6 minutes to read

So you think you’re ready to launch a referral program. But are you actually ready to launch a referral program? Sure, you may have done some general research and found that referral programs are super beneficial to a business. But have you actually thought it all out, what’s your plan? Lucky for you, we have a quiz that might be able to help.

Referral Programs need a bit of planning. It’s not really something that can just be slapped together. You have to take the time to think about all aspects of the program, so you can craft a well-oiled machine. The main purpose of a program is growth, therefore if you lack planning it could be detrimental to the program’s success. Program failure doesn’t necessarily scream business growth, does it? There are however plenty of other perks that come along with running a referral program. So, let’s focus on how to create a well-crafted referral program.

I’m sure you have done some research to see if other businesses like yours have run a referral program. If you haven’t, then stop what you’re doing and go research. Don’t worry, we will still be here when you’re done. So now you know whether other businesses like yours run referral programs or not. If you couldn’t find a comparable business, don’t worry. You can still create a fantastic program, and it will be one of a kind.  So if you’re thinking about getting on the referral program bandwagon, great idea! But before you jump into building a  referral program, you need to figure out a few other things first (yes, more research).

Alright, let’s slow down for a minute. Take a look at the steps below to make sure you are ready to rock and roll…

The Steps to a Successful Referral Program

Step 1: Research what businesses have referral programs. Also, see what similar businesses are doing.

Step 2: Are you going to use referral software? Do you know what software is available?

Step 3: Plan your program.

Think of

  • Are you going to use a software?
  • How people sign up – Registration page? Paper form?
  • Promotion ideas – How will people find out about the program?
  • Incentives – Monetary or. non-monetary.
  • Where the program lives – Standalone site, widget, iFrame, Excel Sheet?
  • Are you going to test your program before launching it?
  • Browse other referral programs: here are some good examples.

Step 4: Let’s make sure you’re ready for a program. Try out the quiz.



Step 5: Time to get serious, if you plan on using a software, perhaps reach out and schedule some demos. Now that you have an idea of what you want your program to be, you can have a clearer vision of how different software can help you reach your vision. You can also calculate your ROI to determine if referral program is right for you.

Step 6: Time to start promoting. Yes, start announcing the program before it’s launched. This way you can get your customers ready, and you can play the field a little bit.

Step 7: Have some coworkers, family, friends, and super customer’s test your program. This way you can work out the kinks and hear some feedback.

Step 8: Time to launch. After you are sure your program is in working order, it’s time to launch, baby, launch. Once launched, you have to invite!

Step 9: Now you’re golden (just remember that you still have to promote the program).

So are you ready to launch a referral program?

Okay, so the main point of this article was to help you figure out if you’re truly ready for a referral program. Getting to the program launch takes effort. That effort is what will make the program a success. Certainly, people have whipped up a program in the blink of an eye and have had success (lucky dog!), but most of the time programs require just a little bit of effort.

A referral program is a small sliver of you, a reflection of your company. I bet it took some time to build a company. I’m sure you also spent time doing your research. A referral program is like that, in that it needs a little bit of nurturing to grow. I’m not saying by any means that running a business and a referral program are similar. What I’m saying is if you spent the time to build a business, why not spend a little time building the perfect referral program. The act of actually creating a program doesn’t take long (especially if you are using a software to help you out), the planning and research are difficult parts. If you consider that difficult…

Hopefully, the quiz has helped you determine whether you are ready to take the next step in creating your referral program. If not, hopefully, it’s given you an idea of what your next step should be.

Other Important Factors

Yes, the quiz is meant to be helpful. But, for added certainty, there are a few other things you should be doing in order to be ready for a referral program. You don’t want to prematurely jump the gun and have a bad turn out. Too many times we see people start a referral program without taking in essential considerations. There are a few questions you need to ask yourself, and if you can answer ‘yes’ to them, then you are probably on the right track to launching a successful referral program.  Go ahead, ask yourself:

  1. Do we already provide good customer service?
  2. Are we providing all customers with a consistent experience?
  3. Are our customers already referring their friends? (Do we have naturally occurring word of mouth marketing?)
  4. Is the majority of our customer feedback good?

Remember there are factors that could lead to program failure. Whether it’s unrealistic expectations, or you just don’t have happy customers, there are reasons why referral programs fail.  If you can steer clear of these, and you are able to answer those questions above with a “yes”… You deserve a gold star!  It also means that you are probably in the ballpark for adding a referral program.

Scale of Ease

referral program phases

(How easy is each phase)

Researching and planning can be the hardest parts of crafting a successful referral program.

Once you get the program up and running – it should be smooth sailing. Yes, there will be a little maintenance here and there, but for the most part referral software lets you run a program relatively hands-free. 

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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.