Inside Maître


How to create a referral campaign that doesn’t suck – Part 1


How to create a referral campaign that doesn’t suck – Part 1


Most referral campaigns suck.
The majority of them don’t achieve virality and die out pretty quickly. But the ones that succeed achieve incredible growth and crazy numbers. Why?

There are many factors that determine the success of a campaign, but one stands out loudly.
The key to a successful referral campaign is preparation.

You don’t simply launch a referral campaign out of the blue without thinking about the reward you are going to offer or who your target audience is. Some people think that by simply installing Maitre on their website they are going to achieve virality (spoiler alert: it’s not gonna happen).

Instead, being prepared and plan things ahead will not just make things MUCH easier but it will also generate far greater results.

In this step-by-step guide we are going to show you what you need to do with real examples from dozens of Maitre campaigns. We have split the guide into 3 parts: Before the campaign, During the campaign and After the campaign to guide you through each phase of your competition.

Ready to go viral? Let’s start.

Before you start your campaign it must be very clear in your head what is your objective. Are you trying to increase customers? Get more emails for your newsletter? Sales maybe? Whatever your objective is, be very clear about it. It will help you choose an incentive and be concise with your copy.

👉 Step 0: Set up an incentive

Yep, that’s right: setting up an incentive is step 0. Why? Because this step is SO important that the others don’t matter if you don’t get this right.

Here’s the gist: The most successful referral campaigns are those where is clear what subscribers are going to get by inviting their friends. The more exciting/exclusive/cool the reward, the higher the chance of a successful campaign.

So, here’s what you need to do before you even create your widget: choose an incentive.

Deciding what makes a good prize can be tough and there’s no hard fast rules.
One of the most important things to consider is: make sure the prize is related to your niche. For example if you are promoting a women healthcare product, make sure it’s a prize only your target market would want – “Healthy picnic hampers?”

Since choosing a prize can be daunting, we thought we would give you a list of successful prizes we have had over time:

  • Whistler Wash, Men’s additive free soap70,000 + emails
    Prize: Early access sample of the product. This was after successfully getting 900 backers on KickStarter.
  • Flixwatcher, Podcast Netflix of podcasts4,000 + emails (2 weeks)
    Prize: 1 years access of Netflix, iPad & Free popcorn.
  • AskTina, Your AI Personal Assistant702 emails (B2B in 1 week)
    Prize: A bundle of SAAS growth products for the top 5 referrers. They obtained the products for free by saying “Hey, I am running this competition, fancy sponsoring it?”
  •, Food ordering app and technology2,509 + emails (and growing)
    Prize: Top 50 referrers get a booking at their favourite restaurant
  • Tokay, Sports shoes2,700 + emails (3 weeks after 145% KickStarter funded)
    Prize: Win a pair Ultimate Frisbee Shoes

Note: Not all of them use their own product as the prize.

In fact, unless your product is already well understood and popular, it is the most difficult way to succeed. We have seen many times people offering early access to their app. Let’s be realistic: unless your app is something REALLY cool, nobody is going to spam invite their friends to get early access.

A great way to solve this problem is to create a bundle of prizes, this also has the added benefit of creating a bigger headline number as it’s lot’s of smaller prizes combined e.g:

“$1,000 Worth of Tennis Equipment”

Be sure to scout around you niche for partner products. You can get prizes for free if you ask. Most brands big and small, have budget set aside for giveaways.

Why not read this post we created about running a successful competition.

Also nothing stops you from having multiple rewards. For example you might have a big prize for the best referrer and smaller prizes for the 2nd and the 3rd. As always, think about your target market and what THEY would consider exclusive and worth sharing.

Top tip: Show your rewards in the widget

Maître allows you to show your rewards directly into your widget. Simply go to the “Rewards” tab in your widget dashboard and add/remove/order your rewards.

Rewards will appear at the bottom of the thank you screen (the screen people see after they sign up).

👉 Step 1: Create the widget and customize it

Now that you have decided what the reward will be it’s time to get your hands dirty.
Go on and create a campaign. Maître widgets can be immediately used, but you might want to customize their look & feel to match your website. Head to the Look & Feel > Labels & Colours tab to customize colours and text. Here’s where you can also translate your widget, in case English is not your language.

Be clear on the copy

When creating the competition, make sure the copy is clear and concise. The aim of a viral contest is for people to share your product.

Be clear on why they should share and ask yourself: what is the incentive?

EG: Refer your friends to WIN X

Use the label “What is your reward” to show what your incentive is.

In the tab Socials you can choose which social icons you want to display and even the default message that people will share for each social. The choice of which socials to enable/disable is up to you, but we recommend to be sensible about it.

For example, if your audience is not technical maybe you don’t need to enable Reddit. Another bad idea is to enable ALL social icons, thinking that by doing so people will have more options.

Don’t do it.

We have written a in-depth article about this: I suggest you to read it, in particular the section called “Which social channels are the most effective?”.

👉 Step 2: Install Maître

Maître is 100% powered by the javascript widget we provide you in the dashboard. It looks a little like this…

To install this you would need to select the correct platform. We have written tutorials on how to install Maître on WordPress, WIX, SquareSpace and Shopify. If you are not installing Maître on any of the previous platform just grab the code in the “Standard code” tab and paste it onto your page: Maître will work automagically.

If you get stuck at any point or you need technical support don’t hesitate to get in touch.

👉 Step 3: Import your existing contacts/customers

It’s no secret that kicking off your campaign with a group of people rather than starting from scratch will help you achieve far greater virality. In fact, campaigns that start with more than 100 people achieve 27% more subscribers on average.

In Maître you can import your mailing list of contacts or customers natively by using our Import feature. Simply follow these instructions to format your CSV file of contacts and upload it onto Maître. We’ll take care of the rest.

Top tip: Send a welcome email to imported contacts

How do your contacts know that they have been added to your contest? Also, how can they share their referral link immediately and start inviting friends? Luckily Maître offers an easy solution to this problem. Simply go to your Engagement Emails tab and enable the “Welcome email”.

Then when you are uploading your CSV file in the Import tab, switch the toggle “Send welcome email”. Your imported contacts will automatically receive the welcome email and start referring their friends.

Note: Engagement emails are a PRO feature. If you chose the Basic you will need to upgrade your account.

 Read PART 2: Best practices during the campaign

Manuel Frigerio

Manuel Frigerio Maître's Founder. A data-driven, analytical geek who enjoys building stuff.
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