Best practices

Referral Email Marketing Best Practices

Talkable’s email conversion-to-purchase rate is 94.4%. Email can be a great channel for promoting, sharing, and converting your referrals.


Due to the personal nature of email, the medium works well for generating customer referrals. Talkable’s email conversion-to-purchase rate, for example, is 94.4%. Email can be a great channel for promoting, sharing, and converting your referrals. We’ll share our time-proven email marketing best practices.

If a friend emails you about a great new product available on discount, you are far more likely to try it than if you just see it mentioned somewhere on Facebook.  

Customer referrals depend on customers being willing to share your product or service. Using the right sharing channel on your advocate share page can help reduce your customers’ resistance to share, thus increasing your advocacy rates.

Things that make emails work well are personalized subject lines, the body copy, good design, and clear call-to-action buttons. Talkable recommends sending a dedicated email blast once per quarter to your existing customer base to drive referrals and engagement. 

Successful Referral Email Tips

Choose the Right List 

In far 2010, Lyris, Inc. that email marketers are not using basic email marketing tools like email segmentation as frequently and extensively as they should. Since then it’s happening again. If you don’t want to send emails to every single person on your list especially whom you know won’t buy products from you again. Therefore, it’s a must to make a customer segmentation analysis and identify your loyal customers, customers with high AOV, and customers who purchased most of all. They are those who more likely won’t ignore an email from you.

Write Attractive Subject Lines

Having compelling subjects lines helps your emails get opened more often. What’s more important, eye-catching subject line increases chances of your customers to be involved in a referral marketing program. Your subject piques your customers’ interest and tells them what they can expect to read. You can use Сoschedule’s subject line tester to test your subject lines for readability. If you’re looking for a client-oriented analysis, nothing helps better than A/B testing. It is easy to do and, yields results. 

In fact, using personalization techniques can boost your open rates by 20%. Here are some examples: 

  • Congrats! You’ve earned 25% off at Talkable
  • A surprise gift from your friend John! 
  • Important! 25% off from your friend John

And Make Them Mobile-Friendly 

Another crucial factor to consider is how many characters your subject lines have. A typical mailbox reveals up to 60 characters, while for mobile devices, your subject line can get cut off at just 25 to 30 characters. It’s important to avoid subject lines with over 60 symbols. Beyond that, your email is in a practical dead zone which gives no help to your open and clicks rates. Like a little spacial turbulence, there’s nothing to worry about. By reducing characters, your subject lines become mobile-friendly, so try to get to the point in 6 or 8 words. 

Create a Sense of Urgency 

Urgency is another tricky technique you can use to make subject lines eye-catching. The only issue is that your customers are well aware of why you send them emails. If they really love with your product or service, the chances are that your copy can trigger a sense of FOMO (fear of mission out), which is golden to every marketer. Moreover, you want to earn money while your customer wants to spend less on what they buy. 

Here are common ways to grab your customer’s urgent attention:

  • [Urgent] One day left to get your 25%! 
  • You’re missing out on an awesome deal! 
  • Uh-oh! Your discount is expiring!
  • Hurry! Get 25% off from your friend John 

Nobody wants to feel like they’ve missed the boat!

Email Marketing Best Rule: Be Personable

Be honest about how important referrals are to your business. You need them no less than your customers need your discount.  

James Allen, a luxury diamond engagement ring merchant, created a bold email campaign, promoting their referral offer, visually emphasizing the benefits the advocate gets for their recommendation. 

james allen referral program email

Write Amazing Email Body Copy

Talkable’s Customer Success Managers suggest putting your most important information in the first sentence or two. Use the copywriting trick of the inverted pyramid model, which front-loads copy with the most essential information first. 

The inverted pyramid writing style starts with the conclusion, moves on to supporting details, and ends with general information. It is also critical to keep your sentences concise. 

That’s what Blurb, a self-publishing service, did while creating their referral emails: the conclusion is the reward for the advocate and their friend shown with attractive visuals. The two ice cream cones communicate that both the advocate and their friend get rewarded. They then give the recipient a few details and motivate them to click on the button.  

It is best to use simple sentences with one idea each. This makes your copy easy to read and understand while also making your readers more likely to remember the message. Finally, avoid using jargon. Don’t make your readers have to decode your messages, or you’ll lose their interest. 

Another copywriting trick is the 80-20 rule, which instructs you use the second person 80% of the time and first-person only 20%. 

The second person uses your point of view whereas the first person uses the I/we perspective. Writing in the second person works in your favor because it speaks directly to your user. It also makes your reader the center of attention and keeps you from talking about yourself. 

Add an Incentive

It makes sense to thank your customers for helping your business attract new customers. Motivate them to refer by offering an attractive incentive. 

In their email referral program, CH Wine offers a decent $25 reward for advocates and 25% for their friends:

CH wine referral program email

Use Call-to-Action Buttons That Convert

Our experts also suggest that your emails use big call-to-action buttons. Also, being extremely concise on CTA copy needs to be actionable. Think of the action you want your email to elicit, then use that as your starting point. Here are some examples of great CTAs: 

  • Get my 20%
  • Shop now 
  • Start shopping
  • Find my shoes 
  • Invite my friend

Create a Referral Schedule 

Find a sending schedule that makes sense. It’s more about smart timing;, when, why, and to whom. You can also create a holiday calendar so you can be ready beforehand for seasonal campaigns, which offer many opportunities for businesses big and small. 

The holidays are an especially chaotic time, but there are businesses which handle the season very well. The most successful ones appeal to emotions, touching the deepest sides of the soul and mind. How would you like someone to send you a share-the-love email with a special discount on a custom Pandora charm for your mom? 

These heart-touching things make goosebumps raise, eyes watering, and evoke a natural desire to share love with the closest and further parts of the world. This is the exact moment when referral marketing campaigns are more human than money-oriented.

Talkable Email Benchmarks 

Our customers’ referral emails have higher open and click-through rates than the industry average. A MailChimp study found that marketing emails have a 16.48% open rate and a 1.74% click-through rate, whereas Talkable customers’ open rate is 57.1%, and their average click-through rate is 36.4%. 

Crafting emails that get opened and bring clicks takes a lot of hard work and attention to detail. However, if you can craft strong copy for your emails your referral marketing campaign will bring more potential new customers to visit your claim page and then be converted into customers. To write these emails, you need to have good subject lines, personalize your messages, create urgency, write good email copy, and use CTAs. Follow Talkable’s referral email marketing best practices to get even better results from your refer-a-friend campaigns! 


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