Once you’ve created your employee referral program, the next important step is promoting it.

You can choose to announce your program in meetings and talk about it in your online employee forums and messaging boards. You can also use email to spread the word. The best part about email is that it’s easy to use. You can also personalize your messages (for example, having name personalization for each employee) with email marketing software.

This article will cover the basics of employee referral emails, such as what they are, why they’re important, and more. We’ll also share employee referral email samples for different scenarios that you can use as is or customize the way you want.

What is an employee referral email?

An employee referral email is a form of email communication where your company asks your current employees to make referrals to grow your business. It’s a vital part of promoting your employee referral program.

Consider the following scenarios:

  • You’re launching a new employee referral program and want to tell your employees about it.
  • Your employees may already have some idea about your existing program, but may need reminders or refreshers.
  • Some employees may need to catch up on initial promotions about the program that were first done through your other communication channels, like internal company forums or group meetings. 

In all of the above situations, you can use your employee referral email to formally invite employees to join the program, share pertinent information about how the program works, and explain available incentives for the employee. You can even use your referral emails to keep your program top of mind if it’s been existing for some time. 

Types of referral emails

There are two types of referral emails:

Employee-to-employee referral email – In this type of referral email, your company asks your employee to refer possible candidates for job openings. You’re asking your employee to source talent for your organization.

Employee-to-customer referral email – In the second type of referral email, your company asks your employee to refer potential customers who would enjoy your products or services. You’re asking your employee to source leads or customers.

Businesses can use either type of referral email or a combination of both, depending on their needs and the type(s) of employee referral program they choose to run. It’s common to start with customer sourcing first, then move to include talent sourcing as the company grows and expands. 

Why are employee referral emails important?

We talked about the more obvious reason for using referral program emails – to let your employees know there is such a program and how it works. But employee referral emails can be beneficial for other important reasons as well.

Leveraging the trust factor 

People, regardless of whether they’re customers or qualified candidates, are more likely to take action on the recommendations of friends and family.. The “action” here can refer to purchases or job applications, as the case may be. But for the action to occur, you have to prompt it by encouraging referrals.

Access 

Emails go to each individual employee, so they meet your employees where they are. Mass emails can be sent out to every employee in your organization. Because everyone has email, you can ensure everyone receives the communication, and no one gets missed at the critical promotion stage. You can even use segmentation to personalize the content of the messages to specific groups of employees, or customize message content for individuals. 

Detail

Emails are a great place to go into detail about your referral program. While you want the actual content of the email to be concise and readable, you can embed links to more detailed resources or attach detailed documentation for further reading. 

Emails are a great place to cover details that employees can look back on, and supplement your verbal and Slack promotions. Employees can pin emails and keep returning to them whenever they need to. You can also add more information in an email than what you could realistically cover in-depth in a Slack message or verbal promotion. 

Momentum 

Sending an initial email referral invite, followed up with more engaging emails on the same subject, can help keep the program top of mind for your employees. Regular emails help bring your referral program to the forefront, so employees continue to share you with friends. 

Before you send employee referral emails

While emails are a great way to communicate about your employee referral program, there are a few things to have in place before you hit that “send” button:

Make sure your employees are satisfied and highly engaged. It can be challenging to have your employees go through the referral process when they aren’t entirely happy working in your company. Every business should conceptualize and commit to a long-term employee engagement and happiness strategy. Happy employees are more productive and more likely to want to promote your brand organically. 

Make sure employees are knowledgeable about your brand and company culture. This requires that they receive some initial training and skill development. The good news is, once you’ve set up training in the form of video tutorials or other online resources, these can be reused repeatedly. You’ll only need to refresh whenever there’s a new update or to keep the program current. 

Ensure your employee referral program is ready to launch. The ideal scenario is to have your program ready before you start email marketing. You can, of course, do teaser previews and initial promotions to drum up enthusiasm until the big reveal. But  it’s best to send your main emails once employees can actually act. Unless the program is fully set up and road-tested, you can run into ongoing issues with communication because of changes that can take place further down the line.

Have motivating referral incentives ready to go. Consider the type of incentives (employee referral bonuses) your employees will genuinely like and enjoy, and that will best motivate referrals. Cash is flexible and, for that reason, it’s often the most preferred incentive. But you can also do a survey beforehand to understand what types of incentives your employees would enjoy the best. 

Determine how you’ll track the success of your employee referral program. We recommend you use software in tandem with program development. Deploying employee referral software helps ease the process of transition as you grow and scale your business. Manual methods such as spreadsheets are prone to errors and can make tracking challenging. 

