You've created your referral program, and it's ready to go!

What next?

Now it’s time to make sure your subscribers know about and engage with it. Keeping subscribers engaged can be the difference between a referral program that’s successful and one that isn’t.

Luckily, you only need to set up a few automated emails to achieve this goal.

⚠️ These emails are recommended for any referral program, regardless of your goal or rewards.

Here are the emails you want to set up:

  1. The intro email

  2. The first referral email

  3. The reward email

  4. The inactive email

  5. The nudge email

The intro email

If you’ve ever signed up for Morning Brew or The Hustle, there’s a good chance you missed their referral program. At least at first.

Morning Brew knows this, which is why exactly one week after you sign up, that is, once you’ve received five emails from them, they’ll send you an email designed exclusively to tell you about their ambassador program.

This email is an important one, because it introduces your subscribers to your ambassador program and explains how it works without the "distraction" of your usual newsletter.

What to say in the email

Our advice is to keep it short, simple, and to-the-point. Try to keep the tone similar to your usual newsletter.

Your email should explain:

  • What your ambassador program is (many people might not know about referral programs).

  • Why you're doing it (optional, but this earns you a lot of brownie points from loyal fans).

  • What they can win.

  • What they need to do to win (be specific; step-by-step instructions if necessary).

  • Encourage your subscribers to take action immediately.

Here's what the Morning Brew email looks like:

When to send the email

Morning Brew waits a week before sending this email because they want to make sure you're getting some value from their newsletter before asking you to refer your friends.

Our advice, too, is to wait until your subscribers have received at least 2-3 emails from you before you send this email.

Earn their trust. If your newsletter is daily, like Morning Brew’s, then wait a week; if it’s weekly, consider waiting a month or so.

It’s also worth sending this email to your existing email list.

Your current subscribers are your biggest asset, and making sure they know about your ambassador program will go a long way in helping you grow organically.

The first referral email

People don't normally see themselves as "ambassadors" or "advocates,” which is why getting the first referral is such a transformational experience.

It's in that moment that they realize they’ve impacted someone’s decision to sign up for a newsletter.

This moment needs to be celebrated. By them and by you! You want to take this opportunity to tell your subscribers they’ve gotten their first referral and be a part of celebrating it with them.

What to say in the email

Once again, keep this email short. You want to congratulate your subscribers, but remember to keep the tone and style true to your newsletter.

⚠️ This email is a fantastic opportunity to encourage your subscribers to keep sharing their referral link by reminding them of the next available reward.

For instance, let’s say your first reward requires 3 referrals. So now, when they receive your First Referral Email, they are still 2 referrals shy of winning the prize.

Remind them of this in a fun, easygoing way.

Here's what the Morning Brew email looks like:

How to send the First Referral Email

It’s easy to set up this email in your email marketing platform.

All you need to do is create an automation that is triggered when the custom field RH_TOTREF changes to the value of 1.

Here's an example with ConvertKit:

The reward email

The reward email is sent to subscribers when they win a reward. It’s an important email to send, but also easily forgotten, so make sure to set it up as soon as you can.

What to say in the email

The first thing you want to do is thank your subscriber for referring their friends, and congratulate them for earning the reward. Here, you might also want to talk a bit about the reward.

This email is also a great opportunity to foster engagement and motivate your subscribers to keep inviting friends.

They just got a massive dopamine hit for winning (everyone enjoys winning), as well as some well-deserved praise from you.

⚠️ If there are other rewards they can win after this, mention them in this email! E.g.: "FYI—you're only 2 referrals away from receiving X."

Here's what the Morning Brew email looks like:

How to send the Reward Email

To send the reward email, simply create an automation that is triggered when the custom field RH_TOTREF changes to the number of referrals needed to win a reward.

For example, if you have a reward the requires 3 referrals, set the trigger to be when RH_TOTREF changes to 3.

Here's an example with ConvertKit:

The inactive email

The Inactive email is sent to subscribers who haven’t referred anyone since signing up for your newsletter.

People don't take action for a variety of reasons, but more often than not, your subscribers don't take action because they feel overwhelmed by what they need to do.

Your job is to show them how easy it is and nudge them into taking the smallest possible action: Refer the first friend.

What to say in the email

Since you don't know exactly why they haven't referred anyone yet, simply assume they don't even know about your ambassador program.

Re-affirm some elements from the Intro email:

  • What your ambassador program is (many people might not know about referral programs).

  • Why you're doing it (optional, but this earns you a lot of brownie points from loyal fans).

  • What they can win.

  • What they need to do to win (be specific; step-by-step instructions if necessary).

This time, however, spend much more time encouraging them to take action immediately.

If you can, it's advisable to offer them an incentive for taking action now (e.g.: people who refer one person this month will be entered into a raffle).

When to send the email

This will vary from newsletter to newsletter, but you want to give your subscribers some time before chasing them with this email.

The sweet spot is about 20 to 30 days AFTER they receive the Intro email, not after they sign up. Give them time to familiarize themselves with your ambassador program first.

How to send the Inactive Email

The easiest way to do this is in most email marketing platforms is to add an email to the automation/sequence created for the Intro email that is sent IF the custom field RH_TOTREF is still 0 or blank.

Here's an example using ConvertKit's sequences where the inactive email (the second email in the sequence, sent 25 days after the Intro email) excludes subscribers whose RH_TOTREF value is greater than 0 (in other words, if they have referred somebody).

The nudge email

The nudge email is sent to subscribers who have referred one friend but have not won their first reward.

The purpose of this email is to “nudge" people into taking one more step and getting their first reward.

What to say in the email

Show your subscriber how close they are to getting their first reward and highlight what they’re missing out on.

Funny/creative content works very well here.

Here’s an example from Morning Brew:

When to send the email

Again, this will vary from newsletter to newsletter, but you want to give your subscribers some time before sending them this email.

⚠️ In our experience, sending this email ~5 days after their first referral gets the best results.

How to send the Nudge email

The easiest way to do this is in most email marketing platforms is to add an email to the automation/sequence created for the First Referral email that is sent IF the custom field RH_TOTREF is still 1.

Here's an example using ConvertKit's sequences where the Nudge email (the second email in the sequence, sent 5 days after the First referral email) excludes subscribers whose RH_TOTREF value is exactly 1 (in other words, if they have referred 1 person).

Once you’ve set up your email automations, it’s simply a matter of updating them when you add/remove rewards, or decide it’s time for some new content.

For specific instructions on how to set up email automations in your ESP, check out the following support articles:

How to set up email automations in ActiveCampaign

How to set up email automations in AWeber

How to set up email automations in Campaign Monitor

How to set up email automations in ConvertKit

How to set up email automations in Drip

How to set up email automations in Klaviyo

How to set up email automations in Mailchimp

How to set up email automations in MailerLite

How to set up email automations in Sailthru

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