20 Referral Marketing Ideas to Get Referrals for your eCommerce Business

DISCLOSURE: This blog post may contain affiliate links and any purchase(s) made through such links will result in a small commission to HUSTLR (at no cost for you).

Table of Contents

One of the fastest ways to grow your eCommerce business is through referral marketing. However, setting up a program is not enough. You also need to promote it. In this article, you’ll learn 20 ideas on how you can improve the referral system of your online business. 

1. Start with a Catchy Headline

You can attract more people in your referral system with a catchy headline. This means that the headline should state what the market can get from promoting your brand as well as give them ways on how they can support it. Headlines are essential in communicating what your referral program is and how it can help your customers in getting more value for their money spent. Start with the reward and continue with how many people signed up. This can then act as social proof that your referral program is effective in encouraging people to sign up to your page.

2. Think of Creative Rewards

Next, you should also think of creative rewards. While there are typical rewards such as cash, discount code, or a freebie, you should still look for ways on how you can add a unique type of compensation that resonates with your market’s needs. It may help to do some preliminary research before you release your rewards. You can do this by conducting a survey. You can ask your market about the awards that they want. From here, you can provide what they need. Of course, you will still need to study if the reward works within your budget. It doesn’t work for your business to lose money for releasing a successful referral program. 

3. Reward All of your Participants

You will notice that every referral program is different. While some referral programs focus on referrers as the receiver of the reward, there are also referral systems that focus on the referrals. Through testing, marketers have found that the best path is to reward both. When you do this, you eliminate the friction between the two parties. This means that both parties will be motivated to sign up for your program, and they may also promote your brand to other people in the process. It is vital for you, the product owner, to understand that a referral program will not work unless all the participants are motivated to take action. So, you must give them the rewards that they deserve. 

4. Think Beyond a Typical Referral Program

When you think about a typical referral program, you can picture a program that gives away one reward for every signup. The bonus can be for the referrer or the friend. But it is usually given when someone takes action. However, you should not limit rewards to a one-time grant. You can also build tiers of rewards through contests. This means that you allow your customers to qualify for prizes when they manage to convince enough people to sign up. Similarly, you can also implement other creative systems on how your market can get access to your rewards. This way, your program will be more dynamic and will provide more opportunities for ‘winning’ prizes.

5. Create Exclusive Rewards

Another factor that you can add to your rewards is exclusivity. This is where you create prizes that are only distributed through your referral program. This works because it adds extra motivation for your target audience. Unlike a typical reward that can be accessed by everyone, the bonus is considered special. This works in niches where the audience tends to collect the items that are sold. You can sell a limited edition item that can only be bought through the referral program. Or you can just give it away. With this format, the reward is access to the exclusive product. 

6. Ask Help from Influencers

You can also get more referrals in your referral system if you ask help from influencers. Influencer marketing is effective because it leverages the followers that influencers have. Influencers are called such because they managed to gain a significant amount of followers in their industry. They were able to do this by continuously providing content that is useful or interesting. Because of this, they were able to not only influence the point-of-views of their target market, but they can also encourage them to take action. This is powerful, and it can help your referral program to attract more referrers. So if you are looking for ways on how you can promote your referral system, influencer marketing is a great way to start.

7. Utilize Social Media

Social media marketing is useful because it allows you to promote where the market is. More and more people are now spending their lives scrolling through social media channels. They usually spend more time on these social media websites than on search engines. Because of this, you can use these platforms to get more referrals in your program. Integrating your referral program into social media is essential for higher chances of success. You can do this in different ways. First, you can promote your program on social media. You can do this by simply sharing it. Next, you can also allot points for social media promotions. This is where you give them referral points for merely sharing the program or your products on social media. 

8. Create Milestones

Another approach that you can take is to create milestones. This is where you give your referrers a certain number of referrals that they should hit to unlock rewards. This system is prevalent in network marketing, but you can also use it in your referral system. You only need to set milestones for hitting a certain number of referrals. This will then unlock new rewards. This makes a typical referral program look more exciting as it adds another premium on top of the regular compensation that the referrer will get from promoting the brand.q

9. Add Special Rewards

You also have the option to add exclusive rewards to your initial rewards. You can do this by splitting the first prize and distributing it to charities. By doing this, the person that signs up to your referral program does more than just get a reward; they also get to help other people in the process. This is great for industries where assisting specific charities are embedded. For example, the vegan community naturally cares about animals. So if your store is all about vegan-friendly products, you can set up a referral program that also helps PETA in the process. This is an excellent way to appeal to the audience’s inclination to maintain. By doing this, it makes your referral program more exciting, and it helps you stand from the crowd. 

