9 Refer a Friend Email Examples to Inspire Your Referral Campaign

A mere 5% increase in customer retention, can boost your profits up to 95%, and referral marketing offers you the best shot at achieving that. It attracts new leads and fosters relations with existing ones at minimum expense, given that you employ the right channels for its propagation.

Abdul Wahab

Abdul Wahab

· 13 min read
9 Refer a Friend Email Examples to Inspire Your Referral Campaign

Building a profitable business and expanding it into an enterprise means you need to constantly improve your services, work on customer support, and reinvent the marketing strategies. Sure, you need an influx of new customers to grow but a brighter, more profitable future also depends on how you fare with your existing clients.

A mere 5% increase in customer retention, can boost your profits up to 95%, and referral marketing offers you the best shot at achieving that. It attracts new leads and fosters relations with existing ones at minimum expense, given that you employ the right channels for its propagation.

Various eCommerce and DTC brands, for instance, infuse referral programs into their email campaigns, empowering subscribers to be your brand advocates. Sending referral emails to your happy clients not only wins their favor and loyalty toward your brand but also incurs new leads.

Once you decide on the right incentives, let the customers know about it through carefully crafted refer-a-friend emails. Look through these remarkable referral email examples before you launch your next marketing campaign.

What is a Refer a Friend Email?

Referral emails is a promotion tactic for companies to popularize their referral marketing campaigns to a wider yet selective customer base. The emails are sent with the intention of introducing, or more specifically enticing, a clientele to participate in the program. The purpose is to leverage the current user base and turn them into avid advocates for your brand.

A typical refer a friend email carries information about the incentives and method of participation in compelling headlines. The purpose is to leverage the current user base and turn them into avid advocates for your brand.

Unlike most business emails that are laid out like a sales pitch, referral emails are usually informative. A typical refer a friend email carries information about the referral incentives and method of participation in compelling headlines. The key parts include;

  • A compelling subject line or header to compel recipients open the email. It must be concise and communicative to relay what the program center-thought, something like "share the love with friends, and win cash prize".
  • An attractive referral offer that is too good to let go. Find out something your customers are passionate about and present it in exchange for a simple referral.
  • The core of a referral email is a clear call-to-action button or link. Label it as "Refer a Friend" or "Invite Now" and make it prominent enough to stand out.

Miss one, and your email may fall short of fulfilling its purpose. Make sure you emails are laced with the right visuals - capture readers' attention until they press the "Refer Now" button. As the expereinced marketers do, infuse proper tracking mechanics to know their open and click rate, etc.

Why Referral Emails Are Invaluable?

Although social media has become the marketing hotspot for many businesses, you cannot underestimate the email's influence on customer acqusition and retention. The platform grants an even better status to customer referral programs.

Since referral marketing thrives on an individual's social connections, sending recommendations via email have a higher chance of leaving a positive impression and perhaps a follow up. People trust their peers and are 4 times as likely to purchase a product or subscribe to a service, when referred by a friend.

The statistical data favors referral emails more than any other marketing channel. Emails posit a higher ROI, returning $36 in profits for every dollar spent on advertising. Combined with referral programs, it multiplies the trust factor. Over 84% of people look for positive recommendations from friends, before buying something online.

But before you reach new, untapped audiences, find the appropriate incentive to motivate the existing clients into becoming your advocates. Usually, it's a reward, possibly a cash bonus, that customers can earn in exchange for sharing. Instating referral emails into your customer acquisition strategy can help you:

  • Engage your current clientele and reach out to newer audiences
  • Enforce loyalty into your existing customers by offering them lucrative rewards in return for their referrals.
  • Gather live data on your marketing performance using referral software (review email click rate and open rate, etc.)

Many marketers rely on referral email templates to get their message accross. You can concoct effective email copy with a slight tweak or customization of an existing template to suit your audience. Platforms like MailChimp and Prefinery give access to an array pre-written email templates supported by user-friendly customization options.

