How to Write Referral Messages [+8 Referral Messaging Examples]

Learn best practices for referral messages, and how you can use these messages to gain quality leads and achieve better business growth. Plus, get inspired by proven referral messaging examples.
Updated on December 13, 2022

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

If you could say anything you wanted to interested prospective customers, via a voice they trust the most, what would you tell them?

People trust the word of their friends more than they trust messaging that comes directly from your brand. So, it’s a wise choice to let their friends be the messenger – by creating a referral program and its referral messaging.

Referral messaging lets you tell prospective customers about your company, via the recommendations of peers they trust. It expresses what you do, and why you’re the best brand to do it, from the peer’s perspective. This, along with smart language that speaks to your market’s needs, can help your platform thrive.

Refer to this article to learn about best practices for referral messages, and how you can use these messages to gain quality leads and achieve better business growth. We’ll also cover proven referral messaging examples.

What is a referral message?

A referral message is the message that your existing customers send to their friends, via a referral program.

It is the first experience potential customers have with your brand. So, it’s your chance to make an impression and close the sale.

A referral message can be sent via email, social media, or SMS. Existing customers should have the option to send the referral message in the medium that works best for them, and that they would normally use to communicate with friends.

What is the purpose of a referral message?

The referral message presents the rewards and benefits that a referred lead will receive when they become your new customer. It also encourages the lead to purchase or sign up for your products or services.

For the best results, the referral message should:

Introduce the lead to your business.

  • What’s the company called?
  • What do you do?

Share the benefits of becoming a new customer.

  • What sets you apart from other businesses?
  • What rewards will a lead receive for becoming a new customer?

Encourage them to take the next step.

  • What should they do next?
  • Sign up? Click? Order?
  • Let them know with a smart and effective call-to-action.

Incorporating these key components into your referral message will help you draw in more customers.

Why do you need a referral message?

A referral message is a major factor in whether referred leads become your customers. Your messaging is vital for a  few specific reasons:

It’s the first impression of your business. This message is the first official interaction new customers have with your brand. It introduces customers to your products, logo, mission and values.

It lets you show what sets you apart. Your referral message is the perfect time to cover points such as:

  • What makes your brand different?
  • How do you meet customers’ unique needs?
  • Why should customers sign on with you instead of others?

Finally, it’s coming from friends that new leads trust. By asking existing customers to refer their friends, you can reach leads who are more likely to sign up and become your new customers. After all, people trust what their friends have to say.

When your existing customers do the marketing for you, this increases your ROI. And when a message comes from the peer’s perspective, and sounds genuine, it’s even more personal and convincing.

How do you write a referral message? The 4 main elements

Think about how many emails, texts, and other messages a person receives on average. Your referral message must stand out and give referred leads a reason to follow through.

A well-crafted referral message can bring in new customers like a magnet. But if your referral message isn’t clear and compelling enough, leads may click away without giving your brand another thought.

Not to worry. These essential points will help you optimize your referral messaging and convert referred leads.

1. The referral offer: What’s in it for them?

Referred leads want to know what’s in it for them – and we don’t just mean the intrinsic benefits of your product or service.

Give them an incentive to sign up or purchase, such as a discount on their first purchase, store credit, or free bonus product. For best results, directly tie the incentive back to your brand. 

your friend gave you airbnb credit

2. Your company logo: Show them who you are

Creating a logo that stands out and showing it helps build brand awareness. After all, a lead might not have heard of you before.

Your logo is a visual of your brand identity that leads can easily remember. It can help establish a connection without using the written word.

  • According to Renderforest, a logo is “the #1 most recognizable brand identifier,” as “75% of people recognize a brand by its logo.”
  • And as Finances Online shares, 42% of consumers believe that a logo effectively communicates a company’s personality.

Even if the lead doesn’t purchase right now, 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. 

moo referral message

3. The value of your business: Why should they become your customer?

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.

  • 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. 

morning brew smart friends

4. The call-to-action (CTA): What do you want them to do next?

Finally, tell your leads what step they should take next with a call-to-action (CTA). This solid way to end your message encourages leads’ involvement.

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.
  • In your CTA text, 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.

lime crime

3 best practices for writing a referral message

The next few elements aren’t necessary for every referral message, but using them in your message can greatly strengthen its effects. Consider adding these elements in order to beef up your messaging and increase its success rate.

1. Include both friends’ names

By adding first names to the message, you’re making the interaction more personal. For example: “Hey James, your friend Carly sent you this deal.”

This simple personalization can increase the likelihood that a reader will open the message, and that they will follow through with signup.

Note that personalization isn’t recommended for social media posts (since they’re usually shared with many friends at once). However, it works extremely well on other mediums, such as email.

2. Make the message sound like it’s coming from a peer

Because the message is sent via a friend or family member, writing it from their point of view can add value.

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). 

Remember that people trust their peers’ opinions more than messaging that sounds like it comes from your brand. That’s what makes referral marketing so powerful!

Capitalize on this level of trust by letting your customer tell the story, not by directly pitching to new shoppers as the brand. Let the value of friends’ insights work in your favor.

3. Include eye-catching visuals

According to 3M Corporation, people process images a staggering 60,000 times faster than text-based content.

So, 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. 

The faster you can catch a consumer’s eye, the better chance they’ll sign up.

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.

omsom referral message


Referral messaging examples

Seeking more inspiration? Take a look at these examples for a glimpse at top brands’ referral marketing campaigns and successful referral message templates. 


everyplate referral message 1

everyplate referral message 2

EveryPlate’s referral message template includes many of the elements we mentioned above.

  • The message gets straight to the point, letting the consumer know what they can get right away ($20 off the first delivery).
  • The brand also includes plenty of visual aspects, like the gift card that shows the reward.
  • Further down, EveryPlate explains who they are and why the lead should sign up for the meal delivery (“you decide, we deliver, you devour”).
  • Then, the company closes it out with a CTA that directs customers to sign up and claim their $20 reward.
  • The EveryPlate team even get a bonus for using customers’ first names!


casper referral mesaging

Mattress brand Casper has also mastered the referral message essentials.

  • Casper grabs viewer attention with its logo right at the top of the message.
  • Next, the brand explains why their product is great, and what both friends get when the message recipient makes a purchase.
  • The message is short, yet effective in getting the referral email’s point across.
  • The slogan “You snooze, they snooze, and everybody wins” is also a smart play on words. It’s catchy and helps customers remember the Casper brand.
  • The button CTA is big and easy to find so customers can quickly sign up.

Vinyl Me, Please

vinyl me please vmp referral message

We love record subscription club Vinyl Me, Please’s commitment to authenticity. 

  • This referral message is written from the point of view of the friend, which allows for fun, casual messaging that explains Vinyl Me, Please’s services and the reward on offer.
  • Vinyl Me, Please also includes added content from the brand itself, to further explain the value of the subscription.
  • The brand follows that with a big, green CTA button for sign-up.
  • The button includes the $10 reward on offer, for an increased ROI.

Wrapping up

Your referral message is the first impression your brand will have with newly referred leads.

It’s important to get it right by telling them what you do, who you are, and why they should become your customer. Other key elements include your logo, a CTA, and of course, a clear list of what they’ll get for joining the reward program.

As we’ve covered, there are several elements to creating an effective referral message. Nailing them all can draw in more customers faster, and grow your increased revenue.

Learn more about referral messaging, and all the other elements that go into a referral program, in this comprehensive article.

Or, check out these other related resources: