Creating a seamless referral experience for mobile users is essential to a successful referral program, however it’s not always so easy. Sometimes you need a little inspiration. To help you get started with creating a great mobile referral program, we have collected 34 great examples in all main categories of apps.
Mobile has become an essential piece of the referral puzzle. There’s no way to have a meaningful referral program that doesn’t include a clear vision for sending invitations and claiming referrals on mobile.
However, creating a seamless referral experience for mobile users is not always so easy. Sometimes you need a little inspiration. To help you get started with creating a great mobile referral program, we describe 34 examples here. And of course, you should check out our blog post which looks more deeply at the mobile experience of several referral programs.
Table of Contents:
- Retail & fashion
- Food & groceries
- Travel & hospitality
- Finance & personal savings
Retail & Fashion
The fact that even retail giant Amazon doesn’t shy away from offering a referral program for recruiting new users is a testament to how useful these programs can be.
Amazon’s referral program is buried deep in the app interface and it offers a double-sided $5 bonus like most similar programs. And students go crazy making money from referrals.
Gilt is an online shopping and lifestyle business focusing on making flash sales for luxury fashion items that usually last 36-48 hours. Gilt offers a referral program that rewards both sides with the same $25 bonus after the recipient makes their first purchase.This is a great example of a referral program because it allows customers to use all major channels to share Gilt with their friends.
Wish is an ecommerce marketplace, which customers can use to purchase fashion items, electronics, and other goods. The platform centers on providing low prices by connecting its users directly with Chinese manufacturers. The network is reported to be generating over $2 billion in general merchandise sales.
Wish lowers the barrier to conversion with its referral program by not requiring a minimum order amount in order to claim a reward. Customers of Wish are further incentivized to make larger purchases with a percent discount, rather than a flat amount.
Poshmark is a platform allowing users to buy and sell clothing and footwear. Acquiring new users is essential to the company because it relies on them both as sellers and buyers. The more buyers there are, the more sellers would be interested in joining and vice versa.
As part of their effort to get more people to sign up, Poshmark offers a referral program, which awards both sides in a referral with $5.
Slang is a platform that connects buyers and sellers of authentic sneakers and streetwear. Just as with other ecommerce apps, Slang offers $10 to both the customer making the invitation, as well as their friends who accept it.
On top of offering the standard ways to share the offer—through Twitter, Facebook, and their contact list—one of the provided offered by the app includes Instagram. Instagram is a place where many of Slang’s current and potential customers are likely to hang out, which is also well-suited to the products sold on the platform.
OfferUp is a marketplace where people can buy and sell used and new furniture, home electronics, cars, and more locally.
Unlike most similar platforms, that push to acquire new users aggressively, by offering generous rewards, OfferUp features a simple “Invite a Friend” functionality.
Letgo is another network that allows people to buy and sell unwanted items locally. Similar to OfferUp, letgo doesn’t offer a reward for inviting friends. Additionally, the app only demonstrates one method for sending an invitation—email.
Food & Groceries
8. Blue Apron
Subscribers to Blue Apron’s service receive curated boxes with fresh ingredients and instructions on how to cook them into tasty meals.
On top of having a referral program, which rewards customers for getting friends and family to subscribe, Blue Apron also sends their customers free food and invites them to share it with their friends, thus giving them another tool (and conversation piece) that they can use to convince their friends that it’s worth subscribing to the program.
Customers of Instacart can use the service to get groceries delivered to their homes.
To encourage their users to share Instacart with friends, neighbours, and family, the company offers $10 for every successful referral, which ends up with an order. New users also get $10 when they join through an invitation from a friend.
UberEATS uses a referral program to grow its user base, just like its parent company and app. This tactic has helped the company grow to 77 cities.
This referral program is notable for the use of Twitter and WhatsApp as the main channels for sharing the referral offer. While most apps use the most common channels such as email and Facebook, UberEATS provides convenience to its audience by allowing them to use the channels they prefer.
Boxed helps its customer save on their favorite grocery and personal hygiene products with wholesale pricing.
The mobile app features a referral program with a double-sided $15 reward when a new customer signs up and orders a box worth at least $60.
DoorDash is a food delivery service operating in over 300 cities and areas in the US. The referral program offers a straightforward $7 reward for every friend who completes a delivery worth at least $20.
Reserve allows users to review and book restaurants in several major urban markets in the US. The app includes a standard dual-sided $5 bonus for each successful referral.
14. Yelp Delivery
Yelp is known for its crowd-sourced reviews of restaurants and other public establishments, but the company has been looking to expand its revenue streams. In 2015 Yelp acquired food-ordering service Eat24 and started offering food delivery services through its main app.
Customers who use Yelp’s delivery service can give their friends $5 to use within the app and get the same amount back when they complete their first order.
15. Tropical Smoothie Cafe
Tropical Smoothie Cafe is a franchise that operates over 500 restaurants in the US. The brand has its own rewards app, which customers can use to collect rewards, pay, and order ahead.
The brand encourages referrals by rewarding referrers with $5 once their friends have spent at least $10 at one of the brand’s locations.
TabbedOut calls itself “the easiest way to pay at bars and restaurants.” Customers can use the app to open a tab at participating locations and pay their bill when they are ready to leave without having to wait for a server.
The company incentivizes its user to share the app with friends by offering them a $10 reward for each successful referral.
Travel & Hospitality
The referral program takes center stage in Airbnb’s app. The company offers users a double-sided incentive with both the referrer and the recipient getting rewarded.
