10 Referral Email Templates to Kickstart Your Referral Marketing Strategy

Posted by Sandra Petrova | Aug 3, 2022

Image source: "Multiethnic friends browsing smartphone together outside", by William Fortunato, licensed under Free to Use

A variety of studies have confirmed the same thing:

Referrals generate some of the highest conversion rates among all marketing channels.

Get this:

  • Referred customers generate 16% more in profit than non-referred customers. (Harvard Business Review)
  • Referred customers have a 37% higher retention rate. (Deloitte)
  • The lifetime value of a referred customer is 16% higher than a customer who wasn’t referred. (Wharton)

We're all receivers of emails. We can all agree that emails from people we know are more well-received than marketing emails from brands.

But how do you break the ice and ask customers to refer your business to their friends and family? How do you entice them to help you acquire new customers without seeming too aggressive or pushy? 

You've arrived at the right place because, in this post, we'll discuss the best practices when writing your emails. We'll then give you ten referral email templates for all types of scenarios and occasions to get you started.

Let's dive in!

What Is a Referral Email? 

A referral email is a type of marketing email a company sends out to its customers to promote its referral program. The referral email is an excellent opportunity to inform your customers and potential customers of the deal you're offering. That's why most brands, when sending referral emails, always inform readers of the type of referral program incentives they can win in exchange for promoting the brand. Some emails try to convince readers to join their referral program by appealing to a person's altruistic side (help a friend) or by adding a dose of humor to the text. Overall, all referral emails follow a formula that guarantees immediate success.

How to Write the Perfect Referral Email: 7 Best Practices 

Although there isn’t a science-proven formula that guarantees your referral email will be successful, there are some elements you can include in your email to increase the probability of success: 

Let's go through each one of those critical elements quickly: 

  • Write an enticing subject line: The subject line is the first thing people will see when they open their inbox. Make sure it's short, clear, and contains some powerful words. You may also try A/B testing your subject line to see which one will perform better.
  • Mention the referral program incentives you're offering: Some people will be glad to spread the word for free, but offering incentives makes the sharing experience a little bit more enticing. That's why you should always include the rewards you're offering in the email. Is it one-sided or two-sided? Do you have a gamified referral program? Let people know.
  • Inform readers about any terms or conditions: Referral programs come with specific conditions that customers must meet. Some of those conditions include who's eligible to be a referral, the expiration date of rewards, the method of receiving your rewards, etc.
  • Include a clear call-to-action: CTAs motivate people to take action. When creating your CTAs, there are some best practices to remember. For instance, ensure your CTA button stands out by using the right balance of color and white space. Also, don't forget to place it above the fold. The CTA button should be visible from the moment the customer opens the email. They shouldn't scroll down to find it.
  • Personalize it: If you talk to customers in their own language and you do it in a friendly way, they'll be more enticed to take action. A good starting point for personalizing your emails could be calling your customers by their names. This tip may sound too basic but delivers excellent results.
  • Pay attention to design: Ensuring your email is well designed is as important as crafting a catchy subject line. Design your emails to be easy on the eye using your brand logo, colors, typography, and graphics.
  • Make it easy for people to refer: A good referral email allows customers to share your brand with others. If customers have to jump from one page to another to send a referral, they’ll likely get frustrated and give up. You want to include a unique referral link that a customer can easily copy in the email. In addition to a unique referral link, you should also include social media buttons so that customers can share the link directly on social media platforms.

Three Things to Do Before Sending Any Referral Emails

Acquiring new customers always sounds like a great idea. However, before clicking "send" on those referral emails, there are a few things to consider first.

Ask yourself the following questions: 

  1. Do you have a good number of active customers? To create a successful referral program, you must have a substantial list of subscribers. They can be existing customers or potential customers. There's no point in creating a referral program if only twenty names are on that email list. Consider reading reviews from existing customers to know you they feel about your product/service.
  2. Do you have the capacity to handle new clients? There's no point in looking to acquire new customers if you don't have the capacity to handle the influx of new customers. Make sure you have enough customer support manpower to handle the onboarding of new customers.
  3. How will you be tracking the referrals? Tracking referrals in spreadsheets might be okay if you're sending only a handful of emails. But if you're sending mass emails to many people, you should invest in a proper referral program software. You'll need a way to track referrals and automate the entire process, and that's the primary benefit of referral program software.

Request a demo of GrowSurf

Set up your referral marketing program with software that lowers your customer acquisition cost and saves you gobs of time.

10 Referral Email Templates That Will Get You The Results You Want

If you and your marketing team find yourselves out of ideas about how you should write your referral email, we're here to help. Instead of staring at a blank page, use these tried-and-tested referral email templates that can convince your customers to convert.

The Informational Referral Email 

This is a more general referral email that serves to inform your existing customers in bulk about your referral program. If you want to inform people about the details of your referral program without sounding too pushy, this is the template you need. Simply copy-paste it and customize it to fit your brand tone.

You'll want to start by introducing the program and the rewards associated with the program. Then, proceed by mentioning the terms and conditions and close with a warm message about how much the customer means to you.

Hi [customer name],

We are super excited to announce launching our referral rewards program for all current customers.

If you want to become part of our referral program, all you have to do is [description of how the program works].

You will get [reward for the referrer] and your friend will receive [reward of the friend].

We look forward to having you join our referral program.

Please visit our referral program page if you have any concerns or questions.

