6 Best SaaS Referral Program Examples

The leading SaaS companies cash this invaluable marketing resource to boost customer acquisition, increase retention rate, and maximize the ROI. But achieving concrete, measurable results through referral marketing needs a more systematic approach.

Abdul Wahab

Abdul Wahab

· 9 min read
6 Best SaaS Referral Program Examples

In a world where sponsorships and high-tech marketing solutions are rampant, striding your way through as a young startup and progressing into a brand demands ingenuity and credibility. Influencer tags and enticing social media posts may catch your audience’s attention, but it would need a friendly recommendation to turn them into customers.

Companies with formalized referral marketing programs have experienced an 86% increase in revenue growth over the past two years, making word-of-mouth the driving force behind 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions.

The leading SaaS companies cash this invaluable marketing resource to boost customer acquisition, increase retention rate, and maximize the ROI. But achieving concrete, measurable results through referral marketing needs a more systematic approach.

Positive experiences won’t build the hype unless there’s some motive compelling people to be your ambassador. Perhaps looking at successful SaaS referral program examples and analyzing their campaign strategies would provide perfect insights to kickstart your referral program.

Referral Marketing: An Amplifier of SaaS Businesses

Referral marketing relies on word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied customers to generate new leads and increase the customer pool. With no exorbitant budgets or consistent surveillance, referrals are the go-to marketing tactic for upcoming startups with a new product launch underway.

B2B and B2C SaaS companies inject considerable marketing resources into referral programs to expand outreach and ensure customer loyalty. By rewarding current customers for sharing the service, businesses can leverage their credibility and trust to improve influx and establish themselves as a brand.

Even though referral programs are cost-effective marketing initiatives, the savings get multiplied for SaaS businesses thanks to their unconventional reward structures. Unlike affiliate programs that offer monetary incentives for every successful conversion, SaaS programs provide bonuses, coupons, and subscription upgrades to existing users.

Recommendations from people in your inner network are 50 times more likely to trigger a purchase than typical celebrity promotions.

Most SaaS businesses implement loyalty programs that bestow special loyalty points and gift cards for every purchase. The loyalty points can be redeemed as discounts on the next purchases or exclusive access to certain in-app modules. While creating a referral program extends venues to reach new customers, loyalty programs strengthen bonds with existing ones for a higher customer lifetime value (LTV).

6 Successful SaaS Referral Program Examples to Inspire You

Even though referral programs work on the same underlying principle, SaaS companies tweak their referral mechanics or reward structure to suit their audience.

If you’re building a referral program for your B2B SaaS startup, offering cash rewards and free gifts may not entice your end users. What they might need is exclusive pre-launch access to the product or a free month of subscription to foster trust before becoming an actual buyer.

While you may have studied tons of referral marketing ideas in theory, factual insights from top SaaS businesses always come in handy to achieve real results. Let’s dive into the details of some well-executed SaaS programs, identify what makes them unique, and derive knowledgeable insights to inspire your program.


Dropbox’s unimaginable success from a cloud storage startup to a multi-billion dollar company is partly accredited to its impressive referral campaign. Dropbox originally rose to fame in April 2010 when its referral campaign brought over 2.8 million new users to the platform, marking a 3900% growth rate.

Around 35% of its daily signups within the first 15 months after launch are attributed to customer referrals. But what allowed Dropbox to set up the most hyped referral program? It all starts with their ingenious reward plan.

Instead of typical cash incentives, Dropbox aimed to reward customers with what they need - or perhaps what strongly links them to the platform. The company offered free cloud storage space to users in exchange for new leads. The landing page read:

Get up to 16GB of free space by inviting your friends to try Dropbox!

dropbox referral landing page.
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For every referral, users could receive 500 MB of free storage space and 16 GB in total by keep referring. Dropbox instated a frictionless referral process allowing users to complete referrals without a hitch, thanks to the mobile app. Incentivizing customers with in-app rewards not only developed their interest in the campaign but also increased their engagement with the platform long-term.


Airtable is a cloud-based collaboration platform allowing users to maintain spreadsheets and customize workflows with the functionality of a database. Even though Airtable is a B2B SaaS product, its widely utilized and promoted by individual users. Company heads and CEOs refer the SaaS product to their employees and encourage fellow peers to do the same for their workforce.

While most companies introduce double-sided referral systems benefiting both the referrer and referred customers, Airtable takes on an unorthodox single-sided approach. The company awards existing users with $10 credits for each person they refer to Airtable, given they sign up.

Airtable web page outlining referrals and credits overview.
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If enough peers are brought in through your referral link, you can use a pro Airtable account for free for years by stacking rewards. Accessing the Airtable Pro Plan for an extended period compels users to purchase a subscription once the free trial period ends.

The platform allows customers to actively view their referral progress and credit earnings to gamify the campaign and motivate participants to refer more.


As companies get more widespread and diverse, the need for a collaborative platform that supports real-time communication between departments becomes essential to maintain productivity, and Trello helps achieve just that. What began as a scrappy startup became home to 100 million users within just five years, with much of its progress owed to referral programs.

Like many SaaS customer referral programs, Trello believes in enticing new customers by giving them a taste of its premium services. By knowing what the premium plans have in store and accessing the services, users are more likely to subscribe.

The platform sets a fairly simple cumulative reward structure. Refer someone to Trello - either through a unique referral link or by sharing an invite - and access a free one-month subscription to Trello Gold.

Trello refer a friend webpage.
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Since most people join Trello with a basic account, offering them free access to the premium version is perhaps the ideal way to get them to convert. All you need to do is sign up with Trello and invite friends through the unique referral link to enjoy a Trello Gold for free.


