Referral Messaging Best Practices: How To Get Your Referral Message Across

Updated on June 8, 2021

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Referral messaging is a proven way for you to tell new customers about your company, via the recommendations of friends and peers they trust. Express what you do, and why you’re the best brand to do it, through a peer recommendation. This, along with smart language in reaching your market – for instance, a slogan – can help your platform thrive.

Think about what you want to say to new customers, and how you’ll achieve this goal with a referral letter.

Refer to this article to learn about referral messaging best practices, and how you can use them to gain quality leads that will lead to better business growth. We’ll also cover proven examples of the referral messaging process.

What is a referral message?

With a referral program, the whole idea is to get current customers to invite their friends and family members to patronize your business. By having existing customers sing your praises, new customers are more likely to sign up. You can also reach corners of customers you wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. All while increasing your ROI by having leads do the marketing for you.

With the referral program, you’ll need a referral message – this is what folks send to new customers. It’s the first experience potential customers have with your brand. This message is your chance to make an impression and close the sale.

The referral message should do a few things:

  • Introduce the new customer to your business. What’s the company called? What do you do? What sets you apart?
  • 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.

A referral message can be sent via email, social media, or SMS. Allow customers the option to send the referral message in the medium that works best for them.

By incorporating these key components into your referral message, you can help the program work in your favor. This will draw in more customers, maintain customer retention, and put your marketing on autopilot. Check out some email examples of a referral offer below.

Why is a referral message vital?

Your referral message is vital for a few reasons:

It’s the first impression of your business. This is the first interaction new customers have with your brand. (Well, aside from conversations with the referrer.)

 Make yourself look appealing. Nothing is a faster turn-away than a message that’s jumbled or doesn’t make sense. Get your message right for a better outcome for your referral program.

It’s your opportunity to show others what sets you apart. What makes your brand different? Why should customers sign on with you instead of others? Tell them in your initial referral message that includes a referral link.

Finally, it’s coming from friends that new leads trust. Be sure to write the message like it’s coming from a peer, including the subject line. You want the message to seem as though the referring customer could have written it for their friends, in the same tone a friend would use. Avoid being too salesy, and remain genuine. When a message is in the voice of a peer, it’s more personal and convincing.

4 can’t-miss referral messaging elements

These main points to your referral messaging help pull the entire thing together. They include:

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

New customers want to know what they’re getting. Especially in a cold message, there needs to be an incentive to sign up or purchase, such as a discount, store credit, or free bonus product. Think about how many emails or messages a person receives on average … make yours stand out and give them a reason to follow through.

Your referral message is the main point from your marketers. Get folks excited about your brand with a reward in order to increase ROI.

2. Your company logo: Show them who you are

You’ll want to have a visual aspect, but showing your logo is the first impression of company branding. It’s a vision they can remember, it shows your style and colors, and it can help establish a connection without using the written word.

Be sure to include your company logo in your word-of-mouth marketing for an effective marketing strategy.

3. The value of your business: What sets you apart?

Since this will be a potential customer’s first interaction with you, you’ll need to explain who you are. What do you have to offer? What sets you apart from the competition? Explain what makes your brand different in a concise, yet effective manner to entice new customers to sign up.

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

A CTA, or call-to-action, is where you express to your customers what’s best for them to do next. Usually,  for a referral program, this ideal next step will either be checking out your online store, making a purchase, or subscribing to emails. Explain what they should do to increase the likelihood that it will take place. Be clear and specific in your CTA.

For example: “Click here to get started” or “Sign up to earn your free reward.” This is a solid way to end your message that encourages follower involvement.

3 best practices for writing a referral message

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

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, simply by getting more personal with the referral message.

Note that this isn’t recommended for social media posts (since they’re usually shared with many friends at once), but this can have value on other mediums.

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 as if it came from them can add potential value. In other words, don’t make the messaging sound like it’s coming from your business.

You should also ensure the referral message is genuine, not salesy. It should be your goal to remain casual in tone. Don’t give a sales pitch – keep it light. This is true in ecommerce and service businesses alike.

Consider leaving some room where customers can write their own message from scratch (in addition to the pre-written message you send). This adds a personal note and can further entice them to sign up.

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 in the first place! 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

Finally, you can reach your potential customer base by including eye-catching visuals. Catch their attention with stats, images, or data points that explore your offer. People don’t want to be bombarded with data, but when you can incorporate it into a fun visual, it will be much better received.

Include visuals like a hero shot – someone who is enjoying their reward. Play up the reward in images, and so on. The more you can catch a consumer’s eye, the better chance they have at signing up.

Referral messaging examples

Take a look at these examples for a glimpse at top referral marketing campaigns and successful referrals. Here are a few excerpts from thriving brands.


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. They also include visual aspects like the gift card that shows their reward. Further down, the brand explains who they are and why the consumer should sign up for the meal delivery (“you decide, we deliver, you devour”). Then they close it out with a CTA that directs customers to sign up and claim their $20 reward.

They even get a bonus for using customers’ first names!


Casper referral mesaging

Casper grabs viewer attention with their logo right at the top of the message. Next, they explain why their product is great, and then 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 them as a 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

This referral message is written from the point of view of the friend. This allows for fun, casual messaging that explains Vinyl Me, Please’s services and the reward on offer. In addition to the above visual, they also box out the message from that added content that comes from the brand itself. They follow that with a big button for sign-up, that includes the $10 reward on offer, for an increased ROI.

Wrapping up

Your referral message is the first impression your brand will have with new customers. It’s important to get it right by telling them what you do, who you are, and why they should join. Other key elements include your logo, a CTA, and of course, a clear list of what they’ll get for joining the reward program.

There is more than just one element in creating an effective referral message. Nailing them all can draw in more customers faster, and grow your increased revenue.

For help putting your message together, head to this comprehensive article.