Types of Referral Email Templates

Marketers apply all sorts of tactics to persuade prospects into taking the desired action. For referral campaigns, it's a series of emails featuring different scenarios and incentive structures like exclusive disocunts, product upgrades, sweepstakes, and charitable donations etc., to get customers' attention and participation.

There are plenty of ways to craft a referral email, you just need the right hook - something that entices the reader to take action. Of course, referral email templates follow the same structure but marketers often use the following two types of referral emails to source new leads:

Personal Referral Emails

As it sounds, personal referral emails are written from a loyal customer's POV and sent to a targeted demographic of high-converting customers, possibly friends and family. It builds upon the existing trust that customers into your selling point to lure in new clients.

Personal referral emails enlist slight detail about the referrer's relationship with the brand as a testimony of good faith. The tone is kept warm and empathetic making loyal customers appear valued and appreciated which in turn motivates recipients to follow suit.

Coming from someone familiar, these emails have a higher chance of converting. Start your email campaign using the following template.

Subject: Unlock Exclusive Rewards – Your Personal Invitation!

Hi [Friend's Name],

Quick question: Ever stumbled upon something so awesome you couldn't help but share it? That's exactly how I feel about [Your Brand].

I've been loving [highlight a specific feature or benefit], and it hit me – you've got to experience this too. So, here's the deal:

Join [Your Brand] using my special link [insert referral link], and we both get rewarded! 🚀 You score [New Customer Incentive], and I snag [Referrer Incentive]. Win-win!

Ready to elevate [your life/your routine/your style]? Click below and let the awesomeness begin!

[Unlock Rewards Button]

Can't wait to hear what you think!


[Your Name]

Mass Referral Emails

Mass referral emails, also known as email blasts, are sent to a mass audience including both current and new customers without regarding their behavior or purhcase history. It's a mass promotion exercise, where businesses try multiple incentive structures and strategies to find out what sticks.

While targeting more accounts will get you higher participation ratio and rapid lead generation, it doesn't guarantee longevity. Referrals are generated without any personal connections posing a risk of higher churn rate.

Referral email blasts are strategically enforced during special events or seasonal holidays, where the goal is to bring widespread participation onboard. If you plan to excel your campaign using blast emails, here's a standard mass referral email template to follow:

Subject: Share the Love and something more: Refer friends to [Your Brand]!

Hi [Customer Name],

At [Your Brand], we believe that great things are meant to be shared. Gift something that you love for yourself and reap exciting reward in return.

Refer your friends, family, or colleagues to [Your Brand], and you both can enjoy exclusive rewards. It's our way of saying thank you for being part of our community.

Here's how it works:

  • Click the link below to access your unique referral code.
  • Share it with friends, and when they make their first purchase, you both get rewarded!

[Call to Action/Refer a Friend Button]

Your Unique Referral Code: [Referral Code]

Thanks for being a valued member of the [Your Brand] family. We appreciate your support in helping us grow!

Best regards,

[Your Brand]

4 Tips for Writing Compelling Referral Emails

An email inbox probably the most cluttered folders in a person's tab. Startups launching new campaings, businesses offering best deals ever, and numerous discount vouchers, people receive tons of emails everyday and most, rarely ever read upon.

To make sure your referral email avoids the spam box, grabs attention, and compel prospects to talk about your brand, your email must carry compelling details. Here are five tips to write impressive emails for your referral program.

Start With a Catchy Subject Line

What separates your email from the clutter in your inbox is the headline - a oneliner that introduces recipients to your email. It's true, marketers are tempted to write cheeky headers to catch reader's eyes but there's a limit to your creativity.

What headline would you attend to "marvellous offerings for you" or "Gift your friend $50 and win $50 in return"? The second one, right?

Instead of getting into fancy wordstuff and complicated jargon, lay out your proposition bold and clear. No one reads emails for random amusement. People need to know if your email is worth their time so, give a slight hint of what they should expect. A good header improves the open rate of your emails and with it, the participation.

