A referral email is a type of email you send to happy customers, which encourages them to refer their friends to your business.
There are many different ways to source customer referrals, but a referral email tends to be one of the easiest methods – especially when you have pre-written and pre-formatted referral email templates ready to go.
Where to find these templates? We’ve got you covered with 15 proven options to swipe for yourself – including several successful ones straight from top brands.
In this article, we will cover:
- Why you need referral email templates
- The two main types of referral email templates you can use
- When you should use a referral email template
- 5 personal referral email templates
- 10 mass referral email templates
- Referral email template best practices to follow
Why referral email templates are invaluable
Referral marketing is a vital part of any brand’s customer acquisition toolbox.
Potential customers trust their peers’ recommendations, so they are more likely to purchase when their friends refer them.
There is plenty of widely quoted referral marketing statistical data to back this up:
- 84% of people trust recommendations from people they know – meaning that personal referrals are the most effective type of advertising
- People are 4 times more likely to purchase a product when a friend refers them, as Nielsen reports
- According to an Ogilvy/Google/TNS study, 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision
But existing customers often need motivation – a “nudge” or reminder to refer friends. Usually, this involves rewards, incentives, or referral bonuses that customers can earn in return for sharing.
That’s where referral email templates come in. They can easily be deployed to promote your referral program and its rewards.
You can easily swipe, update, or customize ready-made referral email templates to suit your audience. You won’t have to spend time creating them, deciding how to write them, or brainstorming how to make them super-effective. It’s a quick win.
Types of referral email templates
There are two types of referral email templates you can use to source new referrals:
Personal referral email templates:
- These are sent out to individual loyal customers to ask for referrals
- Each personal email includes specific details about the customer’s relationship with the brand
- The content in these emails is warm and empathetic, and is meant to make loyal customers feel valued and appreciated
Mass referral email templates:
- These are used to promote your referral program to many or all customers at once
- Since they are oriented for mass communication, they are designed to promote the program in a more general way
- They won’t feel as warm or exclusive as personal templates, although they are still beneficial to rapidly get new referrals
Both types of templates work well in conjunction with a referral program, but you need to know which to use and when.
Personal referral email templates are your best bet to invite your highest-value customers to refer their friends.
- This includes inviting top clients to join the program before you’ve formally launched it.
- These templates work best for B2B or SaaS businesses, as well as any other type of business with recurring or subscription-based services.
Mass referral email templates are a quick option to get the word out, without the need to segment your customer base.
- These emails are ideal if your business wants to inform many or all customers about a referral program, all at the same time.
- They work best for B2Cs, ecommerce businesses, and B2B businesses that don’t operate on a recurring model.
Remember that you don’t have to stick with just one referral email template type. You could combine both types of referral emails throughout your program – and many businesses do.
When to use a referral email template?
You’ll need to have several steps in place before you send a referral email to achieve optimum results. Use the checklist below to guide you.
You’re ready to use referral email templates if:
1. You have a healthy base of active customers.
- Check reviews and feedback to ensure that plenty of customers love your product and enjoy your exceptional customer service.
- It’s even better if customers are leaving positive reviews or comments – or organically referring friends – without you having to prompt them.
2. You have a way to reliably track the referrals customers make.
- The easiest option is to use a formal referral program, set up with referral software.
- Referral software can automate much of the process, and give you front-row seats to the analytics that influence your success rates.
- All sizes of businesses can benefit from using referral marketing software.
3. Your company is ready for an influx of new customers.
- Make sure your customer support team can handle a potential avalanche of new customers effectively, while maintaining exceptional customer service levels for your existing customers.
- This is especially important if you’ve chosen a mass referral email campaign.
If using personal referral email templates
Personal templates work best when you target long-standing customers loyal to your business. These customers are the ones who have had positive experiences with your brand, are repeat buyers, or have shared glowing reviews about your products or services.
Certain times are more ideal than others to send personal referral emails.
You’ll want to send personal referral emails when your customers have just completed a positive interaction with your brand, or an action that affirms their commitment to your business.
