5 Refer-a-Friend Campaign Examples

Abdul Wahab

Abdul Wahab

· 9 min read
5 Refer-a-Friend Campaign Examples

With so many options and customers' short attention spans, the marketing tactics that formerly propelled organizations to prominence need to be updated. More and more firms are returning to traditional marketing methods, relying on word-of-mouth to establish brand perception and attract new customers.

The approach is simple: find your loyal consumers and propose them with attractive incentives in exchange for referring new customers to your company. Referral marketing influences 81% of all customer purchase choices in favor of a product or service, making it a potent promotion channel.

Seeing Harry’s and Robinhood’s remarkable success with referral marketing, many businesses are following suit. If you leverage it right, Refer-a-friend campaigns can help startups accelerate customer acquisition and reap higher profits.

If you're betting your success on a refer-a-friend campaign, you better make it prominent enough for people to see and participate. We've penned the leading Refer-a-Friend Campaign examples to help you model a strategy that maximizes reach across channels.

Why Set Up a Refer a Friend Marketing Program?

Traditional advertising needs to catch up in capturing the audience's trust and affecting their purchasing behavior as customers grow more discerning about their choices.

Hence, word-of-mouth has developed as a powerful force that may build or break a brand in today's digitally linked society. Here's a breakdown of why refer-a-friend campaigns are such a game-changer:

Altruism urges people to share their positive experiences with family and peers- and customer referral programs capitalize on this psychology. Simply spreading one positive note about your brand could fill the trust gap with your target audience, converting prospects into buyers.

How Successful are Refer-a-Friend Campaigns?

Do refer-a-friend programs really work? Success stories from big names like Dropbox, Robinhood, Airbnb, and Google say a definite "yes" – but there's a catch: you've got to do it right.

When you run a refer-a-friend campaign (also called bring-a-friend or tell-a-friend) and do it well, it can be a massive game changer for you and your band. It makes your brand look good and helps you get new customers faster because people trust their friends.

Here are a few key stats to help you analyze the value of refer-a-friend campaigns:

  • A massive 90% of people trust recommendations from their friends, family, and peers. But when it comes to ads, only about a third of folks trust them (according to Nielsen).
  • When people decide to buy something, 20-50% of them are influenced by what their friends say (according to McKinsey).
  • In a study by Ogilvy and Google, they found that a whopping 74% of all consumers are influenced by word of mouth.

5 Best Refer a Friend Campaign Examples to Amplify Reach

Refer-a-friend marketing campaigns have been around for a while, but it's hitting new heights thanks to technological advancements. Despite the vast potential offered by smartphones and social media, many businesses need help in the rut of the same old give-and-take marketing strategy.

If you want to build brand loyalty and stand out from the crowd, it's time to ditch the ordinary. Especially if you're gearing up for a product launch, you'll want inventive tactics to engage customers and grab their interest from the get-go.

So, let's move away from the generic playbook. Here are five successful referral program examples that can help you optimize your program for better results. And by the way, incorporating personal touches or exclusive perks can give your campaign that extra edge.


Harry's, the shaving brand transcending the ordinary, has achieved remarkable success with its billion-dollar subscription service. A significant contributor to this 10-figure triumph is attributed to their well-executed referral program.

Harry’s referral campaign
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Harry's engages customers with unique marketing methods, establishing a sense of community around the company. Their referral program's success demonstrates a great understanding of consumer behavior and the brand's ability to adapt its strategy to changing market trends.

Referrer Reward:

In a pre-launch buzz-building strategy, Harry's conducted a week-long referral program to gather email addresses from potential customers. The referrer rewards were structured in tiers:

  • Refer five friends and earn free shave cream.
  • Refer 10 friends to earn a free razor.
  • Refer 25 friends for a free premium razor.
  • Refer 50 friends to enjoy free shaving for a year.

Referee Reward:

New customers referred through this program received an attractive 10% discount on their first purchase.

Why was this a Success?

The success of Harry's referral program can be attributed to its strategic incorporation of various digital marketing elements. Harry's incentivized users to refer their friends through multiple channels like email, Facebook, or Twitter by offering tangible and incremental rewards.

As a result, the week-long campaign exceeded expectations, generating a remarkable 100,000 leads. This stellar performance propelled Harry's into the billion-dollar unicorn status and established the brand as a household name.

While the referral program has undergone simplification with a $5 credit system, the initial high-reward structure played a crucial role in its initial growth.


T-Mobile disrupted the traditional referral program landscape by offering actual shares in the company as rewards. Although the program has been discontinued, it generated significant attention and positioned T-Mobile as a groundbreaking force in the wireless industry. The initial stock reward program was a unique and differentiated approach.

T-Mobile’s refer-a-friend campaign
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Referrer Reward:

Referrers in T-Mobile's program had the extraordinary opportunity to earn one T-Mobile share for every successfully activated new T-Mobile line. This approach went beyond traditional financial incentives, offering a tangible stake in the company for referrers.

Referee Reward:

Those referred enjoyed a distinctive reward – receiving one T-Mobile stock after being referred and staying with T-Mobile for at least 15 days. This ensured a commitment from the new customer before they received their stock reward.

Why was this a Success?

Although specific results haven't been disclosed, T-Mobile's stock price surged from the $40 range to over $60 in early 2018, resulting in added benefits for those who participated in the share rewards.

The program garnered extensive press coverage and gave referrers and their friends a unique and special reward. T-Mobile successfully showcased innovation by diversifying rewards to include actual company stock, creating a win-win situation for the brand and its referral program participants.

By opting for tangible company stock instead of traditional financial incentives, credit, or discounts, T-Mobile provided referrers and their friends with something unique and special. This approach showcased T-Mobile's commitment to innovation and customer appreciation in its referral program strategy.


