Why are customer referral programs so important? Well, for starters, they build trust. Are you more likely to trust an ad about a hair product or a friend who tells you about a hair product they use and think you would love? Probably the friend. 

Another great thing about customer referrals is that they almost always reach your target audience. When someone buys your product, they are usually part of your target audience, and when they refer your business, they usually refer it to people they know, who are part of your target audience. They refer you to people who they think would like your offer. 

Lastly, customer referral programs save you time and money. You don’t need to put as much effort into advertising if you are getting business from your referrals. 

Referral marketing is crucial for any business, no matter the size or industry because it is very rewarding. 

Customer Referral Program Ideas

Below, you can find a list of Colibri’s favorite customer referral program ideas. 


Everyone loves prizes and freebies! A foolproof way to increase participation in your customer referral program is to offer incentives. These can range from store credits to discounts. The idea is to offer a motive for recommending your business – perhaps you get a ten dollar coupon for every new customer that comes from your recommendation. 

Tiered Incentives

Having a tiered list of incentives will keep your customers engaged. For example, the first time someone buys from you via a customer’s referral, that customer who referred you gets a discount. The next time that happens, they get a free product and so on. You could also give them points and when they get enough, they get a free product. The offer has to be rewarding though, otherwise, people will not put the effort in. 


People love to be apart of something, and if you offer memberships, your customers can be a part of a community. Guidelines for referring your business to get a membership could be to post about your company monthly on social media or refer at least two new customers a month. 

Once people have a membership, you can offer them goodies like free products, discount codes, invites to special events, or let them buy products before they are launched to the general public. 


Customers like to feel good about the companies they are supporting. To show customers you are worthy of their business, ask them to send an email to three friends after they make a purchase and let them know that once they do so, you will give X amount of money to a charity of their choice. You can include a few options of charities they can choose from. This is a great way to do business for good, get referrals, and make your customers happy. 

Product Based Perks

This approach works well because people are interested in your product, so they certainly won’t be upset if they can do a simple thing to get more products from you! For example, if your sell glasses, you can offer people an extra case for their glasses if they refer you. 

Dual Rewards

This type of program rewards both the person who gives the referral and the person who purchases based on the referral. This could look like giving a customer a discount code to share with their friends and every time someone purchases with that code, the code owner gets a percentage of the sales. The people who take their friend up on the referral have an incentive to do it because they get a discount and the person who gives the referral benefits because they make money. 

Tips and Tricks

Almost as important as having rewards programs is making your customers aware of them. While you shouldn’t shove it in their faces, sometimes giving your customers a gentle nudge goes a long way. If you have a brick and mortar business, try asking your customers if they would like to join your customer referral program after they make a purchase.

If your business has a website (which it should in this day and age), you can set up a pop-up that asks customers if they would like to participate in your referral program. The pop up should include a few simple tasks people need to do to sign up. You can even send them an email template that they can send to people to refer to your business. This streamlines the process, and it could be argued that the convenience takes away any reasons for your customers to not participate. 

Lastly, when someone buys a product from you online, you can include a card in their package telling them about your customer referral program and where to go to get involved. 

However you decide to market your program, just remember that nobody will join if they have no idea it exists.


While businesses vary in size and demographic, having a customer referral program is one of those things that is universally beneficial. Make sure that whatever you offer in return for a referral is worth it, and that giving a referral is easy for the customer to do.

Now that you have some ideas of what to offer, it’s time to put your offers into action! Read this blog to learn what to do next to make sure people know about your customer referral program and join it.

Need a boost for your marketing strategy? Click the button below to schedule a 30-minute complimentary strategy session with Colibri Digital Marketing to get the help you need to take your marketing to the next level.