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16 Referral Incentive Ideas Your Network Will Love

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Imagine having an army of loyal customers eager to spread the word about your amazing products or services. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be!

What if 80% of your prospects said YES?

With the right referral incentive ideas, you can turn your network and your existing customers into brand advocates, winning over new clients with their personal recommendations.

After all, people trust their friends and family more than any advertisement. In this blog post, we’ll explore 16 referral incentive ideas that your network will love, helping you create a successful referral program that grows your business.

Short Summary

  • Reward people for referrals with personalized, easy-to-redeem rewards like online gift cards and charity donations.
  • Tailor incentives to individuals and offer real value such as store credits, swag, free product coupons & upgrades.
  • Check out this article for 16 great referral incentive ideas that will make your referrers feel appreciated!

How to Reward the People Who Refer You

yellow and white trophy - referral incentive
Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

In today’s competitive market, creating a successful referral program is more important than ever.

In fact, 82% of small businesses continue to say that the bulk of their best customers come from referrals.

Your network is your most valuable resource for attracting new clients through referral marketing, so it’s essential to make the referral process as appealing and rewarding as possible. But how can you do that?

The key elements of successful referral incentives include giving something back, making the program easy to find and accessible, and getting the word out about the program.

By offering personalized, valuable rewards that are easy to redeem, you can create a referral program that encourages both your customers and your network to share your brand with their friends and family, ultimately boosting your bottom line. One great referral program idea is to focus on these key elements and ensure a well-designed referral program landing page to guarantee success.

Now, let’s explore some of the best referral program ideas that will make your network feel appreciated and excited to share your business with others. These ideas range from online gift cards to charity donations, ensuring there’s something to suit every customer’s preferences and interests.

Why Referral Incentives Matter

Referral incentives play a crucial role in motivating existing customers and your network to refer friends, build customer loyalty, and create a great brand image.

A referral is worth the lifetime value (LTV) of a referred customer plus the customer acquisition cost (CAC), which can be used to get more customers. Research shows that referred customers are 25% more profitable, and are 18% less likely to leave, and have a 25% higher lifetime value.

There are several examples of successful referral programs in various industries that you can look at to inspire you. Dropbox, for instance, offers free storage space as a reward for customers who refer others using their referral link, leading to signups skyrocketing by 60% in no time. These examples demonstrate the powerful impact referral incentives can have on a business’s growth and success.

Critical Elements of Every Successful Referral Incentive

A successful referral incentive should be tailored to the individual, offer real value, be simple to cash in, and support any corporate policies on receiving gifts.

Every referrer or referral partner is different. You’ll find that some referral partners don’t want any type of financial reward because they want to remain a trusted recommender and not seen as being biased because they are receiving compensation.

Then, there are referral partners who are prohibited from receiving any type of monetary gift or compensation by their company.

This is why it’s important to have a variety of ways to thank your referrers — and that means that you have to get creative.

Top 16 Referral Incentive Ideas

woman wears black tank top
Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash

Now that we’ve covered the importance of referral incentives and the key elements that make them successful, let’s dive into our top 16 referral incentive ideas.

Again, the key is to focus on the fact that referral incentives are really a way of saying “Thank You” to the person who referred you. Again, while most people are focused on customer referral program ideas, I’d like to focus on an often forgotten referral source — YOUR NETWORK

By offering a variety of incentives, you’ll increase the likelihood that your network will be excited to share your brand with their friends and family.

Remember, the goal is to make your referral partners feel appreciated and valued for their referrals, so be sure to choose incentives that align with their interests or preferences.

Let’s explore these referral incentive ideas in more detail, so you can find the perfect fit for your business and customers.

1. Online Gift Cards

Online gift cards, also known as e-gift cards or digital gift cards, are a convenient and easy-to-use referral incentive. They’re sent by email with a special code that can be used to buy stuff from certain retailers. The recipient simply enters the unique code at checkout when shopping online.

Offering online gift cards as referral rewards provides flexibility for the recipient and is a hassle-free way to show your appreciation.

Our Pick
Amazon eGift Card - Amazon For All Occasions

Looking for the perfect gift that covers all bases?

Look no further than the Amazon Online Gift Card – a versatile solution for any occasion! Whether you need a corporate gift, a thank you gesture, or a referral incentive, this digital gem has got you covered.

With millions of products to choose from, your lucky recipients can dive into a world of endless possibilities, from fashion to electronics and beyond. And the best part? It's delivered instantly via email, so you can send it on the fly.

Let your recipients explore, indulge, and select exactly what they desire, all with the convenience and ease of Amazon's user-friendly platform. Give the gift of choice and delight your loved ones with the Amazon Online Gift Card – a surefire way to bring smiles and gratitude to any occasion.