[Insert call-to-action button]

Asking a New Customer for Referrals

The best time to ask a new customer for a referral is during the onboarding process. The customer has just had a positive interaction with your brand, and they're still in the "honeymoon" phase.

Try the following template:

Hi [customer name],

Thank you for using our [product/service]. We hope your experience was amazing and one that is worth sharing with your friends, family, and colleagues.

You can invite your friends to try [your product/service] by sharing the link below.

We offer [incentive] for every referred customer.

[Insert call-to-action button]

Asking a Loyal Customer for a Referral 

The good thing about loyal customers is they're already satisfied with your brand, and they've shown their appreciation multiple times. These are the people who are most likely to be willing to share the good word if they haven't already.

Tip: Send your referral email after you're certain the customer is happy with your product or service. Once you have this information, gently ask for a referral with the following template:

Hello [customer name],

We are happy to hear you are satisfied with our [service/product].

As you are among our most valuable customers, we wanted to ask you if you have any friends or colleagues who would benefit from our [product/service]. We would be forever grateful if you took the time to share the good word.

We offer [incentive] for every referred [customer/client].

[Insert call-to-action button]

Last-Call Referral Email 

Send a last-call email to create a sense of urgency. You'll inform customers that the great deal you're offering will end soon, so they should hurry if they don't want to miss this opportunity. Consider using the following template: 

Get [reward] when you refer friends this weekend with our limited-time offer! Share your referral code by Sunday, and when a friend places their first order, you'll both get [describe the reward].

[Insert call-to-action button]

The Fun Referral Email to Attract Attention

Sometimes, adding a dose of humor and quirkiness to an email can yield great results. Email is a serious business, but incorporating a fun element can leave a lasting impression—and motivate people to share the word.

Here's what we know:

  1. You like [your brand name].
  2. You know people.

Here's what we think you should do:

  1. Refer [your brand name] to people you know.
  2. Those people make a purchase.
  3. Those people get [type of reward].
  4. You get [type of reward].
  5. Refer a friend as many times as you want.

There's no catch! Just people helping people discover the best brand for [what you offer].

High five!

[Insert call-to-action button]

After a Customer Leaves a Positive Review 

The savviest brands respond to positive reviews from customers by doing some cross-selling or upselling. In this case, you'll be asking the customer to share a good word about your brand. However, make sure you don't sound too salesy when crafting your referral email.

Here's an example: 

Hello [customer name],

We are so grateful for your kind words. Thanks for sharing your review with the community and us.

We were wondering if you have any friends or colleagues who would benefit from our [product/service]. We would be forever grateful if you took the time to share the good word.

Every time your friend [joins\subscribes\purchases], we will send you [reward] to show our appreciation.

[Insert call-to-action button]

The Being a Good Friend Referral Email 

According to studies, people are as much motivated to get an incentive for making a referral as they are to help their friend get an incentive too. That's why most brands use two-sided referral programs where both the referrer and the referred get something in return. When crafting your referral email, you can use this fact in your favor by appealing to the customer's altruistic side.

Hi [customer name],

Do you enjoy our [brand/product/service]? Why not share the good word with your friends?

If you know a friend who can benefit, why not share the good word about your positive experience?

For every friend you refer, you’ll earn [incentive].

But that’s not all – your friend will also get [incentive]!

Start sharing today!

[Insert call-to-action button]

The Reciprocal Reward Email Template

This referral email is similar to the one above. The only difference here is that you're highlighting the fact you'll both get an equal reward. You're being a good friend by introducing your friend to a brand they can benefit from. On the plus side, you're getting an equal reward for referring them as they get for accepting the referral.

Give [reward], Get [equal reward]

Refer a friend who could use [benefit from your product or service], and you’ll both receive [equal reward] when your friend makes a purchase.

[Insert call-to-action button]

"It's So Simple" Referral Email 

People nowadays seem to have short attention spans and less patience. It's only understandable in today's fast-paced world to feel overwhelmed by information and want to do things quickly in the most efficient way. That's why this "it's so simple" email effectively persuades customers to refer a friend. You're describing the process of referring friends step-by-step, making the instructions sound as simple as possible. Your customers should know that the process won't take more than a minute of their time.

Get [reward] when you refer a friend!

It's easy to get rewarded!

  1. You invite a friend. Copy the invite link and share it with up to [number of people].
  2. You get [reward].
  3. Your friend gets [reward].

And that's it!

[Insert call-to-action button]

The "Get a Freebie" Email Template 

People love free things. Psychologists say people experience a positive charge when they're offered an unexpected gift, and this sensation of joy impacts their willingness to perform all kinds of actions just to get that freebie. Yes, you'll be surprised to learn that many people would be happy to queue for hours only to receive a free slice of pizza. If you are offering a freebie in exchange for referrals, make sure the product is something that your customers would be interested in getting.

Attract their attention with the following email template: 

Refer a friend and win free [product]!

All you have to do is share your referral link with a friend, and we'll send you the reward after their first order.

What are you waiting for? Start sharing:

[Insert referral link]


These ten referral email templates can help you kick-start your referral program. They’re designed to get your customers engaged and actively promote your brand.

However, it’s important to understand that referral marketing doesn’t happen overnight. Building an effective referral program takes time and often requires a lot of behind-the-scenes work.

Be patient with your campaign and make sure that you’re putting in the work required to make it successful.

Good luck!

Request a demo of GrowSurf

Set up your referral marketing program with software that lowers your customer acquisition cost and saves you gobs of time.

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