referral program marketing

Promoting a referral strategy is a daunting task. It helps to have a plan for every phase of your referral program’s life, but that can be difficult to put together when you don’t have any concept of where to start.

That’s why we gathered some of the most exciting referral program marketing techniques. We’re breaking down how these brands did them, and how you can apply them to your own B2B business.


Tesla is known for its innovation, and its referral program is no different. Making the most of its excited and incredibly loyal fanbase, it created a referral program that saw over 40x ROI!

What can other businesses learn from Tesla’s referral program marketing?

  1. Cultivate loyalty. This is the driving force behind Tesla’s success. Tesla fans are incredibly loyal, with most of them willing to evangelize the cars for free. Almost all of Tesla’s success comes from word of mouth.
  2. Offer incentives your customers — and partners — want. Tesla calculated their incentives carefully and made sure that they were giving their customers what they actually wanted. You should be doing the same thing — calculate incentives based on your audience.
  3. Stay top of mind. Elon Musk is still generating headlines everywhere he goes, which means that customers have no opportunity to forget him or his business. While you probably won’t want to take that route, regular communication with your partners can achieve the same effect.


Rothy takes a smart approach to referral programs by using post-purchase pop-ups to encourage referrals from happy customers. While this is a reasonable way to approach B2C referral marketing, many B2B companies might find it difficult or pointless to implement.

This does not mean that B2B companies should ignore these tactics altogether, however. Here are just some things that can be learned:

  1. Ask for referrals at the right time. Timing is key for referrals. Asking for them when your customer or partner is happy with you and ready to sell you to someone else is far more effective.
  2. Make your partners happy. Even if you aren’t necessarily trying to sell your partners on your product or service, you should still be making them happy and excited to be a part of your channel.
  3. Be direct but simple. Pop-ups are attention-grabbing. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to have the customer or partner’s attention forever. Notice that Rothy kept their message short and sweet — and you should, too.


Companies like Huckberry have had great success with referral contests — offering special prizes to whoever brings in the most referrals in a set amount of time. Huckberry used a lot of the tactics that we already discussed: short, effective messaging and powerful incentives. But they also had something more.

What can your business learn from this?

  1. Make referring fun. A little friendly competition makes participating in a referral program feel less like a chore and more like a game. This will make referring for you more memorable, and feed into your channel even after the campaign is over.
  2. Give things a deadline. Deadlines help add a sense of urgency to your referral channel. Instead of telling partners and customers to refer whenever is convenient, having a set, near date will prompt many into action.
  3. Be creative. While Huckberry offered a traditional cash prize, they had a little extra fun by offering bourbon along with. These tiny, humanizing touches will make your referral campaign more memorable and fun.