How to Do a Shopify Refer-a-Friend Campaign on MailChimp?

Whether it’s to draw attention to your referral program, show gratitude for the purchase, or share recommendations, referral email marketing works better when run by MailChimp.

Abdul Wahab

Abdul Wahab

· 7 min read
How to Do a Shopify Refer-a-Friend Campaign on MailChimp?

A business must have two assets at its disposal to stand out, capture new audiences, and raise profits: a remarkable product and a marketing strategy that draws people’s attention toward it.

Sure referral marketing is booming, raising investments left and right but it doesn’t mean email marketing has nothing to offer. 69% of businesses still rely on email marketing to advertise their offerings, reaping an average ROI of $40 for each dollar spent.

But to further your profits, combining the two strategies would prove explicitly beneficial. Refer-a-friend campaigns wrapped in email marketing is a newfound strategy many Shopify stores are adopting.

Whether it’s to draw attention to your referral program, show gratitude for the purchase, or share recommendations, referral email marketing works better when run by MailChimp. The email automation platform streamlines the strategy from start to end. Here’s a detailed guide to running a MailChimp Shopify refer-a-friend campaign for your business.

Referral Program on MailChimp: All You Need to Know

MailChimp is a predominantly email marketing platform that automates email drafting, personalizing, and sharing email newsletters to subscribers and potential customers.

Sending direct personalized emails to prospects and customers at specific events lays the foundation for a long-lasting relationship. Perhaps, if you wish to leverage word-of-mouth marketing, MailChimp has much to offer.

MailChimp’s website landing page.
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When principled accordingly, MailChimp can automatically send referral invites, thank you messages + reminders to participate in the program, and updates to the existing user base.

How Does it Work?

To use MailChimp to advance your referral campaign, you need a third-party referral integration platform to streamline management. The integration will sync customer data and referral information between MailChimp and your Shopify store.

Once integrated, businesses can configure the program settings, define rewards, eligibility criteria, and other referral rules governing the program — and Prefinery has all the eco-system you need to get going.

Prefinery and MailChimp referral integration webpage.
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Customer communication with program participants is facilitated through Mailchimp. Marketers use Mailchimp to automate emails or newsletters, informing customers about the program, elucidating its benefits, and providing clear instructions on how to join and refer friends.

Participants are allotted unique referral links in their addresses embedded with tracking parameters to qualify referrals accurately. As customers use the links to bring in new clients, the integrated referral platform—in this case prefinery—diligently tracks these activities. It records successful referrals and attributes them to the referrers for reward fulfillment.

Benefits of Integrating MailChimp Referral Program with Shopify

If you know what you’re aiming for and have the right strategy in place, integrating MailChimp with your referral program can reap significant benefits for our Shopify store. Here is a glimpse of what you can achieve with a MailChimp-driven referral marketing campaign:

Targeted Email Campaigns: With integrated data, businesses can create more targeted and personalized email campaigns using Mailchimp. Including the program-specific emails you send to encourage existing customers to refer friends.

Cost-effective Customer Acquisition: Email marketing is inherently cost-effective, and when accompanied by referral programs that operate on a pay-for-performance structure, you will gain more customers by spending less.

Scale the Shopify Store: As the business grows, the incoming leads/referrals will rise. But, rest assured, the integrated solution can scale to accommodate increasing numbers of customers and referrals.

Better Tracking Analytics: Integration allows businesses to access comprehensive analytics and reporting tools in Mailchimp and Prefinery. You can track the campaign performance, understand customer behavior, and redefine strategies based on the data outcomes.

Creating a Newsletter Refer-a-Friend Campaign on MailChimp for Shopify

An email newsletter is a promising way of communicating with customers about what’s cooking, what are the latest updates, and upcoming news that may be of benefit to them. It’s one way of propagating your referral program, prompting more people to join.

Creating a newsletter referral campaign on Mailchimp involves a series of steps from defining the program settings to tracking its performance. In other words, you’d be setting up the referral program in Shopify and designing and executing the email campaign in Mailchimp. Here’s how the process unfolds:

1. Set Up a Referral Program in Shopify:

Install a Referral App

  1. Choose a referral app from the Shopify App Store that integrates seamlessly with Mailchimp. Popular options include Prefinery,, or Growsurf.
  2. Install and configure the app according to your referral program requirements. If it’s your first shot with referral marketing, get in touch with customer support to identify the best possible route for your business.

Configure Referral Program Settings

Based on your business niche and objectives for the campaign, set the specific referral rewards that can help achieve those aims. Popular options for eCommerce businesses include discounts, store credits, gift cards, and freebies.

It’s equally important to lay out the terms and conditions of the referral program, including eligibility criteria, referral process, and reaping rewards.

2. Integrate the Shopify with Mailchimp:

Connect Mailchimp to Shopify

  1. Sign up anew or log in to your Mailchimp account.
  2. Navigate to the "Audience" tab and select your audience.
  3. Click on "Manage Audience" and choose "Settings."
  4. Under the "Connected Sites" section, connect Mailchimp to your Shopify store.

Activate E-commerce Tracking

  1. In your Mailchimp account dashboard, go to the "Audience" tab and select your audience.
  2. Click on "Manage Audience" and choose "Settings."
  3. From there, enable e-commerce tracking to sync customer data and order information from Shopify to Mailchimp.

3. Design the Refer-a-Friend Email Campaign in Mailchimp:

Create a New Campaign

With the credentials of your email campaign finalized, you’ve yet to integrate it with MailChimp’s email campaign.

  • In Mailchimp, go to the "Campaigns" tab and click "Create Campaign."
  • Choose "Email" as the campaign type. It will lead you to finalize other properties.

Identify the Recipients

Select the audience segment you want to target. Of course, not everyone in your customer list will be willing to recommend you to others. So look for those who have made a recent purchase, left a positive review on your website, or have repeatedly engaged with your brand from time to time. Prioritize customers who have not yet referred a friend.

Design the Email

Often, the success of your referral campaign depends on how well your email is written. It’s the first line of contact with a potential advocate. Make sure you make it worth their while.

  1. Use Mailchimp's drag-and-drop editor to design an engaging email.
  2. Start with a catchy, attention-grabbing header. It’s meant to capture the recipient’s attention at first sight and propels them to read further.
  3. Let your referral email be self-explanatory. Explain the entire proposition of your campaign, including the benefits and how they can achieve them.
  4. Conclude your email with a prominent call-to-action (CTA) button or link for customers to refer their friends right away.

Personalization and Dynamic Content

Personalize the email by addressing customers by name. It sets a more intimate connection with the recipient which compels them to take action. Use dynamic and eye-catching graphics to display unique referral links for each customer.

Incentives and Urgency

Highlight the incentives for participating in the referral program. Let the customers know what they stand to gain from referring others. Use a tiered reward structure to compel customers to refer more leads. Present a limited-time offer or exclusive discount deals for referred friends to invoke urgency in recipients.


Before mass sending the emails to every subscriber, use Mailchimp's testing features to preview the email and ensure it displays correctly on various devices. You can also send test emails to yourself and your team members for review.

Schedule or Send:

Choose whether to send the email immediately or schedule it for a specific date and time. Most marketers use triggers for sending specific emails. For instance, they would send a thank you message to customers after a purchase or a reminder email if they haven’t interacted with your campaign for long. Such tactics are slight reinforcements to advance your message, ensuring customers don’t forget about your campaign.

4. Monitor and Optimize:

MailChimp presents key analytics that allow you to constantly monitor the performance of your campaign — and know whether your strategy is paying off or not. Some key performance indicators you need to pay attention to are email open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. Based on what the results are, you can make adjustments to optimize the campaign and reap better effects.

Closing Note

Regardless of what the latest marketing trends may portray, one cannot forego the benefits of email marketing, and when coupled with referral marketing only the sky is the limit.

Tools like MailChimp and Prefinery can automate and streamline every process of referral email campaigns so you don’t have to constantly manage and oversee the nitty gritty. Get a free demo with Prefinery and decide your business’ future yourself.


Can I track referrals using Mailchimp alone?

Mailchimp itself doesn't have built-in referral tracking features. You would typically integrate Mailchimp with a dedicated referral platform like Prefinery that handles tracking and attribution. Mailchimp can be then used for creating and sending referral program-related emails to your audience.

How do I personalize referral emails in Mailchimp?

Mailchimp allows you to personalize emails by using merge tags. Include the recipient's name, and if applicable, use dynamic content or merge tags to display unique referral links for each customer. Personalized emails enhance engagement and encourage customers to participate in the referral program.

Can I automate the referral process using Mailchimp?

While Mailchimp itself may not handle the entire referral process, you can automate aspects of your refer-a-friend campaign. Utilize Mailchimp's automation features to set up triggered emails for different stages of the referral journey, such as welcome emails, referral confirmation, and reward distribution.

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