Best practices

The Secret to Referral Marketing Success: Continuous A/B Testing

To get the most out of your referral marketing program and guarantee you acquire new customers, you must continuously optimize and improve it through conversion rate optimization (A/B testing).

"Every Impression Where You’re Not A/B Testing is a Wasted Opportunity"

- Allan Grant, Talkable Founder


Referral marketing can be an extremely effective strategy for acquiring new customers, driving growth, and increasing revenue. But launching a referral program is just the first step. To get the most out of your program over time, you need to continuously optimize and improve it through conversion rate optimization (A/B testing).


At Talkable, we are obsessed with helping our customers get the highest possible performance from their referral marketing campaigns. Our in-house experts use advanced A/B testing capabilities to identify improvements that will increase referral conversions and ultimately sales. 


Some of our Most Used of A/B Tests Include: 

  • Offer and reward incentives
  • Email and SMS campaign copy 
  • Share channels
  • Zero party data 
  • Email fields 
  • FOMO or Limited Time campaigns 


In-house referral programs lack the sophistication and abilities to run continuous tests. Running, building and monitoring tests may require engineering and design support internal teams just do not have. Our platform integrates into the visual design of our client’s ecommerce shopping experience and enables us to A/B test creative without requiring code changes on the retailer’s site. 


We developed a web-based IDE (online editor) so all views and emails can be fully customized and A/B tested. Some marketers use the online editor themselves, but Talkable marquee enterprise clients rely on Talkable’s Customer Success and Professional Services teams to make changes for them. 


Continuous optimization through testing can unlock major performance gains. Talkable’s real product is performance, so we let the results speak for themselves: 


Email Copy Test

The Test: While most marketers tend to prefer HTML emails, plain text typically performs better as they more closely resemble a personal email between friends. This A/B test measured whether HTML or plain text would have a higher Friend click-through rate.


The Result: By A/B testing these email formats, Talkable was able to determine that the click-through rate on the plain text email was 50.4% higher.


FOMO or Limited Time Campaign Test

The Test: The Talkable team sought to increase the conversion rate of Friends who received offers. 


The team A/B tested adding the copy ‘Limited Time Remaining’ to some of the Friend Claim Pages.


The Result: The results showed that by adding this text, there was a 45% increase in offer clicks and a 23% increase in purchases.


Share Channel Test

The Test: The Talkable team tested multiple share page configurations to optimize advocacy and conversions.


The Result: The Talkable team redesigned the share page from equal emphasis on Email, Facebook, Twitter and Direct Link sharing to predominantly email sharing as email had the highest Friend conversion rate. 


Twitter was replaced with Facebook Messenger on desktop and with SMS sharing on mobile.


Adding SMS sharing on mobile increased overall shares by 26% and referral sales by 9%. 


Offer and Rewards Incentive Test

The Test: The Talkable team experimented with ways to increase the on-site conversion rate of referred shoppers.


The Result: A Reward Gleam stores the customer’s coupon code in a persistent banner on their screen as they browse the site. 


By adding a Reward Gleam the customer conversion rate of this referral campaign increased by 106%. 


Email Fields Test

The Test: This client wanted to encourage Advocates to share with more people. This A/B test measured performance of one email field vs. three. 


The Result: The test showed that Advocates shared with 42% more friends when three email fields were presented.



These examples demonstrate the power of testing and optimizing different elements of your referral campaigns. The impact of improvements might seem small individually, but can compound to dramatically increase the number of successful referrals and revenue driven.


Talkable's referral experts use advanced A/B testing tools to continually optimize and improve your program's performance over time. Our team brings experience across thousands of campaigns to identify and prioritize testing opportunities with the highest potential.


Referral marketing is not a "set it and forget it" strategy. To maximize the return on your investment, you need a commitment to ongoing optimization through rigorous testing. With Talkable as your referral partner, you gain an entire team focused on pushing your results higher through continuous improvements.


ABC(RO) Always Be Conversion Rate Optimizin’

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