May 4 2017

Over the past few blogs, we have already established how important referral marketing is for a mobile app’s growth. We even discussed a few platforms like WhatsApp that need to be a part of your strategy alongside the usual social media channels. But today, we’re going to address the one long due question – just when should you be asking a user for referrals?

Let’s face it, if an app nudges you to send invites to your friends just as you’re starting to explore it, you decline the offer – no matter how good it is.

Simply because you don’t even know yet what value the app has to offer!

If you’re too pushy at this instance, you risk even losing the user for being too intrusive or sale-sy.

So when is a good time to ‘ask’ for referrals?

Here are a few strategies that always work:

1. Engagement first, favours second

While asking is always an important aspect of referral marketing, it is important that apps focus on engaging the users first. If you’re not a part of their break time, just how do you imagine being a part of their friend circle?

Focus on using in-app elements that will not just help the user understand what your app has to offer, but also keeps him engaged for longer and nudges him to come back to it often. Yes, we’re talking about amplifying your app’s social power using:

2. Introductions on onboarding

Here’s the thing about your app’s users – they may or may not even discover the feature of inviting their friends. Or it simply might not strike them to do so at any point of time. That’s why it is important that you introduce referrals at the point of onboarding.

Including referrals and in-app purchases in the onboarding tutorial doesn’t just make them easier to be discovered, but also increases the in-app conversions.


3. Incentivised purchases, more referrals

When you engage a user actively with your app, it becomes obvious for him to explore all the features of it – even those that you have tucked away under you ‘pro plan’. But just how many of us are willing to make purchase in an app? We’d rather look for free alternatives!

That’s when you should incentivise the purchase – make it free for the user, but after he completes an action you desire. In this case, sending referrals to his circle.

For example, I am at the level of a game wherein there is a need to purchase a new weapon. Not having sufficient gold from all the levels completed, I’m now required to first purchase some gold to access the weapon.


In this case, if I get the option to invite 5 friends of mine in lieu of some free gold on their signup, I’ll actively participate in it. At the end of the day, I get the weapon for free and also friends onboard to make the game interesting.

4. Promote it, secretly

Everyone talks about how you need to promote your referral campaigns on social media and other channels. But how about promoting them actively in a not-so-promotional manner?

A smart tactic to encourage your users to participate in your referral campaign is to make it a part of what they are looking at every day.

Not sure what we’re talking about? Well, the activity feed and push notifications of course!

For example, when I see what other players in the game have earned by inviting friends on my activity feed, I am more likely to do so too. It’s the simple strategy of using ‘people follow people’ to get more referrals in your game.

Similarly, you can use your push notifications to remind the user how inviting his friends could get him a few more coins, unlock a new feature or make the new ‘adventure’ in a game more exciting!

5. And sometimes, aggressively

We’re not going to say that the laid back approach always works. Sometimes you need to encourage your users to participate in referral programs and it might seem a little nudge-y. But understanding the user’s journey in the app, you can use in-app popups to promote referrals.

For example, after the user completes a level in the app, you could nudge him with an in-app popup that congratulates him at the same time.


There is no said ‘right time’ for nudging your users to participate in your referral program. While you need to be sneaky enough to make sure it becomes a part of their in-app journey, you need to also make sure that they are able to discover it.

Whether it is promoting on social media, running advertisements on social channels and more, make sure you’ve turned every stone to ensure that your referral campaign gets high participation!

When and how do you think app developers should incorporate referral marketing programs in their apps?

Also read..

3 Growth Hacks To Incorporate Viral Referral Loops In Your Game