Statistics suggest that including the recipient's name in the email increases the open rate by 29% than non-personal subject lines. Take it to the next step, by aligning it with a personal event like their first purchase or a review they posted online.

Flash the Program Incentives

With today's limited attention spans, leave no room for jargon and get straight to the point. Lay out the crux of your email upfront — the referral reward — bold and highlight it so readers know what they're here for.

Being a young startup, you cannot compete with industry giants when it comes to the prize money. But what you can do is instate copywriting techniques that provide you a higher visibility. Add the program basics; what you're inviting them to, how they can participate, and what you're offering in return.

Based on what your referral structure is, let the prospects know if there's is reward for the referred friend, whether the incentives add up, and other specific conditions for the program. Remember, it's an introductory email for your recent customers. Keep it simple and don't confuse them with too much information.

Target High-Value Customers First

If you have signed up with a segmentation software, it's easy to determine who brand devotees are - the top candidates for your campaign. But if you're taking the manual route, here are a few charactreristics to locate potential advocates for your brand:

  • Consistent engagement with your brand through social media or website visits
  • Frequent purchases and back-to-back subscriptions
  • Inferred positive feedback and reviews on your brand website
  • Participation in seasonal events and loyalty programs

Knowing that a particular faction of your customer base is satisfied with your brand and deems you in high regard over competitors makes it easier to direct your email campaign. You just need the right trigger to leverage them as advocates.

Include a Vivid Call-to-Action Button

The purpose of a referral email is to prompt recipients to do one thing, refer, and that's what a CTA is for. A CTA or call to action is an embedded link in the email that directs prospects to the referral landing page where they sign up to generate a referral code.

But in personal emails where the referral link is included within the body, the standard CTA button is replaced by sharing options to mainstream communication sites. Regardless of the label, a CTA should invite interaction, allowing readers to cut to the chase and start sharing their referral codes with others.

CTAs should be placed smartly within the email - either at the top (when sent to familiar referrers) or at the bottom of the content (when sent to a new audience). Choose strong actionable words and draft them with strong visual cues that draw attention at first look. Instead of including overused terms like "enter" or "click here" prefer using "Get $50 Payout Now."

9 Refer-a-Friend Emails to Boost Customer Acquisition

Of all the people who recieve referral emails, only a fraction actually attends to the call. One can blame the poor reward structure or ineffective referral tracking ystem, but mostly its boring email design. Here are 9 refer-a-friend email designs to inspire your new campaign.


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The pet care company have made quite an impression on marketers and copywriters through their interactive and compelling email designs. BigDogCo. labels the subject line with a special offer for everyone who refers their friend onboard, promoting a sense of exclusivity.

The double-sided structure awards referrers with the same discount. The email discreetly shares a two-liner description on what the program is about and how to participate to prevent prospects from drifting away.

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BigDogCo. knows how to capitalize on the audience's interest to catch high-converting leads. The brand sends referral email blasts to every incoming customers soon after their first purchase to get the momentum going. The headline reads "20% off for everyone" who brings in new customer. The email does a perfect job in reaching prospects who share the same interest.


Whether you're preparing for a new product launch or drafting emails for its promotion, aim for the right moment to initiate the campaign. For a referral program that leverages peer connections, you cannot find a better time than to align with the international friendship day - like Greats did.

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Greats connects its referral emails with the international day of friendship, which makes sharing (a recommendation or discount coupon) almost inevitable. The email features an image of friends having fun while wearing Greats' apparels which casts an impression that recipient should do the same.

Who wouldn't want to gift their friends a $30 coupon on a special occassion when all it takes is a simple share. Plus, you get an equal reward in return - a win-win scenario for both.

Outdoor Voices

The apparel industry is brimming with competition with little room for new startups to grow, but Outdoor Voices has managed to make a strong foundation with its email driven referral campaign.

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Outdoor Voices breaks ice with a simple yet impactful statement "Doing Things is more fun with friends" casually hinting at personal sharing. The brand promotes two-way incentive structure benefiting referrers for sharing and referees for acting upon the recommendation.