For example, you could send your email:
- Shortly after a purchase (especially if that’s a renewal)
- Shortly after they’ve given you positive feedback
- Shortly after they’ve left a positive review or social media comment
- After a high NPS score (Net Promoter Score) or a high score on another customer satisfaction survey
If using mass referral email templates
Don’t send mass referral emails too often. You don’t want to annoy your customers.
Aim to promote your referral program 2-3 times per year using mass referral email templates.
Besides this cadence, you should also send mass referral emails whenever you’re launching a new referral program or making significant changes to your current program (such as overhauling the rewards). Customers will appreciate the heads up.
Personal referral email templates
Use these personal referral email templates to engage your most loyal customers so they’re motivated to join your referral marketing program.
Here are some of the most common referral templates you can use at various key stages of the customer journey:
General template for personally inviting loyal customers
Use this template when you want to start the referral conversation without sounding overly salesy or pushy.
- Aim for a light, friendly and engaging tone.
- Build rapport by talking about how much the customer means to you, before asking for your referral.
- Close by offering an incentive, and by once again highlighting the value of the relationship.
After a loyal customer makes a repeat purchase
When a customer has made a repeat purchase, that’s a good indication that they have a preference for your products or services over other options. It also shows that the customer wants to stay with you, as they believe in the value you’re offering.
Shortly after a repeat purchase is a good time to follow up with the customer using a referral request email.
The following referral email template can get the conversation going:
After a positive review or social media comment
For the most part, customers don’t usually leave public feedback unless they’ve had a significant experience with a brand (whether that’s negative or positive).
Thus, when your customers leave a positive review or social media comment, they’re so satisfied with your products/services that they can’t help but let the world know.
This also means they’re already primed to share your brand through an individual referral!
Use this referral email template to thank your customers for the extra effort, and then move to your referral request.
After a high NPS score
When your customer gives you a high NPS rating (Net Promoter Score) – 9 or 10 out of 10 – it’s a confirmation that they love your brand so much, they’re highly likely to recommend it to others.
Use this template to acknowledge their appreciation, then connect the dots to promoting your referral program and how it can benefit them.
After a high customer satisfaction survey score (besides NPS)
High ratings on other customer satisfaction surveys can be addressed in a similar way.
Talk about the specific survey results, and remember to briefly touch upon any feedback they’ve given so they know you’ve paid attention. Then, ask for the referral.
Mass referral email templates
Since you’ll usually only send a mass referral email two to three times per year, you’ll need to maximize the emails you send to generate the most referrals.
Fortunately, we’ve got you covered with these tried and tested mass referral email templates. Many of them are inspired by top brands’ real referral emails!
The ‘don’t let your friends miss out’ email template
When you couple fear of missing out (FOMO) with the altruistic value of helping out friends, you’ve got a winning formula for a conversion-friendly referral email template. Here’s a great referral email template you can use to leverage both.
The quick bullet list template
Bullet lists are a godsend for busy customers who want the meat of the content without wasting time.
This template starts out in a fun way to capture your customers’ attention, and then lists out your referral program in a way that:
- Is easy to make sense of
- Doesn’t need a lot of time to understand
- Makes it easy to take action and go through the referral process from start to finish!
The quick bullet list template “in the wild:” BOMBAS
The ‘sharing pays’ email template
The ‘sharing pays’ email template is a feel-good template. Connecting sharing, friendship, and mutual rewards in a single email is an easy way to develop positive brand association.
It’s also a great motivator for customers to want to take action and start referring straight away!
The reciprocal reward email template
This email template is perfect for when you want to engage your customers’ sense of community and leverage the relationship they have with their friends.
Customers prefer to give out rewards to their friends and earn rewards. They would like something for themselves, but they don’t want to seem greedy or appear to be taking advantage of their peers.
Giving a reward to the most trusted people in their circle – and receiving an equal reward for referring – looks fairest and makes the most sense.
The reciprocal reward template “in the wild:” Saje Wellness
The ‘pay it forward’ email template
The ‘pay it forward’ email is a variation of the ‘sharing pays’ email template we covered above – but focuses even more on the friendship and community factors. Use this template to switch up the way you ask for referrals in your email.
