Referral rate shows the rate of purchases that result from your referral program. By measuring your overall referral rate, you can identify how well your referral program is working and where to focus your efforts.

Based on our experience helping thousands of companies optimize referral programs, we’ve created this referral rate guide. Follow our steps to bring in more new customers and get the most value from your referral strategy.

What is referral rate?

Referral rate measures the percentage of total purchases made that come from referrals – from customers who were referred to your business or product through someone else. This rate is usually calculated per month or year.

For example, if two out of every 100 purchases came from customer referrals last month, then your referral rate for that month would be 2%. referral rate formula

How to calculate a referral rate?

To calculate the referral rate, you will need to know how many purchases have come from referrals over a set time period (e.g. a month, quarter, or year). Once you have that number, divide it by the total number of purchases within that same time period. This will give you the overall referral rate over that period.

You can then calculate other referral rates across different equivalent time periods, and compare the referral rates to measure progress. You can also compare referral rates to purchase rates across other marketing channels. 

This is one place where referral software really shines. Referral software tracks all the referrals your customers make – it records who made the referral and when the referral resulted in a purchase. So, it’s convenient and simple to instantly see how many purchases have come from referrals, and find your referral rate.

What is a good referral rate?

A referral rate of 2% is generally considered to be healthy. The global average referral rate across all industries is 2.35%. If your referral rate is close to or higher than this, then you can feel confident in knowing that your referral program is on track. A few industries have exceptionally high referral rates on average (between 3% and 5%). This includes the SaaS industry.

referral rate stats

How to improve referral rates?

Improving referral rates involves two fundamental steps – encouraging customers to refer more often and enticing the maximum number of referred leads to complete their purchases. The following tips are some of the most effective ways to accomplish these two goals, increase your referral rate, and boost customer acquisition:

Offer attractive rewards

It is absolutely essential to offer referral rewards that are attractive enough to entice your customers to refer leads, but that are still friendly to your budget. Think beyond the cash referral fee – you can also offer other rewards that are tailored to your brand. Rewards that tie back to your brand include store credits (gift cards), free products, service upgrades, swag, and exclusive bundles.

 It’s also a good idea to simply poll or ask customers what they would like to receive as a reward and tailor your rewards program to both their needs and yours. You might even consider a tiered structure, where rewards increase in value the more referrals someone makes.

Postable referral email

Make incentives double-sided

Both the referring customer and referred lead should be highly motivated to participate in your referral program. It’s not enough for just existing customers to be incentivized to make referrals; you must also offer something of value to your referred leads to encourage them to complete their purchases. This could involve offering discounts, free trials, or other enticing promotional offers that apply to the first purchase.

omsom referral landing page

Use timed email reminders strategically

Reminding customers to refer friends or family on a consistent basis, but not too often, is another effective way to increase referral rates. The ideal time frequency for reminders typically sits in the 3 to 6-month range and can be adjusted depending on the customer’s particular purchase cycle. 

The right referral software will automate email sending for timely customer reminders and even allow for segmentation or personalization based on customer interests. These strategies will help keep the program top of mind without being overwhelming.

brain fm reminder email

Craft referral emails that get to the point

To motivate maximum sharing, referral emails need to get to the point quickly. The first thing customers will see when they receive a referral email is the subject line. It should be concise, and should include the reward to motivate email opens. 

The next component of the email they’ll see is the headline. This should tell customers what to do (refer) and why (receive the reward).

 Keep the body of the email short and sweet, and address the customer by name to add a personal touch. The body of the email should simply explain how the referral program works in no more than three or four bullet points. And be sure to include the unique referral link. Placing the customer’s referral link right in the email can make the referral process easier for customers while drastically increasing click through rates.

 Including an eye-catching hero image that shows the reward being offered, and that fits with your brand, can help drive home the point. The hero image could also show friends having fun and connecting with your products.

Finally, add a CTA above the fold that’s easy to pick out, and that directly states what you want the customer to do in a few words (e.g. “share now” or “get $10”). Make the CTA button a color that stands out from the rest of the email.

Little Spoon referral email

Personally ask customers to refer

There are several effective ways for personally asking customers to refer your products or services. One method is to send repeat customers a personalized letter that invites them to join your program and offers a heartfelt thank you for their consistent support. You could even provide insights into how they have helped your organization grow since they first became a customer.

Another way to ask customers for referrals is to reach out post-purchase, whether that’s via a thank you page or in an email. Here you can thank them for their purchase, remind them of the reward they will receive if they refer someone else, and provide an easy link to share your company with others.

You might even invite customers to make more referrals right after they earn a referral reward, especially if you have a tiered program. 

morning brew consider us impressed

Make sure you’re promoting your program well

People need to know about your program for your referral rates to be healthy! You should be promoting your referral program through a mix of the following ways:

  • On your website, including a banner ad, a dedicated landing page, and numerous links
  • In mass emails focused on your program
  • In personal referral emails sent to your most loyal and satisfied customers
  • In news/update emails, confirmation emails, and other emails unrelated to your referral marketing efforts
  • Through social media posts (consider shouting out top referrers for added social proof!)
  • In email signatures and social media bios
  • In your customer portal (if you have one)
  • On social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
  • In-store (if applicable)

gold's gym twitter referral promo

Try making referring a game

Gamifying your referral program is an exciting way to organically increase engagement. This could include running referral contests, rewarding top referrers each month, or hosting drawings for a big-ticket item in which one successful referral equals one entry.

Make sure to add some game-like elements, like leaderboards and progress bars, for customers to track their referrals. Additionally, you could create a special referral page with animations or other visuals to make the experience more fun and rewarding.