The email reads a simple, to-the-point message from a friend recommending a new apparel brand. It also lays out the reward along with the criteria of availing it.

Front of the Pack

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Your referral leads can double if you optimize your campaign in two ways: set limited time offer to create urgency and allow exclusive status for community building. Front of the Packs' referral email campaign successfully managed both.

The email's main tagline reads "Share the Savings with Other Dog Parents" allowing marketers to attract niche-specific clients - customers who are bound to stay.

A separate section is dedicated to the explanation of how the program works while the bottom part highlights what makes Front of the Pack's diet worthy of every pet. From imagery to the color scheme, the email conforms to the brand identity for a coherent outlook.


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An email from a close friend is more likely impress the reader than a sales pitch from a brand - and MUD/WTR knows it best. It targets social connections of their most loyal clientele with personalized emails bearing name of the advocates as the referrer.

While it starts off like any other referral email with a tagline "Get $10 Off" it takes a turn by including a friendly note. What they do brilliantly, is casually outline the benefits of their product and why it's worth every penny without actively advertising it. It's like your customer doing the bidding for you.

Stitch Fix

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No matter how full your wardrobe is, there's always space for some good quality fits, especially when they're free. Stitch Fix makes it way into audience's inboxes with a simple marketing slogan "Free Clothes" posted against a background image depicting apparels.

"Share with friends, earn $25" when it's that simple, there's hardly anyone who'll ignore. Once it draws readers attention, the email then discloses the process of sending referrals and winning prizes. The email also features a referral link generator which can be easily shared through text messages, facebook, and twitter.


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"What goes around comes around." The proverb centers Olipop's referral email prompting readers to share what they love with others or as they put it "Get What You Give."

Whether it's to strengthen bonding between friends of a can of soda or to further their reach to new audience, Olipop's email does a great job at convincing recipients to share. With a $5 discount of the first purchase and $5 credit to the existing user makes it bountiful for both parties. Plus, referrers can stack up their credits for a free case.


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Let the audience know they are invaluable for your business, and they’ll happily stick with you for years. Cleancult calls its prospects climate change hero and a crucial part of their community.

Recognizing their clients’ impact on the company and posting what they have achieved together in their email is an effective way to pledge their loyalty. To further promote sharing, the company offers $35 off of their refill plan and a 35% discount for every new client they refer to the welfare.

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One way to make your launch go viral is to announce a limited time deal. The fear of missing out on something others in their circle are actively talking about, compels them to join the bandwagon - and Grove leveraged this sentiment perfectly.

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Grove starts its email with "Ends Tonight" invoking urgency for quick action. The brand cloaks the $15 credit (normally $5) as a special offer accessible only for a few days.

The email briefly explains how to avail the credit rewards and ways it can be redeemed in exchange for household products. Unlike most referral emails, Grove embeds two CTAs within their message ensuring a higher participation.

Closing Note

Emails capture audience’s attention more than a billboard ad but you need the right copy and strategies to stand out. While there are plenty of successful refer-a-friend email examples to look up to, prefer a template that best aligns with your business niche and marketing goal.

Want expansive outreach quick? Try instating both strategies at once. It will boost your customer acquisition and enhance retention rate. In case you lack the sufficient manpower or ingenuity to devise catchy referral emails, Prefinery can help.


How does a referral email work?

The referral email outlines a clear process for customers to share their unique referral link with others. When the referred individual makes a purchase or takes a desired action, both the referrer and the referred receive incentives, maximizing customer acquisition.

What makes an effective referral email?

An effective referral email includes a clear and compelling call-to-action, details about the referral program, personalized referral links, enticing incentives for both the referrer and the referred, and a visually appealing design. It should be easy to understand and share.

How often should businesses send referral emails?

The frequency of referral emails depends on the business and its audience. However, it's generally recommended to strike a balance to avoid overwhelming customers. Test different frequencies and monitor customer response alongside to determine the optimal schedule.

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