Pre-determine which employees you will promote your program to. Ask yourself whether you want to limit program promotion to top performers, or whether every employee will be eligible from the start. Alternatively, you can work with top performers initially and then roll out to the broader employee base once the program has achieved stability. 

Also, think about training. Will you require training to be set up for a select few or all the employees, which employees must complete before making these referrals? How will you deliver these training sessions? 

  • There is strength in numbers. If you utilize your entire employee base, you’ll maximize the number of referrals you can receive.
  • But targeting top performers with personalized invitations can be just as effective. Top employees are usually very persuasive, so you may find they can deliver outstanding results on their own (especially when trained further to be ambassadors).

Remember that the process of choosing employees doesn’t have to be set in stone. You can always run the program with your best performers first, and then ask them to champion the cause by promoting the program to their team members.

Best practices for employee referral emails

Follow these best practices for sending referral emails, whether you’re asking employees to source job candidates or new customers.

Determine how you’ll personalize the emails

Decide whether the emails you send will be personalized to individual employees, segmented by type of employee, or set up for mass communication (where all employees will receive the same email). It’s a good idea to personalize content and segment it, so your employees don’t feel like they’re just another statistic in the grand scheme of things.

It’s easy to personalize emails by including the name of each employee, and by ensuring that different segments of employees are receiving appropriate communications. You can have one segment that includes your top performers and another for your other employees. Personalization and segmentation are both easily achievable with email newsletter software

Pick the right time to send the emails

Send emails early in the day and week, as employees will be most likely to see and act on them. Bear in mind marketers have different ideas on what the ideal day and time is for sending out email communication. 

Some marketers suggest sending it out first thing on Monday, while others suggest waiting till mid-week when employees are more settled into work at the workplace and have had a chance to work through their emails. It may be a good idea to avoid sending marketing communication on the last day of the week, because that’s when employees are looking forward to the weekend and are unlikely to read through non-urgent emails.

With the email marketing software, you can test which days and times are the best by measuring open and engagement rates. 

Choose the right subject line

Capture employee attention and interest by using a short and intriguing enough email subject line – the type that makes employees want to stop scrolling and read the email. Keeping it between 30 and 45 characters is best (any longer, and you risk having some of the info cut off on mobile). And place the most important info at the beginning of the subject line. It’s also good practice to include the employee’s name, and mention the referral reward, if you can.

Keep the email content concise

When talking about the program, remember to keep the content short, clear, engaging, and concise. Discuss the why, how employees can refer, what to expect going forward, and the incentive structure. Also, provide contact information if they need more information or have questions. 

Show employees what’s in it for them

Highlight the incentives (employee referral bonuses) that employees can expect to receive for successful referrals, and what they must do to earn these rewards. It’s a good idea to mention these regularly in your communications as a constant reminder of the benefits of being a part of the referral program. 

Make the call to action easy to find

Use short, punchy sentences, and explain briefly and concisely what action you want employees to take. Highlight the call-to-action (CTA), so it’s clear and visible.

Also, make it easy for employees to take action by limiting the number of clicks and steps required. Lengthy, complicated processes can be a turn-off. 

Most importantly, remember to provide direct links for sharing!

Optimize your emails for mobile

It’s vital to meet employees where they are with referral emails. Often, they’re checking email on their phones – so mobile-friendly emails are a must. Making it easy to consume your email’s content on the run can increase your open and engagement rates. That’s provided you have a great subject line, and your content is short, engaging, and covers all the relevant information. 

Next, we’ll look at the specific content to be included in each employee referral email type. 

What to include in an employee-to-employee referral email?

The structure we’ve detailed below can work exceptionally well for employee-to-employee referral emails.  Refer to our employee referral email samples that follow later in this article for more ideas.

  • Provide a brief intro about how referrals can help grow your company. Discuss how employee participation can contribute to that success. 
  • Share information on the openings you’re soliciting candidates for.
    • Provide the job title, a brief job description, and a list of required qualifications. 
    • Also, explain what’s expected from the referred candidates in terms of responsibilities. 
    • You don’t have to write out the whole description – you could also share a brief and then link to the more detailed job listing. 
  • Directly ask employees for referrals of best-fit candidates.
    •  Remember to clearly emphasize what a quality candidate looks like.
    • Explain what steps they need to take in order to refer.
  • Talk about what’s on offer in terms of incentives.
    • Clarify how the referring employee can earn the rewards. For instance, you might pay out a one-time bonus on hiring. 
    • Alternatively, you can do a continuous referral process when the employee gets rewarded for completing specific milestones, such as the candidate getting selected, the candidate successfully completing one month on the job, and the candidate completing six months successfully on the job. 
  • Review and list the eligibility requirements for employees who want to participate in the employee ambassador program. Here are a few examples:
    • Must the referring employee be working full-time with your organization? Are part-timers, freelancers, or contractors eligible to participate?
    • Must the referring employee have worked with the company for a specific period of time before being eligible to refer candidates?
    • Must the referring employee not be a member of the human resources or recruitment team? Alternatively, must they not be a direct supervisor for the role to avoid a conflict of interest?
  • Talk about requirements referred candidates must meet for a referring employee to be eligible for the incentives.
    • Must the referred candidate have never worked for the company before?
    • Must the referred candidate have never applied to the company before?
  • Add a CTA with a link to your employee referral program page.
  • Make sure to provide the employees their personal referral links, for easier sharing.
  • Add an advance note of thanks for the support your employees can provide. 

What to include in an employee-to-customer referral email?

Some aspects of an employee-to-customer referral email are similar to those of an employee-to-employee referral email. But some of the elements are different:

  • Start with a brief intro about how employees’ referrals can help grow the company. 
  •  Directly ask employees to refer people who could benefit from your products and services. “People” here can be anyone your employee knows or engages with, such as friends, family members, or acquaintances.
  • Discuss what’s up for grabs as incentives. 
  • Cover how and when employees will earn these rewards, briefly but clearly. For example, will an employee get a reward after the sale, or on providing a lead? If rewards are earned for qualified leads, you’ll want to explain what qualifies someone as a good lead. 
  • Talk about the step-by-step process that employees must complete to refer a customer.
  • Include a CTA with a link to your employee referral program page. 
  • Finish with an advance note of thanks for the employee’s participation. 

In the next section, we’ll cover employee referral email samples of different types that you can use as is or customize to your preferences.

Employee-to-employee referral email templates

Use these templates when you want your employees to refer quality talent for your business.

Mass email to promote a newly launched employee referral program

Send an email like this out to announce the formal launch of your employee referral program, so your employees  know that such a program exists!

You can send this email out to all your employees or just the top performers initially. Regardless of your choice, personalization (especially with the employee’s name) is highly recommended.

Mass emails can be convenient and easy to execute quickly. But without at least some personalization, they can lose impact and not generate the kind of results you might expect. It’s a good idea to personalize the emails so employees feel genuinely valued. 

Subject: Refer a new hire, Get [reward]

Hi [employee’s name],

We’re always looking to grow our team here at [company name], and I wanted to share a way you can help us expand and earn rewards in the process.

We’ve just launched a new employee referral program, which you can find here [insert link to employee referral program].

If you refer a candidate for one of our open positions and they [explain what the candidate must do for the referring employee to earn reward], you’ll receive [reward] as a thank you.

We’re currently looking to hire for the following positions: [Take the time to briefly highlight some currently open positions and their requirements] [If applicable, briefly go over other program rules including eligibility rules]

If you know someone who you would be a good fit, please refer them through our program page: [insert CTA button with link to the referral program page]

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about the program.

Thanks in advance,

[Your name]

Mass email to encourage referrals for a specific position

You can use this mass email template when you want to encourage referrals for a specific job opening. We’ve covered several elements that make this a complete email with all the core information potential employee referrers would want to know.

For example, we briefly discuss the requirements and discuss who’d make the ideal candidate. We’re also sharing how employees can go through the referral process and the rewards on offer. Last but not least, we’re providing a link to the employee referral program.

Subject: Earn [reward] for referring a [position] candidate

Hi [employee’s name],

I wanted to let you know that we’re currently seeking a [position] to join our company, who will report to [direct report].

We’re looking for someone who [detail the position requirements in a short paragraph]

Know someone who would be a good fit? We have a way that you can help us find our new [position] and earn rewards in the process.

If you refer a [position] candidate and they [explain what the candidate must do for the referring employee to earn reward], you’ll receive [reward] in return.

[If applicable, briefly go over other program rules including eligibility rules]

Please refer any candidates for the position through our employee referral program: [insert link to the program]

Thanks in advance,

[your name]

Mass email to promote an existing employee referral program

An email like this can be super-helpful to remind your employees of the existence of your employee referral program. Consistent, but not unnecessarily repetitive, emails like this can help maintain momentum and keep the program top of mind for your employees.

You can use this email to share multiple job openings and link to the detailed job postings. Remember to add a CTA and to link back to the employee referral program page.

Subject: Refer a new hire, Get [reward]

Hi [employee’s name]

We just wanted to remind you about an exciting opportunity to help [company] grow and earn rewards in the process.

Our employee referral program will reward you with [reward] if you refer a candidate for one of our open positions and they [explain what the candidate must do for the referring employee to earn reward].

If you know someone who would be a good fit, don’t miss out on this opportunity!

Currently, we’re looking for candidates for the following positions [list the positions in bullet points with years of experience in parentheses]

You can refer candidates here: [insert CTA button with link to the referral program page]

Thanks in advance,

[Your name]

Personalized email inviting an individual employee to refer

You can use this template when you have a small number of “high-performer” employees you’d like to invite to the program or, in the specific example of this email, a long-standing employee with an excellent track record. List specific accomplishments to make this email especially impactful.

Personalized emails like this can be gratifying to receive and can make your most valuable employees feel appreciated. The addition of incentives can motivate them to go the extra mile to find great talent as well. 

Hi [employee’s name],

As one of our long-standing employees, you know the value of a position at [company] and you’ve made important contributions to our team [you can thank them for specific contributions they’ve made here if you wish].

We were wondering if you know anyone who would also be a good fit for [company], as we are looking to fill open positions and greatly value your input.

You are eligible to refer candidates through our employee referral program [insert link to employee referral program] and earn valuable rewards.

If you refer a candidate for one of our open positions and they [explain what the candidate must do for the referring employee to earn reward], we’ll give you [reward] as a thank you.

We’re currently looking to hire for the following positions: [Take the time to briefly highlight some currently open positions and their requirements]

If you know someone who would be a good fit for any of these positions, please refer them through our program [insert another link to program].

Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about the program.

Thanks again,

[Your name]

Employee-to-customer referral email templates

Use these referral email templates to encourage and promote employee-to-customer referrals. 

Mass email to promote a newly launched employee referral program

As soon as you launch a new employee referral program, you’ll want to promote it to your employees, so they know it exists! 

This easy, all-in-one template covers all the fundamentals. Plus, the referral process is expressed in three simple steps, so employees can see how easy it is to make a referral. 

Remember to provide contact information, so employees know who to reach in case they have questions or any concerns. Also, don’t forget to personalize your emails with each employee’s name!

Hi [employee’s name],

Here at [company name], we’re always looking to grow our customer base. I wanted to share a new way you can help us scale and earn rewards in the process.

We’ve just launched a new employee referral program, which you can find here [insert link to employee referral program].

If you recommend [brand] to one of your friends and they make their first purchase as a result, you’ll receive [reward] as a thank you.

With our referral program, sharing [company] with your friends is easy:

1. Click this link [link to employee referral program page]

2. Enter your friend’s contact info

3. Share via [list all the channels employees can use to share through the referral program, such as email and social media]

You can also send your friends our way using your personal referral link: [insert the employee’s personal referral link]

Have any questions about the program? Please let us know.

Thanks in advance,

[Your name]

Emails to promote an existing employee referral program 

The next two emails are to promote an existing employee-to-customer referral program that’s been running for a while. Emails like these help to remind and update employees about the program and its current status. Feel free to use either sample for your refresh.  

Hi [Name],

As one of our employees, you know more than anyone how valuable [brand or product] is for [meeting need brand or product meets].

I was wondering if you might know any [friends/ colleagues/ peers] who are looking to [meet needs/achieve goals that your brand can meet] and who would benefit from [brand].

If so, I wanted to personally invite you to share our brand with them via our employee referral program.

Whenever you refer a friend through our program, and they become a new customer, we’ll give you [reward] to thank you for helping [company] grow.

You can find our referral program here: [insert link to program page]

Thanks in advance,

[Your name]

Hi [employee’s name],

We just wanted to share an exciting opportunity to help [company] grow – one where you can earn valuable rewards in the process.

If you refer someone who could benefit from [brand/product/service] and they make their first purchase from us, we’ll give you [reward] as a thank you.

Know someone who would love our [products/services]? Don’t miss out!

Refer them to [company] via our referral program: [insert CTA button with link to the referral program page]

Thanks in advance,

[Your name]

Personal email inviting an employee to be a referral ambassador

This template is great for inviting your top-performing employees to become referral ambassadors. It makes your employees feel like the exclusive invitees they are and is framed in such a way that it encourages interest and engagement.

Hi [employee’s name],

As one of our employees, you know the value of [company/products/services] and you’re