Remember to mention the rewards and insert a call-to-action to your referral program, just like with any mass referral email template.
The free product referral email template
Free product rewards can work phenomenally well for getting referrals, as long as the product is something that existing customers will enjoy.
Do the research beforehand and talk to existing customers to find out what kinds of products would excite them the most.
Then, excite them with this referral email template!
The free product referral email template “in the wild:” Stitch Fix
The ‘help your friends’ referral email template
This referral email template appeals with its honesty and simplicity. Who doesn’t want to help their friends? This template is an easy and effective referral ask because it tugs at the heartstrings.
The quick cash offer email template
Nothing inspires quick action quite like instant cash. Use this short, punchy, and effective referral email to grab customer eyeballs and potentially get some easy referrals.
The ‘you mean a lot’ email template
The ‘you mean a lot’ email can be very gratifying for a customer to receive, especially when you’ve taken the time to personalize it with their name.
Express appreciation for your customers and use the referral program as a means to thank them for their loyalty. Close by talking about the benefits and how easy the process is.
The ‘easy as 1-2-3’ referral email template
The three-step formula is a great technique for emphasizing how easy it is for your clients to refer friends.
Your email’s content should be just as simple – keep it short, punchy, and easy to read.
Also, make sure that when your referring customers land on the different pages, it’s easy for them to navigate and complete the desired actions.
The easy as 1-2-3 template “in the wild:” Little Spoon
Referral email template best practices
Whether you stick closely to the templates we’ve shared or use them as a jumping-off point to write your own referral email, follow these best practices to get the best results:
Grab attention quickly with a magnetic subject line
You’ll need to convince people to open your email before they can share referral links. So, your subject line is key.
- Remember to limit the subject line to 28-38 characters.
- This will help you laser in on the core benefit you want to highlight.
- Plus, this way the subject line won’t get cut off on mobile.
- Include your referring customer’s name and use ‘you’ wherever possible.
- This will help you personalize the email, even if you’ve gone the mass route.
- Include a number, such as the value of the reward.
- Using a number breaks up textual content, adds visual interest, and defines the value of the reward in more concrete terms.
- Clear subject lines beat clever ones.
- An Aweber study found that subject lines that clarify what the email contains have 541% more clicks than purely clever subject lines.
Once they’re in, let them know how rewards work
Lay out the instructions and terms clearly in simple, easy-to-understand sentences.
For example, can customers easily understand:
- What they must do to earn the referral reward?
- Whether the friend they’re referring can earn a reward as well?
- How and when they’ll get the reward?
- The exact referral amounts for referring one or more than one person?
If the rewards can only be earned once the friend makes a purchase, it’s best to mention this at the outset.
If you don’t address this in the email, that’s ok. But be sure to link out to your referral program page, and cover the terms there.
Keep the message simple and to-the-point
Avoid long, meandering sentences and confusing structures. Always use the simplest language possible and opt for clarity over cleverness.
And remember – you don’t have to explain everything about your referral program in the email. That can unnecessarily clutter your email or make things look complicated.
Instead, you can tell customers more when you link out to your referral program page.
Where possible, add personalization
Personalization creates an instant connection with your customer and improves how positively they perceive your brand.
Yes, mass referral emails are more generic in nature compared to personal referral emails. However, you can still personalize some aspects of your mass emails – such as including each customer’s name – by using software.
Optimize the email for mobile
That’s where more than eight out of 10 people open emails. It’s also how most people share with their friends.
Include an easy-to-find call-to-action (CTA)
This will take the form of a button or referral link highlight that directs sharing.
- If you choose to include a button, be sure it sends customers straight to the referral program page.
- And if you include a referral link, it should be in a one-click copy format.
Referral email templates can help you save time and make your email referral process more efficient and productive. It’s as easy as plug, tweak, and play.
Combined with a powerful referral marketing software, you can easily analyze how well your emails are performing and work out how effective they are in leading to successful referrals.