10. Learn from Network Marketers

You can also learn from the reward schemes in multi-level marketing or network marketing. Usually, these systems contain plans where recruitment should be paired to qualify for rewards. You can also employ the same concept in a referral program. All you need to do is ask your referrers to recruit at least two referrals in order to qualify for the reward. You can also change the terms from a simple visitor or subscriber to a buyer. This means that you only pay the compensation when the referral has bought an item from your store. 

NOTE: These are just ideas on how you can make your program more unique. These are suggestions and not obligations. You can choose to implement a network marketing scheme if it helps your business. 

11. Utilize the Latest Technologies

The number of technologies used in referral marketing has grown. Not only do you need to choose from a selection of referral software, but you also have so many tools that you can use to promote your program. With this, you must familiarize yourself with all of the latest technologies. For example, there is chatbot marketing. This is where you reach out to your target market through chatbots. You can do this by setting up messages in your chatbot so that it will automatically reply to inquiries. You just need to set the keywords. You can also be quite creative with it. Some companies use these to stop shopping cart abandonment, and it works. You must study and learn how to maximize the use of these technologies so that you can promote your referral system successfully. 

12. Respond to Your Customers’ Needs

You can also provide rewards as a response to your customer’s needs. If you find that your customers are looking for a particular variation on your products, you can combine this with the exclusivity strategy and create exclusive products that are only released in your referral program. When you do it this way, it shows your customers that you are listening. But you are only going to give them exactly what they want if they also helped your business grow. 

13. Test the Results of your Campaigns

It is also an excellent habit always to test the results of your campaigns. When you start launching your referral program, you are still left in the dark about what works and what doesn’t. To get out of this situation, you must test your campaigns to see what types of rewards work better with your target market. Aside from this, you may also want to test your referral program format. There are some formats that work better than others. So be sure to take note of that. 

14. Choose a Reward-Based on Your Target Market

You must take your target market into consideration when you are creating a referral program. You should do your part of asking your customers about what they want before you provide it. This way, your campaign will be hyper-targeted when you launch it. 

15. Try Different Referral Platforms

You will find that there are so many software that you can choose from. You’ll find that some software may not be tagged for referral programs, but they also work in getting more referrals into your system. For example, a WooCommerce affiliate plugin in WordPress can also help you set up a referral program. You need to test these to find out which will help you with your desired purpose. 

16. Launch Multiple Campaigns

You will never know what will work unless you test. When it comes to testing, it helps not to put all of your eggs in one basket. This means that you should launch multiple campaigns to see which factors work for you. Doing this will help you find out more about your target market as well as find out ways on how you can optimize your referral campaigns for your target market.

17. Make Your Campaigns Exclusive

In the same way, you may want to create exclusive campaigns for every aspect of your target market. You see, people are already so used to seeing advertisements online. They need content that speaks directly to them. With these campaigns, it shows that you are talking to them, and you have their best interest in mind. 

18. Create Product-Based Campaigns

In the same way, you can create referral campaigns based on products. This is where you promote based on who bought the products and gave them a recommendation based on the action that they have taken. This is a more personal approach in referral marketing, and it works because the message is hyper-targeted to the audience. 

19. Count User-Generated Content

Reviews are critical if you want your referral system to succeed. But so is user-generated content. What counts as user-generated content? These are the social posts that your customers have on their social media profiles. It is what they have to say about your brand. All of these help in getting more referrals in your business. 

20. Reward Mentions

You can also choose a different type of referral program by rewarding anyone who mentions your brand. This encourages more people to talk about your brand, and it also shows that you appreciate their efforts in saying your brand to other people. 


Keep these strategies in mind and you can quickly boost a brand new website to success. Brand new sites like Best Drums Set Labs have used this, and it worked in getting more referrals to a unique referral system. It all depends on your creativity and manner of promotion.

If you’ve used some of the tactics mentioned in the article, let us know how it has worked out for you in the comment section below. Also, feel free to share any tactics that you have used for your own business that we did not mention here, and how it has worked out for you. We would love to know more about it!

Author Bio
Arlen Robinson is the co-founder and VP of Business Development at OSI Affiliate Software. He is also the host of The Ecommerce Marketing Podcast where he discusses marketing strategies with experts from all over the world.

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