- A referral message is what your customers send to their friends via your referral program. It's usually the first introduction the friend/referral has to your business.
- Pre-drafting a referral message for the customer to send to their friend makes sharing easy, and lets you cover your brand's key points of value.
- The best referral messages give referrals a taste of your brand, what you offer, and the rewards/discounts they'll receive if they purchase.
The goal of any customer referral program is to get customers to share your brand with others, and get others excited to try your products or services. What can help you achieve this goal? Strong referral messaging.
While a referral slogan will help draw customers in, it’s the referral message they share that will help you earn quality leads. We discuss the definition of referral messaging, how to create the best referral message for your program, and stellar referral message examples to inspire your own.
What is referral messaging?
Simply put, referral messaging is what your customer shares to others. It’s the message sent to the referral – whether it’s a friend, colleague, or family member – and oftentimes an introduction to your business.
This message is essentially the starting point of the relationship between the referral and your business. As such, a referral message should be clear and convey key information about the program, the reward, and what the referral should do.
Why is your referral message important?
A strong referral message is necessary for any successful referral program. Think of the referral message as your introduction – it gives insight to people about what your business is about and what you offer. It’s also an opportunity to share what sets you apart from the competition.
A referral message plays a major part in drawing people to visit, use, or purchase from your business. While a well-written referral message can bring in new customers, not having a clear referral message often causes a program to fail.
How to write a referral message: 3 essential elements
Pre-drafting a referral message for the customer to send to their friend makes referring easy. Plus, it lets you make sure referred friends know the key points of value your business offers.
The main thing to remember when writing your referral message is to show value – and keep it short and to the point. People aren’t looking to know everything about you at this point. Rather, just give them a taste of the benefits and value you offer. This should persuade them enough to want to learn more about you. Let’s go over what elements are needed to craft the best referral message:
1. Your company logo
Show them who you are
Why not bake in some easy advertising into your referral message? Including your logo will help increase brand awareness every time a customer shares your message with others. Every time your logo is shared and seen, you establish a connection you might not have been able to make on your own.
Even if the lead doesn’t become your customer yet, the logo will help your brand stick in their minds. This may mean that, if they ever need a product or service in your niche later on, your brand will come to mind first.
2. The referral offer
What’s in it for them?
This is the main point of your referral message – what’s in it for the referral? This message is your chance to reel in a potential customer with an offer they can’t refuse, whether it’s a discount on their first purchase, a free trial, store credit, a free bonus product, or any other referral reward. It should convince them to move forward and take the next step with your company.
Remember, people get a lot of emails and messages every day. Show the value you offer and make sure your message stands out. For best results, directly tie the incentive back to your brand. If you’re giving out store credits, a discount, or something your business offers for free, that’s even more of a reason to buy.
3. Your business value
Why should the friend become your customer?
Great, your customer just shared your referral message! But without a little context, their friend may not have any idea about your business. Since this will be a potential customer’s first interaction with you, you’ll need to explain who you are and what sets you apart.
Make sure you properly introduce yourself and give a short description of your mission, values, and unique selling points
- What do you offer the market – in terms of both your products or services, and the value you bring?
- How and why are you better than the competition?
Explain what makes your brand different in a concise, yet effective manner, and entice referred friends to become your customers. Take inspiration from Morning Brew’s referral message below.
4. A call-to-action (CTA)
What do you want them to do next?
Many businesses leave the referred lead unsure about what to do next. If you want people to click through, make sure you’re clear about what their next step should be. Being clear about the call to action makes all the difference.
The ideal next step could be visiting your online store, making a purchase, or signing up for a subscription. Whatever it is, make sure your CTA gets them there.
- A referral message CTA is an easily visible button.
- It directs leads to the next page they should visit.
- The text on the button ensures there are no questions about what leads should do.
- The CTA is the closer of your message, and the make-or-break element when it comes to conversions.
Follow these CTA best practices:
- Choose a button color that stands out from the rest of the message – like Lime Crime did below with their orange button.
- State exactly what you want leads to do.
- Be clear and specific.
- Use just a few words.
- For example: “Shop now,” Join today,” or “Claim your gift.”
- Directly link to the page you want leads to visit next.
In the four referral message examples above, each brand used different wording to convey their refer a friend message. But they all let the referral know the next action to take, making it a successful referral message closing. As many marketers will tell you, your call to action is one of the most important ways to increase conversion rates.
Best referral messaging practices
Aside from the three elements already covered, there are a few other best practices to consider. While they aren’t necessary for every referral message, the following are a great way to add excitement to your referral message.
Include an engaging image or video
Adding a visual complement to your referral message can help catch others’ attention, especially with social shares. Plus, your choice of image or video is a great way to showcase your brand personality.
Oftentimes, you only have a split second to catch someone’s attention. While short text is key, an image can make the entire message pop. It’s best to catch leads’ attention with visuals that explore your offer. People don’t want to be bombarded with information, but when you can incorporate it into a fun visual, it will be much better received.
- Include a hero shot of people enjoying their reward or spending time with friends.
- Or, play up the exact reward in an image
Check out how Omsom uses eye-catching visuals in their referral message email, including to show off meals a new customer can make with Omsom products. And in Casper’s referral message, you may notice a small image before the text. The Casper coin puts a nice spin on their logo and alludes to the offered discount. But, the image is also a GIF! Adding movement in their referral message is a fun element that we see often in Casper’s modern branding.
Add in a bit of personalization
When a customer sends a referral message to others, it’s a good idea to include a bit of personalization. For instance, you can insert the customer’s name, the referral’s name, or both. These small touches makes the message seem less like a mass email and more personal.
Here’s an example of a personalized email message:
“Hey Jessica, Your friend, Reuben, thought you’d like our pool cleaning service. Here’s a coupon for a free filter change and pool sweep.”
Of course, this may not be necessary for referral messages sent through social media. Inserting the referral’s name may be difficult for large groups, while sending direct messages on someone’s social page doesn’t require adding the customer’s name into the text.
Let your customer do the talking
Instead of doing the talking for the customer, you can write the referral message as if it’s coming directly from them. For example, instead of saying “your friend Reuben,” like in the pool example above, change it to first person – your customer.
Here’s what the refer a friend message above would look like when written in the first person:
Hey Jessica, I wanted to share Pool Paradise with you. I use them to clean my pool regularly, and I think you’d like their services for your pool, too. Here’s a coupon for a free filter change and pool sweep, if you want to give them a try.
This covers all the key elements of referral messaging, but does so in the voice of your customer.
From first line to closing, it’s best to make the message seem like the referring customer could have written it for their friends.
- Talk like the lead’s friend would talk – don’t make the messaging sound like it’s from your business.
- Ensure the referral message is genuine, not salesy.
- Keep a friendly and casual tone.
Consider leaving some room where customers can write their own message from scratch (in addition to the pre-written message you send). Letting your customers do the talking also helps strengthen your relationship, as they’ll feel more inclined to match the statements being said and continue to be a customer.
Referral message examples
Now let’s look at these referral message elements in action, and how they follow the best practices from the template above. Here are a few referral message examples from the top brands, to use as inspiration:
Evernote’s referral program is quite popular, and includes a simple referral message. In two short paragraphs, the company explains who they are and what they offer. Let’s review their referral message sample and see why it works. [Referrer Name] has invited you to try Evernote
Evernote is the one workspace that syncs across all of your devices. Individuals and teams all use it to organize to-do lists, share documents, and complete projects.
Sign up for Evernote today and both you and your friend will get a complimentary month of Evernote Premium.
Notice how Evernote used its brand logo to better ingrain its brand image. It’s nice to see the logo together with the name of the company, which makes it a lot easier to remember down the road. Evernote has become one of the most well-known brands in their niche, thanks in part to this stellar referral program.
Score: 4 out of 4 (all of the essential elements are in the message)
The Zulily referral message doesn’t include a specific reward for the referral, aside from showing them where they can find good deals every day. Let’s break down their referral message to see why it works. Join the fun!
Savings up to 70%
Your favorite brands
Zulily membership is your ticket to discovering fabulous treasures at amazing prices, every day of the week.
The real benefit of this program is hidden from the referral message. (The original Zulily customer earns $15 for referring their friend, and it’s unclear if the referred friend earns a reward with purchase.) But the message still works because it introduces the new customer to Zulily and what they can expect from them.
Score: 3 out of 4 (doesn’t show the referral offer, but effectively conveys the other essential elements)
The Casper referral program has played a big part in why the brand grew so popular in a relatively short time. With great branding and a referral discount, Casper has been on a roll. The referral message is straightforward, but also shares a little more detail than some other companies.Your friend just sent you 10% off toward great sleep! Casper makes outrageously comfortable sleep products, like an award-winning mattress, adaptive pillows, and even a bed for dogs.
Use your friend’s referral link to get 10% off the purchase of your first Casper mattress. Then, your friend will get a $75 Amazon Gift Card in return. So you snooze, they snooze, and everybody wins.
You’ll also notice the message is followed by a clear call to action. Every referral knows where to go when they want to start shopping for a new mattress.
Score: 4 out of 4 (all of the essential elements are in the message)
Perfect your referral message
If you want a referral marketing program that works, you’re going to have to put in the work. Craft a clear referral message telling referrals who you are, what you accomplish, and what’s in it for them. Referral messaging plays a big part in helping your referral program – and your business – grow.
Looking for more essential tips for starting and managing the best referral program? Check out these resources: