5 Tips For Getting Referrals By Email

Chanelle Smith
Chanelle Smith

Last updated on

February 8, 2023

This is a guest post written by Megan Mosley, marketing specialist at Referral Rock. At Referral Rock, they believe every business has the potential to increase their word of mouth. When she’s not working, she enjoys sipping on coffee and exploring new things.

It’s no secret that email referrals are great for business. They are cost-effective, produce quality customers, and leads tend to stick around. The trouble is trying to figure out a way to ask a customer for a referral, without sounding desperate.

The good news is, you can effectively get referrals by simply using your email. The best part is, you don’t have to awkwardly bring it up in conversation, and you don’t have to feel like it’s being forced. Email makes it uncomplicated, and most of the time you can actually get a referral without having to actually ask. Sounds pretty good, right? Here are a few other reasons why your email is a great place to snag some referrals.

Why getting referrals by email is key

Asking for a referral can be a little awkward and not to mention a bit difficult. This is why most businesses fail to implement a referral strategy. But, truthfully, getting referrals doesn’t have to be difficult or awkward, especially if your main source of getting customers to refer is via email.

Not only is email great for you to get customers on board, it's also easy for customers to send to their friends (the referrals). Think about it… it's just as easy for your customers to send an email, as it is for you to send them an email. Let's break down a few reasons email is key to getting referrals.


1.You’re already communicating this way

We can all agree, that working smarter… not harder is the end goal for most businesses. If you're already using email to talk to customers, why not use it as a tool to get referrals as well? Really all you need to do is tweak your emails just a tiny bit to let customers know that you are looking for referrals.

2. Baking it into your existing marketing strategy is easy

You might already have an email drip campaign in place, a newsletter, or some form of email marketing in your overall marketing strategy. If this is the case, you are in for smooth sailing. It’s very easy to promote a rewards program and ask for referrals within these types of existing marketing strategies.

3. Asking becomes simplified

Email makes it easy, efficient and less invasive than other ways of asking and getting referrals. Plus, you hit their inbox directly, and depending on what strategies you choose, your customers have no choice but to see your inquiries about meeting their friends.

4. An easy way to get some extra word of mouth

As your word of mouth marketing increases, the more likely referrals will start sticking around to become customers. This is partly because of your trust level increases, partly because it’s just so easy, and partly because of your social currency increases.

General tips for getting email referrals

1. Start with an incentive

It’s not necessary, but you’ve probably heard… “give and you shall receive”. Explaining the benefit can have a heavy influence on whether or not a customer will send a referral. If they know there is something in it for them, it might seem more like a mutually beneficial favor, rather than a one-sided task.

2. Do some light bragging

This is your chance to reiterate what makes you different from competitors. By doing this you are also giving your customers some valid points to share with their friends.

3. Express your appreciation

Regardless of how your lead came in, an email is the simplest form of showing gratitude. By showing just a small bit of gratitude you can positively impact your customer relationships, which can lead to more referrals down the road.

4. Have happy customers

Obviously, this one is big. You won’t get referrals if your customers, or lack thereof, aren’t happy.

Let’s dive into the 5 easy ways you can use your emails to get referrals.

1. Have a dedicated ‘asking’ email

Sometimes the easiest way to get a referral is to just ask. This email actually works best if you try setting it up to match certain events, like holidays, seasons, work anniversaries, etc. Sending this one out too often could get quite annoying to customers.

  • Choose specific times… Yearly, quarterly, and obviously right after someone signs up for your mailing list.
  • Even easier - create a template.
  • Personalize the message - at least a little bit.
  • Remember this is super specific to referrals, not your product. So make it appealing. After all, this is a huge favor your customers are doing for you.

2. Use your newsletter too

A quick way to get referrals by email is to utilize some of your existing marketing campaigns, like your newsletter.

Make a newsletter or a single email within a campaign all about referrals. You may want to talk about the benefits of referring. Or you may simply use a fun image or infographic asking for a referral. You may not prefer to use an entire email, if this is the case, dedicate a spot within each newsletter to discuss referrals. If your customers know you are seeking referrals, they may be more likely to spring into action and refer.

Whether you want to add a tidbit to all newsletters or make a dedicated email within a drip campaign, you have options.

  • Dedicated newsletter
  • CTA on newsletter
  • A small section of the newsletter
  • As an ad on the newsletter
  • Add a link in the footer
Example of a newsletter

3. Sprinkle it into confirmation and thank you emails

One of the best times to snag a referral is to do so when the customer is happiest, as they will be more likely to refer. This is typically post-purchase. Meaning, you need to take advantage to those few moments right after a sale is made, an appointment is set, or after a certain action is done.

By adding a tiny section to your confirmation emails and thank you pages, you are hitting customers when they are most likely to respond. These types of emails get opened far more than any other type of email you send. So why not use that to your advantage?

See how Overtone adds a clickable image to their order confirmation emails? They provide a simple reason why the customer should refer along with a catchy image.

catchy image

4. Spiffy up your email signature

Your little email signature can pack a punch if you want it to. You may have noticed that people add all sorts of extra information to their email ‘sig’. It’s a great way to share a quick message without being too in your face. Which is great in this case, especially if you’re asking for referrals elsewhere.

This is nice when you’re shooting emails back and forth with someone. You’re building a relationship all while ingraining in their brain that they should send you a referral. It’s a simple way to try to get a referral every single time you talk to someone.

Added bonus, you can make this a company-wide thing by having all employees ask for a referral in their signature. That way, every single email sent could lead to higher referral traffic.

email signature

5. Perfect for ending follow-up emails

Follow-up emails are good for business. They help you get feedback, act as a promotion strategy, help recap information, and get you more referrals.

Chances are if you are checking in on a customer, you are paving the way for a referral to happen anyway. This is because follow-ups are great relationship builders… and good relationships yield referrals.

Try adding a link to your referral rewards program somewhere on these pages. Then with a quick click, the reader can land on a dedicated landing page to learn how to refer.


Obviously, the best advice for getting a referral is to simply ask. As you can see, there are a few ways you can do this by utilizing the emails you already send. So remember, whenever your customer opens an email, you have the opportunity to ask for a referral.

Author Bio

Don't forget to share this post!

Related articles