Robinhood Markets, a prominent US financial services company, gained recognition for pioneering commission-free trades of stocks and exchange-traded funds through their innovative mobile app. Robinhood’s referral program has been pivotal in attracting users, focusing on lower direct expense rates than traditional marketing methods.

Robinhood referral email
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Referrer Rewards:

Referring customers receive stock from a diverse pool, with values ranging from US$2.50 to US$225.

Referee Rewards:

Like referrers, the referred friends also receive a stock drawn from the pool, with values spanning US$2.50 to US$225.

Why was this a success?

Before Robinhood's official launch, the referral program attracted over 1 million people to sign up for the waitlist. The program's success led to increased investment, allowing Robinhood to allocate more resources to referrals than traditional marketing channels. The paid media budget decreased from 72% in 2019 to 32%.

The referral program's simplicity and the randomness of stock values introduce a gamification aspect. This strategy intrigues referrers about the probable value of the stock they might receive.

By stipulating that the stock value could be as high as US$225, Robinhood strategically frames the referrer's mindset to focus on the potential upper limit of the reward, creating anticipation and excitement.

Crediting the referral reward (i.e., the stock) directly to customers' Robinhood portfolios encourages platform use. Instead of offering vouchers or cash rewards that might draw customers away from the platform, Robinhood uses stocks as rewards, aligning with its core product and encouraging users to explore the trading platform further.

Google Workspace

Google Workspace, an integral part of the tech giant Google, has been thriving with its cloud-based solution supported by a referral program since 2014. Google Workspace offers a suite of cloud computing, productivity, and collaboration apps widely used by individuals and businesses, including Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs.

Steps on how to join Google’s referral program
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Referrer Rewards:

Google Workspace's referral program provides lucrative rewards for referrers. Referrers receive up to $23 per successful referral, directly deposited into their bank account. The reward amount varies based on the plan purchased by the referee and the country of operation.

Referee Rewards:

Those referred to Google Workspace enjoy a compelling 10% discount on their first year, incentivizing them to explore and adopt the platform for their cloud-based workplace productivity and collaboration needs.

Why was this a Success?

In October 2020, the platform boasted more than 2.6 billion monthly active users, a significant increase from 2 billion in March of the same year. With over 6 million businesses using Workspace and an additional 120 million G Suite for Education users as of April 2020, the growth is attributed to the surge in remote working during the pandemic.

Google Workspace's referral program stands out with its tiered rewards system. Referrers earn rewards that multiply with the number of users they successfully refer, incentivizing them to target individual users and businesses. The potential to earn up to US$ 300 for a single referral and up to 100 referrals in a year is a compelling offering.

Drop Box

Dropbox, an online storage unicorn, boasts one of the most iconic and successful refer-a-friend programs. Founder and CEO Drew Houston revealed that 35% of daily sign-ups in 2017 came from referrals.

Dropbox referral program
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Recognizing the power of positive word-of-mouth, Dropbox pivoted from traditional marketing approaches, spending US$200 per customer, to a "give and get storage space" referral program. This strategic shift catapulted them from 100,000 users to an impressive 4 million in just 15 months, and the program remains a driving force today.

Referrer Reward:

The heart of Dropbox's refer-a-friend program lies in the simplicity of its referrer rewards. Users are incentivized to become advocates by receiving additional storage space. The current reward is 500 MB of free storage per referral, up to 16 GB, with Dropbox Plus users earning 1 GB of free storage per referral, up to 32 GB.

Referee Reward:

Dropbox's winning formula includes rewarding the referred-in friend with additional free storage space. This double-sided incentive encourages both the referrer and the referee to benefit, fostering a viral loop. The current reward for a new customer referral is 500 MB of free storage, while Dropbox Plus customers earn 1 GB of free storage.

Why was this a Success?

Dropbox's referral program achieved remarkable success, showcasing a 3900% growth between 2008 and 2010. By doubling user growth every three months, Dropbox reached 4 million users, becoming an industry leader with a staggering 700 million registered users and 15.48 million paying customers by 2020. The Dropbox referral program wasn't just a short-term triumph; it evolved into a long-term 'always on' driver of growth.

Several strategic decisions contributed to Dropbox's resounding success:

  • Aligning incentives with core product usage. Dropbox rewarded users with additional storage space, driving referrals and enhancing user retention and satisfaction.
  • Benefiting both the referrer and the referee. Dropbox created a powerful motivation for referrals, establishing a win-win approach that fostered a viral loop.
  • Straightforward, efficient referral landing pages emphasized benefits clearly, making sharing easy and appealing.
  • Including a referral dashboard allowed users to track the status of their referrals and rewards, prioritizing transparency and user engagement.

Closing Note

In a landscape where consumers are discerning and traditional advertising struggles to build trust, refer-a-friend campaigns emerge as a formidable force. Referral marketing programs can be revolutionary when implemented well, as evidenced by the success stories of Dropbox, Robinhood, Harry's, Google Workspace, and T-Mobile.

Not every company has the force and financial resources to establish a referral campaign while enhancing its primary product. Some tasks should be left to the pros. Contact Prefinery.com to create and manage your refer-a-friend campaign to pave the way for your success.


How do refer-a-friend campaigns benefit businesses?

Refer-a-friend campaigns maximize the power of word-of-mouth marketing to drive growth to a business and expand its customer base. Implementing a successful referral program provides increased client acquisition, extended reach, and enhanced customer connections.

How do refer-a-friend campaigns work?

Refer-a-friend programs employ a system in which current customers share a unique referral link or referral code with their friends, family, or colleagues. The referrer and the referee are rewarded when someone referred by an existing client makes a purchase or performs a desired action. The benefits can vary, including discounts, monetary incentives, reward points, or exclusive advantages for every successful referral.

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