poking around online or tweeting about marketing, small businesses, SEO, or even sharing funny memes. She is addicted to coffee and uses it as a fuel to keep her going through the day.