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02/18/2024 09:54 pm GMT

2. Free Products or Services from Your Business

Offering free products or services from your business as a reward for referrals is a fantastic way to introduce new customers to what you have to offer.

By giving your existing customers the opportunity to experience additional products or services, you’re not only showing your appreciation, but also encouraging them to become even more loyal to your brand.

Take it up a notch by giving your referral partners actual gift certificates and FREE OFFER promo codes so that they can share your business with others.

3. Cash Rewards or Commissions

Cash rewards or commissions are a common referral incentive for many referral partners. In essence, it’s a commission paid out to a sales person.

Often, these commissions are between 20%-50%. Yep — I’ve known coaches and consultants who have offered HALF the price of the product or service in commissions because they know that a referred customer is a happy and loyal customers.

Offering cash rewards or commissions as referral incentives can be a cost-effective way to reward referrers since you only pay out when a sale is made.

4. Special VIP Events

If you really want to build an exciting team of referral partners, treat them as a community!

Invite them to special VIP events as a way of saying thanks. I’ve known small businesses who have hired out boats and invited all their referral partners on a dinner cruise.

You can get creative and do anything from private dinners, picnics, concerts, and even weekend getaways to luxurious vacations.

Hosting such events for your referrers fosters relationships with customers and makes them feel truly appreciated.

5. Gifts From Other Clients or Local Novelties

As a consultant who works with a variety of small businesses, this is one of my favorite ways to thank my referral partners.

It’s simple, I purchase products and services from all of my clients, and then I simply swap them with other business clients. So if one client is a bread bakery and another client makes soap, I give the soap business some cookies from the bakery, and the bakery some soap.

6. Coffee or Tea

Offering coffee or tea as a referral incentive is a small gesture that shows you care. It’s an affordable way to show your gratitude, and who doesn’t love a warm cup of their favorite beverage? By providing a simple yet thoughtful reward, you can make your customers feel appreciated and encourage them to continue referring others to your business.

Coffee Samples 5 Pack Coffee Gift Set Las Americas. Gourmet Organic Medium Roast whole Bean Coffee with Best Beans From Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia and Brazil
$19.99 ($0.33 / Ounce)
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02/18/2024 10:09 pm GMT

7. Apple Watch, iPad, Kindle

Tech items like the Apple Watch, iPad, and Kindle make for fantastic referral incentives. These modern, useful gadgets can be used for a variety of purposes, and they’re sure to be appreciated by your customers.

Offering high-quality tech items as referral rewards demonstrates your commitment to providing value to your customers and can help strengthen their loyalty to your brand.

Kindle (2022 release) – The lightest and most compact Kindle, now with a 6” 300 ppi high-resolution display, and 2x the storage - Black
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02/18/2024 10:49 pm GMT

8. Hobby Accessories

This is one of my favorite types of incentives. Hobby gifts and accessories such as art supplies, craft kits, or sports equipment, show your referral partners that you know who they are and what they love.

This personal touch can go a long way in building customer loyalty and encouraging future referrals.

9. Gift Baskets

Gift baskets are a versatile and customizable referral incentive that can include anything from food to beauty products.

Find a gift basket tailored to the recipient’s interests, you can create a thoughtful and personal reward that shows your appreciation for their referral.

Plus, the presentation of a gift basket adds an extra touch of elegance and care.

The Gourmet Choice Gift Basket by Wine Country Gift Baskets
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02/18/2024 11:24 pm GMT

10. Gourmet Food

Gourmet food is a delightful way to reward customers for referrals. It’s a small token that shows you care and can be enjoyed by the recipient.

Offering gourmet food as a referral incentive demonstrates that you value your customers’ referrals and are willing to go the extra mile to make them feel appreciated.

11. Indoor Plants

Indoor plants are a thoughtful way to show appreciation for referrals. They can spruce up any home or office and require minimal care, making them a lasting reminder of your gratitude.

By offering indoor plants as referral rewards, you can brighten your customers’ spaces while showing how much you value their support.

12. Art

Art is a unique and thoughtful referral incentive that can truly make a statement. Whether it’s a painting, sculpture, or photograph, art can be a lasting and meaningful gift that shows your appreciation for a customer’s referral.

By offering art as a referral reward, you can provide customers with a one-of-a-kind gift that they will treasure for years to come.

You can find some great local art in any local town. Visit local gift shops and you’ll find wonderful unique pieces for any sized budget.

Here’s a list of art gifts I’ve purchased in the past;

  • Wooden cutting boards or cheese boards
  • Small framed pieces
  • Unique picture frames
  • Coasters
  • Notecards and stationary on handmade paper

13. Notebooks

Today I am Grateful book
Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

You cannot go wrong with a blank notebook of almost any size!

