Question for ya:
Who's heard of the legendary referral programs that sky rocketed the growth of unicorn companies like Dropbox, Paypal, Uber, and Hotmail?
One more question:
Who else has read about these referral programs and thought: "how the hell can I apply these referral programs to my business?"
Well this post is about referral programs, but it isn't about those companies.
This post is about peeps like you and me.
Who want to build our email lists so we can sell more of our products and programs.
A Referral Program for the Rest of Us
Did you know that more than 50% of people are likely to give a referral if offered a direct incentive, social recognition or access to an exclusive loyalty program. (source)
For us, a referral program is a marketing accelerant. It puts our current list building efforts on steroids, without spending time or money
You simply “Bribe” your leads into sharing your lead magnets, content, products and services with their friends.
You turn your current customers and email subscribers into brand advocates (read: social proof).
You drop the cost per lead in your PPC campaigns.
And your content is seen by more people.
So, without further ado, here are 16 ideas to kick start your referral program that will help you skyrocket your email list.
Let's Grow that Email List...
Below are some step by step strategies that you can use to grow your list with a referral program using the software that I’m giving away.
You’ll get ideas and see case studies that you will be able to implement today…
Without having to do a ton of extra work.
I don't know about you, but I can get kinda lazy. And any time I can see results without a lot of effort... Well, sign me up!
16 Referral Program Ideas to Grow Your List
1. Optin Thank You Page
Let’s kick things off with a basic referral program that will help you grow your email list.
Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Drive traffic to your lead magnet using PPC, SEO, content marketing, guest blogging, etc.
Step 2: A percentage of your new traffic gives you their email address in exchange for your lead magnet and become an email subscriber.
Step 3: Your subscribers are taken to a thank you page where you bribe them with more cool stuff to share your lead magnet with their friends.
Your subscribers friends will come to your lead magnet. And now you’ve got a simple viral loop.
Step 4: Sit on the beach with a glass of whiskey and watch the bling bling roll in. Well, we can dream, right?
2. Promote in Welcome Email
This is the first of two easy to implement email referral programs.
Let’s say the person who subscribes to your optin form doesn’t share your lead magnet when she first signs up.
Don't worry, I got ya covered!
In that case, you can remind her to do so in your welcome email.
Below is a script that you can copy (and tweak) to use in your auto-responder sequence.
And the green button can link back to the thank you page where you have your referral program set up.
(Just a heads up: This specific green button does nothing. Absolutely nothing except open this post in a new tab. It's here for demo purposes.)
Thanks so much for signing up to my list.
While you're waiting for my insanely valuable content, I have two things for you.
If you know of anyone else who can use my insanely valuable content, can you share my optin form with your friends? As my way of saying thank you, I have great bonus content for you!
Just click the Big Green Button Below
Please respond to this email telling me your greatest challenge.
You clicked on it, didn't ya? See? Told you. 😉
3. Promote in Newsletter Signature
In the second email referral program, we tackle your newsletter.
What’s the signature of your newsletter say?
Perhaps it has your name, your title, the name of your company, and your logo.
That’s the standard at the moment.
But what if you turned your newsletter signature into a marketing opportunity?
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Add a call to action in the “P.S.” or in the actual signature itself. Personally, I like to use the P.S.
Step 2: Make sure the call to action gives directions on what it is you want your reader to do. For instance:
“If you know an entrepreneur who would benefit from this course, click the button below and share it with your friends. When you do, you’ll get immediate access to the email swipe file.”
I want you to notice two things.
First, I told my readers who they should share the lead magnet with (entrepreneurs). And second, I told them what’s in it for them (immediate access to the swipe file). I find that having these two elements improves the share rate.
Step 3: Create a button (I like buttons) or link that sends people back to the thank you page where the referral program is set up.
Now, every time you send out a newsletter your subscribers will be reminded to share your lead magnet with their friends and your list will continue to grow without having to do any additional work.
Here’s how it looks in practice:
Now every time you send out a newsletter your subscribers will be enticed to share your lead magnet with their friends. And your list will continue to grow without having to do any additional work.
4. Promote in a PDF
Many of your subscribers will be reluctant to share your lead magnet without checking it out first.
It’s human nature.
People wanna make sure that they’re telling their friends about cool stuff.
Think about it:
When was the last time you personally shared a product or service or app with a friend without using it first?
If you’re like me, it probably doesn’t happen.
You can set up a referral program to get “reluctant” peeps like us to share.
Many of us give away PDF's for our lead magnets.
After spending a few minutes reading your pdf, your reader will realize how amazingly incredible it is and she can’t wait to share it with her friends.
You can make it easy for her to share with her friends simply by creating a button in the footer that links to the page with your referral program.