It’s the age of entrepreneurship; everybody wants to set up a startup idea and see it flourish. Whether you’re entering the lawncare industry or providing residential cleaning services, Jobber is equipped to automate your day-to-day operations and keep your business on track.

In 2021, the Shopify-like online platform for home services businesses raised $60 million and has continued to acquire customers with customer referral marketing ever since.

According to Jobber’s referral program, referring customers are rewarded based on how they use the platform. If you’re a Jobber account holder, you will receive free monthly access to the platform for every successful referral generated or earn a $50 gift card if you don’t have an account. Whereas referred-in users will receive a free month of access to the platform for signing up.

Jobber referral page with unique link generator.
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Instead of offering generic rewards to everyone, Jobber rewards its brand advocates based on how they use the software - whether they are account holders or not. Since the brand personality is based on “community over competition,” it aims to uplift budding startups and provide exceptional experiences to customers simultaneously.


Every startup dreams of attaining Unicorn status, but only a few achieve it. Unicorn companies often have to scale up rapidly, amplify their customer acquisition channels, and meet the demands of their growing customer base to support sustainable growth - and Drift has done it remarkably.

The $1 billion startup has leveraged its existing customer base to acquire new ones thanks to an impressive referral program. While other startups in the league offer discounts, cash, or credits, Drift uses swag to generate new leads at the hands of influencers. Here’s how Drift’s reward structure is laid out:

  • One referral will get you a special edition Adidas Jacket with a sticker pack.
  • Five successful referrals offer you an all-access pass to Hypergrowth’s conference.
  • Get a chance to have a free lunch with Drift’s founders by generating ten referrals.
Drift influencer referral program web page.
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Offering rewards and gifts that its target audience is most passionate about allows Drift to stand ahead of the crowd. However, such hip and cheeky incentives may not work for every audience. For instance, if your business is geared towards professionals or a B2B business, you may have to stick with credits and discounts.


Canva, a go-to graphic design cloud-based software, quickly gained recognition for its user-friendly platform, empowering individuals and businesses to create professional-quality designs with ease.

While the platform harbors over +600,000 templates and +1 million stock photos, not all of them are available for public disclosure. In order to use premium templates and exclusive editing tools, you either subscribe to the premium account or participate in its referral program.

Canva refer a friend program web page.
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Canva has come up with a fantastic solution to expand its customer base and boost subscriptions to premium accounts. By instating a referral program, Canva empowers existing users to endorse the software to their friends and colleagues in exchange for special access to premium features. The best part, both the referrer and referred-in user can reap the benefits of the reward program.

Key Takeaways from the Best SaaS Referral Program Examples

Unlike standard real-life stores, SaaS businesses require peculiar marketing strategies that comply with digital mechanics. No marketing tactics have brighter prospects for success online than referral marketing, especially when considering the limited budget streams of ordinary startups.

Many SaaS businesses have implemented referral programs so impeccably to boost their success, and here’s what you can learn from them.

Enhance Accessibility

One basic limitation that startups possess during marketing is their limited and compromised audience. By implementing referral programs, companies can tap into the networks of their existing customers and leverage word-of-mouth marketing to its full potential. This increases the visibility and accessibility of the SaaS product to a broader audience who may not have been aware of it otherwise.

If you are targeting a niche market, conducting referral campaigns can also expand your access to target customer segments. Target marketing not only improves accessibility but also offers personalized solutions to the audience’s needs for higher customer retention.

Set a Definitive Reward Structure

It's no secret that positive customer response, compelling incentives, and seamless sharing are key to SaaS success.

A clear reward structure eliminates ambiguity and communicates the incentives that participants can expect by participating in your program. By outlining the specific rewards, whether they are monetary, discounts, credits, or priority access, you establish transparency and set clear expectations.

Design the reward system to focus on the referrals that are most valuable to your SaaS company, such as high-value customers or specific target segments. Motivated referrers will put in more effort to promote your SaaS solution, leading to increased referral volume and quality.

Be Creative with Your Incentives

No doubt cash is the biggest motivator for customers to refer to a product, Saas companies should offer something more intangible. Appeal your customers in a way that compels them to stay engaged and recommend their friends to follow suit.

Subscription discounts and exclusive access to paid plans are a great incentive to gather customers. Giving users sneak peeks into your executive plans and offerings shows them your value, urging them to purchase and build long term relationships.

When the incentives are well-defined and specific, it becomes easier for SaaS companies to track and attribute successful referrals to the corresponding referrers.

If you run a unique startup or established a strong customer base, consider offering branded swag to boost brand awareness. Besides, personalized gifts are an effective way to treat customers and make them feel valued.

Final Verdict

Developing a cutting-edge software-as-a-service product is elemental to a successful referral program. Your SaaS product must be worth sharing to trigger customers’ ingrained psychology to refer it to their peers.

While starting your SaaS referral program can significantly boost customer acquisition, following up with a loyalty program is a smarter way to ensure user retention. Once your target audience gets on board, your loyalty strategy, type of referral bonuses, and quality of your referral software will keep them aligned till the end.

Take a look at the best B2B SaaS referral program examples to note how they promote their services and the tactics you must employ to stand out. Sign up with Prefinery.com to streamline your SaaS referral Program for future endeavors.


How do SaaS referral programs work?

In a SaaS referral program, existing customers are provided with a unique referral link meant to be shared with contacts. When someone uses that link to sign up, subscribe, or make a purchase, the referrer is credited with rewards for the referral. Every click is tracked by a referral marketing software and analytics tools letting participants keep track of their referral score.

How SaaS companies encourage customers to increase referrals?

SaaS companies can increase referrals from their customers by offering higher rewards or incentives, providing easy-to-use referral tools and sharing options, and sending periodic follow-ups about the program. Businesses must foster a positive and engaging user experience to turn customers into brand advocates.

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