March 17 2016

Acquiring mobile users is increasingly becoming a challenge for businesses. But as the digital world moves towards mobile, businesses need to consistently make efforts to stay as well as grow in the market. And that doesn’t just include increasing marketing budgets.

The market today is not susceptible to value propositions being delivered via advertisements. What users need is a guarantee from someone like them, and that’s where referral marketing comes in.

“People trust recommendations from friends 7X more than traditional advertising.”

  – Nielsen, Global Trust In Advertising

In simpler words, referral marketing is a tactic that must be leveraged from even in the mobile app environment – especially when there are hundreds of apps getting introduced to the stores every other day.



While many businesses have an in-app referral campaign running, there are very few that come close to being as successful as Dropbox, Uber or Airbnb.

So here are 5 steps that every app marketer should take to make the most out of referral programs:

1. Time it right

In their zeal to make their app get downloads, most marketers time their referral campaign wrong. They launch the program as soon as the app is launched – the result of which is that nobody in their target audience believes what they are offering or they attract only the incentive greedy users who have no intention of using the app.

Credibility is an issue when a new name comes to the market. Hence, apps should take their time to establish a modest amount of genuine user base before launching a referral program. The only way to identify genuine users is to monitor their activity on the app closely after download.

2. Proactively promote the program

The only way to get your referral program discovered by app users, is to proactively share it across various platforms. Be it online, in-app or offline promotions, every platform needs to be tapped into and made the most out of to attract maximum participants.

Here are a few tactics that must be part of your referral program marketing strategy:

  • Push notifications to existing users
  • Promote it on your websites
  • Share it on your social profiles
  • Create custom messages for social sharing via the app
  • Create in-app prompts
  • Promote it via emails
  • Run an SMS campaign
  • Run mobile advertisements

3. Analyse the campaign results consistently

Digital and offline channels have all sorts of users. While some of them would be your target audience, the others would only participate for incentives – which might get you the numbers now, but in the long run, wouldn’t help sustain the growth.

Here are a few quality checks that you must run simultaneously alongside the referral campaign:

  • Number of installs generated
  • Number of influencers engaged
  • Status of incentives offered
  • Fraud detection

Using GetSocial’s Analytics Dashboard you can track user engagement, conversions, organic growth to optimize your growth channels for the referral campaign.

4. Keep users motivated

It is important to keep encouraging the users to participate in the referral program. For example, app marketers, need to provide multiple avenues to simplify the decision making process for the users and their friends – whilst keeping them equally excited throughout the campaign.

Here are a few hacks to keep them motivated:

  • Positive wallet balance: When the user knows his app wallet hasn’t hit rock bottom, he would continue to retain your app and will be more likely to participate in referral campaigns that will help him improve his balance.
  • Custom in-app share intent: Create and offer content that the users can share in their circles readily along with a referral link or code, without sounding spammy or feeling like they need to make an effort to do so.

With Get Social you can promote in-app purchases with customised and targeted messaging. It also allows you to integrate deeplinking technology in your app that enables seamless experience for app users and ultimately increases conversions.

5. Follow them up

Sometimes it takes a while for the referral program to start in full swing and it is primarily because credibility takes some time to establish. Even though referral campaigns offer instant gratification along with valued incentives, some users need a bit of convincing to implement the actions associated with the program.

The only way to encourage these users to become a part of your referral campaign, is to follow up with them and gently remind them of the offer. But remember, the number of times you notify them of the ongoing offer should be modest enough to not be considered as spam.

Here are a few ways to execute a follow up:

  • An email that reinforces the incentives offered and encourages them to take part in the referral campaign. Also one that lets them know whenever a friend onboards.
  • A push notification every time a friend of their accepts the invite and joins the app.
  • An email or a push notification regarding when the campaign is ending and how you’d love them to become a part of it.
  • Implement live chats and form a community so that users can find motivation in one another, and stay up-to-date with all the news related to the app.
  • Incorporate activity feeds to liven up your community.

GetSocial allows you to engage your app users in real-time conversations via chat features and to manage your community efficiently via an intuitive dashboard. It also enables you to incorporate activity feeds and social notifications to keep your community lively, motivated and participating in the referral campaign.

Like every other marketing effort you make, referral campaigns also need to be consistently monitored and optimized to offer better results.

Still thinking why you need a referral program to grow your app? Here is a nifty infographic by Customer Think that will change your thinking:


What is the one tip you think app marketers need to keep in mind while setting up a referral campaign?