Kinda like this:
5. Embed in Video Training Course
If you aren’t familiar with the “Jeff Walker” style launch, let me catch you up.
Your lead magnet is a 3 or 5 part video training sequence with a new video released every day.
At the end of the video training, there is a product offering of some kind that will help you go into more depth about what you just learned.
With a 5 day video training course, you have 5 opportunities to get someone to share your lead magnet with their friends in return for some additional bonus content.
Step 1: Create an additional PDF, Checklist, or give away for each video in your series. You’ll want to make sure that the bonus content is related to what you’re talking about.
Step 2: Install your referral program software on each page of your video series. (Hey, did I mention I’m giving one away for free? :))
Step 3: Every video your subscribers watch will be an opportunity for them to share your landing page on Twitter and Facebook.My friend Reese used it to help drive traffic and leads to her video series. Here’s her setup.
When Reese’s viewers click on the Twitter and Facebook buttons to get the free work book, they are sharing the initial landing page with their friends, which helps her acquire new leads for free! Not a bad ROI!
6. Embed in Webinar Thank You Page
If you want more attendees and signups to your webinar, then this is the program you’ll need to set up.
Step 1: Create a kick ass webinar landing page.
Step 2: Create a Thank You page in a third party tool such as Leadpages, Clickfunnels, or WordPress… or any page you can place html.
Step 3: Set up a referral program to give away bonus content related to the webinar. When your webinar subscribers share your landing page, they’ll get the bonus.
Once again, I'm going to show you a screen shot of Reese's set up.
As you can see, after signing up for the webinar, her subscribers are invited to click the social media buttons in order to get a bonus workbook.
This is the first campaign that Reese ever set up, and afterward, she sent me the following email and screen shots.
How cool is that? Her webinar landing page went "viral".
7. Promote in Webinar Email
Let’s say the person who just subscribes to your webinar doesn’t refer your webinar to her friends when she first signs up.
In that case, you can remind her to do so in an autoresponder.
Below is a script that you can copy (and tweak) to use in your autoresponder sequence.
And the green button can link back to the webinar thank you page where you have your referral program set up.
(Seriously, the green button here does nothing. But if you insist on clicking on it again... be my guest. 🙂 )
Thanks so much for signing up to my webinar.
While you're waiting for the webinar to start, can you do me a favor?
If you know of anyone else who can use my insanely valuable content, can you share the webinar with your friends?
As my way of saying thank you, I'll give you my webinar bonus cheat sheet. Just click the big green button below.
8. Blog Post Share Trigger
Let’s say you’re writing a kick ass post.
And you want to make sure it gets shared by your readers.
You have one of two options.
First, you can do the traditional thing and set up share buttons on the side of the post like most blogs and hope people will click on them.
Or you can Entice your readers into sharing your post.
That’s exactly what I did with a popular post for a client of mine.
The post is called 17 Upwork Alternatives and just below the introduction, I created a little content upgrade that gives the readers a pdf of 23 Upwork Alternatives.
If my math serves me correctly, that 6 more sites than are listed in the post. 🙂
So it’s a bit of an extra incentive to share beyond just giving away the post as a pdf.
On average this click trigger adds an additional 50 or so shares per week. Week after week after week.
9. Bonus After Content Upgrade
Some of you are going to look at the previous idea and think:
"I'd rather have an email than a share any day."
I get that.
Here’s the process that you can use to collect emails AND bribe people to share your post.
Step 1: Get traffic to your blog post.
Step 2: Create a content upgrade for your blog post.
Step 3: Have an additional bribe on your thank you page that your readers can get when they Tweet or share your post on Facebook.
It’ll take a bit more work, but it’s like having your cake and eating it too. *High Five!*
What Should You Give Away?
Now that you know how to set up a program to grow your list, the question becomes:
What should you give away?
You may have some ideas based on the case studies you’ve already seen, but here are 6 ideas of what you can give away.
Some of these ideas will take a few minutes to set up. Others might require slightly more work.
Mostly though, you should be able to repurpose existing content and assets that are collecting dust on your digital bookshelf.
10. Turn a Blog Post into a PDF
This is what I call “The Lazy Man” Referral program.
You can set this entire referral program up during a Big Bang Theory commercial break.
By the way, I was surprised to see this give away work so well.
The trick? Make sure you’re not asking for the moon. After a person opts in to your initial offer, make sure they don’t have to do a lot to get your blog post. Simply ask them to Tweet about your lead magnet. Nothing more.
Pros: Super easy to create. It'll take you 3 minutes and 17 seconds to set up.
Cons: Not a whole lot of value. You can’t ask for too much in return.
