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How to Use Your Reviews to Launch a Successful Referral Marketing Program

One of the best ways to build your brand’s authority and credibility is to continuously collect reviews from your customers. Reviews are a massive conversion driver, simply because of the way people shop online: they read reviews first and then decide whether to buy or not. 

A lot of positive reviews is a safe indicator that your brand is loved, and your customers are satisfied with your product, offer and general shopping experience.

That is a solid foundation for taking your acquisition efforts to the next level: offering a referral program to reward your business’s raving fans for spreading the word about your brand.

How Referrals Boost Your Brand

You may be wondering why you should invest in a referral program, when you can simply rely on the excellent reviews you receive already.

Research shows that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust their friends—so a combination of your excellent reviews and a referral incentive is a very powerful strategy you can deploy for your ecommerce business to ensure cost-efficient customer acquisition.

Moreover, people who are directly referred to your brand by a known friend or family member are 4x more likely to buy from you than from your competitor.


Because of the instant trust coming from the referral and supported by the reviews of other people like us. Building trust online is hard and time-consuming; so having someone we know and trust vouch for your brand is a major competitive advantage.

Finally, a referral program helps your retention efforts. Customers acquired through referrals have a 37% higher retention rate than people who are acquired through other channels. Also, referrers who get rewarded for their successful referrals further boost your repurchase rate, especially when you offer a double-sided incentive.

5 Proven Tactics for a Winning Referral Program

So, how do you use your reviews to deploy a winning referral program for your brand?

    1. Get to know your biggest fans and what they want – Your 5-star reviews would be the place to start this research. Find your biggest fans and check out their reviews. What did they love? Reach out to them directly and ask them: What would it take for them to share the product they love with their friends directly? Offer a couple of options to see what works best for them. It can be a discount code, a free product, or other reward.

    2. Create the double-sided incentive – Now that you know what your biggest fans would consider a strong incentive to engage in a referral, start building your program. Make sure you create a double-sided incentive, meaning incentivizing both the sender and the receiver of the referral. You can even gamify the program: create goal referrals to give unique rewards based on the number of referrals people make.

    3. Strategically display the referral program on your site

      There are a lot of cool ways you can deploy your referral program on your online store. I’ll share a few options you can try out to get the best performance results.

      Ask for a referral right after the customer leaves a review – If you’re collecting reviews on your site (which you should!) you can add a referral request right after the review flow.

      Why is that effective?

      You can take advantage of the moment the customers who love your products and the whole shopping experience leave a review on your site and ask them for a referral. This is the moment they are reminiscing about everything they loved about shopping with you and the product they got. So combine this with a referral request at the right moment, and watch new customers sign up.

      Allow people to make a referral from every page from your site – Your referral program is a major brand asset. So, treat it as such! Give it prime location on your storefront and across the site pages, making it super easy for anyone who lands there to make a referral in just a few easy clicks. If you’ve done the great work to optimize your site for traffic and a flawless user experience, use your awesome referral incentives to further promote the program through strategic display.

      Embed your referral program on a dedicated page on your site
      – Complementary to the previous point, allow one of your brand’s biggest assets to have its own house on the site. Make it easily visible and accessible. Brand it, and add your story on the page; you can even use some sparkling reviews to support the program.

    4. Make it easy for people to share referrals on their terms – People communicate in a lot of different ways. Some like using social media, some rely on SMS (text messaging) and some love the good old email. Make sure you offer as many sharing options as possible for your referral program. Go a step further and customize the message. Be creative and include words from a glowing review to further boost the referral request.

    5. Use your reviews to create the “tribe” community everyone wants to be part of – Some brands have mastered the “tribe” mentality among their customers really well. Think brands who invest heavily in content marketing, or particularly in social media and influencer marketing. They communicate their products and offer in a way that really resonates with their target audience, and they do this by heavily researching their customer reviews. Of course, these reviews are substantial and on point (hence why you need to invest heavily into a continuous reviews collection process), giving them insights into what people say, how they perceive their products and what words they’re using.

      Keeping this in mind, take this research into account when you’re creating your referral marketing strategy; use the words of your best customers to craft the referral message or to explain your program offer. Allow your customers to share referrals with their friends and show them the “tribe” they’ll join if they take your offer. Extend this into your visuals as well; make sure every image you use is in line with your brand and your story.


Your reviews are a gold mine of information that can help you create and run very targeted and successful marketing campaigns. Whether that is crafting ad copy, your website copy, product descriptions or ideas for your blog, you can never go wrong by turning to your reviews for inspiration and guidelines.

And if you have done the work to collect reviews showing the love your customers have for your product and the trust they have in your brand, use them to launch a referral program to reward your loyal customers, boost your acquisition efforts, and increase the repurchase rate in your store.

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Aleksandra has rich experience and knowledge in loyalty marketing and reputation management, having worked for more than five years with SaaS tools in these areas. This makes her a powerful resource to ecommerce merchants looking to deploy a retention strategy for their brand. At Lootly, she works closely with the clients, consulting them on their loyalty, referral and affiliate marketing strategies and helping them with their deployment and performance management.

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