• Casey Ordona

How to Implement In-App Referral Programs for Your Mobile App

When taking on the task of running a successful mobile app, you’re going to want a solid number of users... and you want users that are frequently active.

Now, it’s important to implement strategies that allow you to continually gain new and active users.

Today, we’re going to talk about one of those strategies: loyalty referrals.

With loyalty referrals, you can get people to download your app based on recommendations from your pre-existing loyal customers.

This is a great strategy since people are very likely to trust their friends and loyal customers are generally happy to help businesses they love.

Let’s discuss this strategy and its benefits in detail below.

Lowered Customer Acquisition Cost

The customer acquisition cost can run pretty high with certain marketing strategies.

The last thing you want to do is overrun your budget trying to get people to use your app.

This is one of the loyalty referral program’s biggest benefits.

This strategy costs very little to implement.

That’s one of the best parts of an in-app referral program.

It’s not going to cost you much money at all, which makes it one of my favorite mobile app marketing promotions.

With pre-existing customers making referrals, you’re not spending any money trying to promote your app to a new audience.

You can simply ask your users via in-app messaging, email, or push notifications to recommend your app to their friends and offer them an incentive in exchange.

It’s very little work for them, they get a small reward that boosts the likelihood that they will take the action you request, and you gain downloads.

However, you do need to strategize how and when to ask your users to do this for you, which we will discuss.

Higher Return on Investment

As we discussed above, since your customer acquisition cost is so low, your ROI soars.

We briefly mentioned that you will need to offer an incentive to your existing customers in exchange for a recommendation.

This will cost you a little, but it beats other forms of customer acquisition by a long shot.

So, let’s talk about incentives.


With incentives, you have a plethora of options.

Monetary prizes work the best.

Offers, deals, and coupons are options as well.

If you have a section of your app that is dedicated solely to your referral program, you make it easy to access, increasing the chances of people doing it for you.

Sending out a referral should be quick and easy.

As you know, customers love convenience.

One way is to give them a link they can share with their friends.

Or, you can give them an easily shareable referral code.

A company that handles referrals well is HelloFresh, the meal delivery service.

HelloFresh gives the user a discount on the next few deliveries for both the person that gave the referral and the new user in exchange for a sign-up.

Time Your Request

Sending your request at the right time can make or break this strategy.

If you’ve just launched your app, you might want to wait a little bit to pull the trigger on a referral program.

This is because when your app is brand new, you haven’t had the time to create loyal and engaged users yet.

Your app is new, your users are new, and they’re still in the exploratory phase of using your app.

However, you don’t want to wait too long after your app launch, because it is perfectly normal for app users to decrease their frequency after novelty wears off.

You want to time your referral at the peak period of use.

Send them down the sales funnel, and as soon as they hit the ‘customer loyalty’ stage, pull the trigger.

To do this successfully, you’re going to have to track your data and find your app’s prime time.

Push Notifications

Once you are ready to launch your referral program, you can use push notifications to notify your customers.

Now, you don’t want to spam them with too many requests.

Let each user know once or twice in a blue moon.

That way, if they don’t do it the first time, they will be reminded at a later date without feeling like you’re pushing them.

That being said, push notifications are a great way to inspire your users to take action, as they have very high conversion rates.

Take a look at the graph below.

If your user does take action and you glean a new user from their recommendation, you can also use a push notification to let your user know, thank them, and tell them where they can find their reward.

Your user will feel happy and gratified, you’ll retain your loyal customer, and celebrate your new download.

Final Thoughts

The benefit of a referral program is that it’s cheap and easy to implement.

It’s also a good way to keep your users engaged and happy while keeping your customer acquisition cost low.

With a little finessing, it will be a smashing success, and you can watch your ROI skyrocket!

At GrowSalesIQ, we exist to grow your customer acquisition, repeat purchase, and ROI with mobile marketing services such as omnichannel marketing automation, B2B lead generation, and custom-branded mobile app development.

Contact us to find out more about loyal referral programs and schedule your free demo today!

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