Anyway, here’s how to create this giveaway:
Step 1: Go to Google Analytics and find the blog post that has received the most traffic.
Step 2: Go to https://www.printfriendly.com and follow the instructions in the video below.
Step 3: Add the PDF to your site!
Step 4: I think Big Bang Theory is back from commercial. Enjoy! :)
11. Give away an Ebook
The next step up in value from the blog post as a pdf is the Ebook.
It’s been around for years, ya’ll know what it is. So I won’t bore you with the details.
In some industries, ebooks work wonders as a lead gen source. In other industries, like marketing, they convert ok.
Pros: More value than a blog post or plane PDF.
Cons: Takes a little more time and money to create, but doesn't provide your readers the value as some of the ideas you're gonna read about now.
12. Give a List in a Google Doc
Here’s one of the single most enticing referral programs I’ve personally come across.
Let me set the stage.
I was reading a blog post on Sumo.com called: How To Get Featured on Large Publications (Without Guest Posting)
Basically, the post is about republishing, also known as content syndication.
I’m LOVE republishing. I’ve seen it work for me. And any time I see a post about how great republishing, I’ll read it.
After reading the post, I see the following.
Basically, if I share this post with my friends, Sumo.com is going to give me a Google Doc with a list of site accepting syndicated articles AND the content information of the person in charge!
How could I not share the post?
This is like waving a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in front of me with a big sign that says "Eat me!". Yes. And Please.
Pros: This can be super valuable. If you hit the right note, then your referral program will be irresistible.
Cons: This can take a long time to set up. I imagine it took a few hours to track down the contact information for all of the editors of these sites.
13. Give Free Video Training
Right now video is EVERYWHERE!
Seriously, can you scroll through a Facebook feed and not see 5 videos in the first 10 seconds?
There are two reasons for this.
First, it allows your customers and subscribers to hear your voice. This provides a level of intimacy that text simply can’t compare to. Your subscribers can get caught up in your excitement, see your body language, and feel more connected to you.
And second, a good video is perceived as highly valuable. In the internet marketing world, an ebook might sell for $17. Take the same information and turn it into a video, and all of a sudden you have a $200 product.
Pros: Highly valuable. Build a rapport with your audience.
Cons: A video with high production value can take a lot of time and money to make.
14. Give a Discount
Want to know the best way to get people to share your lead magnet?
Give them cold hard cash!
Let’s say someone has gone through your Jeff Walker style video marketing sequence and they are watching your sales video.
The person is contemplating buying your product, but they aren’t sure.
They just need something to put them over the edge.
Instead of forcing scarcity by creating a bogus reason why your digital product "can only accept 50 people", you can ask them to share your video training with their friends…
And in return you will give them a special link for 20% off of their purchase.
Ecommerce companies have been giving discounts to entice consumers to share with their friends.
Pros: Putting cold hard cash into someone’s pocket is probably the best way to “bribe” your customers into sharing your lead magnet with their friends. And it’s easy to set up.
Cons: You take money out of your pocket. You’ll need to monitor to make sure the referral program is profitable.
15. Give Access to a Private Group
Facebook and slack groups are all the rage these days.
My friend Reese, who you met earlier, runs a private Facebook group that drives a ton of traffic to her blog posts.
She spends about 3-4 hours per week posting in the group and answering questions.
But her community really responds.
When she has a new coaching program she wants to try, or a new course she wants to create, she has a loyal fan base waiting to give her money.
Pros: Creates a sense of loyalty to you and your brand.
Cons: Takes a ton of work. 3-4 hours a week might not sound lik
16. Give a Presentation or Slide Deck
There is a ton of value in giving away a presentation or slide deck.
They are both informative and visual. Something that will help you stand out from the rest of the bloggers in your space.
I don’t think that you should create a presentation or slide deck JUST for your referral campaign. That’s a lot of work… And if you’ve noticed the theme of this article, I’m trying to help you get traffic and subscribers without spending much time.
So think about this:
Do you have a slideshare presentation? An old webinar? A speech that you gave that you recorded?
If so, then any of these options will make for an amazing give-away.
Pros: It’s pretty easy to set up if you already have a slide deck or presentation already created. You can simply repurpose an old webinar or something along those lines.
Cons: However, if you don’t have this already created, it can take quite some time.
Over to you…
Unless you’ve skimmed this entire post (hey, I’m not judging, I do it all the time), by now you know that I’ve created a referral app that will help you execute every one of these strategies.
Now it’s your turn to create a referral program.
First, to head over to the referral software I created and sign up.
Then create one of the campaigns that I mentioned in this post.
Finally, join me on the beach for a glass of whiskey while our customers and subscribers build our list for us… or bring your beverage of choice. 🙂