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How to Write a Referral Email (With Examples)

Staying competitive in the modern market requires you to implement all kinds of marketing strategies. On top of all the PPC campaigns, SEO content strategies and social media exposure, there’s another approach that many companies opt for.

Referral marketing is a great way to reach out to potential clients who already trust your brand because an existing customer referred you or your business.

That’s where referral emails come in to help you create a successful referral marketing campaign. Their role is significant in the process, as email still belongs to the top three organic content distribution channels.

Keep reading to learn more about referral emails, explore examples and tips.

What are referral emails?

Referral marketing is one of the best ways of efficiently growing a business. Companies use it to turn existing customers into brand ambassadors to promote their services.

In most cases, the process is simple. A user or a company client receives an email that offers a reward if they refer the business to a friend.

Once that customer registers and begins using the platform, the client gets a discount, money, or a coupon reward.

On the other hand, referral emails are also used by freelancers and smaller businesses offering services. They use the referrals for website testimonials, which helps build trust with potential new clients.

Referral marketing is an equivalent of incentivized word of mouth marketing but in the digital world. Implementing it will bring benefits to your business such as:

  • Stable and automated growth — A referral program is an ongoing effort of your brand to expand. The best part is that you can put the whole program on autopilot, including sending referral emails.
  • Higher brand awareness — As more people start recommending your company, your brand awareness will go higher.
  • Better conversion rates — Referral leads are 30% more likely to convert when compared to leads from any other marketing channel.
  • Successful product launch — Harry’s referral campaign is an excellent example of how companies can leverage the approach for a successful launch of a new product. The company collected over 100,000 email addresses in as little as two weeks.

These benefits make referral marketing an effective way of growing a business in which referral emails play a crucial role.

What makes a good referral email?

Crafting a good referral email requires you to pay attention to every element. Doing so will get you higher conversion rates. Apply the following tips to achieve better email marketing results.

1. Email layout

Introducing too many elements in the email can be confusing, leading to the user closing it as soon as they lay their eyes on the message. To avoid this, ensure that the layout is simple. An excellent referral email should include:

  • A short introduction — A brief introduction should tell the user what the message is about and lead all the way up to the call to action.
  • A clear call to action —  State what the user needs to do to claim their reward. Make it a short and simple sentence that tells the core essentials of the reward program.
  • Professional signature — You can use an email signature generator to craft a professional signature. It’s the perfect way to offer a link to more details about the referral program, which will increase trust towards your brand.

With this in mind, you’ll be able to design a simple email that delivers a clear message.

2. Eye-catching subject line

The subject line is where your proposal begins. Pick a subject line that’ll spark interest and slowly introduce the reader to the referral email. Use expressions that create a call to action right from the start.

Here’s what you could do:

  • Discover excellent benefits of our referral program
  • Spread the word and get rewards
  • Happy anniversary! 

The last email has a very appealing subject line as most readers will open it to see what kind of anniversary the brand refers to. Anniversary usually means gifts, so you automatically convey that some sort of reward is available in the email.

3. Short journey

From the moment your customer opens the email, they need to understand the message. That’s why keeping everything simple is so important. The message you want to convey should be in the first paragraph of your email.

Make sure you only add the necessary elements in the email. Include the referral link they should use or a guide on how the referral program works. It’ll require less action on the user’s side, keeping things as simple as possible.

4. Personalization

Show your customer how much you care by completely personalizing the email. Before sending one, learn more about the customer and their relationship with your brand. 

Use specific milestones in your collaboration to send celebratory emails and remind them about your referral program.

Tools like Mailchimp will allow you to seamlessly address your users by their name. These little things make a big change as personalization shows your care for your customers.

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5. A reward

Modern customers understand how referral programs work. They are expecting a reward for recommending your brand to their friends and family. Introduce what the prize is from the start. A single sentence can include all the reward details.

6. A Visible Call to Action 

After reading the message containing all the relevant details, a clear call to action should be noticeable. That applies to referral code, link or a button. Make them easily noticeable by using different colors, bolding or underlining the relevant text.

7. Good Mobile Optimization

Don’t forget that 49% of emails are opened on mobile devices. That means that you should optimize your email layout to fit the smaller screens perfectly. Use small images and short text to achieve this goal. 

It would be ideal to design an email that users can see on their phones without scrolling at all.

Referral email examples

Let’s explore a couple of helpful email examples that different companies have used in their referral marketing campaigns.

1. Payoneer


Payoneer uses an exciting approach to remind you that you can refer their company to your friends. The company sends an email with an appealing email subject that states, “Happy Payoneerversary.” It’s a perfect example of a trigger email that is sent out every year.

You’ll notice a brief congratulatory introduction that quickly continues to a referral reminder when you open an email. Then it follows with quick instructions on what to do and ends with an easy-to-notice call to action.

It’s a clean email that looks perfect on both desktop and mobile devices.

2. JobRack

JobRack is a great platform that connects professionals with job opportunities. An interesting referral approach they provide is candidate recommendation. If you connect a particular individual with a job opportunity and they are hired, you’ll receive a financial reward.

The email is short and features crucial information in the bolded part. It quickly continues to the list of currently open jobs, helping you see the current opportunities you can promote.

3. Individual referral email

Big companies are not the only ones deploying referral marketing strategies. It’s also an effective way of growing your client list as a freelancer. Create a simple form that the client can fill out and use the information as a quote on your website and social media.

Here’s an example of a referral email you can send to your happy clients.

Subject line: Greetings [Client Name] 


Greetings [Client Name],

It makes me extremely happy that you’re satisfied with the services I’ve provided so far. I always give my best to deliver quality designs for your marketing materials.

I have a favor to ask. Would you possibly have some time to refer my services by filling out a form I’ve prepared for you? [Link to the form]

Thank you for your time. I’ll happily reward you by charging 10% less on our next project.

Also, am I allowed to use your referral on my website? That would mean a lot to my graphic design business. Thank you for taking the time to read my proposal, looking forward to working on our next project.


[Your name]

[Contact details]

4. Freelancer

Another freelancing platform runs a referral program to grow its platform. Its email design is straightforward, with a call to action that stands out. The introductory part immediately features the referral offer details, followed by quick steps the user should take.

It’s a great example of how simplicity can be effective.

5. DMarket

Companies that initially don’t offer referral programs need to find a way to introduce it somehow. A good idea is to include such an announcement in a newsletter email. That’s the approach that DMarket took, as it notified its users what their rewards are if they spread the word.

After introducing the program in the newsletter, it would be good to follow up with a separate mail containing a more direct message on referring the platform to other users.

6. EverlyWell

Image Source

EverlyWell is an excellent example of how bright colors can help the message stand out. The image starts with the platform’s referral offering. In the central part is a brief explanation that shares all the offer’s nuances.

Lastly, convenient buttons make it easy to share the referral link on Facebook and Twitter.

7. Outdoor Voices

Outdoor Voices is a perfect example of how incorporating an image can be the ideal addition to a referral email. Given the nature of the company, it fits perfectly. The short explanation of the offer below sums up all the essentials and follows up with an easy-to-notice button.

The image size fits smaller screens, making this an optimized email for different platforms.

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Concluding thoughts

Hopefully, you’ll find the above examples of referral emails useful. They’ll help you go in the right direction to create a referral email that gets the best results.

Creating an excellent email layout requires a little bit of trial and error. But after enough testing, you’ll get much more out of your referral program by regularly sending out effective emails.

About the author

Helga Zabalkanska is a CMO at Newoldstamp (500 Startups backed) and MySignature. She has over 10 years of experience in digital marketing with a data-driven approach. Helga is a startup enthusiast and SaaS lover.