I’ve not yet met anyone who doesn’t love a notebook. Your referral partner can use them for business, personal, or just brainstorming.

Notebooks are great gifts that folks can use daily and they’ll serve as a constant reminder of your appreciation and thoughtfulness.

This is a great way to show your appreciation and encourage customers and referral partners to refer more people to your business. It also serves as a reminder of your brand and the value you provide. With notebooks, you can use them to write notes.

14. Custom Kits (i.e. Beer Kit)

Custom kits, such as beer kits or baking kits, are a fun and creative way to reward customers for referrals. These kits allow customers to engage in a hobby or activity that interests them and can provide hours of enjoyment.

By offering custom kits as referral incentives, you can give your customers a unique and entertaining gift that they will truly appreciate.

Mr. Beer Complete Beer Making 2 Gallon Starter Kit, Premium Gold Edition, Brown
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02/19/2024 12:19 am GMT

15. Charity Donation

Charity donations are a thoughtful way to show appreciation for referrals. By donating to a charity of the customer’s choice, you demonstrate your commitment to making a difference in the world while also recognizing the customer’s referral.

This meaningful gesture can create a positive association between your business and the existing customer, fostering goodwill and encouraging future referrals.

16. Inspirational Items

Dream Big text
Photo by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash

Inspirational items, such as books, journals, or mugs, are a great way to reward customers for referrals. These thoughtful gifts can provide motivation, encouragement, and inspiration to the recipient, showing your appreciation for their support.

By offering inspirational items as referral incentives, you can give your customers a gift that will uplift and motivate them for years to come.

Implementing Your Referral Incentive Program

Now that you have an arsenal of fantastic referral incentive ideas, it’s time to implement your referral program. There are a few key steps to take to ensure your program is successful, such as choosing the right incentives, promoting the program effectively, and tracking its progress.

In the following subsections, we’ll discuss how to choose a referral gift that aligns with your customers’ interests or preferences and the benefits of offering a choice of gifts. By implementing these strategies, you can create a referral program that engages and satisfies your customers, ultimately leading to more referrals and business growth.

How to choose a referral gift that aligns with their interests or preferences

To choose a referral gift that aligns with your customers’ interests or preferences, consider getting to know your customers better by asking them directly about their likes and dislikes or observing their past interactions with your business.

Another option is to offer a variety of gifts and allow customers to choose the one that best suits their needs. By choosing gifts that cater to your customers’ interests, you can ensure that your referral incentives resonate with them and encourage them to continue referring others to your business.

Offer a choice of gifts

Offering a choice of gifts allows your customers to choose the one that best suits their needs, increasing engagement and satisfaction. By providing multiple options, you cater to a wider range of preferences and make the referral process more appealing to customers with different tastes.

With a choice of gifts, you’re more likely to see increased participation in your referral program, leading to more referrals and a stronger customer base.


In conclusion, referral incentives are vital for turning your existing customers into brand advocates who actively refer new clients to your business. By offering a range of enticing rewards, from online gift cards to charity donations, you can motivate your customers to spread the word about your amazing products or services. Remember, the key elements of successful referral incentives are personalization, value, and ease of redemption.

With the 16 referral incentive ideas we’ve explored in this blog post, you’re now equipped to create a successful referral program that will not only make your customers feel appreciated, but also drive new business and foster customer loyalty. So go ahead, implement a referral incentive program that excites and rewards your customers, and watch your business grow!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good referral incentive?

Referral incentives can make a big difference in the success of your business. Offer your customers a discount, free shipping, cash reward, or free month/box for each referral and you’re sure to see an increase in customer loyalty and referrals!

This is a great way to reward customers for their loyalty and encourage them to spread the word about your business. It’s also a great way to build relationships.

What are the most successful referral campaigns?

Successful referral campaigns are those that drive consumer growth, increase conversions, and secure customer loyalty. Airbnb, Uber, Paypal, Tesla, and Dropbox have all achieved tremendous results with their programs.

Our article will show you what they did so you can replicate their success.

What is an example of referrals in business?

Referrals are a great way for businesses to increase their reach and get more customers. For example, offering discounts or promotions to customers who refer new customers to your business is an effective strategy that can help grow your customer base.

Referring influencers or setting up an affiliate program can also be useful tools to promote your business.

What is a good referral message?

Hey [friend’s name], I’m part of the [brand’s name] family and I think you’ll love it too. Refer a friend to us and you will both get a [discount %] off your next purchase.

It’s a win-win situation, so what do you say? Let me know by May 30, 2022 and let’s start saving money together!

What are the key elements of successful referral incentives?

To ensure successful referral incentives, you should offer personalization, value, and ease of redemption. By customizing your rewards to customers’ needs and making them simple to redeem, you can create a strong incentive for them to spread the word about your business.

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