Reward Ideas_longWord of mouth marketing is one of the biggest drivers of revenue growth, but to be effective you need to promote, attract advocates and measure results. Although it may seem like you can’t control who will sell on your behalf… You can encourage people to refer friends to your referral programs.

You can learn more about how to build a referral program with the articles below:


On this article we focus on reward ideas to create a referral program that is attractive and effective, able to boost your referral results. You don’t have to apply all those techniques to be successful, just think about the ones that relate to your type of business and brand.

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Idea #1 - Gift Card: The old and famous!

Often when advocates receives cash, it goes into their day-to-day costs like mortgage repayments, loans or energy bills. Gift cards can allow them for guilt-free spending to buy something tangible that they may have been wanting to purchase for some time such as new golf clubs or running shoes.

The tangible gift purchased with the gift card will remind them of your brand and what they did to achieve the reward. While they may not remember their cash bonus years later, the TV or computer they could finally buy thanks to their referrals will always stay in their minds.

Memorable gifts can make the thank you even feel more appreciated, which helps drive engagement and repetition.

Idea #2 - Store Credit: Advocates get something from you!

This is a common referral marketing ideas. Rewarding your referrers with a store credit is a great incentive because it preserves your margins and this credit will drive purchase behavior. When they use their credit to make additional purchases, they reinforce their loyalty and build trust with your brand, which makes future purchases even easier. 

Store credits will work better for brands with a fast sale cycles, fast-consumption goods, and lower-priced products.

Idea #3 - Upgraded Product/Service: Offering a little “Extra!"

Instead of giving your customers something new, give them a better version of something they already have (or just bought). For instance, you could upgrade them to the premium service of your tool or tack on an additional hour of consulting time.

Just like rewarding someone with store credit, this technique is usually cost-effective because your costs are less than the retail value of the reward. But it doesn’t fit with all business, being more effective in service companies and subscription services, for example.

Idea #4 - Discount in bills: Saving is also a good reward!

It seems intuitive to our minds that cash incentives would work better than any other kind of incentive. But in some markets and for some people, non-cash incentives can work as good as cash or even better: University of Chicago study shows that non-cash incentives can 24% more effective at boosting referral performance than cash incentives! If you work with monthly services, you can offer a discount on their next bill, after referring a friend.

This is definitely a good incentive and engaging strategy, since advocate may want to continually send you referrals, to get constant discounts and savings!

Idea #5: Reward stages: Different amounts for each stage of the referral!

This referral technique works pretty well for long sale cycles or multi-steps processes, such as solar panels and home improvement services, for example. On this case, the Advocate might earn $25 when a referral schedules an appointment, another $25 if that referral gets a proposal, and then a final $200 when the referral pays their invoice. This will keep the advocates engaged throughout the process and excited to keep sending you referrals.

Referral Stages

Idea #6 - Work with a reward bonus: Scale-up!

Your customers may refer more if the incentive gets better each time they do it.

This can turn your customers more involved in the referral process. For example, you can create a program where the reward depends on how many referrals your customer sends. Your customer could earn a certain for their first 5 Referrals. Then they would hit the next tier where they would earn the double for every referral after that.
They can also earn a bonus reward for every 3 referrals they send.
Referral Rewards Bonus
Idea #7 - Social Gifting 1-sided reward: Only referrals gets rewards!

Social gifting is a unique referral marketing idea because it doesn’t reward the advocate with anything at all. The entire reward goes to the referred friend. This technique is especially useful for brands who are confident that people will buy their product once they become aware of it.

With this strategy, the friend is delighted to receive a gift from the Advocate. The Advocate gets the satisfaction (and credit) of giving a gift, and the brand gets an opportunity to convert someone into a customer.

Idea #8 - Social Gifting 2-sided reward: Advocates and Referrals get the reward!

You can also go one step further for the 1-sided reward and do it for both sides. That means that both parties, the Advocates and their friend who signs up, should benefit. This technique reinforces brand advocacy and loyalty for both sides involved, giving your brand more opportunities for new business.

Idea #9 - Charity Donation: Reward for a social cause!

This idea depends on your type of customer and can be offered as an option because some people are more motivated by contributions to causes rather than rewards for themselves. They might be more likely to refer their friends if you donate to a worthy charity on their behalf.

Just make sure that the charity you choose will need to align with your business and your customer’s values. For example, TOMS shoes donate shoes to children in need, and Warby Parker, a glasses company, is committed to good eye care around the world.

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Idea #10 - Expand the advocate’s criteria: Incentives not only for customers!

Referrals result from 2 different processes and you should take advantage of both when asking for them.

Experience-Based Referrals.

These are referrals that arise because of direct experience working with your company. This includes mainly your past and current customers, but also partners, employees, and vendors, for example. The strategy here is to get as many people as possible to ask them about your brand.

Reputation-Based Referrals.

These referrals come from people who have not worked with you directly but are familiar with your brand, and its reputation or expertise.
They may know someone who has worked with you or bought something from you and had a great experience. They also may be familiar with what you offer and may got a proposal in the past (but didn’t become a customer). Or they might know you specialize in certain industries or certain services but lack any real knowledge of your reputation.

When building your referral program, take advantage of both groups and design ways to communicate with those people and ask for referrals whenever you think is the right moment.

Referral Sources

Idea #11 - Seasonal Campaigns: Explore the calendar for extra touchpoints!

A great way to kick up excitement for your referral program is to offer a seasonal or event-related reward. The holiday season is the most popular for shopping, for example: from Black Friday up through Christmas, consumers are emptying their wallets for gifts, winter items, and more. It’s a great time to recruit new customers!

While this is a big-ticket time, you can easily do the same by offering advocates a special holiday-themed product or mini service for referring another customer to your business during the holiday season or other special days!

Idea #12 - Advocates Recognition: Featuring best Advocates in case studies or testimonials!

This kind of referral marketing technique can work really well for B2B companies. By making your customers more visible, it helps them and you to get more reach and trust. After reading a case study or watching a testimonial, some people will approach those clients and ask about their services and products and also about your company. 

The more widely you circulate your case studies and testimonials, the more likely that a prospect will get interested and become a customer. You’ll benefit from the “unsolicited endorsement.”

Even better, do your case studies/testimonials with a video. They are more personal, believable and persuasive.

Idea #13 - Multi-Level Rewards: Rewards for friends’ friends!

This technique will help your referral program expand beyond your advocates’ network since their referrals can send you more friends and they will all get rewarded! With this technique, you give people the chance to share a referral link or an advocate link. 

With a referral link, the referral process ends up on this connection and only those people get the reward. But with the advocate link, all referral levels are linked, and they keep getting rewards once a new friend is added to the network

Once more, this technique may not work for all businesses, but for B2B or high-ticket products it is attractive and sustainable.

To conclude our referral reward ideas...

The idea of this list is giving insights to different types of businesses on how they can add the perfect reward for their referral program and attract as much advocates as possible. You can combine more than one idea and shape it for your business.


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