Airbnb scores extra points for explaining clearly what it takes to get the reward in as few words as possible.
18. Hotel Tonight
Hotel Tonight is on a mission to conquer the hotel bookings market one last-minute deal at a time.
The referral program of Hotel Tonight rewards both sides with $25 off a booking that exceeds $135. This number is carefully calculated to ensure that Hotel Tonight makes money on each referral, thus guaranteeing the sustainability of the program.
Referrals play a major role in Uber’s rise to global dominance in the ride-sharing segment of the travel industry. The referral program takes center stage in the mobile app as well. By calling the program “Free Rides,” Uber creates a natural urge for users to check it out as soon as they see it in the app.
Lyft is the main competitor to Uber and referral plays an important role in the company’s strategy. Unlike most similar programs, Lyft offers a reward only to referrers.
Integrating customers’ address books in the referral workflow on the app is a smart move by Lyft. Seeing the names of multiple friends makes it more likely that you share the invitation and with more people.
Juno strives to be the ethical alternative to Uber that treats drivers better and provides superior service as a result.
As part of its launch strategy in New York City, the app offers 30% off all rides for 2 weeks to anyone who refers a new customer. Juno’s aggressive take on other ride-sharing apps is matched in its referral program.
TaskRabbit is a marketplace connecting freelance labor and people who need work done locally. Through the service, customers can find help with everyday tasks such as cleaning, home repairs, assembling furniture, etc.
TaskRabbit features a referral program, which targets those who need help with a particular task. A new user who joins via an invitation from a friend gets $20 off their first task. When they complete it, the referrer also gets $20 credit to use on the platform.
Postmates has successfully applied Uber’s model to the logistics industry. The company operates a platform, which connects couriers with customers who need goods delivered locally.
Postmates’ regular referral program rewards both sides with $10, but the company is also known for running special offers, such as the one shown below, which incentivizes new customers to use the app actively with a $100 bonus, available only for seven days.
Shyp offers courier services like Postmates but uses USPS and other major carriers to deliver nationwide. The company has a strong focus on merchants selling through eBay and has even formed a partnership with the platform, which allows merchants there to connect their accounts and ship easily.
Shyp offers a straightforward $5 bonus for both the referrer and referred party. One thing worth pointing out in this example is how the company uses customer-centric language in its app—so, instead of “Invite friends,” it says “Get Free Shipping.”
Finance & Personal Savings
PayPal prompts users to invite friends from the moment they log into the app. Trying a new app is an exciting moment, and PayPal wants to profit from it by encouraging users to share it with their friends.
The PayPal team clearly feels the value of the app is compelling enough on its own (and has an huge user base close to 200 million), so that they don’t need to offer financial rewards to incentivize people to invite their friends anymore (unlike when they first launched).
Robinhood is an app that allows its users to trade shares and index funds commission-free.
Today, the app features a simple program to invite your friends without offering any special rewards in return, but when Robinhood first started the team used the referral program to generate virality by allowing people who invited friends to skip places in the line and get access sooner. The “Copy to Clipboard” is always a great share feature as well!
Ebates allows its users to collect coupons and earn cash back rewards from over 2,000 stores.
The website features a “Refer a Friend” program, which doesn’t follow the standard features we see in most referral programs. Customers of Ebates have to refer two friends in order to earn a $50 reward. Both friends referred get $10. Referrers can also win an Alaska Cruise as an additional reward.
Earny is an app that goes through the receipts in your inbox, monitors for price drops on the items you bought, and then claims money back on your behalf. The company makes money by keeping 25% of all the funds it manages to recover for its users.
Earny’s referral program works as a profit-sharing model—customers of Earny who refer friends get 5% of their refunds and another 5% from new customers recruited by their friends.
Users of note-taking app Evernote can refer their friends and earn points, which can be exchanged for a monthly or annual Premium subscription. Premium users can participate in the program as well and use their points to extend their subscriptions.
Harvest is a time tracking tool used by teams and individual professionals alike. Harvest features a “Refer a Friend” program, which gives a one-time $10 discount to both the referee and a friend who upgrades to a paid account. Customers can only use email to share the deal. If you’re only going to have one share channel, email is the right one to choose.
Upthere is a cloud company that’s looking to make syncing files obsolete. Getting people to use the app longer and to share with their friends are two major factors for driving stickiness in cloud storage apps, so Upthere’s referral program works to encourage both.Users are prompted to invite their friends as soon as they start using the app. Upthere extends the referral program even to trial users and awards them with an extra month of free trial for every new user they manage to recruit. This is a clever move not just because it generates new customers, but it also makes existing users more invested in the app, thus, making them more likely to convert when their trial runs out.
Headspace helps users find peace of mind with pre-recorded mindfulness exercises.
Headspace users can share ten free sessions with their friends from inside the app. Although this is not a referral reward per se—because everyone can claim ten free sessions as a trial—this is still an interesting case of a referral program, because it uses content as the “reward” that generates new users.
33. Nike+ Run Club
Runners use Nike+ Run Club to track and record their practices, measure their progress, and compare it with their friends.
Having friends to compete against is likely one of the Aha! moments for Nike+ Run Club, so the app does a serious push to find and invite friends.
Tile is a tracker, which attaches to your important personal belongings. It connects to your phone over Bluetooth and helps you find your wallet, keys, and other items easily.
Tile is another brand that has chosen the gamification path for its referral program. Customers who recommend Tile, earn 25 points for each friend who buys a Tile. These points can be exchanged for free Tile products and swag for each 50 points.
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