How to get more customer referrals & grow word of mouth
Sales & Marketing

How to get more customer referrals & grow word of mouth

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Want more referrals? Stop making it about you. Flip the script and make it about them—your customers and their friends. Help your customers help their friends!

So...why does it work? 🤔

Research shows that an altruistic spin like "Give your friend a 70% discount!" boosts the odds of a referral by 60% and total referrals by 86%. It's like social currency but without the awkwardness of asking for a favor. So help your customers hook a brother up and see those referrals soar.

It turns out that referrals are the OG social media -- social before social was cool. Why? Because we naturally want to share cool stuff with our friends. Adding a selfish incentive muddies the water. But make it about helping a friend, and you've got a winning combo.


Here are some examples of big brands using this.

Brand Existing Customer Reward New Customer Reward Why it Works
Dollar Shave Club $5 off next purchase $5 off first purchase Simple, instant gratification
Glossier $10 in store credit 10% off first purchase Builds brand loyalty, higher conversion
Casper $75 Amazon gift card 10% off mattress High-value reward, big-ticket discount
Warby Parker $5 off next purchase $5 off first purchase Low-risk, encourages repeat purchases
HelloFresh $20 off next box $40 off first box High new customer incentive, recurring benefit for existing customers

When & who

So, when should you do it, and who should you target for the best results?

  • Timing is everything: Ask for that referral right after they've made a purchase. The glow of a new buy makes people more likely to spread the love.
  • Know your audience: If you can, target this to your repeat customers and those with high NPS scores. They're 73% more likely to refer.

Follow those two guidelines for the best chance of success.

How to use it

Ready to try it? Here's what to do:

  • Tweak your CTA: Change your referral call-to-action to focus on the friend's benefit. "Your friend gets X% off, and so do you."
  • Test the waters: Try offering the discount only to the friend. It could save you some cash and still get you that sweet, sweet referral.
  • Segment & target: Aim this campaign at your loyal customers and those who are super satisfied. They're your low-hanging fruit.

So, try it out and be the matchmaker by helping your best customers play hero and refer their friends with discounts!

Want to learn more? 🤓

If you want to learn more about this topic, you can dig into the nerdy details in the original marketing study here.

Quote of the week 💬

"Hooking up a friend with a referral discount is like sharing your Netflix password: It's a small favor that earns you big friendship points."

About the author
Gabriel Mays, the Co-Founder and CEO of POPSMASH
Gabriel A. Mays
Gabriel Mays' Website
Co-Founder & CEO at POPSMASH
Before POPSMASH, Gabe was a Director at GoDaddy and founded two startups. He was also a Marine Corps Captain, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He lives with his wife and two kids on Cape Cod, MA.

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